BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Stewart and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-062 (6 September 2021)

  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Paula Rose QSO
  • Melanie Stewart
Newshub Late
Discovery NZ Ltd


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

The Authority has declined to determine a complaint about the introduction to a news item on New Zealand Rugby which used the terms ‘blasted’ and ‘bombshell’ immediately after an item reporting on violence in Gaza. The Authority considered that the complaint raised issues which were editorial decisions not properly addressed by broadcasting standards, so should not be determined by the Authority.

Declined to Determine: Good Taste and Decency (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act)

The broadcast

[1]  On 14 May 2021, Newshub Late, broadcast on Three, covered developments in Gaza:

Israeli tanks and troops are amassing on the border with Gaza tonight, signalling another escalation in the conflict. The latest worrying development is violence on the streets of Israel between Arab and Jewish communities, sparking fear of a civil war.

[2]  This report, discussing violence and bombings, was followed with a report on New Zealand Rugby:

New Zealand Rugby has blasted the Players Association for attempting to stop the controversial Silverlight deal by publicly sharing a counterproposal. The bombshell alternative deal revealed today would see ownership of the game remain in New Zealand.

The complaint

[3]  Melanie Stewart complained about the use of the words ‘blasted’ and ‘bombshell’ in the report immediately following coverage of bombings and violence in Gaza. She submitted this was ‘a very poor choice of words’ and was ‘not appropriate straight after that story’.

The broadcaster’s response

[4]  Discovery did not uphold the complaint, submitting:

The Committee is satisfied that the language used in the presenter's introduction was acceptable to screen in a late-night news bulletin and it was unrelated to the previous item reporting on Gaza. The report did not contain any coarse language and in our view, did not exceed audience expectations of a news programme or the boundaries of the good taste and decency standard.

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 its s 11(b) discretion. The scripting of unrelated news items and their ordering in a broadcast is a matter of editorial discretion and does not generally raise issues capable of being addressed by broadcasting standards. Additionally, we do not see the complainant’s concerns as raising issues of any material potential harm to audiences. Therefore, in all the circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined by the Authority.

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


Susie Staley
Acting Chair
6 September 2021    




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

1  Melanie Stewart’s complaint to Discovery – 18 May 2021

2  Discovery’s decision on the complaint – 10 June 2021

3  Ms Stewart’s referral to the Authority – 10 June 2021

4  Discovery’s confirmation of no further comments – 11 June 2021