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Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd - ID2017-073 (16 October 2017)

Members

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

Complainant

  • Allan Golden

Dated

16th October 2017

Number

ID2017-073

Programme

Morning Report

Channel/Station

Radio New Zealand National

Broadcaster

Radio New Zealand Ltd

Summary

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

A segment on Morning Report discussed a press release by a named investment banking firm. The Authority declined jurisdiction to accept and consider a complaint that the programme ought to have disclosed certain alleged conduct by that firm. The Authority found the broadcaster was correct to not accept this as a valid formal complaint, as the complaint was based on the complainant’s own opinion of the firm rather than raising issues of broadcasting standards within the broadcast.

Declined Jurisdiction


Introduction

[1]  A segment on Morning Report discussed a press release from a named investment banking firm.

[2]  Allan Golden complained to the broadcaster RNZ that the segment breached the accuracy standard by omitting aspects of the firm’s alleged conduct and history that ought to have been disclosed to listeners.

[3]  The broadcaster did not accept Mr Golden’s complaint on the grounds it raised matters of personal preference, rather than broadcasting standards.

[4]  The issue is therefore whether the Authority has jurisdiction to accept Mr Golden’s complaint referral.

[5]  The programme was broadcast at 6:52am on 14 August 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?

[6]  The jurisdiction of this Authority is typically triggered when a complainant has lodged a valid 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

[7]  In this case, Mr Golden lodged a complaint with RNZ, arguing that the Morning Report segment 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. 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, which provides that ‘[c]omplaints based merely on a complainant’s preferences are not, in general, capable of being resolved by a complaints procedure’.

[9]  In his referral to the Authority, Mr Golden submitted that the investment banking firm being discussed was portrayed inaccurately during the broadcast, by omitting information about alleged conduct and behaviour of the firm. Mr Golden did not accept that his complaint amounted to his own personal preference only; he submitted that section 5(c) of the Act is ‘inconclusive’, noting it includes the words ‘in general’, and that ‘there is nothing to say a complaint can be dismissed if [section 5(c)] is considered to be applicable’.

[10]  In our view, Mr Golden’s concerns, which relate to the type of content that he considers should have been included in the segment, are based solely on his own views and opinions of the company featured. He objects to RNZ using the company’s press release as the basis for this item, and the manner in which the company was presented. That Mr Golden has a different view of the company is not a matter of broadcasting standards that can be addressed under the Radio Code. We agree with the broadcaster that these are rather matters of personal preference, in that the complainant wishes for the company to be portrayed in a different light.

[11]  We therefore find it was open to RNZ to decline to accept Mr Golden’s correspondence as a formal complaint. 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.

General comments

[12]  Mr Golden has recently made a number of complaints to this Authority raising similar issues to those raised in the present case.2 We found on each of those occasions that the complaints did not raise matters of broadcasting standards. Despite this, Mr Golden continues to refer similar complaints that do not fall within the ambit of broadcasting standards and accordingly cannot be determined.

[13]  This Authority has the ability to award costs against a complainant under section 16(1) and section 16(2)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 if, ‘in the opinion of the Authority, the complaint is frivolous or vexatious or one that ought not to have been made’. Any such award of costs is designed to recompense a party for time spent unnecessarily dealing with matters that do not justify that time being spent – rather than to penalise any party.3 We remind Mr Golden that should he continue to submit complaints of a similar nature, it may be open to the broadcaster to seek a cost order against him to reimburse the broadcaster for reasonable costs incurred in dealing with his complaints. We do not make a cost order on this occasion.

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


Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
16 October 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 – 14 August 2017

2     RNZ’s response to the complaint – 15 September 2017

3     Mr Golden’s referral to the Authority – 20 September 2017

 


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

2 For example, Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. ID2017-034; Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. ID2016-054; Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2016-005

3 McDonald v Television New Zealand Ltd, NZHC, CIV: 2011-485-1836 at [35]