Following the broadcast of a Labour campaign advertisement on Radio Sport Weekender, presenter Mark Watson commented: ‘I like Jacinda Ardern’s optimism; I just want to know how you pay for it all. That’s all I want to know… if it’s that easy, I think everybody would have done it by now.’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this comment amounted to alleged political editorialising, which was unacceptable and unprofessional. While listeners might not have expected the host to comment on political issues during a sports programme, this was an opinion open to the host to express, provided broadcasting standards were maintained. The Authority recognised the important role of the media during an election period, when political parties and leaders should expect to be subject to robust scrutiny, and found that Mr Watson’s comments did not result in the Labour Party, or its leader Ms Ardern, being treated unfairly. The Authority found the balance standard did not apply to the Radio Sport Weekender programme, as listeners would not expect to hear balanced or authoritative coverage of election issues during this talkback sports programme.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance