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Pettigrew and TVWorks Ltd - 2012-071

Members

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Mary Anne Shanahan

Complainant

  • W J Pettigrew of Motueka

Dated

21st August 2012

Number

2012-071

Programme

3 News

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

TVWorks Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
3 News – item reported on the Conservative Party leader and apparent party practices – allegedly in breach of discrimination and denigration standard

Findings
Standard 7 (discrimination and denigration) – item was a legitimate and straightforward news report – did not encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, any section of the community – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Introduction

[1]  An item on 3 News, broadcast on 7 May 2012 on TV3, was introduced by the newsreader as follows:

Colin Craig’s Conservative Party has a distinctly Christian streak and so does his workplace. 3 News has learned it includes weekly prayers often led by him. Craig says it’s something other employers should adopt, just like Friday night drinks.

[2]  W J Pettigrew made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item denigrated a legitimate expression of religion, namely prayer, which was “very offensive”.

[3]  The issue is whether the news item breached Standard 7 (discrimination and denigration) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The members of the Authority viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the item encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, any section of the community?

[5]  Standard 7 (discrimination and denigration) protects against broadcasts which encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, any section of the community on account of sex, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, occupational status, or as a consequence of legitimate expression of religion, culture or political belief.

[6]  The complainant stated, “My complaint is not about blackening the reputation of the Conservative Party, but simply about making a mockery of or denigrating a legitimate expression of religion, namely prayer. The value of prayer is still upheld by Parliament as an important part of the start of every parliamentary sitting”.

[7]  “Prayer” is not a section of the community to which Standard 7 applies (see paragraph [5]).

[8]  We have therefore considered whether the item encouraged the denigration of, or discrimination against, Conservative Party members or Christians, as sections of the community on account of political or religious beliefs.

[9]  The item was a legitimate and straightforward news report which carried a level of public interest. It provided insight into a political party and its leader, questioning Mr Craig about his management style, including the party’s values as reflected in its alleged practices, and whether that might deter voters. At the end of the item, the reporter commented, “Colin Craig is being billed as the Messiah of right-wing politics, but what he preaches could steer off those crucial voters in the centre and this comes as a warning for John Key that the Conservative Party comes with problems of its own”. The item did not contain any commentary that blackened the reputation of Conservative Party members or Christians. Nor did it encourage the different treatment of those groups to their detriment.

[10]  Giving full weight to the right to the requirements of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, we find that upholding the complaint would unjustifiably limit the right to freedom of expression. We therefore decline to uphold the Standard 7 complaint.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
21 August 2012