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Harvey and Lorck and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2018-036 (24 August 2018)

Members

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

Complainant

  • Damon Harvey and Anna Lorck

Dated

24th August 2018

Number

2018-036

Programme

Newshub

Channel/Station

Three

Broadcaster

MediaWorks TV Ltd

Summary

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

Over two evenings, on 20 and 21 January 2018, Newshub reported on the delayed launch of a rocket from the Māhia Peninsula, due to a boat being in the exclusion zone around the launch site. The first item strongly implied that Hastings District Councillor Damon Harvey was responsible for the delayed launch, referring to a tweet, featuring a photo of the launch site, that the reporter said was tweeted by Mr Harvey ‘around the same time’ as the launch delay. The second item included a short comment from an interview with Mr Harvey. The Authority found parts of these broadcasts were inaccurate and misleading, and were unfair to Mr Harvey. The broadcaster relied on social media content as a basis for the story without taking reasonable steps to inform the complainants of their contribution to the programme, or to verify that the content was what the reporter claimed. As a result, viewers were misled about who was responsible for the launch delay. Mr Harvey’s interview comments were also edited in a way that was misleading and unfair, so he was not given a fair and reasonable opportunity to respond to the story.

Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness. Orders: Section 13(1)(a) broadcast statement on air, online and in print; Section 16(1) $2,000 legal costs to complainant; Section 16(4) $1,000 costs to the Crown


Background

[1]  On 20 January 2018, Rocket Lab (a US aerospace company operating in New Zealand), was preparing to launch its Electron rocket from the Māhia Peninsula.

[2]  To keep members of the public safe during the rocket launch, an ‘exclusion zone’ applied to the sea around the launch site. This exclusion zone applied to all vessels, swimmers and fishers during the launch window, from 2.30pm to 6.30pm. If any person entered the exclusion zone during this time, launch of the rocket would be delayed until the area was clear. The launch attempt being reported on was scheduled for 4pm.

[3]  On the morning of the launch, Hastings District Councillor, Damon Harvey, was out fishing with his children. At this time, boats were permitted to be in the area around the launch site. According to the complainants, at 11.36am, he took a photo of the launch site and rocket from his boat. He sent the photo to his daughter around lunch time.

[4]  Shortly after 2.30pm, when the exclusion zone applied to the area, Mr Harvey’s wife, Ms Lorck (based in Hastings), posted (‘tweeted’) the photo taken by Mr Harvey on her Twitter social media feed. Ms Lorck captioned the tweet ‘prime view’, mentioned Mr Harvey’s and Rocket Lab’s Twitter handles (usernames) and used the hashtags #Mahia and #rocket. This meant that anyone who searched those hashtags could find Ms Lorck’s tweet.

[5]  Ryan Bridge, a Newshub reporter, replied to Ms Lorck’s tweet, saying:

Nice photo! Do you mind if we put it on the weather news tonight for Newshub Live @ 6? If so, who took the pic? We’ll credit their name. Beautiful day there, huh?

[6]  Ms Lorck responded, ‘Go for it!’ and told the reporter that Mr Harvey had taken the photo while fishing (mentioning Mr Harvey’s Twitter handle in her response). Ms Lorck said that later, Mr Bridge told her the photo would not be used by Newshub during the weather news, as there were reports of a boat in the exclusion zone.

[7]  As noted above, the rocket was scheduled for launch at 4pm. At 3.55pm, Mr Harvey ‘retweeted’ Ms Lorck’s tweet. This meant that Ms Lorck’s tweet now appeared on Mr Harvey’s own Twitter feed, with the caption, ‘Still out here waiting’. The retweet included Mr Harvey’s earlier photo of the launch site. It did not reference the time of Ms Lorck’s original tweet, but it did contain the acronym, ‘RT’, signalling it was a retweet. We are told that Mr Harvey was not in the exclusion zone at this time.

[8]  At 3.59pm, one minute before take-off, the rocket launch was delayed for 20 minutes due to a vessel being in the launch area. A Twitter user commented on Mr Harvey’s retweet, saying, ‘Hope that wasn’t your boat that prevented the launch!’

[9]  Further delays due to weather conditions meant the launch was eventually cancelled for the day.

[10]  Both parties have told us that Ms Lorck was contacted by a Newshub reporter, Cleo Fraser, shortly after 5pm that evening – as it was not practically possible to obtain comment from Mr Harvey until the following day. Ms Lorck says that, during this phone call, she explained the situation to Ms Fraser, including that the photo was taken much earlier in the day, and that she expressed to Ms Fraser her ‘strong doubt’ that the boat at issue was Mr Harvey’s.

The broadcasts

[11]  That evening at 6pm, Newshub reported on the cancelled rocket launch. Footage of Rocket Lab’s livestream of the event was shown, while reporter, Cleo Fraser, said:

All systems were go, until… Rocket Lab’s first launch of the year called off. The culprit? A boat that can be seen in waters in the distance.

[12]  Ms Fraser explained that it ‘[isn’t] clear what boat caused the disruption’ but that Mr Harvey ‘…tweeted this photo around the same time…’ A screenshot of Mr Harvey’s Twitter account and the photo, taken from Mr Harvey’s boat, of the rocket launch site was shown. Ms Fraser referred to the comment left on Mr Harvey’s retweet (‘Hope that wasn’t your boat that prevented the launch!’) and a screenshot of this comment was shown (with the user’s Twitter handle obscured).  

[13]  The item showed two photos of Mr Harvey, which were sourced from his Facebook profile, with Ms Fraser saying: ‘Harvey hasn’t responded. Newshub spoke to his wife, who wasn’t on the boat. She told us his phone battery is dead and she’s hopeful it wasn’t his boat that affected the launch.’

[14]  On 21 January 2018, Rocket Lab successfully launched the Electron rocket and Newshub returned to the story that evening. Reporter Alison Harley commented: ‘Yesterday’s launch was delayed by boats in the wrong place, and Twitter users wondered whether it was a Hastings District Councillor’. Photos of Mr Harvey’s Twitter account, and the comment on his retweet, were again shown.

[15]  The item included a brief clip from an interview with Mr Harvey, who had spoken to the reporter by telephone. During the clip, Mr Harvey said: ‘Well, no, it wasn’t our boat, we were in the exclusion zone… we had some kids on board and we were just going for a day’s fishing’. Another photo of Mr Harvey was shown alongside the telephone interview graphic.

The complaint

[16]  Mr Harvey and Ms Lorck complained to the broadcaster, MediaWorks, that these broadcasts were inaccurate and unfair. They were dissatisfied with MediaWorks’ response to their complaint and referred their complaint to us for review and investigation.

[17]  Under the accuracy standard, the complainants submitted that:

  • The photo at the centre of the story was tweeted by Ms Lorck, not Mr Harvey. Ms Lorck had explained this to the Newshub reporter, Ms Fraser, during their phone interview.
  • Ms Lorck’s Twitter handle was purposefully obscured by the broadcaster, MediaWorks, to imply that it had been posted by Mr Harvey.
  • The photo was taken at 11.36am and sent to Mr Harvey’s daughter around lunch time. Ms Lorck posted the photo to Twitter shortly after 2.30pm. The rocket was not scheduled for launch until 4pm.
  • Rocket Lab had publicly confirmed on Twitter that the boat responsible for the delay was not Mr Harvey’s, but the 21 January 2018 item did not refer to this.
  • Ms Lorck expressed her ‘strong doubt’ to the reporter that the boat was Mr Harvey’s, however, she was quoted as saying she was ‘hopeful’ it was not his boat.
  • The edited interview clip with Mr Harvey, broadcast on 21 January 2018, was misleading, as it did not include Mr Harvey’s clarification that he had been in the exclusion zone earlier in the day and not at the scheduled launch time.

[18]  Under the fairness standard, the complainants submitted that:

  • The inaccurate information presented during the 20 January 2018 item resulted in Mr Harvey being treated unfairly. The alleged clarification during the second broadcast did not remedy the harm caused to Mr Harvey’s reputation.
  • Mr Harvey was unable to comment or defend himself during the first item, as he was still at sea and his phone battery had gone flat.
  • Permission was granted to a different Newshub reporter Ryan Bridge, via Twitter, for the photo to be used during the weather update. Ms Lorck was subsequently told the photo would not be used, given the rocket launch had been cancelled.
  • Mr Harvey was abused on both Twitter and Facebook by Newshub viewers as a result of the 20 January 2018 item.

The broadcaster’s response

[19] MediaWorks’ response was that:

  • Obscuring Twitter handles was standard practice to protect privacy, and was not an attempt to conceal a deception.
  • The reference to the photo being taken ‘around the same time’ was imprecise but not material to the item. The accuracy standard applies only to material points of fact.
  • The reporter contacted Ms Lorck for comment shortly after 5pm on the day of the first item. MediaWorks reviewed the reporter’s notes of her discussion with Ms Lorck, and was satisfied that the broadcast fairly reported Ms Lorck’s comments.
  • There was no intention to misrepresent Mr Harvey’s comments – it is not always possible to include all of an individual’s comments in a story.
  • It was not possible to obtain comment from Mr Harvey until 21 January 2018 and he was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment. The second broadcast reflected Mr Harvey’s views and included his main comment, ‘No, it wasn’t our boat’.
  • In response to the complaint, MediaWorks edited the online story accompanying the second broadcast, to include the following statement clarifying that Mr Harvey was not on the relevant boat:

Clarification: Newshub has now confirmed that Hastings District Councillor Damon Harvey was not on board the boat which disrupted the attempted launch on Saturday 20 January 2018.

[20]  We requested a copy of Mr Harvey’s full interview from MediaWorks, but this was no longer available.

The relevant standards

[21]  The accuracy standard (Standard 9) requires broadcasters to ‘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 the accuracy standard is to protect audiences from being significantly misinformed.

[22]  The fairness standard (Standard 11) states that broadcasters should deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to in any broadcast. One of the purposes of the fairness standard is to protect individuals and organisations from broadcasts which provide an unfairly negative representation of their character or conduct. Programme participants and people referred to in a broadcast have the right to expect that broadcasts will deal with them justly and fairly, so that unwarranted harm is not caused to their reputation and dignity.

Our analysis

Freedom of expression and public interest

[23]  Broadcasters exercise an important right to freedom of expression in bringing news to New Zealanders. In doing this, they must also navigate the line between providing information to their audiences which is in the public interest, and avoiding harm to individuals and to audiences.3 Broadcasting standards are designed to guide broadcasters in this exercise. Harm can be caused by a broadcaster treating an individual unfairly, or by reporting inaccurate or misleading information.

[24]  We recognise that these items, which informed viewers about the progress of the Rocket Lab launch, were newsworthy. The launch of the Electron rocket from New Zealand was a significant current event and many New Zealanders were following its progress with keen interest. Keeping viewers updated about the delay and eventual cancellation of the launch on 20 January 2018 also ensured they were kept informed about the safety measures that would apply the following day.

[25]  Audiences rely on news programmes to provide them with accurate and credible information about current events. They expect mainstream broadcasters to act in an ethical and professional way. The question for us is whether the two items risked causing harm to Mr Harvey, which outweighed the level of public interest in the story.

[26]  In 2017, we commissioned research into the use of social media content in broadcasting. Participants in that research understood that sourcing social media content, for broadcasters, was ‘a necessary means of competing in a changing media landscape’.4 In order to keep up with social media’s ‘real time’ storytelling, news broadcasters in particular must compete to stay relevant, while also ensuring that publication of material does not result in harm.5

[27]  Broadcasters must therefore use social media content carefully to ensure that it is accurate and that publication does not unfairly impact on individuals. We are not convinced that MediaWorks made reasonable efforts to ensure that its reporting in this case, which relied on social media content, was accurate and fair.

[28]  In our view, while the overall story about Rocket Lab’s launch was important to broadcast, there was very little public interest in the allegation that Mr Harvey was responsible for the delay (given the lack of proof that was available at the time), and the harm that was caused to his reputation had the potential to be significant. Reasonable steps could have been taken by MediaWorks to verify the accuracy of this reporting, and in our view, more could have been done to mitigate the potential harm to Mr Harvey. On this basis we uphold aspects of the complaint, finding the potential harm outweighed the public interest, and that this represents a reasonable limit on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.

Accuracy

[29]  The complainants raised a number of issues in their complaint referral. We have not addressed each specific issue separately but have outlined our views on what we see as being the main concerns.

[30]  The first item, broadcast on the day of the launch, strongly implied that Mr Harvey was in the exclusion zone at the time of the proposed launch and was responsible for the launch delay and eventual cancellation, when in fact he was not in the area at the time. The broadcaster appears to have relied on social media content sourced from Twitter – a retweet, and comments in response to that retweet – to give the impression that Mr Harvey was in the exclusion zone at the time of the scheduled launch, when he was not.

[31]  The broadcaster did not take the steps required to verify the timing of the original tweet or photographs, and that this content was what the reporter claimed it to be.

[32]  The reporter’s statement that Mr Harvey’s tweet was posted ‘around the same time’ as the rocket launch, strongly implied that the photo was also taken at this time. The complainants argue that the reporter was aware that the photograph had been taken by Mr Harvey much earlier in the day. Ms Lorck said she told the reporter at 5pm, prior to broadcast, that the photo had been taken by Mr Harvey that morning.

[33]  As we have noted already, Mr Harvey ‘retweeted’ Ms Lorck’s original tweet, so that it appeared on his own Twitter account. It should have been clear to the broadcaster that Mr Harvey had retweeted an earlier tweet, through Mr Harvey’s use of the acronym ‘RT’ (retweet) and Ms Lorck’s Twitter handle.

[34]  While the reporter attempted to contact the source of the information by speaking with Ms Lorck, she could not verify the accuracy of the reporting while Mr Harvey was at sea and uncontactable. Mr Harvey was the only person who could clarify his exact whereabouts for the reporter.

[35]  Overall, we do not think MediaWorks had a reasonable or sufficient basis at the time of broadcast for suggesting that Mr Harvey was the one responsible for the launch delay. MediaWorks did not make reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of this segment, relying only on the time of Mr Harvey’s retweet without further confirmation that he was in the area at the time, and without referring to the original tweet. Presented in this way, the item had the potential to significantly mislead viewers about who was responsible for the launch delay.

[36]  We also think that Mr Harvey’s comments in the second broadcast were edited in a way that was misleading.

[37]  While Mr Harvey commented ‘it wasn’t our boat’, this was directly followed by his comment ‘we were in the exclusion zone’. The implication was that Mr Harvey was in the exclusion zone at the time of the launch, which did not correct the misinformation broadcast the previous evening. MediaWorks has not disputed that Mr Harvey told the reporter he was there much earlier in the day, saying only that it was not possible to include all of Mr Harvey’s comments during the brief interview excerpt.

[38]  While MediaWorks have included a clarification in the corresponding online article for this story, we do not think this is sufficient to correct the inaccuracy broadcast during the 20 January 2018 item. Not all viewers are likely to read the online clarification and MediaWorks had the opportunity to fairly present Mr Harvey’s response in the follow-up item broadcast on 21 January, but did not do so.

[39] We therefore uphold these aspects of the accuracy complaint.

Fairness to Mr Harvey

[40] In previous decisions, we have recognised that the fairness standard does not prevent the criticism of public figures. It is an essential element of free speech that criticism of public figures, in their professional capacity, is allowed. 6

[41] While it may be more difficult for us to find a breach of the fairness standard because of Mr Harvey’s position as a District Councillor and a public figure, we think that suggesting Mr Harvey was responsible for the launch delay, when this allegation was proven to be incorrect, was unfair and reflected negatively on Mr Harvey’s reputation.

[42] There are three relevant principles under the fairness standard, which require that:

  • Participants and contributors should be informed, prior to broadcast, of the nature of the programme and their proposed contribution (guideline 11b).
  • Participants who are likely to be adversely affected by a broadcast should be given a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment (guideline 11d).
  •  Edited excerpts should fairly reflect the tenor of the overall events or views expressed (guideline 11f).

[43]  Mr Harvey and Ms Lorck were not informed of the angle of the story or the nature of their contribution, in the form of social media content that was sourced by MediaWorks. The parties accept that Mr Harvey was not contactable on the day of the first broadcast. He was therefore not informed about the nature of this story or the way in which the social media content would be used.

[44]  While Ms Lorck provided her consent for the photo to be used in the weather report, she was subsequently told it would not be broadcast due to the rocket launch cancellation. The same photo was then used during a separate news item to discredit Mr Harvey, which in our view was unfair.

[45]  We also do not think Mr Harvey was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment. MediaWorks sought Ms Lorck’s comment on 20 January 2018, but she was unable to respond meaningfully to the allegations given she was based in Hastings, had not been in contact with Mr Harvey and could not confirm his whereabouts at the time of the launch. While Mr Harvey’s comments were sought for the 21 January 2018 broadcast, MediaWorks broadcast his comments in a way that did not fairly reflect the tenor of his overall views, which was misleading and unfair.

[46]  Twitter, by its nature, is a very public social media platform. The content that was sourced by MediaWorks was available in the public domain, and the nature of the platform means that information is intended to be shared with a wide ‘imagined audience’.7 However, in this case the content posted to Twitter was rebroadcast in a way that did not reflect the true series of events and which was likely to be damaging to Mr Harvey, without informing him of the nature of the story or seeking his comment.

[47]  We uphold these aspects of the fairness complaint as breaches of Standard 11.

For the above reasons the Authority upholds the complaint that the broadcast by MediaWorks TV Ltd of Newshub on 20 and 21 January 2018 breached Standards 9 and 11 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[48]  Having upheld aspects of this complaint under the accuracy and fairness standards, the Authority may make orders under sections 13 and 16 of the Broadcasting Act 1989. We invited submissions on orders from the parties. 

The complainants’ submissions

[49]  In their submissions to the Authority, the complainants expressed their concern that MediaWorks, in its initial contact with the complainants and in its decision not to uphold the complainants’ formal complaint, refused to acknowledge that this reporting was false and unfair. The complainants submitted that when they initially contacted Newshub about their concerns, they were told that an apology (through the complaints process) ‘would never happen’ and that they should seek legal advice, prompting them to believe that the only way to get an apology from MediaWorks was to engage a lawyer.

[50]  Against this background, the complainants requested the following orders:

  • A statement, summarising the Authority’s findings and including an apology, to be broadcast on-air with the same prominence as the original item (ie the leading item on Newshub).
  • A statement and apology to be made available online on Newshub’s website, as well as on Newshub’s Facebook page and its other social media platforms.
  • Given the risk of ongoing damage to Councillor Harvey’s reputation in his community, a statement and apology to be published in their local regional newspaper, Hawke’s Bay Today. The complainants submitted that Hawke’s Bay ‘is the community we live in, where people raise [the broadcasts] and talk about it, which shows it will never go away without genuine local redress’. 
  • Costs to the Crown of up to $5,000 for each broadcast in breach of standards.
  • Contribution towards legal costs of $7,500 plus GST. The complainants provided us with invoices to verify the costs claimed.

 The broadcaster’s submissions

[51] MediaWorks submitted:

  • Given the nature of the breach, it was appropriate for Newshub to broadcast a statement (to be broadcast during Newshub Live at 6pm on a Saturday, reflecting the time of the initial broadcast) clarifying that Mr Harvey was not on the boat which caused the launch delay and apologising to the complainants.
  • It did not consider that costs to the Crown or a contribution towards the complainants’ legal costs was warranted. The issues raised in the complaint were not complex and did not require legal advice in the preparation or presentation of submissions.

Our decision on orders

[52]  When the Authority upholds a complaint, whether in whole or in part, we may make orders, including directing the broadcaster to broadcast and/or publish a statement, and/or pay costs to the Crown. We may also order the broadcaster to pay compensation for a portion of any legal costs reasonably incurred by the complainant.

[53] In determining whether orders are warranted, the factors we take into consideration are:8

  • the seriousness of the breach, and the number of upheld aspects of the complaint
  • the degree of harm caused to any individual, or to the audience generally
  • the objectives of the upheld standard(s)
  • the attitude and actions of the broadcaster in relation to the complaint (eg, whether the broadcaster upheld the complaint and/or took mitigating steps; or whether the broadcaster disputed the standards breach and/or aggravated any harm caused)
  • whether the decision will sufficiently remedy the breach and give guidance to broadcasters, or whether something more is needed to achieve a meaningful remedy or to send a signal to broadcasters
  • past decisions and/or orders in similar cases.

Broadcast statement/apology

[54]  The breach of standards in this case had the potential to cause significant reputational harm to Mr Harvey, which the complainants have submitted has been ongoing within his community (with members of the public continuing to ask if he was responsible for the delayed launch). There was an opportunity available to the broadcaster to correct the misinformation that was broadcast during the first item through an interview with Mr Harvey, but we have found that the way in which Mr Harvey’s interview was edited was ultimately misleading and unfair.

[55]  We consider a broadcast statement during Newshub is an appropriate remedy for the harm that has been caused as a result of the breach of standards. This statement will go some way to correcting the inaccurate information that was broadcast and to address the complainants’ unfair treatment. The broadcaster has also submitted that an apology would be appropriate in this case. We agree.

[56]  We also consider it would be appropriate for a statement to be published on Newshub’s website, beneath the article summarising the second broadcast, for as long as this item remains online.9  Given Mr Harvey’s standing in the Hawke’s Bay community, we consider a printed statement in the Hawke’s Bay Today would also be fair and appropriate. This will ensure members of the complainants’ community and potential voters are alerted to this decision, going some way to mitigating the ongoing harm to Mr Harvey’s reputation.

[57]  Following publication of the decision, the complainants are free to publicise the decision elsewhere, for example on social media, if they wish.

Costs to the Crown

[58]  The Authority may also make an award of costs to the Crown, having regard to various factors including the conduct of the broadcaster, the seriousness of the breach of standards and previous decisions. Under section 16(4) of the Act, the maximum amount of costs to the Crown we are able to award is $5,000.

[59] In determining whether costs to the Crown are warranted, we have considered the following factors:

  • The breach of standards is relatively serious, with aspects of the accuracy and fairness standards in breach across two separate broadcasts.
  • The broadcaster could have addressed the complainants’ concerns in the follow up item broadcast on 21 January 2018, through Mr Harvey’s statement, but instead this interview was edited in a misleading way.
  • The broadcaster appears to have been dismissive of the complainants’ concerns when they were initially raised, encouraging the complainants to seek legal advice and advising them that an apology would ‘never happen’.
  • Further, once a broadcasting standards complaint had been made, the broadcaster did not acknowledge the issues and did not uphold the complaint.

[60]  A mitigating factor is that the broadcaster has now accepted the Authority’s findings in this decision and has offered to apologise to the complainants, through a broadcast statement.

[61]  In these circumstances, we consider an order of $1,000 in costs to the Crown is appropriate.

Legal costs

[62]  Costs awards are generally granted to compensate, in part, a successful complainant for legal costs which have been incurred.10 In all but the most exceptional cases, the most that is likely to be recoverable in an award of costs is a contribution to the costs actually incurred.11

[63]  The factors to be taken into account in assessing whether costs are appropriate, and in what amount are:12

  • the complexity of the issues raised
  • the number of issues raised
  • the complexity of the factual background
  • the number of substantive submissions that needed to be made
  • whether the proceeding required resolution of any interlocutory or procedural issues
  • the need for the complainant to have incurred costs to the extent that costs were incurred or at all
  • the amount of costs incurred
  • the nature and importance of the complaint to the complainant
  • the public interest in the complaint.

[64]  The complainants have requested a contribution to the legal costs they incurred, totalling $7,500 plus GST. They have provided us with evidence verifying the cost incurred. As noted above, our guidance to complainants on costs awards is clear that only a portion of legal costs reasonably incurred is likely to be awarded.

[65]  In the circumstances, we consider an award of a portion of the complainants’ legal costs is appropriate. In determining that an award of costs is appropriate, and the amount to be awarded, we have taken into account the following factors:

  • While the issues raised by the complainants were not particularly complex, when they initially attempted to raise their concerns informally, the complainants were told by MediaWorks that they needed to seek legal advice. We therefore consider it was reasonable for the complainants to have done so.
  • We have upheld aspects of both the accuracy and fairness complaints in relation to both broadcasts, though additional concerns under those standards, raised by the complainants, were not upheld.
  • The complainants provided thorough submissions at each stage of the complaints process.
  • These broadcasts, and the resulting reputational harm, were of significant concern to the complainants, particularly given Mr Harvey’s public role as District Councillor. It was therefore important for the complainants to pursue this complaint.
  • We have found that while these items were newsworthy, there was little public interest in the broadcast of inaccurate allegations against Mr Harvey.

[66] Taking all of the above factors into account, we consider that an order of costs in the amount of $2,000 is appropriate.

Orders

1. Under section 13(1)(a) of the Act, the Authority orders MediaWorks TV Ltd to broadcast a statement. The statement shall:

  • be broadcast at 6pm at the beginning of Newshub

  • be broadcast on a date to be approved by the Authority within one month of the date of this decision

  • contain a comprehensive summary of the upheld aspects of the Authority’s decision

  • be approved by the Authority prior to being broadcast. 

The Authority draws the broadcaster’s attention to the requirement in section 13(3)(b) of the Act for the broadcaster to give notice to the Authority of the manner in which the above orders have been complied with.

2. Under section 13(1)(a) of the Act, the Authority orders MediaWorks TV Ltd to publish a statement in print. The statement shall:

  • be published within one month of the date of this decision in Hawke’s Bay Today

  • contain a comprehensive summary of the upheld aspects of the Authority’s decision

  • provide information as to where the full decision can be found on the Broadcasting Standards Authority’s website.

The Authority draws the broadcaster’s attention to the requirement in section 13(3)(b) of the Act for the broadcaster to give notice to the Authority of the manner in which the above orders have been complied with.

3. Under section 13(1)(a) of the Act, the Authority orders MediaWorks TV Ltd to publish a statement online. The statement shall:

  • be published within one week of the date of this decision

  • note that the Authority upheld a complaint that the item breached the accuracy and fairness standards

  • be displayed at the end of the online article relating to the Newshub item

  • provide a link to where the full decision can be found online

  • remain displayed online for as long as the item and/or the article remain available.

The Authority draws the broadcaster’s attention to the requirement in section 13(3)(b) of the Act for the broadcaster to give notice to the Authority of the manner in which the above orders have been complied with.

4. Under section 16(1) of the Act, the Authority orders MediaWorks TV Ltd to pay to the complainants costs in the amount of $2,000 within one month of the date of this decision.
The order for costs is enforceable in the Wellington District Court.

5. Under section 16(4) of the Act, the Authority orders MediaWorks TV Ltd to pay to the Crown costs in the amount of $1,000 within one month of the date of this decision.
The order for costs is enforceable in the Wellington District Court.

 

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
24 August 2018

 

 

 

Appendix

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

1     Damon Harvey and Anna Lorck’s formal complaint – 31 January 2018
2     MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 21 March 2018
3     Mr Harvey and Ms Lorck’s referral to the Authority – 19 April 2018
4     MediaWorks’ confirmation of no further comment – 11 May 2018
5     Mr Harvey and Ms Lorck’s submissions on the provisional decision and orders – 3 August 2018
6     MediaWorks’ submissions on the provisional decision and orders – 3 August 2018
7     Mr Harvey and Ms Lorck’s further comments on orders – 14 August 2018
8     MediaWorks’ confirmation of no further comment – 17 August 2018


1  ‘Still Testing’ Press Kit – January 2018 (Rocket Lab USA 2018), Rocket Lab second test called off for today (20 January 2018, RNZ)

The corresponding online story can be viewed at Newshub.co.nz (Watch: Rocket Lab has lift off, 21 January 2018, Newshub)

3  Commentary – Fairness, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 21

4  Use of Social Media Content in Broadcasting: Public and Broadcaster Perspectives, Evans and Kuehn, July 2017, page 29

5  As above, page 7

6 See, for example, Bolster and Latimer and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-186 at [26]-[27]

7 Use of Social Media Content in Broadcasting: Public and Broadcaster Perspectives, Evans and Kuehn, July 2017, pages 19 and 20

8 Guide to the BSA Complaints Process for Television and Radio Programmes, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 58

9  Wildman and MediaWorks TV Ltd, Decision No. 2015-075 and Trident Systems Ltd and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2017-044

10 Guidance: Costs awards to complainants, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 66

11  As above

12  As above, page 67