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Yeoman and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2008-087

Members

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Paul France
  • Tapu Misa
  • Diane Musgrave

Complainant

  • David and Hilary Yeoman of East Otago

Dated

25th November 2008

Number

2008-087

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 the England rugby team’s tour of New Zealand – correspondent made disparaging remarks about the efforts of the English team – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency  

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – standard not primarily aimed at the type of material complained about – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]   An item on One News, broadcast on TV One at 6pm on Sunday 22 June 2008, presented a round-up of the English rugby team’s tour of New Zealand. The item began with a One News rugby correspondent detailing which members of the New Zealand rugby team had been injured during the tour and the problems the team was facing.

[2]   The correspondent then gave a match report of the previous day’s game, during which he commented that the English team had “offered very little” and had a “limp” defence. The correspondent went on to explain that England’s team was headed home having finished their tour of New Zealand and said, “As for the Poms, out of form, out of ideas and thank God, out of here”.

[3]   Towards the end of the item, the correspondent commented on the English team’s security measures when departing New Zealand, stating:

Yes, very strange way to leave the country too. Huge security presence at the England team hotel last night, a lot of security at the airport in Christchurch today, the team allowed to check-in at their team hotel. So security overkill really for this England team and quite frankly, good riddance to an under strength England squad.     

Complaint

[4]   David and Hilary Yeoman made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the correspondent’s comments about the English rugby team breached broadcasting standards.

[5]   The complainants argued that the correspondent’s comments were “ungracious” and “spiteful”. They questioned whether the correspondent’s sentiments were “the sporting attitudes we want our children to adopt”, and whether the correspondent was giving “the official opinion of TVNZ”.

[6]   Mr and Mrs Yeoman stated that, if TVNZ’s reporters were giving their own opinion on the England team’s performance, then they should be doing it in another forum. The complainants argued that if TVNZ had officially condoned the comments “they should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves”.

Standards

[7]   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

[8]   TVNZ stated that to constitute a breach of Standard 1, the broadcast material must be unacceptable to a significant number of viewers in the context in which it was shown. It argued that, after having reviewed the item, it could not find any content that strayed beyond current norms of good taste and decency: no violent material, material of a sexual nature, coarse language or other content likely to disturb children or offend a significant number of viewers.

[9]   The broadcaster contended that it was the role of the rugby correspondent to deliver facts and news stories on the New Zealand rugby team and their opponents. It said “in this role the correspondent has licence to opine on his area of speciality” and that his comment “good riddance” was his opinion at the end of a controversial rugby tour.

[10]   TVNZ stated that “the expression of genuinely-held opinion in news and current affairs presenting” was acceptable practice. The broadcaster declined to uphold the complaint that the item breached broadcasting standards.  

Referral to the Authority

[11]   Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s response, Mr and Mrs Yeoman referred their complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. They reiterated their argument that the item displayed a poor attitude to sportsmanship.

Authority's Determination

[12]   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.

[13]   The complainants contended the item breached Standard 1 because the commentator’s remarks displayed poor sportsmanship. The Authority has previously stated (e.g. Decision 2008-080) that standards relating to good taste and decency are primarily aimed at broadcasts that contain sexual material, nudity, violence or coarse language. While the editorial comment contained in the item about the English rugby team could be viewed as ungracious and unsporting, it is not the type of material at which Standard 1 is aimed.

[14]   Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 1 (good taste and decency). 

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
25 November 2008

Appendix

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

1.           David and Hilary Yeoman’s formal complaint – 23 June 2008
2.          TVNZ’s response to the formal complaint – 18 July 2008
3.          Mr and Mrs Yeoman’s referral to the Authority – 31 July 2008
4.          TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 23 September 2008