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Campbell and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2006-082

Members

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

Complainant

  • Richard Campbell of Paraparaumu

Dated

19th October 2006

Number

2006-082

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 – item about 14-year-old boy accused of throwing eight kilogram slab of concrete from motorway bridge killing a motorist – boy had been granted name suppression – name of accused was shown for approximately five seconds written on a folder – complaint that broadcaster had breached name suppression order – broadcaster upheld complaint under law and order standard – complainant dissatisfied with action taken

Findings
Decline to determine complaint pursuant to section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] A One News item broadcast on TV One at 6pm on 3 July 2006 discussed a court case involving a youth accused of throwing an eight kilogram slab of concrete from a motorway bridge, killing a passing motorist. The accused, a 14-year-old boy at the time of the offence, had been granted name suppression.

[2] During part of the item, the name of the accused could be seen on a folder sitting in front of the defence lawyer.

Complaint

[3] Richard Campbell complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that showing the name of the accused amounted to a breach of the name suppression order granted by the High Court.

Standards

[4] TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 2 and guideline 2a of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provides:

Standard 2 Law and Order

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the maintenance of law and order.

Guideline 2a         

Broadcasters must respect the principles of law which sustain our society.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[5] TVNZ acknowledged that the name of the accused had been shown in the item. However, it said that the mistake had been recognised quickly and the reporter had voluntarily informed the judge the morning after the item. The reporter had provided the judge with a copy of the five second sequence, it explained, and, “apparently recognising that the incident was an unfortunate and unintentional mistake”, the judge had taken no action.

[6] TVNZ accepted that Standard 2 (law and order) had been breached, and it upheld the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[7] Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s response, Mr Campbell referred his complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He asked whether TVNZ had apologised to the family of the accused, or whether it had broadcast an apology on One News. The complainant submitted that TVNZ had not shown any regret or remorse for the breach in its letter, and questioned whether TVNZ had instituted any procedures to ensure that such incidents did not occur again.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[8] For the record, TVNZ noted that the name suppression order was lifted a few days after the broadcast when the teenager was found guilty of manslaughter. It added nothing further to its response to the complainant.

Complainant’s Final Comment

[9] The complainant contended that the outcome of the court case had no relevance to the breach of the name suppression order.

Authority's Determination

[10] 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.

[11] The Authority declines to determine this complaint under section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. It has stated on previous occasions that an alleged breach of a name suppression order is a matter for the Court or Tribunal hearing the relevant case. A complaint that simply alleges a breach of a suppression order should not be determined by this Authority (see for example Decision No. 2005-052).

[12] The Authority also observes that this matter was dealt with at the time by the High Court, and it commends TVNZ’s reporter for bringing the matter to the attention of the judge.

[13] For completeness, the Authority records that while TVNZ upheld Mr Campbell's complaint as a breach of Standard 2 (law and order), that result does not accord with the Authority's more limited interpretation of the scope of Standard 2 (see the Authority’s Practice Note entitled ” Law and Order as a broadcasting standard”1).

 

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
19 October 2006

Appendix

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

  1. Richard Campbell’s formal complaint – 17 July 2006
  2. TVNZ’s decision on the formal complaint – 31 July 2006
  3. Mr Campbell’s referral to the Authority – 4 August 2006
  4. TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 17 August 2006
  5. Mr Campbell’s final comment – 24 August 2006

1Refer to practicenotes/lawandorder.htm.