Media Matters in NZ and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2021-043 (11 August 2021)
- Judge Bill Hastings (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Paula Rose QSO
- Susie Staley MNZM
- Media Matters in NZ
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
In an item about road rage on Seven Sharp, the presenters were discussing slow drivers when Jeremy Wells made the comments ‘grandpa’ and ‘always a grandpa’. Media Matters in NZ complained the comment breached the discrimination and denigration and accuracy standards. The Authority declined to determine the complaint on the basis it was trivial or frivolous.
Declined to determine: Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy
 On 24 March 2021, an item on Seven Sharp discussed the issue of road rage in New Zealand. The introduction to the segment follows:
Hilary Barry First, we're talking road rage, yes we've all got a story because there's no denying Kiwis can get a bit cranky behind the wheel.
Jeremy Wells A large chunk of us have fallen victim to a road rage incident. So whether you're the rager or the ragee what's it going to take to get more Zen on the road?
 At the end of the segment, the Mr Wells commented upon Mrs Barry’s driving habits. The relevant excerpt follows:
Mr Wells Yeah, I've done a few k's with Hilary here in the passenger seat and I've got to say that you're less of a rager and more of a commentator.
Mrs Barry Oh, yeah, that's true. That's true. I find it does calm me. I just sort of look at my rear vision mirror, see what's coming. And I do, I do commentate like, oh, here's some idiot coming up from behind me. Oh yea, yea, yea, that'd be right. Lamborghini mid-life crisis. And then you'd be on the bridge, you see somebody going 60 in the fast lane you go, yeah this person is going to pull out in front of me. I better watch out. Oh sure enough, sure enough, no indication. Appalling.
Mr Wells Grandpa.
Mrs Barry Yep always.
Mr Wells Always a Grandpa.
 Media Matters in NZ complained the broadcast breached the discrimination and denigration and accuracy standards for the following reasons:
- ‘What are we to take from this? That all drivers exhibiting bad behaviour are over 65? Where is [Mr Wells’] evidence of this?’
- The comments were ‘grossly abusive and discriminatory behaviour towards the elderly’.
Outcome: Declined to determine
 We have watched the broadcast and read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
 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.
 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.1
 In this case, we are satisfied there is no foundation for the complaint. Reasonable viewers were unlikely to interpret the comments as a factual assessment of grandfathers’ driving abilities or contribution to ‘bad behaviour’ on the road. In addition, such comments do not meet the high threshold required to find they ‘encourage’ discrimination or denigration. Comments will not breach the discrimination and denigration standard simply because they offend people, or because they are rude.2
 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.
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
11 August 2021
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Media Matters’ original complaint to TVNZ – 24 March 2021
2 TVNZ’s response to Media Matters – 22 April 2021
3 Media Matters’ referral to the Authority – 7 May 2021
4 TVNZ’s confirmation of no further comments – 18 May 2021
1 As above
2 Commentary: Discrimination and Denigration, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 16