Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
3 News – allegedly in breach of controversial issues, accuracy, fairness and responsible programming standards
Standards 4 (controversial issues – viewpoints), 5 (accuracy), 6 (fairness) and 8 (responsible programming) – selection of items to include in news programmes is a matter of editorial discretion – complainant did not specify which parts of the programme breached standards – decline to determine under section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 3 News was broadcast on TV3 at 6pm on Tuesday 29 June 2010.
 River Tucker complained to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that “the lack of any in-depth reporting into issues that are important to New Zealanders” on 3 News breached standards relating to the discussion of controversial issues, accuracy, fairness and responsible programming.
 Mr Tucker argued that the programme was not factually relevant, it “did not expand on any controversial issues that had previously been reported on even though important things had occurred”, that it was therefore inaccurate through omitting relevant information, and in turn was “unfair to those who are affected by those items that went unreported”. He concluded that it was “not responsible programming to omit newsworthy items”.
 Mr Tucker nominated Standards 4, 5, 6 and 8 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice in his complaint. These provide:
Standard 4 Controversial Issues – Viewpoints
When discussing controversial issues of public importance in news, current affairs or factual programmes, broadcasters should make reasonable efforts, or give reasonable opportunities, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.
Standard 5 Accuracy
Broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure that news, current affairs and factual programming:
• is accurate in relation to all material points of fact; and/or
• does not mislead.
Standard 6 Fairness
Broadcasters should deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to.
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
• do not deceive or disadvantage the viewer.
 TVWorks said that it could not accept a formal complaint about an entire news broadcast as it could not “effectively apply the standards” nominated. However, it said that it had passed on Mr Tucker’s comments to the bureau chief.
 Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Tucker referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He disagreed that his complaint could not be applied to the entire programme.
 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 note that Mr Tucker nominated Standards 4, 5, 6 and 8 in his original complaint. However, he did not make any arguments outlining how he believed the programme breached those standards.
 The selection of items to be included in a news programme on a given day is a matter of editorial discretion for the broadcaster. Furthermore, section 5(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 states that complaints based merely on a complainant’s preferences are not, in general, capable of being resolved by the complaints procedure. In the absence of more specific information or arguments, we are unable to apply any of the standards raised to the programme as a whole.
 We therefore find it appropriate in the circumstances to decline to determine the complaint in accordance with section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
14 September 2010
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1. River Tucker’s complaint – 30 June 2010
2. TVWorks’ response to the complaint – 9 July 2010
3. Mr Tucker’s referral to the Authority – 13 July 2010
4. TVWorks’ responses to the Authority – 15 and 23 July 2010