Inaccurate statement about unions paying strikers breached broadcasting standards
A comment on Mike Hosking Breakfast about people on strike receiving full pay from unions was inaccurate and breached broadcasting standards, the Broadcasting Standards Authority has found.
The Authority has upheld a complaint that the show’s 12 June 2023 broadcast, aired in the lead-up to planned teacher strikes, breached the accuracy standard.*
During this broadcast, host Mike Hosking responded to listener feedback asking whether “striking teachers do all this on full pay”, saying: “Of course they do…people who go on strike have always been on full pay. They're supported by the unions.”
In a decision published today, the BSA found this statement was materially inaccurate in the context of the broadcast.
Text messages read out later in the programme commenting on the pay situation for teachers on rolling strikes as opposed to full strikes did not serve as a correction to Hosking’s earlier inaccuracy, and the broadcaster did not make reasonable efforts to ensure accuracy, the BSA found.
“Based on the factual background, we consider the host’s statement was factually incorrect. While some unions, such as the PPTA, do have ‘hardship funds’, based on readily available information, it is clearly not true that unions pay all members their full salary during strike action (even if interpreting Hosking’s statement as applying only to teachers and teachers’ unions).
“While the relevant segments made up a small part of the broadcast overall, we consider stating that striking workers are paid by unions was material in the context of discussing striking teachers and teachers’ unions, and would affect the audience’s understanding of that topic as a whole.
“Recognising that Hosking is in a privileged and influential position as a well-known national broadcaster, we are satisfied that upholding the accuracy complaint in this case does not unreasonably limit the broadcaster’s free speech or prevent Hosking from expressing his views.
“Rather, it reasonably requires Hosking to express his views in a way that does not propagate misleading information that may affect listeners’ understanding of issues discussed,” the BSA said.
The decision can be seen on the BSA website here.
* The accuracy standard’s purpose is to protect the public from being significantly misinformed. It states broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure news, current affairs or factual content is accurate in relation to all material points of fact, and does not mislead. Where a material error of fact has occurred, broadcasters should correct it within a reasonable period after they have been put on notice.
ABOUT THE BROADCASTING STANDARDS AUTHORITY
The BSA is an independent Crown entity that oversees the broadcasting standards regime in New Zealand. It determines complaints that broadcasts have breached standards, undertakes research and oversees the development of broadcasting standards in consultation with broadcasters.