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Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd - ID2017-034 (26 May 2017)

Members

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

Complainant

  • Allan Golden

Dated

26th May 2017

Number

ID2017-034

Programme

Nine to Noon

Channel/Station

Radio New Zealand National

Broadcaster

Radio New Zealand Ltd

Summary

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

An item on Nine to Noon featured an interview with the CEO of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. The Authority declined jurisdiction to accept and consider a complaint that this interview did not address issues of corruption within the Fund, finding the complaint raised matters of editorial discretion and personal preference rather than broadcasting standards, and the broadcaster was therefore correct to not accept it as a valid formal complaint.

Declined Jurisdiction


Introduction

[1]  An item on Nine to Noon featured an interview with the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (the Fund).

[2]  Allan Golden complained to Radio New Zealand that the segment ‘praised the earnings performance’ of the Fund with no justification. He said that the Fund leaked money for fraudulent and corrupt purposes, and provided the Authority with evidence he considered showed that management of the Fund was corrupt.

[3]  The broadcaster did not accept Mr Golden’s complaint, on the grounds it raised matters of personal preference, rather than broadcasting standards. The issue is therefore whether the Authority has jurisdiction to accept Mr Golden’s complaint referral.

[4]  The programme was broadcast at 10.10am on 13 March 2017 on Radio New Zealand National. The members of the Authority have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Does the Authority have jurisdiction to accept and consider Mr Golden’s complaint?

[5]  The jurisdiction of this Authority is typically triggered when a complainant has lodged a formal complaint about a programme with the relevant broadcaster, the broadcaster accepts and considers that complaint, and then it responds with a formal written decision advising the complainant of the outcome of their complaint.1

[6]  The Authority considers complaints about broadcasting standards, which does not include complaints based on a complainant’s personal preferences. This is set out in section 5(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, which states, ‘Complaints based merely on a complainant’s preferences are not, in general, capable of being resolved by a complaints procedure’.

[7]  In this case, Mr Golden lodged a complaint with RNZ, arguing that the Nine to Noon interview did not address matters which he considered ought to have been included.

[8]  RNZ did not accept Mr Golden’s complaint, stating that his concerns reflected his opinions about the programme content, rather than raising issues of broadcasting standards (in other words, his complaint did not allege which aspects of the programme were inaccurate or unbalanced). It therefore rejected Mr Golden’s complaint on the basis it related only to matters of personal preference, citing section 5(c) of the Act.

[9]  In his referral to the Authority, Mr Golden submitted that his evidence showed that the Fund leaked money for corrupt purposes, including ‘buying licences to cheat Olympic medals... from corrupt Olympic officials and buying top anti-corruption perception billings’. Mr Golden did not accept that his complaint amounted to his own personal preference only, as he had provided evidence to show the fraudulent and corrupt nature of the Fund.

[10]  In our view, Mr Golden’s concerns, which relate to the type of content that he considers should have been included in the featured interview, raise matters of editorial discretion and personal preference. Mr Golden’s concerns conveyed his own personal preferences about how the topic of the Fund should have been discussed, rather than raising matters of broadcasting standards that can be addressed under the Radio Code.

[11]  We therefore find it was open to RNZ to decline to accept Mr Golden’s correspondence as a formal complaint, and to treat it as feedback to the programme. As no valid formal complaint was lodged with the broadcaster, we do not have jurisdiction to now accept a referral of Mr Golden’s complaint.

For the above reasons the Authority declines jurisdiction to accept the complaint.

 

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

 

Peter Radich
Chair
26 May 2017

 

Appendix

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

1      Allan Golden’s complaint to RNZ – 15 March 2017
2      RNZ’s response to the complaint – 6 April 2017
3      Mr Golden’s referral to the Authority – 26 April 2017
4      Mr Golden’s further comments – 7 May 2017

 


1  The exceptions are privacy complaints and complaints about election programmes, which may be made directly to the Authority.