You can complain directly to the BSA about an election programme that you consider breaches the Election Programmes Code. For information on the Election Programmes Code click here.
- We deal with complaints about election programmes, which are programmes broadcast on television or radio by or for a political party or candidate during the election period (for a general election or by-election). They usually appear as short promotional/campaign clips for the relevant political party or candidate. The election period is the month before the election polling day (For the 2020 General Election that period runs from 13 September until midnight on 16 October 2020).
- Complaints about other programmes that relate to an election (eg news and current affairs coverage, satire or comment) should be made under the Radio, Free-to-Air or Pay Television Codes and must first go to the broadcaster (within 20 working days of the broadcast).
- Other agencies such as the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Electoral Commission and NZ Media Council also deal with election-related complaints. To find out where to send your concerns or a complaint about election material, see our Who does what? election guide. If we are not able to deal with your complaint, we may forward it to the agency that may be able to assist you.
Some deadlines apply:
- You have 60 working days from the date of broadcast of an election programme to complain directly to the BSA about a breach of the Election Programmes Code. We encourage all complainants to make complaints as soon after the broadcast as possible.
The easiest way to submit your complaint is to use the interactive form below. However, you can also make your election programme complaint to us using this PDF form by emailing it to us at email@example.com If you choose to post your complaint to us (PO Box 9213, Wellington 6141) it must reach us within 60 working days from the date of broadcast.
If you need further assistance you can phone us on 0800 366 996.
BSA fast-track process for election complaints:
- From the period 16 June - 16 October we aim to fast-track consideration of election related complaints. See the fast track process here.
The election programme complaints process is simple but there are a few details you will need to have in hand:
- You need the date, time and channel/station of the broadcast.
- If you saw it online you can still complain if you have the above details of original broadcast.
- If you don’t have this information or it’s not about a TV/radio programme go to FAQs (to find out where to send your complaint)
- If it is an election programme there is a separate process/code
We address complaints about ‘election programmes’ on TV or radio, and decide if they breach the Election Programmes Code. These complaints can be made directly to the BSA and we deal with them via a fast-track process.
Only general elections or by-elections for MPs are covered by this Code.
The BSA also considers complaints about other programmes which may relate to the election (eg, news, current affairs, satire and comment), under normally applicable broadcasting standards. These complaints must first be made to the broadcaster, and then can be referred to the BSA if the complainant is dissatisfied with the response.
Complaints over requirements such as promoter statements, written authorisation, allocation of funding, timing of broadcasting, or expense limits are dealt with by the Electoral Commission. The Advertising Standards Authority and NZ Media Council also deal with complaints about election advertising and coverage.
For more information about who you should complain to, see our Who does what? elections guide.
The Broadcasting Act 1989 defines an election programme as a programme that is broadcast on TV or radio during an election period and:
- encourages or persuades, or appears to encourage or persuade, voters to vote, or not to vote, for a political party or a constituency candidate; or
- advocates support for, or opposes, a constituency candidate or political party; or
- notifies meetings held or to be held in connection with an election.
Only programmes broadcast for political parties or constituency candidates are considered election programmes, and these will usually appear as short promotional/campaign clips.
Programmes initiated by broadcasters or other third parties are not considered ‘election programmes’.
This means TV and radio programmes including news, comment, current affairs or comedy in relation to an election are not subject to the Election Programmes Code.
However, complaints about these programmes can be considered by the broadcaster under the normally applicable broadcasting standards, and then referred to the BSA if the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome.
If the item is a third party-initiated ‘election advertisement’, it may be subject to requirements under the Electoral Act. Complaints about these can be made to the Advertising Standards Authority.