Golden and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2011-068

Members

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Mary Anne Shanahan

Complainant

  • Allan Golden of Wellington

Dated

9th August 2011

Number

2011-068

Programme

AMP Business

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
AMP Business – reported commodity prices without reference to currency – allegedly in breach of accuracy and fairness standards

Findings
Standard 5 (accuracy) – viewers interested in commodity prices would have known the currency was US dollars so would not have been misled – not upheld

Standard 6 (fairness) – standard only applies to individuals “taking part or referred to” – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


Broadcast

[1]  During AMP Business, broadcast on TV One at 6am on 15 April 2011, the programme’s presenter reported on commodity prices for oil and gold. A graphic showing these prices was displayed on-screen, and the prices were displayed as numbers, without any reference to currency. For example, “Gold Price” was reported as “1472.20”, which was up “16.45”. The presenter stated, “commodities, a little bit mixed. West Texas is up 99 cents and crude oil back four cents”.

Complaint

[2]  Allan Golden made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the broadcast breached standards relating to accuracy and fairness. He said that he understood the prices of the commodities were being reported in US dollars, to a New Zealand audience, so it was “highly misleading” not to refer to the currency in which the values were being reported.

Standards

[3]  Mr Golden nominated Standards 5 and 6 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice in his complaint. These provide:

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.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant

[4]   TVNZ maintained that, “Gold and oil prices are routinely referred to in USD. This is normal and accepted practice in the business world. Internationally the USD is the most widely held reserve currency. Regular viewers of the AMP Business programme would know and understand that commodity prices are routinely stated in USD.” It therefore declined to uphold the complaint under Standard 5.

[5]   With regard to Standard 6, TVNZ noted that Mr Golden had not identified any individual or organisation taking part or referred to in the item that he considered had been treated unfairly. Accordingly, it declined to uphold this part of the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[6]   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. He considered that New Zealanders watching a New Zealand programme had the right to expect that undefined currencies shown on the screen were in New Zealand dollars. Mr Golden argued that people could have been misled and consequently disadvantaged because the value of gold, for example, was misrepresented. Mr Golden accepted that commodities were routinely referred to in USD, without reference to the currency. However, he considered that “these routines are very bad practice”.

[7]   The complainant argued that “people who sold gold thinking the price was in $NZ would have been unfairly treated”.

Authority’s Determination

[8]   The members of the Authority have viewed 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.

Standard 5 (accuracy)

[9]   Standard 5 states that 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 does not mislead.

[10]  In our view, while the currency of the commodity prices may have been “material”, the absence of any reference to currency did not amount to a “point of fact” for the purposes of the standard, as it was an omission rather than a positive statement. With regard to whether the segment was misleading in this respect, we consider that any viewers who were interested in commodity prices would have understood that they were in US dollars. It is well known in the business arena that “the dollar” refers to the US dollar, while the New Zealand dollar is usually explicitly identified as “the New Zealand dollar” or “the Kiwi dollar”. We disagree that viewers would have bought or sold commodities based purely on the value shown on AMP Business, without any knowledge of which currency they were in.

[11]  Accordingly, we find that the programme would not have misled viewers, and we decline to uphold the complaint under Standard 5.

Standard 6 (fairness)

[12]  Mr Golden argued in his referral that “people who sold gold thinking the price was in $NZ would have been unfairly treated”. Standard 6 applies only to individuals “taking part or referred to” in a programme. Accordingly, we decline to uphold this part of the complaint.

 

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
9 August 2011

Appendix

The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1                  Allan Golden’s formal complaint – 18 April 2011

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 16 May 2011

3                 Mr Golden’s referral to the Authority – 20 May 2011

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 1 July 2011