The Authority has declined to determine a complaint that a broadcast covering the name change of an investment and advisory group from ‘First NZ Capital’ to ‘Jarden’ was inaccurate finding that the complaint was frivolous, trivial and vexatious. The Authority ordered the complainant to pay a reasonable portion of costs to the broadcaster to compensate for the time and resources spent in dealing with the complaint.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy
Order: Section 16(2)(a) – $200 costs to the broadcaster
The Authority found it had no jurisdiction to determine a complaint about a segment on Nine to Noon because the complaint did not explicitly or implicitly identify any broadcasting standards breached by the broadcast.
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that quotes from the book ‘Everything is F*cked’ by Mark Manson, broadcast as part of a review of that book, breached the good taste and decency, programme information and violence standards. The Authority noted that the right to freedom of expression allows individuals to express themselves in their own words, provided this does not cause undue harm. In this case, the nature of the item was clearly signalled by the introduction, and the quotes were contextualised by the reviewer who was using them as examples to emphasise and support his criticism of the book. This enabled listeners to make an informed decision about their listening and that of children in their care. Taking into account contextual factors, such as the adult target audience of Nine to Noon and RNZ National, the broadcast was unlikely to unduly distress or disturb listeners, and children were unlikely to have been listening.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Violence
The Authority did not uphold a complaint about a comment made by business commentator, Rod Oram, during a segment on Nine to Noon. The Authority found that Mr Oram’s view as to the effectiveness of a former Chair of a seed business was an opinion that is not subject to the accuracy standard.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
An item on Nine to Noon featured a discussion of the appointment of former NZ Super Fund Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Adrian Orr, as Reserve Bank Governor. During the segment, an RNZ business commentator raised the subject of Mr Orr’s potential replacement as NZ Super Fund CEO, citing Matt Whineray, current acting NZ Super Fund CEO, as a logical replacement. The commentator stated that Mr Whineray had been NZ Super Fund Chief Investment Officer (CIO) for ‘nearly ten years’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this statement was inaccurate because Mr Whineray was appointed CIO in 2014. The Authority found that, as Mr Whineray’s professional experience was only raised briefly in the broadcast, the commentator’s incorrect statement was unlikely to significantly affect the audience’s understanding of the segment as a whole. The complainant also submitted that the broadcast omitted information, which contributed to its inaccuracy as a whole, however the Authority considered these were issues of editorial discretion and personal preference, and were outside the Authority’s jurisdiction.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
Allan Golden complained about two segments broadcast on RNZ’s Morning Report and Nine to Noon programmes. The Authority declined jurisdiction to accept and consider the complaints. The Authority found it was open to the broadcaster to not accept these as valid formal complaints, on the grounds the complaints were based on the complainant’s own opinions of what the broadcasts should include, rather than raising issues of broadcasting standards.
A segment on Nine to Noon featured an interview with Massey Professor Paul Spoonley, titled ‘The changing face of NZ’. The interview discussed increasing diversity in New Zealand and projections for population growth, as suggested by recent data released by Statistics New Zealand. During the interview, presenter Kathryn Ryan commented, ‘it’s also in some ways the argument for immigration, isn’t it, because you’re going to need workers, you’re going to need tax payers, especially as that baby boomer demographic retires, we know there’s some big issues coming up there’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this comment breached the accuracy standard, finding the comment was not a statement of fact to which the standard applied, and it would not have materially affected the audience’s understanding of the interview as a whole.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
An item on Nine to Noon featured an interview with RNZ’s US Correspondent regarding recent political events in the United States, including a brief discussion of the controversy surrounding the Democratic National Party and the release of American political strategist and campaign manager Donna Brazile’s book, Hacks. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this discussion was unbalanced and misleading. The Authority noted the purpose of the item was to hear the views and analysis of RNZ’s US Correspondent on recent political events and news in the US, a small part of which referred to Ms Brazile’s book. The segment did not purport to be an in-depth examination of Ms Brazile’s book or the controversy surrounding the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Primary Election. In this context, the Authority found listeners would not have been misled or left uninformed by the omission of further details from the book and about the DNC, which the complainant wished to be included in the item.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
An item on Nine to Noon featured an interview with the CEO of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. The Authority declined jurisdiction to accept and consider a complaint that this interview did not address issues of corruption within the Fund, finding the complaint raised matters of editorial discretion and personal preference rather than broadcasting standards, and the broadcaster was therefore correct to not accept it as a valid formal complaint.
A segment on Nine to Noon discussed raising the youth justice age. The presenter interviewed a human rights lawyer, a youth worker and the director of JustSpeak. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the segment was unbalanced. While the interviewees featured all supported raising the youth justice age, the presenter referred to the existence of alternative views on a number of occasions during the item. The issue was also canvassed in detail in other media coverage during the period of current interest, therefore audiences would be aware of a variety of perspectives beyond those put forward by the interviewees. It was not necessary, in the interests of balance, for the segment to feature a detailed examination of the opposition to raising the youth justice age, and listeners would not have been left uninformed on the issue as a result of the item.
Not Upheld: Balance
A Nine to Noon programme included a segment featuring UK correspondent Dame Ann Leslie. In response to the host’s question ‘What is on your mind this week?’, Dame Leslie commented on the British Labour Party, its leader Jeremy Corbyn and the Black Lives Matter UK organisation. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that Dame Leslie’s comments constituted an attack on Mr Corbyn, denigrated the BLM UK activists, and were inaccurate and unbalanced. Mr Corbyn and BLM UK were not treated unfairly, as both could reasonably expect to be subject to robust media scrutiny as a consequence of their public profile. While the item was a current affairs piece to which the balance standard applied, the issues were approached from Dame Leslie’s perspective and listeners would not have expected alternative views to be given. The statements complained about were clearly Dame Leslie’s opinion, and so were not subject to the requirements of the accuracy standard. The statements about the BLM UK activists did not reach the high level necessary to constitute discrimination or denigration.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance, Accuracy and Discrimination and Denigration
Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon bulletin included two segments titled ‘What do schools need to do to protect against fraud?’ and ‘Top tips for global investment’. Mr Golden lodged a complaint with RNZ alleging that the segments breached broadcasting standards. RNZ did not accept Mr Golden’s correspondence as a formal complaint on the basis it related to matters of personal preference which are not covered by the broadcasting standards regime. The Authority considered whether it had jurisdiction to accept Mr Golden’s referral of the matter to the BSA. It found it was open to RNZ to find that Mr Golden’s correspondence did not raise matters of broadcasting standards which triggered the formal complaints process. As a valid formal complaint was not made in the first instance, the Authority did not have jurisdiction to accept Mr Golden’s referral of his complaint.
Nine to Noon broadcast an interview with Joan Withers, chair of Mighty River Power, about her career and the energy industry, among other things. The Authority declined to determine a complaint that Ms Withers was not suitable to interview. RNZ's decision to interview Ms Withers is a matter of editorial discretion rather than broadcasting standards. The complainant has previously made similar complaints about Ms Withers and been warned that further similar complaints would be unlikely to be determined in future. Accordingly the Authority declined to determine the present complaint on the basis it was vexatious.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy, Fairness, Responsible Programming
A Nine to Noon host interviewed Carmel Fisher, the founder and managing director of Fisher Funds Management Ltd, about her background and attitudes to business. At the end of the interview, she asked her about recent court action over a family will. A majority of the Authority upheld the complaint that a comment made by Ms Fisher about her role in the proceedings was inaccurate. The Authority unanimously declined to uphold the complaint that the programme was unfair. The Authority did not make any order.
Upheld by Majority: Accuracy
Not Upheld: Fairness
A media commentator on Nine to Noon made comments about the retirement of the editor of the Southland Times. The Authority declined to determine the complaint that the editor was ‘erroneously described… in glowing terms’. The complainant’s concerns about the way the editor was portrayed are matters of personal preference and editorial discretion, not broadcasting standards. The item clearly comprised personal opinion and did not require the presentation of other views.
Declined to Determine: Controversial Issues
During a segment on Nine to Noon, titled ‘Science with Simon Pollard’, science commentator Simon Pollard spoke about ‘the science of conspiracy theories’. The Authority did not uphold two complaints that the host allowed Mr Pollard to make one-sided, inaccurate comments that were highly critical of conspiracy theorists. This was clearly an opinion piece on a topic of human interest, so Mr Pollard’s comments were not subject to standards of accuracy, and the broadcaster was not required to present other significant viewpoints.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration
A news bulletin on Nine to Noon reported that former Act Party leader John Banks had been ordered to stand trial over ‘allegations of electoral fraud’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this was inaccurate, because he was actually standing trial over allegations of ‘filing a false electoral return’. The label ‘electoral fraud’ was used as shorthand to characterise the accusations against Mr Banks, and was also adopted by numerous other news media. The story and the nature of the allegations were widely publicised so viewers would not have been misled.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
A discussion on Nine to Noon of New Zealand's 'three strikes' legislation, the Sentencing and Parole Reform Act 2010, was allegedly unbalanced because it involved only participants who opposed the legislation. In addition, the presenter and participants made statements that were alleged to be inaccurate, misleading, unfair and irresponsible. The broadcaster upheld part of the accuracy complaint but declined to uphold the other aspects of the complaint. The Authority considered that the item discussed a controversial issue of public importance and while the presenter alluded to the existence of other points of view, this did not go far enough – the broadcaster did not make reasonable efforts, or give reasonable opportunities, to present alternative viewpoints. The Authority also found that two aspects of the item were misleading in the absence of balancing or challenging comment.
Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
Not Upheld: Fairness, Responsible Programming
Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i)) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Nine to Noon – contained a discussion about the ‘three strikes’ legislation – involved only participants who opposed the legislation – allegedly unbalanced, inaccurate, unfair and irresponsible – broadcaster upheld part of the accuracy complaint but declined to uphold remaining aspects of the complaint
Standard 4 (controversial issues) – item discussed a controversial issue of public importance – while presenter alluded to the existence of other points of view, this did not go far enough – broadcaster did not make reasonable efforts, or give reasonable opportunities, to present alternative viewpoints – upheld
Standard 5 (accuracy) – two aspects of the item were misleading in the absence of balancing or challenging comment – broadcaster did not make reasonable efforts to ensure item did not mislead – upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
A political commentator on Nine to Noon made comments about the background to negotiations between the Government and Rio Tinto over the Tiwai Point smelter. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the comments were inaccurate: they amounted to the panellist's opinion, not statements of fact, and were high value speech.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
Five items reporting on an episode of escalating violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Gaza Strip were broadcast on Radio New Zealand National. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that they breached the balance standard because they were biased towards the Palestinian position. The broadcaster had clearly made reasonable efforts to present significant viewpoints, including the Israeli perspective, across more than 250 news bulletins and programmes within the period of current interest.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues