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Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2014-008

Members

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

Complainant

  • Allan Golden of Wellington

Dated

2nd May 2014

Number

2014-008

Programme

Outspoken

Channel/Station

Radio New Zealand National

Broadcaster

Radio New Zealand Ltd


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

The host of current affairs programme Outspoken interviewed two experts about the possibility of a special legal commission in New Zealand to investigate allegations of miscarriages of justice. The Authority declined to determine the complaint that the broadcast breached standards because it did not mention alleged government corruption as one of the contributing factors to such injustice. Mr Golden has repeatedly referred similar complaints, which are based on his personal preferences and are matters of editorial discretion, not broadcasting standards.

Declined to Determine: Accuracy, Fairness, Responsible Programming


Introduction

[1]  During Outspoken, a half-hour current affairs programme, the host interviewed two experts about the possibility of a special legal commission in New Zealand to investigate allegations of miscarriages of justice. They expressed their views on some of the contributors to such injustice, including ‘poor or inadequate police investigation, poor or inadequate forensic science, and… poor or inadequate defence’. The programme was broadcast on Radio New Zealand National on 2 January 2014.

[2]  Allan Golden made a formal complaint to Radio New Zealand Ltd, saying the programme ‘wilfully and extensively misrepresents the stated problem’ by failing to mention that government corruption is a key contributor to miscarriages of justice.

[3]  Mr Golden raised the accuracy, fairness, and responsible programming standards. The issue is whether the complaint raises any matters which warrant our determination under the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

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

Does the complaint raise issues of broadcasting standards which warrant out determination?

[5]  Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises this Authority to decline to determine a complaint if it considers the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, or trivial. The policy behind section 11 is that the time and resources of the Authority, which are, in the end, sustained by the people of New Zealand, should not be wasted in having to deal with matters which objectively have no importance.1

[6]  We have reached the view that it is appropriate for us to decline to determine this complaint under section 11(a) on the basis it is vexatious.

[7]  Mr Golden’s complaint relates to matters that were not discussed in the broadcast, namely, alleged government corruption. Mr Golden continues to refer similar complaints to this Authority, which raise matters of personal preference and editorial discretion, not broadcasting standards, all of which we have either declined to determine, or declined to uphold.2 Section 5(c) of the Act recognises that complaints based merely on personal preference are not capable of being resolved by this complaints procedure.

[8]  Here, Mr Golden has objected to the way the broadcaster has chosen to convey information on a particular topic, specifically, he is concerned about the omission of information relating to alleged government corruption. This programme was clearly based on the interviewees’ views of some factors they saw as contributing to alleged miscarriages of justice. That they did not mention a particular point that Mr Golden wanted to be put forward, is not a matter of broadcasting standards.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
2 May 2014

Appendix

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

1                  Allan Golden’s formal complaint – 16 January 2014

2                 RNZ’s response to the complaint – 17 January 2014

3                 Mr Golden’s referral to the Authority – 24 January 2014

4                 RNZ’s response to the Authority – 25 February 2014


1Practice Note: Section 11 powers to decline to determine a complaint (Broadcasting Standards Authority, June 2013)

2See, for example, Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2013-086; Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2013-028; Golden and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2012-115; Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2012-109; Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-048.