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de Boer and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2004-123

Members

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

Complainant

  • Berend de Boer

Dated

30th September 2004

Number

2004-123

Programme

Morning Report

Channel/Station

National Radio

Broadcaster

Radio New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
National Radio – interview with Pauline Hanson on Morning Report – interviewer asked if she was considering political life again and mentioned that ACT party in New Zealand was looking for a new leader – comments allegedly unfair to ACT leaders and voters

Findings
Principle 5 (fairness) – comment did not attribute politics of Pauline Hanson to ACT party or members – issue of fairness did not arise – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] Former Australian politician Pauline Hanson was interviewed on Morning Report on 7 May 2004, shortly before the 7 o’clock news. The interview took place in the context of Ms Hanson’s trip to New Zealand for the purpose of promoting a cleaning franchise. During the interview the interviewer asked Ms Hanson:

Any thoughts about entering the political arena again? … You did know that the ACT party was looking for a new leader here?

Complaint

[2] Berend de Boer complained to Radio New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the association of Pauline Hanson with the ACT party was unfair to ACT’s leaders and members, as it painted them as “(potential) Pauline Hanson supporters”. This was unfair given the “racist ideas” promoted by Pauline Hanson.

Principles

[3] RNZ assessed the complaint under Principle 5 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. Principle 5 states:

Principle 5
In programmes and their presentation, broadcasters are required to deal justly and fairly with any person taking part or referred to.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[4] RNZ rejected Mr de Boer’s complaint on the grounds that his complaint appeared to be grounded in principles of defamation, and that defamation per se was not covered by the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. However, in any event it rejected Mr de Boer’s assertion that by putting the question, RNZ had intimated that ACT party leadership candidates had something in common with Pauline Hanson’s previously expressed views.

Referral to the Authority

[5] Mr de Boer was dissatisfied with RNZ’s response and referred the matter to the Authority. Mr de Boer stated that his complaint was specifically based on an apparent breach of Principle 5 (fairness), rather than on principles of defamation as RNZ had stated.

[6] Mr de Boer maintained that the “whole point” of the interview was to ask Ms Hanson the question complained about, and re-iterated his view that the question posed to Ms Hanson portrayed all ACT leaders and voters as “racists”.

Authority's Determination

[7] The members of the Authority have listened to a tape of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[8] As a preliminary point, the Authority records its view that Mr de Boer’s complaint to RNZ was appropriately based on an alleged breach of Principle 5 rather than the principles of defamation; Mr de Boer referred specifically to the principle and clearly stated that the broadcast was unfair to the ACT party.

[9] The Authority does not uphold Mr de Boer’s complaint. It considers that the question posed by the interviewer was clearly intended to be a light-hearted and amusing comment about the opportunity for a continuing career in politics for Ms Hanson, in light of her new career outside of the political arena. It was clearly seen as such by Ms Hanson, who laughed loudly in response to the question.

[10] The Authority does not accept Mr de Boer’s contention that by posing a question in the form of a joke, the interviewer automatically associated the politics of Pauline Hanson with those of the ACT party or its members. The nature of the joke was such that any political party could have been named. The item made reference to the ACT party as its leadership was then in question.

[11] Accordingly, the Authority does not agree that the broadcast was unfair to the ACT party or its members.

 

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Tapu Misa
Member
30 September 2004

Appendix

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

  1. Berend de Boer’s Formal Complaint to Radio New Zealand – undated
  2. RNZ’s Response to the Formal Complaint – 8 June 2004
  3. Mr de Boer’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 30 June 2004