Unbalanced and inaccurate greyhound racing news item breached standards
A Newshub item discussing the alleged misuse of public funds for safety improvements at a greyhound racetrack was unbalanced and inaccurate, the Broadcasting Standards Authority has found.
The Authority has upheld a complaint by Greyhound Racing New Zealand (GRNZ) that the broadcast screened on Newshub Live at 6pm on 29 May 2022 breached the balance and accuracy standards.
The item reported on the alleged “reinstatement” of dangerous starting boxes at Manawatū Raceway. It went on to detail issues with the track and included comments from Racing Minister Grant Robertson and SPCA scientific officer Dr Alison Vaughan, as well as a paraphrased statement from GRNZ.
GRNZ alleged the programme did not present a balanced view of the issue and misled the audience on key facts about what action was taken at the raceway.
The BSA found the item was presented in a way that favoured the perspectives of those critical of the racing club’s actions, without giving reasonable opportunities to provide balance from the other side of the story.
It also found that a number of factual errors in the item meant, overall, viewers were materially misled.
The Authority acknowledged media play a vital role in scrutinising public expenditure. The programme raised questions and explored allegations that “carried value and public interest in terms of whether taxpayer dollars had been appropriately spent”, it said.
“However, there is also public interest in ensuring the audience has the benefit of both sides of the story…In this case, the broadcaster’s presentation of the facts and favouring of particular (critical) perspectives undermined the public interest in the story, causing potential harm under the balance and accuracy standards that outweighed freedom of expression,” the BSA said.
In finding a balance standard breach, the Authority said it did not consider GRNZ’s countering perspective was given a “fair voice” or that the broadcaster gave “reasonable opportunities” for balance to be provided on that side of the issue.
It found the item also breached the accuracy standard as the broadcast overall was misleading and Newshub failed to make reasonable efforts to ensure it was accurate and did not mislead.
“A more complete and neutral presentation of the facts would have better served the public interest and ensured viewers were not materially misled,” the Authority said.
The decision can be seen on the BSA website here.
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