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Bisset and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2005-093

Members

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

Complainant

  • Tony Bisset of Rangiora

Dated

28th September 2005

Number

2005-093

Programme

Te Karere

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Te Karere – item on New Zealand fruit exports to Australia – interviewee said “Who is the World Trade Organisation? They are all Pakeha” – allegedly denigratory of Pakeha

Findings
Standard 6 (fairness) and Guideline 6g (denigration) – comment more expression of frustration at lack of Māori input to finding a solution – not intended to be denigratory of Pakeha – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] TV One broadcast Te Karere on 24 June at 6am. Te Karere contained an item about the continuing opposition from Australia to New Zealand apple imports. The item included an interview with Mr Maanu Paul, a kiwifruit grower from Whakatane. Commenting on New Zealand’s decision to refer the Australian issue to the World Trade Organisation, Mr Paul commented:

He orite tena i te tangitangi a te peepe ki tona maama ne kua … e tetahi ke kaare e tino mi ki he kiko i tena mahi … ko wai te World Trade Organisation ne he pakeha katoa ratau.

[2] This translates as:

This is likened to a baby crying out to its mother, after being spanked by someone else. There is no benefit in that. Who is the World Trade Organisation? They are all Pakeha.

[3] Mr Paul had earlier in the item expressed his frustration that, despite Māori being recognised as good entrepreneurs, New Zealand sent only Pakeha negotiators to discuss the issue. He suggested:

We should get Māori together, assemble them into one group, and seek ideas from them and people like me. We can come up with something that would get our apples over there.

(words translated from Māori)

Complaint

[4] Tony Bisset complained that the tone and manner of the statement was derogatory. Mr Bisset stated:

Although the statement made by the person may represent his genuine and personal feelings, and his comments were part of a news item, I feel however that broadcasting such a statement with no attempt to present a balanced view, breaches the broadcasting standards 6g, in particular “…encourages denigration of, or discrimination against, sections of the community on account of … race …”

Standards

[5] TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 6 (fairness), and in particular, guideline 6g (denigration). This states:

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.

Guideline 6g

Broadcasters should avoid portraying persons in programmes in a manner that encourages denigration of, or discrimination against, sections of the community on account of sex, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, or occupational status, or as a consequence of legitimate expression of religious, cultural or political beliefs. This requirement is not intended to prevent the broadcast of material which is:

i) factual, or

ii) the expression of genuinely held opinion in news, current affairs or other factual programmes, or

iii) in the legitimate context of a dramatic, humorous or satirical work,

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[6] TVNZ declined to uphold the complaint. It acknowledged that the complainant felt the comment represented prejudice against Pakeha, but concluded that the remark did not carry an implication derogatory of all Pakeha. It noted:

The comment was delivered in the context of a particular issue – that of fruit exports – and seemed to reflect Mr Paul’s deep dissatisfaction with the way export authorities in this country have handled and are handling the situation. The reference to Pakeha perhaps suggested that Mr Paul finds fault with what may be described as the institutionalism surrounding the fruit export industry – institutionalism which just happens to be built on the Pakeha way of doing things.

[7] TVNZ concluded that the comment was an expression of genuinely held opinion in a news programme from an appropriately qualified speaker, and it noted that guideline 6g specifically protected the expression of such opinion.

Referral to the Authority

[8] Mr Bisset was dissatisfied and referred his complaint to the Authority. Mr Bisset disagreed with TVNZ’s assessment of the comment, and argued that:

… it is outside the scope of TVNZ to attempt to rationalise, justify or explain a person’s comments made on air by some later perceived understanding of how the interviewee may have felt at the time. Instead, all comments made on air can only be taken purely as said.

[9] Mr Bisset concluded that whatever assumptions TVNZ made, the comments were still derogatory and in breach of standard 6.

Authority's Determination

[10] The members of the Authority have viewed a tape of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority also obtained a translation of the full item.

[11] The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[12] The Authority has consistently adopted a high threshold for finding that a broadcast encourages denigration. The test is whether a broadcast has blackened the reputation of a class of people. The Authority considers that the threshold was not crossed in the present case.

[13] The Authority acknowledges that the comment can be interpreted as being critical of Pakeha. When looked at in the context of the full item, however, it is apparent that the comment was not intended to be denigratory. Instead, the comment seemed more an expression of frustration that, despite the entrepreneurial skills of Māori, they had not been asked to contribute to a potential solution and only Pakeha-centred solutions were being proposed. The essential message appeared to be that Māori could – and should – get more involved in breaching the impasse.

[14] The Authority agrees with TVNZ’s assessment that:

The reference to Pakeha perhaps suggested that Mr Paul finds fault with what may be described as the institutionalism surrounding the fruit export industry – institutionalism which just happens to be built on the Pakeha way of doing things.

[15] The speaker was entitled to express his opinion on the issue and, seen in context, his comment did not encourage denigration of Pakeha.

 

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
28 September 2005

Appendix

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

  1. Tony Bisset’s formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 25 June 2005
  2. TVNZ’s response to formal complaint – 25 July 2005
  3. Mr Bisset’s referral to the Authority – received on 8 August 2005