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Paranjape and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2009-067

Members

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Paul France
  • Tapu Misa

Complainant

  • Shirish Paranjape of Christchurch

Dated

19th August 2009

Number

2009-067

Programme

One News

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News – report on two National MPs and whether their business links in India were in conflict with their public roles in New Zealand – included footage of street scenes in India – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – footage did not contain any material which threatened standards of good taste and decency – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]  A One News item, broadcast on TV One at 6pm on 30 March 2009, reported that two National MPs were facing questions about whether their business links in India were in conflict with their public roles in New Zealand.

[2]  The item included footage of Indian street scenes including a shot of a man, woman and young boy carrying large sacks on their heads, a child beggar wearing a headdress and face paint and three other shots of people walking around a market place.

Complaint

[3]  Shirish Paranjape made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging the footage of the Indian street scenes breached standards of good taste and decency.

[4]  The complainant stated that he was "astonished to see the background pictures" when the item involved the actions of Ministers and their ties to Indian business. He noted that one of the street scenes showed "street children".

[5]  Mr Paranjape argued that the footage shown bore no relation to the issue under discussion, that the scenes were "derogatory pictures of India" and that the broadcaster should have chosen footage of Indian industry, trade and commerce.

Standards

[6]  TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 1 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. It provides:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[7]  TVNZ noted that the Authority had previously held that the good taste and decency standard was primarily aimed at broadcasts that contain sexual material, nudity, violence or coarse language. It stated that the footage of street views of people in India was included "simply to provide a visual representation of the country being discussed".

[8]  The broadcaster argued that the footage did not stray beyond the bounds of good taste and decency and it declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[9]  Dissatisfied with TVNZ's response, Mr Paranjape referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He reiterated his argument that, while the images were "no doubt true", the broadcaster’s choice of "visual representations had no relevance to the topic being discussed", showed poverty and presented a derogatory image of India.

[10]  The complainant maintained that the item should have included images of Indian industry, trade and commerce. He argued the item did "not amount to a balanced and fair representation" of India.

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]  In the Authority's view, TVNZ was entitled to use footage showing Indian street scenes in order to provide a visual representation of the country being discussed. The footage did not contain any material, such as violence or nudity, which might have given rise to an issue under the good taste and decency standard. Furthermore, the complainant has not argued that the footage was manipulated in any way, only that he would have preferred different images to have been shown.

[13]  In these circumstances, the Authority concludes that standards of good taste and decency were not threatened and it declines to uphold the Standard 1 complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
19 August 2009

Appendix

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

1.         Shirish Paranjape's formal complaint – 1 May 2009
2.        TVNZ's response to the formal complaint – 29 May 2009
3.        Mr Paranjape's referral to the Authority – 16 June 2009
4.        TVNZ's response to the Authority – 29 June 2009