Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Nine to Noon – interview with Sir Eion Edgar – allegedly in breach of law and order, controversial issues, accuracy, fairness and responsible programming
Standards 2 (law and order), 4 (controversial issues), 5 (accuracy), 6 (fairness) and 8 (responsible programming) – complainant’s concerns did not raise any issues of broadcasting standards – decline to determine under section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 During Nine to Noon, broadcast on Radio New Zealand National on Monday 22 February 2010, the host interviewed Sir Eion Edgar as he had recently been named Senior New Zealander of the Year. The host introduced him saying:
He’s chairman of independent investment firm Forsyth Barr, former president of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, a trustee of the Arts Foundation and numerous other foundations and trusts, as well as the director of a number of companies. The NBR has estimated his business assets at around 95 million spread across his Otago interests. He was chancellor of the University of Otago for five years, he was on the university council for a total of 22 years, previous chair of the New Zealand stock exchange and director of the ACC and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. Also a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
 The host then interviewed Sir Eion about his life for approximately half an hour.
 Allan Golden made a formal complaint to Radio New Zealand, the broadcaster, alleging that the broadcast breached standards relating to law and order, controversial issues, accuracy, fairness and responsible programming because it portrayed Sir Eion as “a fine outstanding member of the community, which he is not.”
 The complainant nominated Standards 2, 4, 5, 6 and 8 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice in his complaint. These provide:
Standard 2 Law and Order
Broadcasters should observe standards consistent with the maintenance of law and order.
Standard 4 Controversial Issues – Viewpoints
When discussing controversial issues of public importance in news, current affairs or factual programmes, broadcasters should make reasonable efforts, or give reasonable opportunities, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.
Standard 5 Accuracy
Broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure that news, current affairs and factual programming:
- is accurate in relation to all material points of fact; and/or
- does not mislead.
Standard 6 Fairness
Broadcasters should deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to.
Standard 8 Responsible Programming
Broadcasters should ensure that programme information and content is socially responsible.
 RNZ maintained that Standard 2 was designed to prevent broadcasts which encouraged listeners to imitate criminal behaviour and that “this interview does not fall into that category”. RNZ argued that a discussion of Sir Eion’s life did not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue for the purposes of Standard 4. It noted that Mr Golden had not identified any statements of fact which he considered were inaccurate in breach of Standard 5. With regard to Standard 6, RNZ said that it was unclear who the complainant believed had been treated unfairly, and it noted that the complainant had not made any arguments in relation to Standard 8.
 Accordingly, the broadcaster declined to uphold any aspect of the complaint.
 Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Golden referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
 The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.
 We note that Mr Golden nominated Standards 2, 4, 5, 6 and 8 in his original complaint. However, he did not make any arguments in relation to those standards. His concerns were about Sir Eion Edgar and his alleged actions in connection with a number of organisations. These concerns do not raise any issues of broadcasting standards in relation to the interview broadcast, which simply constituted a discussion of Sir Eion Edgar’s life.
 Accordingly, in all the circumstances we consider it is appropriate to decline to determine the complaint under section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
6 July 2010
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1. Allan Golden’s complaint – 25 February 2010
2. RNZ’s response to the complaint – 18 March 2010
3. Mr Golden’s referral to the Authority – 8 April 2010
4. RNZ’s response to the Authority – 5 May 2010