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Greally and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2007-011

Members

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

Complainant

  • John Greally of Upper Hutt

Dated

3rd May 2007

Number

2007-011

Programme

One News

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News – statement broadcast about a complaint upheld by the Authority – allegedly inaccurate and unfair

Findings
Standard 5 (accuracy) – statement was an accurate representation of the Authority's decision – not upheld

Standard 6 (fairness) – nothing unfair to Mr Greally in the statement – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]  Television New Zealand Ltd was ordered to broadcast a statement after a complaint had been upheld by the Broadcasting Standards Authority. Decision No: 2006-020 related to a complaint by Elizabeth Dunning about a One News item screened on 3 February 2006. The statement required by the Authority was broadcast on TV One during One News at approximately 6pm on 22 November 2006. The statement read:

In February, One News reported that the prosecution of a man charged with disclosing a private phone call had been dismissed.  The item stated the man overheard a woman threatening her neighbour via a crossed telephone line. The item referred to the woman as a "suspect" and said because the man told police of the call, he was charged.

Elizabeth Dunning, whose conversation was overheard, complained to the Broadcasting Standards Authority that the item was inaccurate and unfair.

The Authority found that the item was inaccurate because the man had not been prosecuted as a result of telling the police about the overheard call.  He was charged because Mrs Dunning laid a complaint to police about the call.

The Authority also found the item was unfair to Mrs Dunning in describing her as a "suspect". It found this had no basis, as she was not being investigated for any crime.

The Authority has ordered us to broadcast this statement.

Complaint

[2]  John Greally, the man referred to in the statement as having been charged by police, made a formal complaint to TVNZ that the statement was inaccurate. He noted that the statement had said that he had not been prosecuted as a result of telling police about the overheard call. Mr Greally maintained that this was inaccurate. He also contended that Mrs Dunning was a "suspect" and was being investigated for a crime.

[3]  Mr Greally argued that Standards 5 and 6 had been breached.

Standards

[4]  TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standards 5 and 6 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provide:

Standard 5 Accuracy

News, current affairs and other factual programmes must be truthful and accurate on points of fact, and be impartial and objective at all times.

Standard 6 Fairness

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are required to deal justly and fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[5]  TVNZ stated that it had no choice but to broadcast the statement in the form it did. Under the Broadcasting Act 1989, the Authority's order to broadcast a statement was enforceable by law. While it recognised that Mr Greally challenged the Authority's findings, TVNZ also recognised that

...the Authority had reached its decision after going through a complaints process which gives it power to consider and determine complaints after carefully considering all the broadcast material and other relevant information.

[6]  In these circumstances, TVNZ declined to uphold Mr Greally's complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[7]  Dissatisfied with the broadcaster's decision, Mr Greally referred his complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He reiterated the points made in his formal complaint.

[8]  Mr Greally submitted a further response outlining the reasons for his belief that the Authority's original decision was inaccurate.

Authority's Determination

[9]  The members of the Authority have viewed a transcript of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.   The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[10]  The Authority has previously determined that the broadcast of a statement ordered by the Authority is a "programme" as defined by the Broadcasting Act 1989 (see Decision No. 2003-108). On this occasion, it finds that the broadcast statement was not inaccurate, because it accurately represented the Authority's ruling on a complaint contained in Decision No: 2006-020. Therefore it declines to uphold the Standard 5 (accuracy) complaint.

[11]  With regard to fairness, the Authority finds nothing in the statement which was unfair to Mr Greally. The complainant has not provided any information to persuade the Authority that its findings in Decision No. 2006-020 – upon which the broadcast statement was based – were incorrect. It remains of the view that Mr Greally was charged by the police as a result of a complaint laid by Mrs Dunning; he was not charged by the police because he told them about overhearing her telephone call.

[12]  Furthermore, Mr Greally's complaint about the reference to Mrs Dunning as a "suspect" does not raise any issues of fairness to the complainant; it is a matter of accuracy and has been dealt with above in paragraph [10]. Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold the Standard 6 (fairness) complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
30 May 2007

Appendix

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

1            John Greally's formal complaint – 9 December 2006
2           TVNZ's decision on the formal complaint – 4 January 2007
3            Mr Greally's referral to the Authority – 1 February 2007
4            TVNZ's response to the Authority – 19 February 2007