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Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2014-159

Members

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

Complainant

  • Allan Golden

Dated

1st May 2015

Number

2014-159

Programme

Checkpoint

Channel/Station

Radio New Zealand National

Broadcaster

Radio New Zealand Ltd

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

The Authority declined to determine a complaint that it was inappropriate for RNZ to use Forsyth Barr and First NZ Capital as business advisors and suppliers of business news for its 'Market Update' segment on Checkpoint. RNZ's choice of business advisors is a matter of editorial discretion rather than broadcasting standards. The complainant has previously made similar complaints and been warned that further similar complaints would be unlikely to be determined in future. Accordingly the Authority declined to determine the present complaint on the basis it was frivolous and vexatious.

Declined to Determine: Law and Order, Fairness, Responsible Programming


Introduction

[1]  Allan Golden complained that Forsyth Barr and First NZ Capital were not suitable for use as business advisors and suppliers of business news on Radio New Zealand's 'Market Update' segment of Checkpoint.

[2]  The issue is whether Mr Golden's concerns raise issues of broadcasting standards of a level which warrants our determination.

[3]  The item identified by Mr Golden was broadcast on Radio New Zealand National on 17 November 2014. 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 any issues that warrant our determination?

[4]  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

[5]  We consider the present complaint to be both frivolous and vexatious and accordingly we decline to determine the complaint.

[6]  A frivolous complaint is one which is not serious or sensible, and which the Authority considers to be unworthy of being treated in the same way in which it would treat a complaint which is not frivolous or which has some merit.2 This complaint is frivolous because it is not concerned with the content of the programme. Rather, Mr Golden is objecting to RNZ's exercise of editorial discretion in choosing two specific companies to inform the 'Market Update' segment, evidently based on his personal views of them. This is not a legitimate issue of broadcasting standards which we can properly consider.

[7]  A vexatious complaint is one which has been instituted without sufficient justifying grounds.3 The Authority is usually reluctant to label a complaint vexatious, but the Authority has previously held that, when a complainant refers numerous complaints about the same issue, even though their earlier complaints have been dismissed with comprehensive reasoning, the repeated complaints were vexatious.4

[8]  Mr Golden has referred numerous complaints to this Authority centred around his concerns about the Feltex Initial Public Offering,5 and he has been warned in a previous decision that complaints of this nature were 'bordering on vexatious'.6 Despite this he continues to refer similar complaints to us. The language used in the present complaint is inflammatory and accusatory (and in the broadcaster's view, defamatory) and we think represents an abuse of the complaints process. It is for these reasons that we consider the complaint to be vexatious.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
1 May 2015

 

Appendix

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

1     Allan Golden's formal complaint – 18 November 2014
2     RNZ's response to the complaint – 15 December 2014
3     Mr Golden's referral to the Authority – 19 December 2014
4     Mr Golden's further comments on referral – 27 December 2014
5     RNZ's response to the Authority – 21 January 2015
6     Mr Golden's final comments – 24 January 2015

 


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

Ibid.

Ibid.

Ibid.

E.g. Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-167, Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2013-028 and Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2013-086

Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2013-028