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Dulakiverata and National Pacific Radio Trust Inc - 2007-051

Members

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

Complainant

  • Losalini Dulakiverata of Auckland

Dated

25th September 2007

Number

2007-051

Channel/Station

Niu FM

Broadcaster

National Pacific Radio Trust Inc


Tapu Misa declared a conflict and did not take part in the determination of this complaint.


Complaint under section 8(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989

Fijian Language Programme – interview with Adi Asenaca discussing the policies of the deposed SDL government – Ms Asenaca gave her views on the coup and the interim government – allegedly in breach of balance and social responsibility standards

Findings
No recording available – decline to determine complaint under s11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]   An item broadcast on Niu FM during its Fijian Language Programme on 23 March 2007, contained an interview with former Fijian MP Adi Asenaca.

[2]   The interview focused on discussing several policies and laws introduced by the former Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) government in Fiji. The host invited Ms Asenaca to explain the policies of the deposed SDL government, and give her views on the coup and the interim government.

Complaint

[3]   Losalini Dulakiverata complained to the National Pacific Radio Trust Inc (NPRT), the broadcaster, alleging that the item had breached the principles of balance and social responsibility.

[4]   The complainant argued that the item was unbalanced because the host had given Ms Asenaca “free rein to publicly justify racially discriminatory policies of the SDL government”. She maintained that the host had not critically questioned Ms Asenaca on the topic of corruption or cross examined her at any time.

Principles

[5]   Principles 4 and 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice are relevant to the determination of the complaint. These provide:

Principle 4 Balance

In programmes and their presentation, broadcasters are required to maintain standards consistent with the principle that when controversial issues of public importance are discussed, reasonable efforts are made, or reasonable opportunities are given, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.

Principle 7 Social Responsibility

In programmes and their presentation, broadcasters are required to be socially responsible.

Referral to the Authority

[6]   As the complainant did not receive a response from NPRT within the statutory timeframe, she referred her complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[7]   NPRT argued that the interview was balanced and that it did not breach Principle 4. It maintained that it had aimed to ensure that all significant points of view were presented along with a broad cross-section of interests regarding the state of affairs in Fiji.

[8]   NPRT argued that Niu FMhad been socially responsible in its coverage of the situation in Fiji, that it had interviewed the key players on all sides and that it had provided listeners with the feedback of Fijians living in Fiji and New Zealand. As a result, it declined to uphold the complaint.

Complainant’s Final Comment

[9]   The complainant reiterated her argument that the item was unbalanced and socially irresponsible. She maintained that the broadcaster had made “no effort to accommodate the multiplicity of views” and that each programme should be judged on its own merits.

Authority's Determination

[10]   The broadcaster was unable to provide the Authority with either a copy of the broadcast or a transcript of it. Therefore the Authority has been restricted to considering the parties’ correspondence.

[11]   In the absence of a recording or transcript of the programme complained about, the Authority finds that it does not have sufficient information to determine whether broadcasting standards were breached on this occasion. Accordingly, under section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, the Authority declines to determine the complaint.    

[12]   The Authority notes that in addition to Niu FM’s inability to provide a recording of the broadcast, Ms Dulakiverata did not receive a response to her initial formal complaint. These lapses in the broadcaster’s process have led to the unsatisfactory outcome that Ms Dulakiverata’s right to have her complaint assessed by an independent statutory body has been rendered worthless. The Authority reminds the NPRT of its statutory obligations to meet time limits and have the correct processes in place to deal with complaints about its programming.

 

For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaint under section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
25 September 2007

Appendix

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

1.            Losalini Dulakiverata’s formal complaint – 12 April 2007
2.           Ms Dulakiverata’s referral to the Authority – 29 May 2007
3.           NPRT’s response to the Authority – 28 June 2007
4.           Ms Dulakiverata’a final submission – 25 July 2007
5.           NPRT’s reponse to Ms Dulakiverata’s final submission – 9 August 2007