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Kavanagh and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2013-033

Members

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

Complainant

  • Terence Kavanagh of Wellington

Dated

3rd September 2013

Number

2013-033

Programme

Seven Sharp

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Seven Sharp – item reported on Labour MP Shane Jones throwing a “Lazarus party” to mark his return to the front bench – presenter commented, “Leaving aside anything about resurrections and dodgy movies in hotels, Shane Jones is actually known for referring to himself in the third person” – presenter’s comment allegedly in breach of good taste and decency, and discrimination and denigration standards

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency), Standard 7 (discrimination and denigration) – presenter did not make any reference to Christ and nothing in the broadcast would have offended or distressed viewers, or encouraged discrimination or denigration against Christians as a section of the community – not upheld 

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Introduction

[1]  An item on Seven Sharp, a New Zealand current affairs and entertainment programme, reported on Labour MP Shane Jones’ return to the opposition front bench. The reporter explained that the MP was “throwing a Lazarus party” to mark his return, being a reference to the biblical event where Jesus brought a man named Lazarus back from the dead. After the item, one of the presenters commented, “Leaving aside anything about resurrections and dodgy movies in hotels, Shane Jones is actually known for referring to himself in the third person”. The programme was broadcast at 7pm on 27 March 2013 on TV One.

[2]  Terence Kavanagh made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the presenter’s concluding remark connected the resurrection of Christ to the MP’s “dubious night time activities” which was offensive and denigrating to Christians.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached standards relating to good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration, as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

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

Did the item breach broadcasting standards?

[5]  The item reported on the day’s parliamentary news which involved Shane Jones attempting to inject humour into his return to the front bench by making an analogy between the resurrection of Lazarus and the resurrection of his career. The presenter’s concluding remark referred to the resurrection of Lazarus, not Christ, and his reference to adult movies clearly related to a well publicised controversy in which the MP had been involved. As the presenter made no mention of Christ, we think Mr Kavanagh either misheard or misinterpreted his concluding remark. We are satisfied that the item would not have offended or distressed most viewers, and did not encourage discrimination or denigration against Christians as a section of the community. We therefore decline to uphold the complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
3 September 2013

Appendix

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

1          Terence Kavanagh’s formal complaint – 5 April 2013

2          TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 3 May 2013

3          Mr Kavanagh’s referral to the Authority – 24 May 2013

4          TVNZ’s response to the Authority –  21 June 2013