Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News – item about a convicted murderer refusing a heart transplant – included footage of interviews from Sunday and mentioned that the full Sunday item would be broadcast later that evening – allegedly in breach of responsible programming
Standard 8 (responsible programming) – item was a legitimate news story in its own right – guideline 8d does not apply to promos – viewers not deceived or disadvantaged – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 An item on One News, broadcast on TV One at 6pm on Sunday 6 December 2009, reported on a convicted murderer who was refusing a heart transplant. The presenter introduced the item by saying:
He’s served his time, 14 years for a murder that shocked the country back in 1990. Richard Lakich was 19 when he brutally killed Otago policeman Peter Umbers. But now Lakich faces another life sentence – he needs a heart transplant, but refuses to put himself on the list to get one.
 A reporter provided a brief background to the story and short excerpts of interviews with Mr Lakich and a former policeman were included. During the interviews, the Sunday logo was displayed at the top of the screen.
 Returning to the studio, the presenter stated, “And Cameron will have that full story tonight on Sunday at 7.30pm here on One”.
 Peter Healey made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the news item had breached Standard 8 (responsible programming) because it was “actually a promo for the Sunday programme”.
 TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 8 and guideline 8d of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. They provide:
Standard 8 Responsible Programming
Broadcasters should ensure programmes:
- are appropriately classified;
- display programme classification information;
- adhere to timebands in accordance with Appendix 1;
- are not presented in such a way as to cause panic, or unwarranted alarm or undue distress; and
- do not deceive or disadvantage the viewer.
Advertisements and infomercials should be clearly distinguishable from other programme material.
 TVNZ contended that the use of footage from other programmes was accepted practice by news and current affairs departments.
 The broadcaster noted that the footage taken from the Sunday reporter’s interviews was identified on-screen as such. It contended that the item was neither an advertisement nor an infomercial, and that it was a “valid news item” that was “clearly identifiable as such”.
 TVNZ argued that, even if the presenter’s reference to the full item being on Sunday later that evening “was to be considered a promotion of the other news item”, promotions were not considered advertising in terms of the Broadcasting Act 1989. It declined to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 8.
 Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Healey referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He maintained that the item was a promo for the Sunday programme and was “not a legitimate news item”.
 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.
 We agree with the broadcaster that guideline 8d relates solely to advertisements and infomercials for goods and services. Even if the news item was a promo for the Sunday programme, this guideline would not apply because promos are considered to be programmes, not advertisements.
 In our view, the One News item was a legitimate news story in its own right, and viewers would not have been deceived or disadvantaged in any way by the broadcast.
 Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 8.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
27 April 2010
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1. Peter Healey’s formal complaint – 6 December 2009
2. TVNZ’s response to the formal complaint – 26 January 2010
3. Mr Healey’s referral to the Authority – 31 January 2010
4. TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 11 March 2010