Skip to main content

Lewis and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2013-090

Members

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

Complainant

  • Jim Lewis of Taupo

Dated

4th March 2014

Number

2013-090

Programme

One News

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Summary [This summary does not form part of the decision.]

During One News weather reports, wind speeds were referred to verbally as ‘ks’ and ‘kilometres per hour’ and appeared in onscreen graphics as ‘km’ and ‘km/h’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the reports were inaccurate. While the use of inconsistent terms was sloppy, it was obvious to viewers in the context of weather reports that these were references to wind speeds and not to any other unit of measurement, so viewers were not misled.

Not Upheld: Accuracy 


Introduction

[1]  During One News weather reports, wind speeds were referred to verbally as ‘ks’ and ‘kilometres per hour’ and appeared in onscreen graphics as ‘km’ and ‘km/h’. The reports were broadcast on 14 and 15 October 2013 on TV ONE.

[2]  Jim Lewis made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the items contained ‘sloppy and inaccurate use of scientific abbreviations’ as the unit ‘kilometre (km) instead of kilometres per hour (km/hr)’ was used to refer to wind speed gusts. He asserted that ‘There is a big difference between a distance unit and a speed or velocity unit’.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the accuracy standard, 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 broadcast breach the accuracy standard?

[5]  The accuracy standard (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. The objective of this standard is to protect audiences from receiving misinformation and thereby being misled.1

[6]  TVNZ agreed that the ‘absolute proper terminology should have been… km/h’, but found that the abbreviations were not material points of fact. It said that ‘k’ was often used colloquially in this way to mean a measurement of speed and it did not consider that viewers would have been misled.

[7]  We agree that the inconsistent use of various abbreviations of ‘kilometres per hour’ in the items (both verbally and graphically) was sloppy. However, it was obvious in the context of the weather reports that the presenter and the graphics were referring to wind speeds and not to any other unit of measurement, so the abbreviations would not have materially affected viewers’ understanding of the information conveyed. We are satisfied that the audience would not have been misled or confused by the reports and that no harm was caused in terms of the underlying objectives of the accuracy standard.

[8]  We therefore decline to uphold the Standard 5 complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
4 March 2014

Appendix

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

1                  Jim Lewis’ formal complaint (including attachments) – 18 October 2013

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 11 November 2013

3                 Mr Lewis’ referral to the Authority – 5 December 2013

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 10 January 2014

5                 Mr Lewis’ final comment – 28 January 2014

6                 TVNZ’s confirmation of no further comment – 28 January 2014


1Bush and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-036