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FJ and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2018-026 (5 June 2018)

Members

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

Complainant

  • FJ

Dated

5th June 2018

Number

2018-026

Channel/Station

George FM

Broadcaster

MediaWorks Radio Ltd

Summary

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

A segment on the George FM Saturday Drive Show featured an announcer making comments about the complainant regarding an incident in the past, where the announcer allegedly saw the complainant engaging in certain activities. The broadcaster upheld the complaint under the privacy and fairness standards and issued written apologies to the complainant. The complainant referred the complaint to the Authority on the basis the broadcast also breached the accuracy standard and the apologies did not address the alleged inaccuracies in the broadcast. The Authority did not uphold the accuracy complaint, finding that, due to the nature of the broadcast and audience expectations, the Saturday Drive Show did not amount to ‘news, current affairs or factual programming’ to which the accuracy standard applied. The Authority noted that while the broadcasting standard raised did not apply, there may be alternative avenues for the complainant to have the concerns expressed in the complaint considered.

Not Upheld: Accuracy 


Introduction

[1]  A segment on the George FM Saturday Drive Show featured an announcer making comments about the complainant regarding an incident in the past, where the announcer allegedly saw the complainant engaging in certain activities.

[2]  FJ complained that the announcer’s anecdote was inaccurate, unfair and a breach of their privacy. FJ complained that the comments were highly offensive and had the potential to significantly affect FJ’s personal and professional lives.

[3]  MediaWorks upheld the complaint under the fairness and privacy standards and issued written apologies to the complainant from the broadcaster and from the announcer concerned. The broadcaster did not uphold the complaint under the accuracy standard, finding that the Saturday Drive Show was not a ‘news, current affairs or factual programme’ for the purposes of the standard.

[4]  FJ referred the complaint to the Authority, on the basis they were dissatisfied with the apologies offered, as they did not address or correct the alleged inaccuracies in the broadcast. We understand from the complaint correspondence that FJ was otherwise satisfied with the broadcaster’s response in relation to the privacy and fairness standards and these aspects have not been referred for our consideration.

[5]  The issue therefore is whether the broadcast breached the accuracy standard of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[6]  The segment was broadcast on 9 December 2017 on George FM. 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?

[7]  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 being significantly misinformed.

The parties’ submissions

[8]  FJ submitted:

  • The observations made by the announcer regarding FJ and the alleged activities were completely untrue.
  • The apologies issued by MediaWorks and the announcer did not address the accuracy of the statements made and therefore the apologies were not accepted.

[9]  MediaWorks submitted George FM’s Saturday Drive Show is not a ‘news, current affairs, or factual programme’ in the sense intended by this standard.

Our analysis

[10]  The accuracy standard applies only to news, current affairs and factual programming. News and current affairs programmes or items will usually be readily identified, taking into account what audiences would reasonably expect to be news and current affairs.1 Factual programmes are non-fiction programmes which contain information that audiences might reasonably expect to be authoritative or truthful, such as documentaries. These can be distinguished from programmes which are wholly based on opinions or ideas.2

[11]  The Authority has previously found that shows similar to the Saturday Drive Show do not amount to news, current affairs or factual programming for the purposes of this standard.3 Considering the established audience expectations of music and entertainment-based radio shows such as the Saturday Drive Show, we find the broadcast in question did not amount to news, current affairs or factual programming and therefore the accuracy standard does not apply to this broadcast.

[12]  It follows that we are unable to uphold the complaint under the accuracy standard due to the genre of the broadcast. We feel obliged to say that we were troubled by the comments made in the broadcast. Our not being able to uphold this complaint does not mean that the complainant is necessarily left without any avenue for having the concerns expressed to us considered.

Name suppression

[14]  While we have not upheld the complaint in this instance, due to the nature and circumstances of this complaint and the potential for adverse consequences for FJ, we have suppressed the complainant’s details and the nature of the information disclosed in the broadcast in our decision.

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

 


Signed for and on behalf of the Authority



Peter Radich
Chair
5 June 2018 

 


Appendix

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

1    FJ’s formal complaint – 14 February 2018
2    MediaWorks’ response to the complaint and announcer’s apology – 22 February 2018
3    FJ’s email to MediaWorks responding to its decision – 2 March 2018
4    FJ’s referral to the Authority – 12 March 2018
5    MediaWorks’ response to the Authority – 20 March 2018
6    FJ’s confirmation of no further comment – 27 March 2018


1  Commentary: Accuracy, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 18

2  As above

3  See, for example: BL and MediaWorks Radio Ltd, Decision No. 2017-025 and BC and MediaWorks Radio Ltd, Decision No. 2014-128