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Lind and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2010-098

Members

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Tapu Misa
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Mary Anne Shanahan

Complainant

  • Sue Lind of Cromwell

Dated

23rd November 2010

Number

2010-098

Programme

One News

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News
– item on the arrest of five protesters demonstrating against a 1080 poison drop on a farm – Department of Conservation logo was displayed behind the presenter as he introduced the item – allegedly inaccurate and misleading


Findings

Standard 5 (accuracy) – use of DOC log was careless, but would not have influenced viewers’ understanding of the issue reported on – not misleading – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]   An item on One News, broadcast at 6pm on Tuesday 15 June 2010, discussed the arrest of five protesters demonstrating against a 1080 poison drop on a farm on the West Coast.

[2]   At the start of the item, a graphic showing the Department of Conservation (DOC) logo with 1080 pellets underneath it was displayed behind the presenter as he introduced the item.

[3]   The item included footage of police attending the protest and moving demonstrators off the farm. It also included interviews with the owner of the farm and one of the protesters.

[4]   With reference to the poison drop, the reporter stated, “The Animal Health Board, satisfied they’re following safety guidelines to the letter”.

Complaint

[5]   Sue Lind made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item had breached Standard 5 (accuracy).

[6]   The complainant noted that the reporter had referred to the Animal Health Board (AHB) during the item, but there was no mention of DOC being involved in the drop. She argued that the use of DOC’s logo implied that DOC had been involved in the operation which “was not true”.

[7]   Ms Lind also contended that the item “lacked objective reporting”.

Standards

[8]  Standard 5 and guideline 5c of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice are relevant to the determination of this complaint. They provide:

Standard 5 Accuracy

Broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure that news, current affairs and factual programming:

• is accurate in relation to all material points of fact and/or

• does not mislead.

Guideline 5c

News must be impartial.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[9]   TVNZ contended that the AHB was “accountable to its member organisation (DOC is a member organisation) and DOC commits resources including 1080 drops to possum control at priority sites to ensure the long term survival of species and the ecosystems that support them”.

[10]   The broadcaster argued that DOC and the AHB often worked together in pest control programmes and that it was not misleading to associate DOC with the 1080 drop. In any event, it considered that the use of the logo in the introduction was not a material point of fact to which the standard applied, because the item’s focus was on the arrest of the protesters and the farmer’s reaction to them being on his land.

[11]   TVNZ declined to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 5.

Referral to the Authority

[12]   Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Ms Lind referred her complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[13]   The complainant argued that DOC was not a “member organisation” of the AHB, did not have representation on its Board of Directors, and was not part of its representative committee.

[14]   Ms Lind contended that DOC “seeks to eradicate possums to protect ecosystems and species in accordance with the legislation administered under the Conservation Acts, whereas AHB is an incorporated society, legally responsible for managing and implementing the National Pest Strategy for Bovine Tuberculosis in New Zealand”.

[15]   The complainant maintained that it was inaccurate for the item to have included the DOC logo as there was “no relationship at all” between it and the subject of the item. She considered that “the news cannot be impartial if the public are so misled”.

Authority's Determination

[16]   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.

[17]   Standard 5 states that broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure that news, current affairs and factual programming is accurate in relation to all material points of fact and does not mislead.

[18]   In our view, the graphic of DOC’s logo with 1080 pallets displayed during the presenter’s introduction was careless on the part of TVNZ given that DOC were not involved. However, we consider that the item made it clear that the AHB was the body responsible for ensuring the drop complied with safety guidelines, and we note that DOC was not verbally mentioned in the reporter’s coverage.

[19]   As a result, we do not consider that the inclusion of DOC’s logo in the introduction would have influenced viewers’ understanding of the issues addressed in the item or that they would have been misled by it. Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint that the broadcast breached Standard 5.

 

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

Peter Radich
Chair
23 November 2010

Appendix

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

1.           Sue Lind’s formal complaint – 15 June 2010

2.          TVNZ’s response to the formal complaint – 12 July 2010

3.          Ms Lind’s referral to the Authority – 1 August 2010

4.          TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 16 September 2010