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Taylor and TVWorks Ltd - 2010-008

Members

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Tapu Misa
  • Leigh Pearson

Complainant

  • Ross Taylor of Dundedin

Dated

23rd March 2010

Number

2010-008

Programme

Campbell Live

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

TVWorks Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1C) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Campbell Live – item featured the “Yike Bike” which had been named the 15th best invention of 2009 in Time magazine – reporter was shown riding the bike without wearing a helmet – allegedly in breach of law and order

Findings
Standard 2 (law and order) – oversight by broadcaster – did not threaten the maintenance of law and order – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]   An item on Campbell Live, broadcast on TV3 at 7pm on Tuesday 24 November 2009, featured the “Yike Bike”, created in New Zealand, which had been named the 15th best invention of the year in Time magazine. Throughout the item, the reporter and some of the bike’s creators were shown riding the Yike Bike, without wearing helmets.

Complaint

[2]   Ross Taylor made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item breached standards relating to the maintenance of law and order because the programme showed the presenter and others riding “a bike/motor bike on a public road without wearing a helmet”.

Standards

[3]   Standard 2 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice is relevant to the determination of this complaint. It provides:

Standard 2 Law and Order

Broadcasters should observe standards consistent with the maintenance of law and order.

Referral to the Authority

[4]   Having not received a response from the broadcaster within the statutory timeframe, Mr Taylor referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1C) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[5]   TVWorks apologised for the delay in issuing its decision on the complaint. It maintained that the programme had not encouraged, promoted, glamorised or condoned riding a bike on a road without a helmet, and therefore that it had not breached Standard 2. It said:

The bike was ridden without a helmet (and therefore may have been a breach of the legislation that requires helmets to be worn) but the lack of a helmet was not referred to at all in the item and certainly not in such a way that failing to wear a helmet was endorsed or encouraged.

[6]   TVWorks noted that the Authority had previously stated that the intent behind Standard 2 was to prevent broadcasts that encouraged viewers to break the law, or otherwise promoted, condoned or glamorised criminal activity.

[7]   The broadcaster included comments from the reporter who explained that the bike was ridden “under controlled conditions in a quiet cul-de-sac where no cars were using the road and it was blocked off by our camera crew, producer, and inventors of ‘Yike Bike’”. In hindsight, the reporter said, he should have worn a helmet. He noted that some of the inventors were also shown riding the Yike Bike, but they were on private roads and footpaths under controlled conditions. He also noted that some of the footage was used as promotional material for Yike Bike specifically aimed at the European market where bike riders were not required to wear helmets.

[8]   TVWorks concluded that, while it would have been better for the reporter to wear a helmet when riding the bike, “as the story simply showed the riding” without encouraging viewers to do the same, the item did not contravene the law and order standard. It noted, however, that the reporter had ensured he would be more vigilant with wearing a helmet if the subject arose again.

Further Submissions from the Complainant

[9]   Mr Taylor noted that land transport rules stated that a person must not ride a bicycle on a road unless they are wearing a securely fastened helmet. He said that TVWorks had accepted that the presenter had ridden the bike on a road, “therefore an illegal act was performed by the reporter”. He argued that it was irrelevant whether or not the actions of the reporter encouraged others to act illegally, and irrelevant whether the road was a cul-de-sac or blocked off. Mr Taylor considered that the item had normalised the activity portrayed and “as such must contribute to the likelihood of such illegality becoming regarded as acceptable behaviour”.

[10]   The complainant concluded that the programme had encouraged, promoted, glamorised and condoned “an illegal act”.

Authority's Determination

[11]   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.

[12]   The Authority notes that Standard 2 does not prohibit broadcasters filming or broadcasting illegal or criminal activity. It has previously stated 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 (see, for example, Gregory and TVNZ1).

[13]   The Authority accepts that it is mandatory in New Zealand to wear a helmet while cycling and therefore that Campbell Live demonstrated a land transport offence. However, this apparent breach of the law in the failure to wear a helmet was an incidental part of the item and was not highlighted in any way. It has been said that the failure to wear a helmet was an oversight on the part of the reporter and TVWorks. Further, Campbell Live was a current affairs programme aimed at an adult audience. In all the circumstances, it cannot be said that the item threatened the maintenance of law and order such that it could be said to have breached Standard 2. Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
23 March 2010

Appendix

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

1.           Ross Taylor’s formal complaint – 24 November 2009
2.          Mr Taylor’s referral to the Authority – 5 January 2010
3.          TVWorks’ response to the complaint – 5 January 2010
4.          Correspondence between Mr Taylor and the Authority – 11 January 2010
5.          TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 18 January 2010
6.          Further submissions from Mr Taylor – 29 January 2010
7.          TVWorks’ response – 29 January 2010
8.          Mr Taylor’s final comment – 24 February 2010
9.          TVWorks’ response – 24 February 2010


1Decision No. 2005-133