BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

McDonald and Mediaworks TV Ltd - 2019-076 (4 February 2020)

  • Judge Bill Hastings (Chair)
  • Paula Rose QSO
  • Susie Staley MNZM
  • Don McDonald
MediaWorks TV Ltd
Three (MediaWorks)


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

The Authority declined to determine a complaint about a news item featuring an eleven year old boy who won a trip to go to a Rugby World Cup 2019 game in Japan with Richie McCaw. The Authority was unable to identify any elements in the broadcast that would raise any concerns under the standards raised. The Authority declined to determine the complaint on the basis it was frivolous and trivial. 

Decline to determine: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence, Alcohol, Accuracy

The broadcast

[1]  The broadcast in question was an item on Newshub live at 6pm which was broadcast on 17 August 2019 at 6:33pm on Three.

[2]  The item featured Richie McCaw and the eleven year old boy who won a trip to Japan to watch the Rugby World Cup with him.

The complaint

[3]  Don McDonald complained that the broadcast breached the following standards of the Free-To-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice:

  • Standard 1, good taste and decency
  • Standard 3, children’s interests
  • Standard 4, violence
  • Standard 7, alcohol
  • Standard 9, accuracy.

[4]  Mr McDonald’s specific concerns were unclear but he appeared to consider the trip posed some risk to the child. He wrote:

Sir Richie McCaw I'm taking n 11 yo unrelated boy with all blacks rugby world cup Japan. Abduct. Custody. Tamariki safety. Carer. Authority. International child trafficking. Accompany. With. Control. Badly worded phrase. Surprise announce. Mother. Rugby mad. Lives and breathes. Brain washing. Standards. Seat in stands. Hype. Accuracy code. Misleading. Entertainment. Sick society. Culture.

[5]  MediaWorks TV Ltd responded that it was satisfied the item did not breach the nominated standards and noted that (as depicted in the item) the child’s prize included a second ticket for a parental chaperone. It did not uphold the complaint.

[6]   In considering this complaint, we have viewed a recording of the broadcast and read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

 Outcome: Declined to determine

[7]  Under section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, the Authority can decline to determine a complaint if it considers the complaint frivolous or trivial.

[8]  The policy behind section 11 is that the time and resources of the Authority, which are, in the end, sustained by broadcasters and by the people of New Zealand, should not be wasted in having to deal with matters which objectively have no importance.1

[9]  A ‘frivolous’ complaint is one which is not serious or sensible, and is unworthy of being treated in the same way as a complaint which has some merit. A ‘trivial’ complaint is one which is of little or no importance and is at such a level not to justify it being treated as a serious complaint.2

[10]  Mr McDonald has not clearly identified why the relevant broadcast breached any of the nominated standards, and we are unable to identify any grounds for the complaint (particularly noting that it was clear from the broadcast the boy would be accompanied by a parent).

[11]  We therefore decline to determine the complaint under section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 on the basis that it is frivolous and trivial.3

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority



Judge Bill Hastings


4 February 2020    





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

1  Don McDonald’s formal complaint –17 August 2019

2  MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 13 September 2019

3  Mr McDonald’s referral to the Authority – 14 September 2019

4  MediaWorks’ response to the referral – 26 September 2019

1 Guidance: BSA Power to Decline to Determine a Complaint, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 63
2 As above
3 As above