BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Kemp and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2022-058 (20 July 2022)

Members
  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • John Gillespie
  • Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i
  • Aroha Beck
Dated
Complainant
  • Phillip Kemp
Number
2022-058
Programme
1 News
Channel/Station
TV One

Summary  

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

The Authority has not upheld a complaint regarding a 1 News item. The item opened by referring to ‘weeks of tension between Jews and Christians in Israel’. This was inaccurate as the item reported on tensions between Israelis and Palestinians during a period of overlapping religious holidays. The broadcaster acknowledged the reference to Christians was an error, but did not uphold the original complaint as the error was ‘implicitly corrected by the full context of the story’. The Authority found, given the item immediately following reported on violence between Muslim and Jewish people, the inaccuracy in the introduction was unlikely to mislead the audience overall. The fairness standard did not apply.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness


The broadcast

[1]  An item on 1 News on 16 April 2022 (sourced from BBC) reported on tensions between Israelis and Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In introducing the item, the 1 News presenter stated:

Weeks of tension between Jews and Christians in Israel has come to a head with clashes between Palestinians and police at a Jerusalem mosque. Police say more than 150 people were injured after they entered the Al-Aqsa mosque to break up a crowd which had thrown rocks onto Jewish worshippers at the nearby Western Wall.

[2]  The BBC item then reported on violence at Al-Aqsa mosque between Palestinians and Israeli police. The item also noted the violence was occurring at a time of overlapping religious days of importance (Easter, Passover, Ramadan) and included an interview with someone from each respective faith.

The complaint

[3]  Phillip Kemp complained the presenter’s opening statement breached the accuracy and fairness standards:

The opening statement was inaccurate and unfairly targeted Christians and Jews. …The article itself I felt was balanced, but the opening statement was completely false when the violence was between Jewish authorities and Muslim worshipers not Christians and Jews.

The broadcaster’s response

[4]  TVNZ acknowledged the mistake in the introductory statement (it should not have referred to Christians), but did not uphold the complaint, noting:

  • ‘This was a mistake in the presenter's script arising from human error. 1 News has been advised of this error, and the Committee recognises that there is a need for care when reporting events in this area, and this error was regrettably not up to 1 News' usual standard.’
  • ‘Taking the story in full, it was apparent that the tension and clashes in Jerusalem were between Israelis and Palestinians. Christians were discussed in the story (visiting Jerusalem for their own holy purposes) but there was no suggestion that they were involved in any violence.’
  • Despite ‘the error in the script, most viewers would have recognised that the presenter's reference to Christians in the introduction was a mistake’ which was ‘implicitly corrected by the full context of the story’. TVNZ did not consider the error would have significantly affected the audience’s understanding of the item as a whole.
  • TVNZ also considered the fairness standard did not apply to Christians (or Jewish people) as they are ‘not organisations in the sense envisioned by this Standard.’ In any event, TVNZ did not consider the item treated Christians unfairly.

Jurisdiction – scope of complaint

[5]  Upon referral to the Authority, the complainant sought to also raise the programme information, violence, discrimination and denigration, and balance standards.

[6]  Under section 8(1B) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, the Authority is only able to consider complaints under the standard(s) raised in the original complaint to the broadcaster. However, in limited circumstances, the Authority can consider standards not raised in the original complaint where it can be reasonably implied into the wording, and where it is reasonably necessary in order to properly consider the complaint.1

[7]  In our view the language in the original complaint (paragraph [3]) was focused on the accuracy and fairness standards, and we cannot reasonably imply the additional standards. As such, our decision is limited to accuracy and fairness which we consider adequately capture the key concerns raised.

The standards

[8]  The purpose of the accuracy standard2 is to protect the public from being significantly misinformed.3 It states broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure any news, current affairs or factual programme is accurate in relation to all material points of fact, and does not mislead. Being ‘misled’ is defined as being given ‘a wrong idea or impression of the facts.4

[9]  The fairness standard5 protects the dignity and reputation of those featured in programmes.6 It ensures individuals and organisations are dealt with justly and fairly and protected from unwarranted damage.

Our Analysis

[10]  We have watched the broadcast and read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

[11]  As a starting point, we considered the right to freedom of expression. It is our role to weigh up the right to freedom of expression against any harm potentially caused by the broadcast. We may only intervene and uphold a complaint where limiting the right to freedom of expression is reasonable and justified.7

[12]  The broadcaster has acknowledged the introductory statement complained about was inaccurate by referring to ‘Christians’ rather than ‘Muslims’ or ‘Palestinians’. It has also acknowledged the need for care when reporting on the Israel-Palestine conflict, which has been highlighted in past Authority decisions.8

[13]  However, considering the broadcast in its entirety, the error in the introduction was not in our view likely to materially affect the audience’s understanding of the item as a whole. Immediately following the introduction, the reporter stated the correct groups involved in the violence (Israeli police and Palestinian Muslims). Most viewers would also have likely understood the item discussed an event in the context of the Palestine-Israel conflict. Christians were only mentioned later in the item, in the context of their own Easter celebrations. There is no suggestion the item itself breached standards, with the complainant themself noting ‘The article itself I felt was balanced’.

[14]  We therefore do not find any breach of the accuracy standard.

[15]  The fairness standard is concerned with preventing undue harm to the dignity and reputation of any person or organisation taking part or referred to in a programme. Similar to previous complaints, we do not consider a religion, which is a set of beliefs, is an ‘organisation’ for the purposes of the standard.9 In any event, for the reasons outlined above, we do not consider Christians were treated unfairly taking the broadcast as a whole.

[16]  Accordingly we also do not uphold the complaint under the fairness standard.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
 

 

Susie Staley
Chair
20 July 2022    

 

 

Appendix

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

1  Phillip Kemp’s formal complaint – 19 April 2022

2  TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 17 May 2022

3  Kemp’s referral to the Authority – 31 May 2022

4  TVNZ’s confirmation of no further comments – 28 June 2022


1 Attorney General of Samoa v TVWorks Ltd [2012] NZHC 131, [2012] NZAR 407 at [62]
2 Standard 9, Free-To-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice
3 Commentary: Accuracy, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 18
4 Attorney General of Samoa v TVWorks Ltd [2012] NZHC 131, [2012] NZAR 407 at [98]
5 Standard 11, Free-To-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice
6 Commentary: Fairness, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 21
7 Freedom of Expression: Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 6
8 Wellington Palestine Group and Mediaworks TV Ltd, Decision No. 2018-053
9 See Bowers, Patel and Universal Church of the Kingdom of God and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2012-050 at [42]; Richard-Howes and Wilson and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2011-019 at [42]; and De Villiers and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2009-163 at [16]