BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Parlane and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-075 (4 February 2020)


[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
The Authority declined to determine a complaint regarding a news item covering the expansion of a sexual violence court pilot. The complainant submitted that the victim advocate interviewed in the item should not have been interviewed and should not have been referred to as a rape survivor. The Authority concluded that, in all the circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined by the Authority. The Authority found the concerns raised in the complaint are matters of editorial discretion and personal preference rather than broadcasting standards, and are therefore not capable of being determined by the broadcasting standards complaints procedure.

Declined to determine: Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Accuracy, Privacy, Fairness


[1]  An item on Checkpoint covering calls to fund specialist sexual violence courts nationwide after a two-year trial included comment from Louise Nicholas. Ms Nicholas was introduced as, ‘victims advocate Louise Nicholas, a rape survivor herself…’

[2]  The programme was broadcast at 5.30pm on RNZ National on 14 August 2019. The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

The complaint

[3]  Mr Parlane complained that the broadcast breached nine broadcasting standards.1 He took issue with Louise Nicholas’ involvement in the broadcast and in particular the use of the phrase ‘rape survivor’ in the introduction.

[4]  RNZ did not uphold the complaint, saying:

RNZ cannot agree with your characterisation of the item. Ms Nicholas describes herself as a ‘rape survivor’ and RNZ’s editorial policy is to respect how people self-identify. Such a description does not threaten any of the standard[s] nominated in your complaint.

Outcome: Declined to Determine

[5]  Section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises this 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.

[6]  In this case, the Authority considers it appropriate to exercise this discretion and decline to determine Mr Parlane’s complaint on the grounds the complaint does not raise any issues of broadcasting standards that warrant a determination by the Authority. The complainant’s views regarding who may rightfully describe themselves as a ‘rape survivor’, and questions he thought ought to have been put to Ms Nicholas about her past, which had no relevance to this item, are matters of personal preference and editorial discretion. These are not matters of broadcasting standards and are not capable of being determined by this complaints procedure.2

For the above reasons the Authority declined to determine the complaint.

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  James Parlane’s formal complaint – 16 August 2019

2  RNZ’s response to the complaint – 11 September 2019

3  Mr Parlane’s referral to the Authority – 11 September 2019

4  RNZ’s confirmation of no further comment – 3 October 2019

1 Standard 1: Good Taste and Decency; Standard 2: Programme Information; Standard 4: Violence; Standard 5: Law and Order; Standard 6: Discrimination and Denigration; Standard 8: Balance; Standard 9: Accuracy; Standard 10: Privacy; Standard 11: Fairness
2 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