Sun FM – announcer’s alleged misconduct – disparaging comments about complainant – breach of privacy
Issue primarily a work-related dispute
Principle 7 – decline to determine
Privacy – decline to determine
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
Following a work-related dispute, an announcer at Whakatane’s Sun FM allegedly made disparaging comments about the complainant on air on one occasion, and allegedly breached her privacy on air on another. The complainant had been a voluntary worker at Sun FM.
The complainant, SB, complained to Sun FM, the broadcaster, that a broadcast on 28 November 2000 breached the requirement in Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice for broadcasters to be socially responsible in programmes and their presentation. She complained to the Broadcasting Standards Authority that a broadcast on 1 December 2000 breached her privacy.
On behalf of Sun FM, the Chairman of Te Reo Irirangi o Te Manuka Tutahi Trust, Mr L R Harvey, responded to the Authority with respect to both complaints. Mr Harvey explained that the Trust was unable to provide the Authority with tapes of the items complained about. He said that, during the period to which the complaints related, a relieving staff member had inadvertently deleted the station’s records.
The Authority subsequently obtained from the complainant a tape she said related to the second of the items complained about. It also obtained further information from both the complainant and Mr Harvey as to the nature of the work-related dispute.
Under section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, the Authority declines to determine the complaints. It has read the correspondence listed in the Appendix and comes to the conclusion that the complaints are primarily about a work-related dispute rather than broadcasting standards. The Authority, therefore, does not consider itself the appropriate forum for the resolution of this dispute.
The matter is further complicated by the absence of tapes. The Authority notes with concern that Sun FM was unable to provide tapes of the broadcasts to which the complaints relate. It reminds the broadcaster of its obligations under the Broadcasting Act 1989. Section 53F of the Act requires Te Reo Whakapuaki Irirangi to conform to the broadcasting standards specified in section 4(1) of the Act. Under section 4(1)(e), every broadcaster is responsible for maintaining in its programmes and their presentation, standards which are consistent with any approved code of broadcasting practice.
The Authority draws Sun FM’s attention to the requirement in Principle 8 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice, which states:
For a period of 35 days after broadcast, broadcasters are required to be able to provide a copy of the tapes of all open line and talk back programmes, and all outside broadcast news and current affairs coverage. For the same period, broadcasters are also required to retain, or be able to obtain, a tape or script of all news or current affairs items.
8a In the event of a formal complaint, broadcasters will retain all relevant programme information, records and recordings until the complaint has been finally dealt with.
8b Tapes and transcripts required pursuant to Principle 8 and all relevant information retained in the event of a formal complaint shall be made available to the Broadcasting Standards Authority on the Authority’s written request.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
22 March 2001
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint: