BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Hunter and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2023-109 (16 January 2024)

  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • John Gillespie
  • Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i
  • Aroha Beck
  • Linda Hunter
News bulletin
Radio New Zealand Ltd
Radio New Zealand


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

The Authority has declined to determine a complaint alleging a news bulletin on RNZ was unbalanced due to the placement of an update on the Rugby World Cup, ahead of other news. The Authority found that in all the circumstances the complaint should not be determined as it amounted to the complainant’s personal preference regarding matters of editorial discretion.

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


[1]  Linda Hunter made a complaint to RNZ concerning a news bulletin which aired on 15 October 2023. Hunter complained that the placement of an update on the score of a Rugby World Cup game, ahead of any report on the previous day’s general election or the Israel and Hamas conflict, was unprofessional and showed a failure by RNZ to balance its material in order of importance.

[2]  RNZ did not uphold the complaint, noting that ‘story selection is a matter of editorial decision making, rather than editorial standards that apply to the actual content of what is heard’.

[3]  Hunter referred her complaint to the Authority for review.

Outcome: Decline to determine

[4]  Section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises the Authority to decline to determine a complaint if it considers that, in all the circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined by the Authority.

[5]  The Authority considers it appropriate to exercise its s 11(b) discretion in this case, as the complaint relates to a matter of broadcaster editorial discretion (the selection and order of news stories) and the complainant’s preferences regarding which news stories should be played first. Such a complaint is not, in general, capable of being resolved by a complaints procedure because it relates to the exercise of a discretion.1 It is not an issue which the balance standard is designed to address.2

[6]  The Authority’s role is to consider complaints about content broadcast, not to direct what content should be broadcast, or the order in which items are presented. Therefore, in all the circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined by the Authority.

For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Susie Staley
16 January 2024    



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

1  Linda Hunter’s formal complaint to RNZ – 15 October 2023

2  RNZ’s response to the complaint – 10 November 2023

3  Hunter’s referral to the Authority – 15 November 2023

1 Broadcasting Act 1989, s 5(c)
2 The balance standard is not directed at the order that items are played, but rather requires broadcasters to present significant alternative points of view when controversial issues of public importance are discussed. No such issues were identified by the complainant in respect of the relevant programme.