On 18 March 2017, RNZ reported on allegations made by the Board of Trustees at Salisbury School, a Nelson school for girls with complex learning needs, that the Ministry of Education (Ministry) had actively discouraged parents from enrolling children at the school so that it could be closed. On 31 March and 6 April 2017, RNZ broadcast a series of items about an alleged lack of funding, resources and support for Northland teachers struggling to cope with violent and disruptive children. The Authority upheld aspects of a complaint from the Ministry that RNZ’s coverage of these issues was unfair and unbalanced. While the Authority acknowledged the high public interest in these stories, and the important role of broadcast media in holding our government entities to account, it found that it was equally important in this case to ensure listeners were fully informed about the issues reported on, and this included being made aware of the Ministry’s views in response. This required the broadcaster to ensure that the Ministry was provided with a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment on the items, prior to broadcast.
Upheld: Balance, Fairness
On 29 July 2017 the complainant raised with the Authority a complaint he had made to RNZ which he considered was outstanding, regarding the use of te reo Māori greetings and closings by presenters on RNZ National. The broadcaster had not accepted the complaint as a formal complaint under the Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook. The Authority therefore did not have jurisdiction to accept the complainant’s referral. The Authority further noted that, even if the complaint referral had been validly made, it would have found the content of the complaint to be trivial and vexatious, and would have declined to determine it.
In March and April 2017, RNZ ran a series of stories about an alleged lack of Ministry of Education (Ministry) funding, resources and support for Northland teachers struggling to cope with violent and disruptive children. A complaint was made to RNZ, on behalf of the Ministry, about a lack of fairness and balance in this coverage. RNZ responded and the complainant then referred the matter to the Authority on the basis that the Ministry was dissatisfied with RNZ’s response. RNZ’s position was that the Ministry’s original complaint was not a valid formal complaint, and therefore the Authority did not have jurisdiction to accept the referral. The Authority found that the complainant lodged a valid formal complaint with the broadcaster and RNZ should have responded formally to the complaint, or at least confirmed with the Ministry whether its concerns were intended to be treated formally. As RNZ did not respond formally to the Ministry’s correspondence, the Authority directed the matter back to the broadcaster to address in the first instance.
Order: Section 13(1)(c) – order directing complaint back to broadcaster to be addressed
The Authority declined to uphold a complaint that a number of cooking and fishing programmes ‘perpetuate the exploitation, abuse, torture and murder of 63 million animals… per year’. Killing and preparing animals to eat is a fact of life, and the complaint was based primarily on personal preferences, not broadcasting standards issues.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Controversial Issues, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming, Children’s Interests, Violence
The Rock. 67 complaints about offensive language. Upheld (good taste and decency, denigration and discrimination, effect on children: various). Declined to determine (various). Not upheld (various)