BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Morgan and NZME Radio Ltd - 2021-131 (20 December 2021)

Members
  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • John Gillespie
  • Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i
Dated
Complainant
  • Osmyn Morgan
Number
2021-131
Channel/Station
Newstalk ZB # 2

Summary 

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

The Authority has declined to determine a complaint under the discrimination and denigration standard about an item on Mike Hosking Breakfast. The complainant was concerned about a discussion of unvaccinated health workers, who do not amount to a relevant section of society for the purposes of the standard. The remainder of the complaint reflected the complainant’s personal views and in all the circumstances (including scientific consensus around the safety of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine), the Authority considered it should not determine the complaint.

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


The broadcast

[1]  On 23 September 2021, Mike Hosking made the following comments on his programme Mike Hosking Breakfast:

Back to the business of the vaccine rollout. Unless we speed up, it could be late November before 90% of the country is fully vaccinated. We’ve seen our overall rate – the Government is counting this by the way and they are now wrong – spike way higher than Australia for a period of time and many other western countries, but it’s dropped back, in fact we are now vaccinating slower than what Australia is. And then we’ve got the vaccine mandate they started talking about yesterday for health

workers, these numbers are shocking, shocking. In a couple of DHBs around the country, 90% of all staff are jabbed, that would be Auckland, Wellington, also Waitemata. Counties Manukau is at 87%. But the Bay of Plenty – these are health workers – these are nurses and doctors – health workers, the Bay of Plenty and Canterbury DHB area the number is at 65%. What are you doing in health and not being vaccinated? I don’t get it. Overall it’s estimated about 75% of the roughly 80,000 strong DHB workforce is fully vaccinated. If that’s the best they can do, mandates can’t come fast enough. You either get jabbed or you don’t work, simple as that.

The complaint

[2]  Osmyn Morgan complained this programme breached the discrimination and denigration standard:

  • The broadcast was ‘normalising…healthcare discrimination’, specifically ‘against all workers in the Bay of Plenty and Canterbury DHB area, based on their occupational status as unvaccinated and employed’.
  • ‘Their reasons for not being vaccinated could be many including but not limited to religion, culture and political beliefs.’

[3]  The complainant accused NZME of ‘endless propaganda on this issue’. In his referral to the BSA, he wrote ‘I believe they have been "Grooming" the public to accept the [blackening] of a group of New Zealanders that do not want to get vaccinated… What I propose is…to force the actual debate of the whole Covid-19 situation in NZ’. The complainant outlined what positions and who he thought the broadcaster should be interviewing:

I believe NZME will not be in breach if they actually started debating NZDSOS.com view point. That being, as far as I understand it to be in summary, we are not in a Health Emergency because cheap alternative medication is available (ivermectin) if we actually formulate a plan for early prevention\treatment, to stop our ICU beds being filled and the hospitals being over run with sick people.

What I propose is equal and fair air time for representatives from NZDSOS.com, Voices For Freedom, The [lawyer] Sue Grey who is challenging the Governments illegal mandates, to front on the Broadcasters platform being Newstalk ZB morning and drive time. Only then can a Broadcaster claim to be stimulating a robust debate and not be accused of "Grooming"\"Encouraging" the public to accept open discrimination.

The broadcaster’s response

[4]  NZME did not uphold the complaint for the following reasons:

  • ‘…the host’s comments were directed at unvaccinated health workers, who are not a recognised section of the community within the meaning of this standard’.
  • ‘…the comments complained of do not contain the level of invective required to constitute a breach of this standard’.
  • ‘…we note that the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers introduced by the Government earlier this month serves to protect those they treat’. 

Outcome: declined to determine

[5]  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.

[6]  We decline to determine this complaint for the following reasons:

  • We have previously found:
    • there is consensus around the safety of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine,1 and the lack of evidence regarding the efficacy of ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment.2
    • the discrimination and denigration standard does not apply to the ‘unvaccinated’ or those who oppose vaccines.3
  • Much of the complaint relates to the complainant’s personal views as to what perspectives the broadcaster should include in its programming. This is a matter of personal preference and editorial discretion which does not raise broadcasting standards issues.4

[7]  Finally, we note the broadcaster’s response was one day outside the 20 working day period for response. However, this did not impact the complainant’s ability to refer the complaint to the Authority or our ability to consider it.

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

 

Susie Staley
Acting Chair
20 December 2021  

 

 

Appendix

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

1  Osmyn Morgan’s complaint to NZME – 23 September 2021

2  NZME’s decision on the complaint – 24 October 2021

3  Morgan’s referral to the Authority – 31 October 2021

4  NZME’s response to the referral – 16 November 2021

5  Morgan’s confirmation of no further comments – 17 November 2021


1 Donald and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2021-033 at [15]–[18]
2 Anderson and Discovery NZ Ltd, Decision No. 2021-122 at [20]
3 See Donald and Television New Zealand Ltd, as above at [23]; and Gray, Scott, Vickers & Vink and MediaWorks TV Ltd, Decision No. 2019-020 at [25]
4 See section 5(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, which states that complaints based merely on a complainant’s preferences are not, in general, capable of being resolved by a complaints procedure