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Dealing with complaints

All broadcasters are subject to the requirements of the Codes, and the relevant requirements of Parts I to III of the Broadcasting Act 1989. In this part of the website you will find general guidance for broadcasters on how to deal with complaints. This information is available in both English and te reo.

This information is intended as a general guide only. If you have any other questions then please refer to the Broadcasting Act or contact BSA staff for assistance.

BSA staff are also very happy to visit any broadcaster to discuss the complaints process or help provide training for staff. This is especially useful if a broadcaster has questions about the meaning of the standards in the Codes of Broadcasting Practice.

  • English

    What is a formal complaint?

    A formal complaint is a written complaint claiming that a specific programme has breached broadcasting standards. The standards are set out in the Codes of Broadcasting Practice.

    The Codes of Broadcasting Practice

    What are a broadcaster's responsibilities?

    All broadcasters are subject to the requirements of the Codes and the relevant requirements of Parts I to III of Broadcasting Act 1989.

    All broadcasters must establish proper procedures for dealing with complaints.

    All broadcasters are expected to retain recordings of all broadcasts for 35 days. The BSA will require a copy of all broadcasts that are the subject of a formal complaint that has been referred to the BSA for review. This assists the broadcaster to argue their point of view and ensures the BSA gains a correct understanding of the content, context and tone of the broadcast. 

    What is the timeframe for broadcasters to accept a formal complaint?

    Broadcasters must consider all written formal complaints lodged within 20 working days after the broadcast complained about.

    Broadcasters are not required to consider any complaints not lodged within the 20 day timeframe, unless the complainant:

    • has resubmitted the complaint in writing within 30 working days after the programme was broadcast, and
    • offers reasonable proof that the original complaint was lodged in writing within the 20 day timeframe.

    What should broadcasters do after receiving a formal complaint?

    Broadcasters must take the following action within 20 working days after receiving a formal complaint:

    1. Conduct an assessment and decide whether or not the complaint should be upheld
    2. If the complaint is upheld, in whole or part, the broadcaster must take appropriate action and notify the complainant in writing of the action taken
    3. If the complaint is not upheld, the broadcaster must notify the complainant in writing of the decision.

    In all cases, broadcasters must tell the complainant about their right to refer their complaint to the BSA to seek an investigation and review of the broadcaster’s decision (and decision processes).

    The best way to do this is to use a standard paragraph at the end of the written decision.

    Delays

    If a broadcaster is unable to make a decision on a formal complaint within 20 working days, for good reasons, it must:

    • notify the complainant in writing within that period
    • give the reasons why it is unable to make the decision within that time.

    The broadcaster must then make a decision within 40 working days after receiving the complaint.

    What happens if a complainant refers the complaint to the BSA?

    If a complaint is referred to us, we will write to the broadcaster enclosing the complaint, seeking comment and requesting a recording of the broadcast complained about. We will forward the broadcaster’s comments to the complainant for their final comment, and then the broadcaster will be given an opportunity to make a final comment. Complainants may not raise new issues or new standards that were not raised in their original formal complaint to the broadcaster.

    If the BSA does not uphold the complaint, a written decision will be sent to both parties and publicly released shortly after.

    If the complaint is upheld, and the members of the Authority wish to consider whether an order should be imposed, we will write to both parties and ask for their views on the appropriate order (if any). A draft part-decision will be supplied at that time, in confidence.

    The BSA will then issue the final decision which will state whether an order has been made. Orders are set out in the Act and range from ordering the broadcast of a corrective statement (relatively common) to requiring the broadcaster to stop broadcasting for a period.

    BSA orders

    BSA decisions can be appealed to the High Court and are subject to judicial review.

    Additional requirements on broadcasters

    All broadcasters are required to broadcast promos that publicise the procedure for making complaints. These notices must be broadcast:

    • with the equivalent in each year of one notice per day for each day of broadcasting
    • on each channel operated by a broadcaster
    • during all programming times, including prime time and children’s programming times.

    The BSA does not approve notices but we are happy to provide advice on appropriate wording.

    If you require further information about how broadcasters must deal with formal complaints, or the procedures that the BSA may follow, please phone us or email info@bsa.govt.nz.

  • Te Reo Māori

    He aha tēnei mea te whakapae ōkawa?

    Ko tēnei mea te whakapae ōkawa he whakapae kua oti te tuhituhi, e mea ana kua takahia ngā paerewa pāho e tētahi kaipāho. He mea āta whakarārangi ēnei paerewa i ngā Whakaritenga Pāho mō te Reo Irirangi me te Pouaka Whakaata, i konei.

    Ka herea te katoa o te hunga pāho ki ēnei Whakaritenga, me ngā tikanga e pā ana i raro i ngā Wāhanga I ki te III o te Ture Pāho 1989.

    Me mātua huri te hunga pāho katoa ki te whakarite tikanga tōtika hei whiriwhiri i ngā whakapae.

    Me pupuri ngā kaipāho i ngā tēpa o ā rātou pāhotanga katoa mō te 35 rā i te itinga rawa. Ka hiahia te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho i tētahi kape hiko o ngā pāhotanga katoa e noho nei hei take whakapae ōkawa.

    Āhea whiriwhiria ai ngā whakapae ōkawa e ngā kaipāho i raro i te ture?

    Me mātua whiriwhiri ngā kaipāho i ngā whakapae ōkawa katoa e 20 rā i muri i te pāhotanga e whakapaetia ana.

    Kāore te kaipāho e herea kia whiriwhiri i tētahi whakapae kāore i whakaurua mai i roto i te 20 rā, hāunga ērā nā te kaiwhakapae i:

    • whakahoki anō te whakapae i roto i te 30 rā mahi, mai i te pāhotanga tuatahi o te hōtaka, me tāna
    • whakaatu mai i runga i ngā tikanga o te taunaki pono, āe, i whakaurua te whakapae i roto i te 20 rā i raro i ngā whakaritenga.

    Ngā whakatau e pā ana ki ngā whakapae ōkawa

    Me matua whakarite tikanga pēnei ngā kaipāho i ngā whakapae ōkawa katoa e 20 rā mahi i muri i te taenga mai o tētahi whakapae ōkawa:

    1. me arotake te āhua o te whakapae, me whakatau mehemea me whakaae, kia kaua rānei e whakaaetia, he tika te whakapae
    2. mehemea e whakaaetia ana he tika te whakapae, tētahi wāhi rānei, me mātua whakamōhio te kaipāho i te kaiwhakapāho, mā te reta, mō ngā mahi i oti.
    3. mehemea kāore e whakaaetia ana he tika te whakapae, me whakamōhio te kaipāho i te kaiwhakapae, mā te reta, mō te whakatau.

    Mō ngā whakapae katoa, me huri te kaipāho ki te whakaatu ki te kaiwhakapae e wātea ana rātou ki te tuku i tā rātou whakapae ki te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho, kia tūhuratia, kia whiriwhiria hoki te whakatau a te kaipāho (me ngā hātepe o te whakatau). Ko te tino huarahi ngāwari e oti ai, he whakamahi i tētahi whiti kua oti te whakarite i te mutunga o te tuhinga whakatau.

    Ngā Roanga

    Mehemea kāore te kaipāho e kaha ki te whakatau i tētahi whakapae ōkawa i roto i te 20 rā mahi, mō ngā take tōtika, me mātua:

    • whakamōhio ā-tuhi i te kaiwhakapae i roto i taua wā
    • whakaatu i ngā take kāore i taea e ia te whakatau i roto i taua wā.

    Me huri te kaipāho ki te whakatau i te take i roto i te 40 rā mahi i muri i te taenga o te whakapae ki tōna aroaro.

    Te Tukunga ki te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

    Ki te tukua mai he whakapae ki a mātou, ka tuhituhi mātou ki te kaipāho me te tāpiri i te whakapae, ki te rapu i āna kōrero, me te tono i tētahi rīpene o te pāhotanga e whakapaetia ana. Ka tukua atu hoki e mātou he kape o ngā kōrero a te kaipāho ki te kaiwhakapae hei whakautu mā rātou, ā, ka haere tonu ngā tuhinga, kia pau rā anō ngā whakapuaki hou a tētahi, a tētahi. E kore te kaiwhakapae e whakaaetia kia whakaara i tētahi take hou, i ētahi paerewa hou rānei kāore kē i whakaaratia i tā rātou whakapae tuatahi ki te kaipāho.

    Ki te kore te Mana e whakaae he tika te whakapae, ka tukua he whakatau ā-tuhi ki ngā taha e rua, ā, ka tukua ki te ao whānui i muri tata tonu iho.

    Ki te whakaaetia he tika te whakapae, ā, ki te hiahia hoki ngā mema o te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho ki te whiriwhiri i tētahi whakaritenga whai mana, tērā mātou e tuhituhi ki ngā taha e rua ki te toro i ō rātou whakaaro mō te whakaritenga e tika ana, ki ō rāua whakaaro (mehemea rānei e tika ana te whakapuaki whakaritenga). Ka whakapuakina tētahi whakatau tuatahi kōkau ā taua wā, ka tukua pukutia ki ngā taha e rua.

    I muri ka whakapuakina e te Mana te whakatau whakamutunga, ka whakapuakina i reira mehemea e tika ana kia puta he whakaritenga. Kei roto i te Ture ētahi huarahi mō ngā whakaritenga, mai i te pāho i tētahi whakapuaki whakatika hapa (he āhua auau tonu te whakamahi i tēnei) ki te whakahau kia kaua e pāho te kaipāho mō tētahi wā (kāore anō kia whakamahia).

    Ka taea ngā whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Pāho te pīra ki te Kōti Matua, ā, ka taea hoki te tuku i ngā whakatau kia arotakea e te tiāti.

    Ētahi atu here ki ngā Kaipāho

    E herea ana ngā kaipāho katoa kia pāho i ngā pānui whakamōhio i ngā kaiwhakarongo ki ngā huarahi whakatakoto whakapae. Tēnei te inoi kia uru mai he kōrero mō tā mātou waea whakamōhio, me tā mātou pae tukutuku ki ēnei pānui. Me pāho ēnei pānui:

    • kia kotahi anō pāhotanga ia rā e pāho ana te kaipāho.
    • i ia hōngere pāhotanga a te kaipāho
    • i ngā wā o ngā hōtaka katoa, tae atu ki te wā mātaki nui a te tangata, me te wā o te tamariki.

    Ki te hiahia koe ki ētahi atu kōrero mō ngā tikanga hei whai i i roto i ngā whiriwhiringa whakapae a te kaipāho, mō ētahi atu tikanga tērā pea ka whāia e Mana Whanonga Kaipāho, waea mai koa, īmēra mai rānei ki info@bsa.govt.nz.

Broadcasting publicity notices

The Broadcasting Act 1989 ("the Act") requires all broadcasters in New Zealand to publicise procedures for making complaints by broadcasting notices about the process on each of their channels.

  • Broadcasting publicity notices

    The Broadcasting Act 1989 ("the Act") requires all broadcasters in New Zealand to publicise the content standards complaints procedures by broadcasting notices about the process on each of their channels.

    Section 6(1)(ba) of the Act states that broadcasters must broadcast on each channel or broadcasting station operated by the broadcaster notices (each of which shall be of at least 15 seconds' duration) publicising the procedure for making such complaints –

    (i) with the equivalent in each year of 1 notice per day for each day of broadcasting on the channel or broadcasting station; and
    (ii) with the notices being broadcast at different programming times but in such a manner that the notices are broadcast in the course of a year at all programming times, including prime time and children's programming times.

    The BSA is responsible for monitoring this and undertakes two-yearly reviews of broadcasters’ publicity notices, to ensure they are complying with the obligations under the Act and promoting complaints procedures. The BSA looks at both the content of the notices and the schedule on which they are played.


    Content

    The duration of advertisements must be a minimum of 15 seconds (see section 6(1)(ba) of the Broadcasting Act, above).

    Below is a list of the key information that the BSA considers should be included in broadcasters’ publicity notices, to ensure that audiences are fully informed about the complaints process and how to complain effectively:

    • Formal complaints must be made in writing, and lodged with the broadcaster within 20 working days of the broadcast being complained about (with the exception of privacy complaints and election programme complaints, which may be made directly to the BSA)
    • The broadcaster’s contact details so that people know where to send their complaints (postal address, email address, and reference to online complaint form if available)
    • The right to refer a complaint to the BSA if the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of their complaint (or if it is a privacy or election programme complaint). For example, ‘If you are dissatisfied with the outcome you can refer your complaint to the BSA’
    • The broadcaster’s website address (or alternatively the BSA’s website address), for more information about the complaints process and how to complain.

    This reference list is intended to allow broadcasters flexibility and creativity in how the required information is conveyed to audiences. The BSA is available to assist broadcasters when preparing the notices – please contact the BSA if further guidance is required.

    Schedule for each channel you broadcast

    Section 6(1)(ba)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 prescribes the frequency that the notices must be broadcast – the equivalent of 1 notice per day for each day of broadcasting. Section 6(1)(ba)(ii) states that the notices must be "broadcast at different programming times but in such a manner that the notices are broadcast in the course of a year at all programming times, including prime time and children's programming times". This means broadcasters must vary the times of day at which notices are broadcast and ensure they are broadcast the equivalent of once per day.

    When the BSA conducts its two-yearly review of broadcasters’ publicity notices, broadcasters will be asked to provide evidence of the scheduled days and times of each notice broadcast – this will be in the form of a schedule or play log of the times and dates that the notice was played for any single calendar month in the previous twelve months, for each channel or station broadcast.


    If you have any questions regarding your publicity notices please do not hesitate to contact us. The BSA supports broadcasters in fulfilling their obligations. If there are difficulties in meeting the requirements of the Act the BSA would like to work with you to help you achieve compliance.

TV classification guides

These one-page guides, which are downloadable as PDFs, explain the classifications that are used on television in New Zealand.

For more information see Classifications and Timebands.