Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Darpan – report on first Hindu conference in New Zealand – allegedly in breach of law and order, privacy, balance, accuracy, fairness, programme classification, programme information and violence standards
Standard 2 (law and order) – report was not inconsistent with the maintenance of law and order – not upheld
Standard 3 (privacy) – privacy standard relates to an individual – no individual specified by the complainant – not upheld
Standard 4 (balance) – no controversial issue of public importance discussed in the item – balance standard did not apply – not upheld
Standard 5 (accuracy) – Council spokesperson explained what the conference was about – viewers were made aware that the conference had a number of themes – viewers would not have been misled – not upheld
Standard 6 (fairness) – report was a fair and accurate reflection of the event – not upheld
Standard 7 (programme classification) – programme was correctly classified G – not upheld
Standard 8 (programme information) – viewer would not have been misled by the programmes information or structure – not upheld
Standard 10 (violence) – the programme contained no violence – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 An item on Darpan – The Mirror, broadcast on Triangle Television at 7.30pm on 18 May 2007, reported on the first Hindu Conference in New Zealand. The item showed footage from the conference including shots of people listening to a person giving a speech. During the report two people were interviewed, the first was the media and public relations co-ordinator for the Hindu Council of New Zealand, who gave a brief explanation of what the conference was about and what it hoped to achieve. The second interviewee was an attendee and who was critical of the conference and stated that it lacked diversity and objectivity.
 The Hindu Council of NZ (the Council) complained to Triangle Television Ltd (TTV), the broadcaster, alleging that the item had breached the broadcasting standards relating to law and order, privacy, balance, accuracy, fairness, programme classification, programme information and violence.
 The complainant argued that the report “implied that the organisers of the conference were those whose sole intentions were to cause malice to the community” and therefore it was in breach of the law and order standard.
 The Council alleged that the item had breached the privacy standard because a “distortion of facts” had “deeply hurt the privacy of a peace loving community”.
 The complainant maintained that the item was unbalanced, alleging that it was biased, judgemental and pre-determined. It argued that no positive footage was shown, that the report was aimed at attacking the organisers of the conference, and that only an attendee with a negative opinion of the conference was interviewed.
 The Council argued that the report lacked accuracy because it had not covered other sessions during the conference in which different topics had been discussed by eminent speakers, including many academics from different backgrounds. It pointed out that the news presenter, when introducing the item, had stated that the conference was religion based and that the views of the organisers had been excluded. The Council also argued that viewers would have been misled by the attendee’s statement that the conference was an “exercise in religious fundamentalism”.
 The complainant believed that the item was unfair because it portrayed the conference as exclusive when in fact the conference was open to everybody and people from different communities had participated. It maintained that the report did not provide an accurate reflection of the conference and that this was unfair.
 The Council argued that the programme was incorrectly classified because it portrayed the conference as a religious event rather than a community event.
 The complainant argued that the information presented by the broadcaster was misleading to the viewer and that the form of the questions that were asked of interviewees was designed to elicit negative responses. It maintained that this was a breach of the programme information standard.
 In terms of violence, the Council argued that the broadcaster’s commentary gave the impression that the organisers were of a violent nature and had organised the event for malicious reasons.
 TTV assessed the complaint under the standards nominated by the complainant. They provide:
Standard 2 Law and Order
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the maintenance of law and order.
Standard 3 Privacy
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards consistent with the privacy of the individual.
Standard 4 Balance
In the preparation and presentation of news, current affairs and factual programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards consistent with the principle that when controversial issues of public importance are discussed, reasonable efforts are made, or reasonable opportunities are given, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.
Factual programmes, and programmes shown which approach a topic from a particular or personal perspective (for example, authorial documentaries and those shown on access television,) may not be required to observe to the letter the requirements of standard 4.
Standard 5 Accuracy
News, current affairs and other factual programmes must be truthful and accurate on points of fact, and be impartial and objective at all times.
Standard 6 Fairness
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are required to deal justly and fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to.
Standard 7 Programme Classification
Broadcasters are responsible for ensuring that programmes are appropriately classified; adequately display programme classification information; and adhere to time-bands in accordance with Appendix 1.
Standard 8 Programme Information
Broadcasters are responsible for ensuring that programme information and structure does not deceive or disadvantage the viewer.
Standard 10 Violence
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are required to exercise care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence.
 TTV stated that the item had not breached the law and order standard and it declined to uphold this aspect of the complaint. It also maintained that the conference was a public event and therefore the privacy standard had not been breached by the report.
 In terms of balance, TTV stated that it allowed its programme providers to use editorial judgment when covering various events and issues. Referring to guideline 4c, it maintained that, as an access television station, it did not have to observe to the letter the requirements of Standard 4. It declined to uphold the balance complaint.
 The broadcaster argued that the report was accurate and a true reflection of the topic. It maintained that the report was not pre-determined and that it had chosen to interview the people that it did because they were articulate in front of the camera. It declined to uphold the complaint that that item was inaccurate.
 TTV maintained that the item provided balanced and fair coverage of the conference and it held that Standard 6 had not been breached.
 The broadcaster pointed out that the programme was rated G, and it maintained that this was the correct programme classification for the item.
 Referring to Standard 8, TTV argued that the item had not breached any of the guidelines and it declined to uphold the programme information aspect of the complaint.
 TTV maintained that no violence was shown during the course of the item and that therefore Standard 10 had not been breached. Accordingly, it declined to uphold the complaint.
 Dissatisfied with TTV’s response, the Council referred its complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. The complainant reiterated the arguments it made in its original complaint to the broadcaster.
 TTV maintained that the item was a fair and balanced report on the conference. It pointed out that it had interviewed the PR spokesperson for the conference and an attending Indian journalist and their views had put the conference into perspective for viewers.
 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.
 The Authority has stated on previous occasions (e.g. Decision No. 2005-133) that the intent behind the law and order standard is to prevent broadcasts that encourage viewers to break the law or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity. The report did not encourage viewers to break the law or promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity. Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold the law and order complaint.
 The privacy standard relates to the privacy of an individual rather than the privacy of a community. The Council has not referred to any specific individual whose privacy it considered was breached and, accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold the privacy complaint.
 The news item broadcast by TTV reported on the first Hindu conference in New Zealand. While this topic may have been of interest to a number of New Zealanders, the Authority considers that it was not a controversial issue of public importance as envisaged by Standard 4. Accordingly, the Authority finds that the balance standard did not apply and it declines to uphold this part of the complaint.
 The Council complained that the report was inaccurate because it had not covered sessions during the conference in which topics other than religion were discussed. The Authority considers that this is a matter of editorial discretion to which the accuracy standard does not apply.
 The Council also complained that when introducing the item the show’s presenter had stated that the conference was “religion based”. In the Authority’s view this statement was not inaccurate as the conference was organised by and for members of a particular religion, the Hindu faith. Further, the programme’s presenter put the conference into context by stating that the theme of the conference was to look at the contribution of the Hindu community to national life.
 The Authority disagrees with the complainant that an interviewee’s statement that the conference “was an exercise in religious fundamentalism” would have misled viewers. The statement was not a statement of fact to which the accuracy standard applies, but was clearly the attendee’s personal opinion. Accordingly, the Authority finds that Standard 5 was not breached.
 The Council complained that “the tenor of the language used was aimed only to condemn and shun” the conference and that this was unfair to the conference organisers. It also complained that the report was not a true reflection of the conference and that it had wrongly portrayed the event.
 The Authority notes that the Council’s spokesperson was given an opportunity to explain what the conference was, who had taken part and what topics had been discussed. The Authority believes that the Council was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to provide its perspective, and it was not treated unfairly. Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold the Standard 6 complaint.
 The Authority agrees with the broadcaster that the programme was appropriately classified G, because it did not contain material that was unsuitable for children. It finds that Standard 7 was not breached.
 The Council complained that the programme’s information would have misled the viewer, but it did not articulate why the viewer would have been misled. The Authority is of the view that nothing contained in the programme’s information would have been likely to deceive or disadvantage the viewer.
 The complainant also maintained that questions which were asked of the attendee during her interview were framed to elicit negative responses and that this was in breach of Standard 8. The Authority believes that the way in which questions are framed when interviewing is a matter of editorial discretion for the broadcaster and therefore it does not uphold the programme information complaint.
The Authority agrees with TTV that the report did not contain any violent material. It finds that Standard 10 was not breached.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
25 September 2007
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:1. Hindu Council of New Zealand’s formal complaint – 17 June 2007