Terry and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-018 (21 July 2020)
- Judge Bill Hastings (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Paula Rose QSO
- Susie Staley MNZM
- Robert Terry
ProgrammeFive O’Clock Report and Morning Report
BroadcasterRadio New Zealand Ltd
Channel/StationRadio New Zealand
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
The Authority declined to determine two complaints regarding broadcasts by Radio New Zealand. The first complaint related to a segment on the Five O’Clock Report which featured an interview with National Party MP Mark Mitchell. The second complaint related to a segment on the Morning Report featuring an interview with then leader of the Opposition, Simon Bridges. Robert Terry complained that the Five O’Clock Report segment contained biased coverage and that the Morning Report segment required balance. The Authority found that the complaints did not relate to the content of the broadcast and were not capable of being determined by a complaints procedure. The Authority considered that, in all the circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined by the Authority.
Declined to Determine: Balance
Five O’Clock Report
 On 10 January 2020, a Radio New Zealand (RNZ) broadcast of the Five O’Clock Report included an interview with Mark Mitchell, National Party MP and defence spokesman. Mr Mitchell was interviewed about the New Zealand Defence Force decision to halt training activities of personnel based in Camp Taji in Iraq. In the interview Mr Mitchell discussed the role of New Zealand forces in eliminating Isis in the Middle East.
 On 24 January 2020, an RNZ broadcast of Morning Report included an interview with the leader of the Opposition, National Party MP Simon Bridges, about his recent trip to the Philippines. Mr Bridges was asked about meetings he attended with conservative political figures, namely the country’s Foreign Affairs Secretary and the former boxer turned Senator Manny Pacquiao.
 In considering this complaint, we have listened to the recordings of the broadcasts and read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
 Robert Terry complained that the segment of the Five O’Clock Report contained biased coverage and blamed the Republic of Iran. Mr Terry also submitted:
- The Ambassador of Iran to New Zealand and the Ambassador of the United States of America to New Zealand should be interviewed about the appalling political leadership in America and Britain.
- RNZ should ask New Zealand MPs Simon Bridges, Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters why they ‘lack the real political ability to lead the debate.’
- A hundred senators in America, the majority of which are trained lawyers, lack ‘any real political ability to negotiate with Iran and Syria.’
 Mr Terry made the following complaints about the segment of the Morning Report:
- When discussing violence in the community, balanced reporting is required.
- Mr Bridges should be interviewed about a free public defenders’ service and allowing the due process of the law.
- In relation to this complaint, Mr Terry described a Court appearance on 22 January 2020 where he alleged his briefcase was removed from him and he was verbally abused and assaulted on video.
The broadcaster’s response
 RNZ responded that the matters raised in the complaints were trivial, tangential to the original broadcasts and were not matters that could be addressed through the formal standards process.
Outcome: Declined to Determine
 Section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises the 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.
 In this case, the Authority considers it appropriate to exercise its s 11(b) discretion for the following reasons:
- Mr Terry did not identify any reasons in support of his claims that the Five O’Clock Report broadcast blamed the Republic of Iran and contained biased coverage of a controversial issue.
- The issues raised in his complaint concerning the Five O’Clock Report relating to the political leadership in America and Britain, and the criticism of Mr Bridges, Ms Ardern and Mr Peters do not directly relate to the content of the broadcast.
- With regard to Morning Report, Mr Terry complained that balanced reporting is required when discussing violence in the community. It is unclear which part of the broadcast the complaint was referring to and the complainant did not identify the reasons why he believed the item was unbalanced.
- Mr Terry’s request for Mr Bridges to be interviewed about a free ‘public defenders’ service’ and his account of attending Court did not have any connection to or bearing on the standard raised in his complaint and did not relate to the content of the broadcast.
 The Authority’s role is to consider complaints about content broadcast. Mr Terry’s complaints did not relate to the content broadcast; rather they were complaints about broader political issues and personal experiences, which at most were tangentially related to the subject matter of the broadcast. The broadcasting standards complaints process is not the appropriate forum for such views to be presented and debated. Therefore, in all the circumstances of the complaint, we consider that this complaint 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
Judge Bill Hastings
21 July 2020
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Robert Terry’s first complaint to RNZ – 10 January 2020
2 RNZ’s response to Mr Terry – 14 February 2020
3 Mr Terry’s second complaint to RNZ – 24 January 2020
4 RNZ’s response to Mr Terry – 12 February 2020
5 Mr Terry’s referral to the BSA – 20 February 2020
6 RNZ’s response to the referral – 25 February 2020
7 Mr Terry’s final comments – 5 March 2020