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Williamson and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-061 (1 December 2015)

Members

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Paula Rose

Complainant

  • Ross Williamson

Dated

1st December 2015

Number

2015-061

Programme

ONE News at Midday

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd

Summary

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

During ONE News at Midday, TVNZ’s sports presenter reported the New Zealand women’s hockey team’s loss in a World League semi-final match. She said, ‘The one consolation, though – Australia hasn’t progressed either’. The Authority declined to uphold a complaint that this comment was ‘nasty’ and ‘spiteful’. It is common for sports reporting to refer to the long-standing trans-Tasman rivalry and most viewers would not have been offended in this context.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Controversial Issues, Responsible Programming


Introduction

[1] During ONE News at Midday, TVNZ’s sports presenter reported the New Zealand women’s hockey team’s loss in a World League semi-final match. She said, ‘The one consolation, though – Australia hasn’t progressed either. The two teams will play off for third place on Sunday and if the Kiwis can beat them, they’ll qualify for the Rio Olympics’.

[2] Ross Williamson complained that this comment about Australia was ‘nasty’ and ‘spiteful’.

[3] The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency, controversial issues and responsible programming standards of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. In our view the good taste and decency standard is the most relevant, so we have focused our determination accordingly. We have briefly addressed the remaining standards from paragraph [11] below.

[4] In his referral to this Authority, Mr Williamson also nominated the law and order, privacy and discrimination and denigration standards. The Authority does not have jurisdiction to consider these standards as they were not raised at the time of the original complaint.

[5] The item was broadcast on TV ONE on 3 July 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 item threaten current norms of good taste and decency?

[6] The good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 The Authority will also consider the standard in relation to any broadcast that portrays or discusses material in a way that is likely to cause offence or distress.2

[7] Mr Williamson argued that the comment about Australia was ‘snide’, ‘unbecoming of a sports reporter’ and encouraged a ‘nasty attitude’.

[8] When we consider a complaint about good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast, which here includes:

  • the comment was made during the sports segment of an unclassified news programme;
  • the programme’s adult target audience;
  • the broadcast took place at midday on a weekday during the school term, so children were unlikely be watching; and
  • the presenter went on to say that Australia would be playing New Zealand for third place, the outcome of which would affect New Zealand’s chances to qualify for the Olympics.

[9] We agree with TVNZ that most viewers would not have been offended or distressed by the remark in this context. It is common for sports reporting in New Zealand to allude to the long-standing trans-Tasman rivalry – sporting and otherwise – between Australia and New Zealand.3 The comment in this instance was not nasty or vitriolic. The presenter also immediately elaborated on her comment, explaining that Australia and New Zealand would play-off for third place.

[10] We are satisfied that the comment did not threaten standards of good taste and decency and we therefore decline to uphold the complaint under Standard 1.

Did the broadcast otherwise breach broadcasting standards?

[11] Mr Williamson also complained that the broadcast breached the controversial issues and responsible programming standards. We find that these standards were either not applicable or not breached because:

  • the item did not contain a discussion of a controversial issue of public importance (Standard 4); and
  • the item did not raise any matters of responsible programming, which typically deals with programme classifications and warnings (Standard 8).

[12] Therefore we decline to uphold the complaint under Standards 4 and 8.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
1 December 2015

 

Appendix

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

1      Ross Williamson’s formal complaint – 21 July 2015
2      TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 17 August 2015
3      Mr Williamson’s referral to the Authority – 17 August 2015
4      TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 25 September 2015

 


Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-112

Practice Note: Good Taste and Decency (Broadcasting Standards Authority, November 2006)

See also Thompson and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2014-001