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Lowes and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2005-025

Members

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

Complainant

  • Archie Lowes of Tauranga

Dated

3rd June 2005

Number

2005-025

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News, Marae and Te KarereOne News newsreader referred to Prince William as the popular choice for the next “King of England” – Marae discussion on constitutional change – presenter and guests referred to “Queen of England” – Te Karere item referred to Princes Charles as the “monarch of England” – all items allegedly inaccurate, and in breach of law and order standard

Findings
Standard 2 – no basis for complaint – not upheld

Standard 5 – not inaccurate – use of phrase “Queen/King of England” acceptable description – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] Television New Zealand Ltd broadcast items on Marae on 14 November 2004, One News on 11 February 2005 and Te Karere on 8 March 2005, all of which referred in some way to the British Royal Family.

[2] The Marae item contained a discussion on constitutional change, and both the presenter and participants in the discussion made reference several times to the “Queen of England”.

[3] The One News item featured the engagement of Prince Charles to Camilla Parker-Bowles. In the closing headlines, a poll was referred to which noted that “a narrow majority wants Prince William to become the next King of England – not Charles”.

[4] The TeKarere item covered a meeting between Princes Charles and Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia. Prince Charles was referred to in the subtitles as a “monarch of England”.

Complaint

[5] In relation to the One News item, Mr Lowes stated that it was incorrect to refer to Prince Charles as the future “King of England”; he was in fact the future king of the “United Kingdom”.  In this respect Mr Lowes maintained that the item was inaccurate and in breach of the requirement in Guideline 2a of the Free-to-Air Television Code to respect the principles of law that sustain our society.  

[6] In relation to Marae, Mr Lowes noted that the term “Queen of England” (rather than “Queen of the United Kingdom”) was used on several occasions by the presenter and guests, and again contended that this was inaccurate, and in breach of Guideline 2a. 

[7] On Te Karere, the subtitles referred to Prince Charles as a “monarch of England”.  Mr Lowes again maintained that this was inaccurate and in breach of Standard 2 (law and order), in two respects.  First, for the same reasons as above, in that he would be the King of the United Kingdom, rather than England, and secondly, because Prince Charles was not yet a monarch. The second aspect of this complaint was not referred to the Authority and is thus not discussed in this decision.

Standards or Principles

[8] Standard 5 (accuracy) and Standard 2 (law and order) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice provide:

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.

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.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[9] In its response to the complaints, TVNZ acknowledged that a reference to “England” instead of “United Kingdom” might be incomplete (noting the Queen was after all Queen of New Zealand as well) but considered that the term was not inaccurate of itself.

[10] It considered that the inclusion of the phrase “Queen of England” in the Treaty of Waitangi supported the viewpoint that the term had been “part of the language since the Treaty was signed”, and included instances of the use of the term in the Treaty’s First, Second and Third Articles. Accordingly, TVNZ contended that use of the phrase “Queen of England” (or “King of England”) was not inappropriate.  

[11] It also noted that the use of the term was not confined to Māori, or even to New Zealanders, and referred to several examples of its usage on the internet, noting its use by British schools and magazines.

[12] TVNZ considered that any viewer hearing the phrase “Queen of England” would have known exactly who was being referred to. It contended that in this context the use of the word “England” instead of “United Kingdom” was unambiguous and left an accurate and truthful impression with viewers. Accordingly, the complaint was not upheld as a breach of Standard 5. 

[13] In respect of the alleged breach of Standard 2 in Te Karere, TVNZ considered that the phrase “of England”, used in a New Zealand setting, was not inconsistent with the maintenance of law and order. It considered the phrase was in common usage, and that such usage did not represent “disrespect for the principles of law”. TVNZ found no breach of Standard 2.

Referral to the Authority

[14] Dissatisfied with the response from the broadcaster, Mr Lowes referred his complaints to the Authority under s8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He reiterated the points made in his original complaints to the broadcaster.  

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[15] The broadcaster added nothing further to its original response to the complaint.

Complainant’s Final Comment

[16] Mr Lowes, in his final comment, reiterated the basis for his claim that the terms were inaccurate.

Authority's Determination

[17] The members of the Authority have viewed a tape of each of the broadcasts complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.  The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[18] In respect of Standard 5 (accuracy), the Authority agrees with TVNZ that the phrase “Queen of England” is in common usage in New Zealand and overseas. It considers that viewers of One News, Marae and Te Karere would have known who was being referred to. Consequently, the Authority finds that the use of the phrase “King/Queen of England” would not have misled viewers.

[19] Further, the Authority notes that England is a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is therefore part of one of the Commonwealth realms. While the title “King/Queen of England” does not constitute the complete royal title for the realm, the Authority finds that it is not inaccurate. Accordingly, it finds that Standard 5 was not breached.

[20] The Authority does not consider that there is any basis to Mr Lowes’ allegations that the broadcast breached Standard 2, as there was nothing in the item that was inconsistent with the maintenance of law and order.

[21] Finally, it is noted that Mr Lowes has referred a number of complaints on this subject to the Authority after receiving a considered and reasonable response from the broadcaster. Should the complainant continue to do so, the Authority may decline to determine similar complaints on the grounds that they are trivial under section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act.

 

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaints

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
3 June 2005

Appendix

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

  1. Archie Lowes’ formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd (Marae and Te Karere) –
    28 November 2004
  2. Archie Lowes’ formal complaint to TVNZ (Te Karere) – 9 March 2005
  3. TVNZ’s response to the complaint (Marae) – 28 February 2005
  4. TVNZ’s response to the complaint (One News) – 7 March 2005
  5. TVNZ’s response to the complaint (Te Karere) – 6 April 2005
  6. Archie Lowes’ referral to the Authority (Marae and One News) – 18 March 2005
  7. Archie Lowes’ referral to the Authority (Te Karere) – 17 April 2005
  8. TVNZ’s response to the referral (Marae and One News) – 5 April 2005
  9. Archie Lowes’ final comment to the Authority (Marae and One News) – 17 April 2005
  10. Archie Lowes’ final comment to the Authority (Te Karere) – 10 May 2005