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Govind and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-080 (28 January 2016)

Dated

28th January 2016

Number

2015-080

Programme

ONE News

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd

Summary

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

An item on ONE News reported that an increasing number of beneficiaries were being banned from Work and Income offices due to heightened security as a result of the fatal shootings at a WINZ office in 2014. The reporter interviewed a beneficiary who said that this was ‘no surprise’ because dealing with WINZ is ‘frustrating’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the comments from the beneficiary were irresponsible and encouraged violence. The focus of the item was on security at WINZ offices and the beneficiary was relating his personal experience; the item did not advocate violence.

Not Upheld: Law and Order, Violence, Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Responsible Programming


Introduction

[1]  An item on ONE News reported that an increasing number of beneficiaries were being banned from Work and Income offices due to heightened security as a result of the fatal shootings at a WINZ office in 2014. The reporter interviewed an unidentified beneficiary who said:

Beneficiary: [I]t is personally frustrating, especially when you’ve got kids who, you know, are going to school with no lunch, get looked at and get judged.
Reporter: He [the beneficiary] says it’s no surprise that the number of assaults on WINZ staff has doubled to 46 nationwide.
Beneficiary: There are case managers, I had one recently that frustrated me. I could have been one of those assaulting, just due to her ignorance, and her approach and how she was talking to me.

[2]  Manisha Govind complained that the comments were ‘careless’ and condoned violence.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the law and order, violence, controversial issues, accuracy and responsible programming standards of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. In our view the law and order and violence standards are the most relevant so we have focused our determination accordingly. We briefly address the remaining standards at paragraph [14] below.

[4] The item was broadcast at 6pm on TV ONE on 20 August 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]  Manisha Govind argued that the beneficiary’s comments were ‘careless’ and ‘offensive’ and that they either should have been condemned or not broadcast.

[7]  TVNZ argued that the man ‘was not advocating violence, or saying that he had acted violently, but was instead explaining how frustration in the position of a beneficiary could lead to such feelings’. It considered that there was ‘no element of promotion or encouragement of... violence’ and submitted that ‘[t]he programme’s message was that this type of behaviour was a concern; and some participants in the discussion identified that an action taken to prevent such violence could be to understand the stress the beneficiaries are under when dealing with WINZ’.

[8]  The law and order standard is intended to prevent broadcasts which could reasonably be expected to incite viewers or listeners to commit unlawful acts.3 In our view, the focus of the item was clearly on security at WINZ offices; in other words, on preventing assaults. We agree with TVNZ that the interview with the beneficiary was used to highlight the stresses that beneficiaries may be under when interacting with WINZ, and neither the content nor the tone of the interview advocated assaults or other violent behaviour. The beneficiary was merely sharing his personal experience with WINZ, and was not condoning the attack at the WINZ office or similar assaults.

[9]  Accordingly we do not uphold the Standard 2 complaint.

Did the broadcaster exercise adequate care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence?

[10]  The violence standard (Standard 10) states that broadcasters should exercise care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence.

[11]  The complainant argued that ‘there is no justification for using violence’. TVNZ argued that the beneficiary’s comments were ‘not an endorsement of violent behaviour but an explanation of why such violence and threatening behaviour may be occurring’.

[12]  As stated above at paragraph [8], we agree with TVNZ that the beneficiary’s comments did not ‘endorse’ violent behaviour, nor attempt to justify the attack on the WINZ office. There was no depiction or description of violent behaviour. We consider that the item exercised adequate care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence, particularly in the context of an unclassified news programme targeted at adults.

[13]  As a result we do not uphold the complaint under Standard 10.

Did the broadcast breach any other broadcasting standards?

[14]  The complainant also complained that the broadcast breached the controversial issues, accuracy and responsible programming standards, but did not make specific arguments in relation to these standards. We agree with TVNZ that these standards were either not applicable or not breached because:

  • the complainant did not specify which significant viewpoint he considered to have been omitted from the item, so we do not consider that Standard 4 applied;
  • the complainant did not identify any statement which was allegedly inaccurate or misleading (Standard 5); and
  • the item did not raise any matters of responsible programming, which typically deals with programme classifications and warnings; the item formed part of an unclassified news programme (Standard 8).

[15] As a result we do not uphold the complaint that Standards 4, 5 and 8 were breached.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

 

Peter Radich

Chair

28 January 2016

 

Appendix

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

1       Manisha Govind's formal complaint – 20 August 2015

2      TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 16 September 2015

3      Manisha Govind’s referral to the Authority – 25 September 2015

4      TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 26 November 2015

 


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

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

3 Practice Note: Law and Order as a broadcasting standard (Broadcasting Standards Authority, May 2006).