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Emirates Team New Zealand and The Radio Network Ltd - 2014-089

Members

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

Complainant

  • Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) of Auckland

Dated

25th September 2014

Number

2014-089

Programme

Radio Sport

Channel/Station

Radio Sport

Broadcaster

The Radio Network Ltd


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

A Radio Sport host commented to the programme producer, ‘I wonder when Team New Zealand are going to tell us all that one of their chief designers quit a couple of weeks ago.’ The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this was inaccurate because no designer had resigned. Listeners would have interpreted the comments as speculation or gossip, rather than confirmed fact.

Not Upheld: Accuracy


Introduction

[1]  During The Devlin Radio Show on Radio Sport, the host commented to the programme producer, ‘I wonder when Team New Zealand are going to tell us all that one of their chief designers quit a couple of weeks ago.’ The programme was broadcast on 30 June 2014.

[2]  Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) complained that the assertion made by the host Martin Devlin was ‘utterly incorrect’ as no designer had left ETNZ within the last year.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the accuracy standard as set out in 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.

Was the item misleading or inaccurate?

[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]  ETNZ argued that ‘the broadcast of such an unqualified statement of fact… had a significant negative impact on ETNZ with the potential to damage its relationship with sponsors, key stakeholders and supporters’.

[7]  TRN denied that the show was news, current affairs or factual programming for the purposes of the accuracy standard, saying it was ‘an entertainment show based on the host’s… “rants”, humour and interaction with other callers and guests’. It said the host was well-known as ‘a highly opinionated broadcaster’ whose ‘personality and perspective’ is at the core of his show. It considered that in this context, listeners would not have interpreted the comment as an unqualified statement of fact, but would have understood that the host ‘was airing something that he had heard’ that may or may not have been correct. It said as the host did not name the person, this ‘added to the feeling this was more gossip’ and not ‘something that could be said to be objectively accurate or inaccurate’.

[8]  Guideline 5b to the accuracy standard states that talkback radio will not usually be subject to the accuracy standard unless the presenter makes an unqualified statement of fact. The comment subject to complaint was made in the following context:

I wonder when Team New Zealand are going to tell us all that one of their chief designers quit a couple of weeks ago. …That hasn’t come out yet, has it? Because you know how they wanted their salaries to keep all their designers and stuff? But one of their main designers has up and walked. They haven’t mentioned that one yet, have they? … I don’t think that one’s coming out yet, is it?

[9]  We do not think that this amounted to an unqualified statement of fact which was subject to standards of accuracy, or which listeners would have interpreted as authoritative or certain. Rather, most listeners would have taken the comments in the nature of speculation or gossip, due to the host’s repeated questioning whether it had ‘come out yet’. The impression created was that Mr Devlin had perhaps heard rumours, but this clearly had not been stated or corroborated by ETNZ itself. This was supported by the producer’s reaction when he said, ‘we’ll wait for that story to break’, again indicating it had not been confirmed.

[10]  As the comment did not amount to an unqualified statement of fact, we 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
25 September 2014


Appendix

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

1            Emirates Team New Zealand’s formal complaint – 2 July 2014

2            TRN’s response to the complaint – 8 July 2014

3            Emirates Team New Zealand’s referral to the Authority – 24 July 2014

4            TRN’s response to the Authority – 4 August 2014


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