BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Wratt and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2019-031 (17 September 2019)

  • Judge Bill Hastings (Chair)
  • Paula Rose QSO
  • Wendy Palmer
  • Susie Staley MNZM
  • David Wratt
The Project
MediaWorks TV Ltd
Three (MediaWorks)


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

The Authority declined to determine a complaint regarding a news item covering animal welfare in rodeos. David Wratt complained that the item, which covered loss of animal life in rodeos, should focus on the deaths of babies as human life is more valuable than animal life. As this complaint relates to a matter of editorial discretion and personal preference, it is not capable of being determined by a complaints procedure. The Authority considered that, in all circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined by the Authority. 

Declined to Determine: Good Taste and Decency; Programme Information; Discrimination and Denigration; Balance; Fairness


The broadcast

[1]  A segment on The Project covered the issue of animal welfare in rodeos, focusing on the recent deaths of four animals, including coverage of protests by SAFE, and interviews with Green MP Gareth Hughes and Lyal Cocks, the NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association President.

[2]  The segment was broadcast on 11 March 2019 at 7:00pm on Three. As part of our consideration of this complaint, we have watched a recording of the broadcast and read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

The complaint

[3]  David Wratt complained that the item breached a number of broadcasting standards as a broadcast focusing on the loss of life should cover the deaths of babies rather than animals. Mr Wratt argued that reporting on the deaths of animals rather than humans devalues human life. He made submissions regarding the number of deaths of babies in New Zealand, and arguing that human life should not be valued less than animal life.

[4]  Mr Wratt also submitted that ‘investigative reporting is dead and buried’ and that ‘New Zealand news follows a politically-correct agenda whose aim is to destroy Western society’.

[5]  MediaWorks responded that the complainant’s concern was ‘in relation to the mistreatment of babies in New Zealand’, and it was clear that the item identified was about the issue of animal welfare in rodeo events. MediaWorks did not uphold the complaint as a complaint can only be considered in relation to the material broadcast, which did not breach the nominated standards.

Outcome: Declined to Determine

[6]  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.

[7]  In this case, the Authority considers it appropriate to exercise its s 11(b) discretion on the following grounds:

a)  The complaint relates to a matter of broadcaster editorial discretion (the subject matter of the broadcast) and the complainant’s preferences (that the broadcaster ought to investigate human baby deaths rather than animal deaths). Such a complaint is not, in general, capable of being resolved by a complaints procedure because it relates to the exercise of a discretion.1

b)  The arguments raised by Mr Wratt have limited connection to or bearing on the standards raised in his complaint, and do not directly correlate to the content of the broadcast.2

[8]  The nominated broadcast covers a very specific issue, animal deaths during a rodeo. The Authority’s role is to consider complaints about content broadcast, and Mr Wratt’s complaint is not about the content broadcast but about other content that he wished to see included. The broadcasting standards complaints process is not the appropriate forum for such views to be presented. 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



Judge Bill Hastings

17 September 2019



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

1                 David Wratt’s formal complaint – 11 March 2019

2                 MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 8 May 2019

3                 Mr Wratt’s referral to the Authority – 23 May 2019

4                 MediaWorks’ confirmation of no further comment – 31 May 2019


1 Broadcasting Act 1989, s 5(c)
2 See Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. ID2018-097