Skip to main content

Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2018-021 (8 May 2018)

Members

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

Complainant

  • Allan Golden

Dated

10th May 2018

Number

2018-021

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 a discussion of the appointment of former NZ Super Fund Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Adrian Orr, as Reserve Bank Governor. During the segment, an RNZ business commentator raised the subject of Mr Orr’s potential replacement as NZ Super Fund CEO, citing Matt Whineray, current acting NZ Super Fund CEO, as a logical replacement. The commentator stated that Mr Whineray had been NZ Super Fund Chief Investment Officer (CIO) for ‘nearly ten years’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this statement was inaccurate because Mr Whineray was appointed CIO in 2014. The Authority found that, as Mr Whineray’s professional experience was only raised briefly in the broadcast, the commentator’s incorrect statement was unlikely to significantly affect the audience’s understanding of the segment as a whole. The complainant also submitted that the broadcast omitted information, which contributed to its inaccuracy as a whole, however the Authority considered these were issues of editorial discretion and personal preference, and were outside the Authority’s jurisdiction.

Not Upheld: Accuracy 


Introduction

[1]  An item on Nine to Noon featured a discussion of the appointment of former NZ Super Fund Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Adrian Orr, as Reserve Bank Governor. During the segment, an RNZ business commentator raised the subject of Mr Orr’s potential replacement as NZ Super Fund CEO, citing Matt Whineray, current acting NZ Super Fund CEO, as a logical replacement. The commentator stated that Mr Whineray had been NZ Super Fund Chief Investment Officer (CIO) for ‘almost ten years’.

[2]  Allan Golden complained that this statement was inaccurate as Mr Whineray was appointed to the position of NZ Super Fund CIO in 2014. Mr Golden also raised several other matters, the omission of which, he submitted, contributed to the inaccuracy of the broadcast as a whole.

[3]  The issue raised in Mr Golden’s complaint is whether the broadcast breached the accuracy standard of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The item was broadcast on 12 December 2017 on RNZ National. The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Was the broadcast inaccurate or misleading?

[5]  The accuracy standard (Standard 9) states that broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure that news, current affairs and factual programming is accurate in relation to all material points of fact, and does not mislead. The objective of this standard is to protect audiences from receiving misinformation and thereby being misled.

The parties’ submissions

[6]  Mr Golden submitted:

  • The business commentator stated that Mr Whineray had been the NZ Super Fund CIO for ‘almost ten years’, which was inaccurate. Mr Whineray was appointed CIO of NZ Super Fund in 2014.
  • The commentator was discussing Mr Whineray’s suitability for the position of NZ Super Fund CEO, therefore the inaccuracy was material.
  • The omission of discussion of other issues with respect to a wide range of financial matters contributed to the broadcast as a whole being inaccurate.

[7]  RNZ submitted:

  • While the commentator’s statement regarding Mr Whineray’s tenure as CIO of NZ Super Fund was incorrect, it would not have affected listeners’ understanding of the segment as a whole and therefore it was not a material inaccuracy.
  • Mr Golden’s other submissions relate to other matters that were not discussed in the broadcast, and should be categorised as trivial and vexatious as he has raised similar issues with the broadcaster repeatedly.

Our analysis

[8]  The accuracy standard is only concerned with material inaccuracy. Technical or unimportant points unlikely to significantly affect the audience’s understanding of the programme as a whole are not material.1

[9]  RNZ has acknowledged that the business commentator incorrectly stated that Mr Whineray had been CIO of NZ Superfund for ‘nearly ten years’, as Mr Whineray was appointed to the position in 2014.2 It appears the commentator may have confused Mr Whineray’s time as CIO with his total time at NZ Super Fund in senior positions.

[10]  However, we agree with the broadcaster that the statement did not amount to a material point of fact in the context of the segment as a whole. Therefore the accuracy standard does not apply.

[11]  The segment focused on the appointment of former NZ Super Fund CEO Adrian Orr as Reserve Bank Governor. The item only briefly discussed potential successors to Mr Orr as NZ Super Fund CEO, with Mr Whineray being fleetingly raised by the commentator as a potential internal candidate, having ‘held senior roles’ at NZ Super Fund since 2008.3 As Mr Whineray’s relevant professional experience was only briefly raised and was not the focus of the segment, the commentator’s statement was not likely to significantly affect the audience’s understanding of the segment as a whole.

[12]  We therefore do not uphold this aspect of the accuracy complaint.

[13]  With respect to the remainder of Mr Golden’s submissions, his 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. As these are matters of personal preference,4 they do not raise issues which can be addressed under the accuracy standard (or any other broadcasting standard) and are outside of the jurisdiction of this Authority. We therefore consider it was open to the broadcaster to decline to address these matters in its original decision, on the grounds they did not raise broadcasting standards issues.

[14]  The broadcaster has invited the Authority to review the extent to which Mr Golden’s complaint and his referral were trivial and vexatious. Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises this Authority to decline to determine a complaint if it considers that the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, or trivial.

[15]  We have found that some aspects of Mr Golden’s complaint are outside of our jurisdiction, and that his concerns of inaccuracy identified an error but do not meet the requirements for an uphold under the accuracy standard. Given these findings, we do not consider Mr Golden’s complaint can be categorised as trivial or vexatious on this occasion.

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


Signed for and on behalf of the Authority



Peter Radich
Chair
10 May 2018

 


Appendix

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

1     Allan Golden’s formal complaint – 13 December 2017
2     RNZ’s response to the complaint – 13 February 2018
3     Mr Golden’s referral to the Authority – 15 February 2018
4     RNZ’s further comments – 16 March 2018
5     Mr Golden’s further comments – 19 March 2018

6    RNZ’s confirmation of no further comment – 20 March 2018


1 Guideline 9b

2 ‘NZ Super Fund appoints Matt Whineray as Chief Investment Officer’, https://www.nzsuperfund.co.nz/news-media/nz-super-fund-appoints-matt-whineray-chief-investment-officer (NZ Super Fund Press Release, 17 June 2014)

3 As above

4 See section 5(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989