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Cranston and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-012

Members

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

Complainant

  • Anthony Cranston

Dated

16th June 2015

Number

2015-012

Programme

ONE News

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd

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

A ONE News bulletin reported on recent Islamic State activity and showed footage of identified supporters of ISIS and its training camps. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this promoted, encouraged and glamorised terrorism. The news bulletin carried high public interest and was a straightforward report of recent terrorist activity that in no way condoned or glorified this behaviour.

Not Upheld: Law and Order


Introduction

[1]  A ONE News bulletin reported on recent Islamic State activity and showed footage of identified supporters of ISIS and its training camps.

[2]  Anthony Cranston complained that the reporting of ISIS activities promoted, encouraged and glamorised terrorism.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the law and order standard as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The item was broadcast on TV ONE on 12 January 2015. 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 encourage viewers to break the law, or otherwise promote, condone or glamorise criminal activity?

[5]  The intent behind the law and order standard (Standard 2) is to prevent broadcasts that encourage viewers to break the law, or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity.1 The standard exists to ensure that broadcasters refrain from broadcasting material which does not respect the laws which sustain our society.2

[6]  Mr Cranston argued that identifying where ISIS recruits are trained and showing ISIS training camps, while giving the life details and credentials of individuals known to be associated with ISIS, glamorised and promoted terrorism. He felt that broadcasting ISIS's 'calls for terrorism' incentivised further violent attacks by reaching thousands of 'potential terrorists' in democratic countries. Mr Cranston argued the topic could have been handled more sensitively so viewers were aware of the threat of terrorism without the item being so provocative.

[7]  TVNZ disagreed that the report glamorised terror acts or terrorists. It said the behaviour shown in the item was portrayed for what it was, revealing the existence of a problem. TVNZ maintained there was no element of promotion or encouragement of the activities, as the message of the programme was that this type of behaviour was of deep concern. As this is a significant issue facing the international community, TVNZ argued that it was its duty as a news broadcaster to report these issues as they are known.

[8]  In our view, the item was a straightforward news report about recent terrorist activities. The item in no way encouraged, condoned or glorified terrorism. Rather, the tone of the broadcast was one of condemnation, highlighting the seriousness of the matter worldwide.

[9]  Only a small part of the eight-minute long item referred to ISIS and the footage of ISIS supporters and training camps was not given any prominence. It was noted that the individuals responsible for the shootings at the Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters in Paris were killed by police, demonstrating the possible consequences of such terrorist acts.

[10]  While we appreciate the complainant's concerns that reporting such events inadvertently publicises terrorism, the news exists to inform and educate us about world events and issues. The news and news broadcasters play a vital role by casting light on a variety of matters, pleasant and otherwise. This item carried a high level of public interest and assisted in the free flow of information about a matter of significant public importance and security, nationally as well as internationally.

[11]  Accordingly, we are satisfied that the item did not threaten the maintenance of law and order in the manner envisaged by Standard 2, and 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
16 June 2015

 

Appendix

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

1      Anthony Cranston's formal complaint – 15 January 2015
2      TVNZ's response to the complaint – 12 February 2015
3      Mr Cranston's referral to the Authority – 2 March 2015
4      Mr Cranston's further comments on referral – 3 March 2015
5      TVNZ's response to the Authority – 20 April 2015

 

 


1 See, for example, Keane and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-082

2Hunt and Māori Television, Decision No. 2009-010