Parvomai and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-009 (22 June 2021)
- Judge Bill Hastings (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Paula Rose QSO
- Susie Staley MNZM
- Iskra Parvomai
ProgrammeNights and Checkpoint
BroadcasterRadio New Zealand Ltd
Channel/StationRadio New Zealand
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
The Authority has declined to determine two complaints on the basis they were trivial – one about a teaser for a Nights interview that allegedly mispronounced ‘Rhondda’, and one about a Checkpoint item that referred to England instead of the United Kingdom during a discussion about educational achievement of countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Declined to Determine: Accuracy (section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 – trivial)
 On 8 December 2020, a teaser for an interview on Nights with Karyn Hay, with United Kingdom MP Chris Bryant, about his book detailing the role of ten MPs who were ‘queer or nearly queer’ in the Second World War, referred to Mr Bryant as the MP for Rhondda Valley.
 On 9 December 2020, a Checkpoint item discussed the educational achievement of countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD):
[New Zealand children’s] average scores in the TIMMS assessment, which runs every five years, are lower than those of children in Australia, Canada and England, and well behind the leading nations like Singapore.
 Iskra Parvomai complained the broadcasts breached the accuracy standard:
- The teaser mispronounced Rhondda as ‘Ron Dar like the female name’ instead of ‘Rhon Thar’, where the ‘dd’ at the end is one character in Welsh and pronounced ‘th’ as in ‘the’ or ‘thought’.
- The Checkpoint item wrongly referred to England rather than the UK; England is not in the OECD and not ‘interchangeable’ with the UK.
The broadcaster’s response
 RNZ did not uphold the complaints:
- ‘A careful review of [the 8 December broadcast] indicates that the name was pronounced with a “th” rather than a hard “d” as [the] complaint suggests.’
- The reference to England instead of the UK was unlikely to have misled the audience. The thrust of the story was the continuing trend in New Zealand’s declining performance compared with other OECD countries in terms of educational achievement in Mathematics and Science. The error would not have affected listeners’ understanding of this trend.
Outcome: Declined to determine
 Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises the Authority to decline to determine complaints if it considers they are frivolous, vexatious, or trivial. A ‘trivial’ complaint is defined as 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
 We consider both of these complaints to be trivial. This is because:
- On listening to the 8 December broadcast, the pronunciation of Rhondda appears to be correct (with a ‘th’ rather than ‘d’ sound), and in any event it was not material to listeners’ understanding of the item.
- The reference to England instead of the UK, as a country in the OECD, was also immaterial in the context of an item focused on New Zealand’s trend of declining performance compared to other OECD countries.2
 Accordingly, we decline to determine both complaints.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaints.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
Judge Bill Hastings
22 June 2021
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Iskra Parvomai’s formal complaint correspondence – 9 December 2020
2 RNZ’s decision on the complaint – 18 January 2021
3 Iskra Parvomai’s referral to the Authority – 2 February 2021
4 RNZ’s response to the referral – 2 March 2021
5 Iskra Parvomai’s final comment – 3 March 2021
1 Guidance: BSA Power to Decline to Determine a Complaint, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 66
2 See Lowes and MediaWorks Radio Ltd, Decision No. 2020-004; Lowes and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2018-063; Lowes and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2006-104