Wolf and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2005-056
- Joanne Morris (Chair)
- Tapu Misa
- Paul France
- Diane Musgrave
- Graham Wolf
ProgrammeEating Media Lunch
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Eating Media Lunch – showed magazine photograph which reported that celebrities Charlotte Dawson and Nicky Watson had moved into a flat together – photograph included women’s Chihuahua dogs – presenter said “Cricket and Harper have recently moved in together” – allegedly offensive, unfair and deceptive
Decline to determine complaint under s11(b) of Broadcasting Act 1989
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 An episode of Eating Media Lunch, broadcast at 10.00pm on 5 April 2005, referred to an issue of New Zealand Woman’s Weekly featuring a photograph of celebrity flatmates Charlotte Dawson and Nicky Watson, and their pet dogs. The presenter referred to the dogs and said “Cricket and Harper have recently moved in together”.
 Graham Wolf complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the comment was offensive and unfair to the named celebrities. He contended that the item breached the standards relating to good taste and decency, balance, accuracy, fairness, and programme information.
 TVNZ declined to consider the complaint that the item was unbalanced, or inaccurate. Those standards, it wrote, applied only to “news current affairs and factual programmes” and were not relevant. It assessed the complaint under Standard 1 (good taste and decency), Standard 6 (fairness), and Standard 8 (programme information).
Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant
 TVNZ considered that the complainant had made far more of the brief reference to the Woman’s Weekly photograph than had been intended. It emphasised that the item was intended to mock the interest some magazines showed in celebrities. Accordingly, TVNZ considered that the item did not breach any of the standards.
Referral to the Authority
 Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s decision, Mr Wolf referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
 In a lengthy letter of referral, Mr Wolf repeated the allegations contained in his complaint. He dismissed TVNZ’s comments as “laughable”, and did not accept that the item’s reference to the Woman’s Weekly article was a joke. Mr Wolf also reiterated these views in his final submission to the Authority.
 The members of the Authority have viewed a tape of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.
 It is clear from the correspondence that the complainant considered the broadcast was intended to denigrate one of the celebrities involved. The Authority, however, takes from the programme no negative inference in respect of the celebrities. It considers that the complainant has fundamentally misinterpreted the item, which instead was designed to lampoon women’s magazines. Accordingly, the Authority considers that this complaint did not raise an issue of broadcasting standards.
 The Authority notes that this complaint is the third it has received this year from Mr Wolf in which he has argued that an item on Eating Media Lunch intended to denigrate the same celebrity. The Authority has dismissed that aspect of each complaint on the basis that it has not raised any issue of broadcasting standards.
 While the Authority declines to determine this complaint “in all the circumstances” under s.11(b) of the Broadcasting Act, it points to its power under s.11(a) to decline to determine “frivolous, vexatious, or trivial” complaints. If the Authority uses that provision, it can also consider an award of costs against a complainant under s.16(2)(a).
 The Authority notes that it may use these provisions if it receives from the complainant further similar complaints.
For the above reasons, the Authority declines to determine this complaint in all the circumstances under s.11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
18 August 2005
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
- Graham Wolf’s formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 29 April 2005
- TVNZ’s initial response to Mr Wolf – 2 May 2005
- TVNZ’s response to the formal complaint – 19 May 2005
- Mr Wolf’s referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 10 June 2005
- TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 16 June 2005
- Mr Wolf’s final comment – 14 July 2005