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Hill and TV3 Network Services Ltd - 2000-123

Members

  • P Cartwright (Chair)
  • L M Loates
  • R McLeod
  • J Withers

Complainant

  • S R Hill of Wanganui

Dated

7th September 2000

Number

2000-123

Programme

3 News

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

TV3 Network Services Ltd


Complaint
3 News – item about Parihaka commemoration – omission to provide full, accurate historical background – unbalanced

Findings
Standard G14 – context – further historical information not required – no uphold 

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Summary

An item about commemorative celebrations planned or held to mark significant dates for Parihaka descendants was broadcast on 3 News on TV3 at 6.00pm on 25 March 2000.

S R Hill complained to TV3 Network Services Ltd, the broadcaster, that the item did not provide full and accurate information about the history of Parihaka, and that it had been unbalanced and biased in favour of the Parihaka Maori as a result.

TV3 responded that the modest amount of background material provided in the item was set out to explain the context of the events about which TV3 was reporting. It explained that this was a news item, not a documentary in which "there is time and opportunity to evaluate and examine the background". TV3 contended that the item was nonetheless accurate, objective and impartial. It declined to uphold the complaint.

Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s decision, Mr Hill referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

For the reasons given below, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Decision

The members of the Authority have viewed a tape of the item complained about and have read a transcript of the item and the correspondence which is listed in the Appendix. On this occasion, the Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

An item about commemorative celebrations planned or held to mark significant dates for Parihaka descendants was broadcast on 3 News on TV3 at 6.00pm on 25 March 2000.

S R Hill complained to TV3 that the item did not provide adequate information about the history of Parihaka, and that it had been unbalanced and biased in favour of the Parihaka Maori as a result. According to Mr Hill, the item incorrectly implied that innocent people had been persecuted for no good reason. He maintained that this was not the case, as Maori and Pakeha alike had committed what he called "unlawful" actions.

Mr Hill concluded:

Racism is exacerbated when simplistic views are given, especially when they reverse the commonly held myth, and the dominant race is depicted as unmitigated villains.

Mr Hill initially referred his complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(b) of the Act, as he had not received a response within 20 working days of the broadcaster having received his complaint.

In a letter to the Authority, TV3 conceded that an oversight had occurred. It explained that it had apologised to Mr Hill, and would provide him with a response to his complaint.

In its response, TV3 said that it had considered the complaint under standard G14 of the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provides:

G14  News must be presented accurately, objectively and impartially.

TV3 noted that the modest amount of background material provided was set out to explain the context of the events about which TV3 was reporting. It explained that the item was a news item, not a documentary, and that there was accordingly no time or opportunity to explore the background, as there may have been in a documentary. TV3 contended that the item was accurate, objective and impartial. It declined to uphold the complaint.

In his referral of the complaint to the Authority, Mr Hill expressed his belief that TV3 had not addressed any of the issues raised in his complaint. He reiterated that the item did not comply with broadcasting standards requiring balance, fairness and accuracy.

The Authority’s Findings

This complaint concerns the accuracy of information broadcast during a news item about the historical background to an event being commemorated by Parihaka Maori. The Authority would observe that there is often no consensus as to the accuracy of historical accounts of events such as the Parihaka affair, and it is not able to determine the accuracy of the brief historical record which was presented in this item.

The Authority accepts that in the context of a news item about a commemorative activity for Parihaka Maori, it was not incumbent on TV3 to provide a definitive historical background. If the background provided did reflect a Maori perspective, then the Authority considers that this was adequate and acceptable in the circumstances. Accordingly, it concludes that standard G14 was not breached by the broadcast.

 

For the reasons given, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Cartwright
Chair
7 September 2000

Appendix

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

1.    S R Hill’s Formal Complaint to TV3 Network Services Ltd – 27 March 2000

2.    SR Hill’s Letter to the Authority – 5 May 2000

3.    TV3’s Letter to the Authority – 12 May 2000

4.    TV3’s Response to Formal Complaint – 18 May 2000

5.    Mr Hill’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 16 June 2000

6.    TV3’s Response to the Referral – 17 July 2000

7.    Mr Hill’s Final Comment – 26 July 2000