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McDonald and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-016

Members

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

Complainant

  • Donald McDonald

Dated

16th June 2015

Number

2015-016

Programme

ONE News

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd

Summary 

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

ONE News reported that Cadbury chocolate bars were set to ‘shrink by 10 percent’, from 220 grams to 200 grams. The Authority declined to determine the complaint that the item was inaccurate because it was wrong to use the word ‘shrink’ to refer to a weight measurement and because the difference in grams was 9.1 percent, not 10 percent. The Authority found the complaint to be trivial as the complainant did not outline why the difference was material or why it would have impacted viewers’ understanding of the item as a whole.
 
Declined to Determine: Accuracy


Introduction 

[1]  ONE News reported that Cadbury chocolate bars were set to ‘shrink by 10 percent’, from 220 grams to 200 grams.
 
[2]  Donald McDonald complained that the item was inaccurate because it was wrong to use the word ‘shrink’ in relation to weight and because the difference between 220 grams and 200 grams is 9.1 percent, not 10 percent. 
 
[3]  The issue is whether Mr McDonald’s concerns raise issues of broadcasting standards of a level which warrants the Authority’s determination.
 
[4]  The item aired on TV ONE on 3 February 2015. The members of the Authority have viewed 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?

[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]  The accuracy standard is concerned only with ‘material points of fact’. Mr McDonald has previously been advised by the High Court that in referring complaints to this Authority, he must clearly demonstrate why he considers an alleged error is material to the broadcast.2  He has not articulated, or convinced us, why the difference between 9.1 percent and 10 percent would have materially affected viewers’ understanding of the story. The main message of the item was that Cadbury chocolate bars would be getting smaller – which many ordinary viewers would think of as ‘shrinking’ – but would continue to be sold for the same price. 
 
[7]  We therefore decline to determine Mr McDonald’s complaint on the basis that it is trivial. We also consider the complaint borders on being vexatious as it follows many other similar complaints raising trivial accuracy points, which have been dismissed by this Authority.3 
 
For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine 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      Donald McDonald’s formal complaint – 3 February 2015
2      TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 3 March 2015
3      Mr McDonald’s referral to the Authority – 16 March 2015
4      TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 1 May 2015
 
 

1
 Practice Note: Section 11 powers to decline to determine a complaint (Broadcasting Standards Authority, June 2013)
2 McDonald v Television New Zealand Ltd, CIV 2011-485-1836 per France J
3 See, for example, McDonald and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2014-158; McDonald and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2014-150; McDonald and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2012-100