BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Gregg and NZME Radio Ltd - 2022-070 (23 August 2022)

Members
  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • John Gillespie
  • Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i
  • Aroha Beck
Dated
Complainant
  • Christopher Gregg
Number
2022-070
Channel/Station
Newstalk ZB # 2

Summary  

[This summary does not form part of the decision.]

The Authority has declined to determine a complaint alleging Weekend Collective breached the discrimination and denigration standard. The programme referred to protesters occupying Parliament grounds as ‘vermin’. In light of the Authority’s recent finding that the standard does not apply to the protesters, the Authority considered it appropriate to decline to determine the complaint.

Declined to determine (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, in all the circumstances): Discrimination and Denigration


The broadcast

[1]  A panel on Weekend Collective on 14 May 2022 mentioned the recovery of Parliament’s lawn following the occupation of Parliament grounds earlier in the year. In doing so, a guest host stated:

Well, I came down [to Wellington] a couple of times while [the occupation] was going on and I drove past the vermin a few times, laid a few traps and some bait, and some 1080, but it didn’t seem to affect them at all.

The complaint

[2]  Christopher Gregg complained the broadcast breached the discrimination and denigration standard of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice as the ‘content of the programme dehumanised a group of people’. The complainant considered it ‘dangerous and unacceptable to dehumanise other human beings. In this instance [the protesters] were categorised as vermin.’

The broadcaster’s response

[3]  NZME did not uphold the complaint, noting protesters at the occupation of Parliament grounds did not constitute a recognised ‘section of the community’ to which the standard applied. It also noted, in any event, ‘it was clear from the tone used and from the references to traps, bait and 1080, that this comment was made in jest and did not contain the requisite element of malice.’

Outcome: Declined to determine

[4]  Section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises the Authority to decline to determine a complaint if it considers, in all the circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined by the Authority. In this case, the Authority considers it appropriate to exercise its s 11(b) discretion.

[5]  The discrimination and denigration standard applies only to recognised ‘sections of the community’, consistent with the grounds for discrimination listed in the Human Rights Act 1993.1

[6]  The Authority has recently recognised the standard does not apply to protesters who occupied Parliament grounds earlier this year as they did not constitute a ‘recognised section of the community’ to which the standard applies.2

[7]  Therefore, in the circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined by the Authority.

For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaint under section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Susie Staley
Chair
23 August 2022

 

 

Appendix

The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1  Christopher Gregg’s formal complaint to NZME – 16 May 2022

2  NZME’s decision on complaint – 12 June 2022

3  Gregg’s referral to Authority – 29 June 2022


1 Commentary: Discrimination and Denigration, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 16
2 See Shields and Discovery NZ Ltd, Decision No. 2022-046 at [28]