Burrows and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2014-023
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
- Mary Anne Shanahan
- Wayne Burrows
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
Summary [This summary does not form part of the decision.]
A One News item discussed increased rates of domestic violence in Christchurch following the earthquakes. The Authority declined to determine the complaint that re-enactments showing domestic violence denigrated men and were ‘gender biased’. The Authority has previously declined to uphold a similar complaint from the complainant, which ought to have put him notice of the likely outcome of this decision. The re-enactments were visual wallpaper only, and the gender of the actors was not material.
Declined to determine: Controversial Issues, Discrimination and Denigration
 A One News item discussed increased rates of domestic violence over the Christmas period in Christchurch, observed in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes. The item was broadcast on TV ONE on 20 December 2013.
 Wayne Burrows made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd alleging that the images accompanying the news item were ‘gender biased’ and ‘portrayed a female as a victim and a male as the perpetrator of the violence’. Mr Burrows argued that this denigrated men.
 The issue is whether this complaint raises any issues of broadcasting standards which warrant our determination.
 The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
Does the complaint raise any issues of broadcasting standards which warrant our determination?
 Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises this Authority to decline to determine a complaint if it considers the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, or trivial. The policy behind section 11 is that the time and resources of the Authority, which are, in the end, sustained by the people of New Zealand, should not be wasted in having to deal with matters which objectively have no importance.1
 We have reached the view that it is appropriate to decline to determine Mr Burrows’ complaint under section 11(a) on the basis that it is trivial. This Authority has previously declined to uphold a similar complaint from Mr Burrows, which should have put him on notice of the likely outcome of this complaint.2 Our reasoning in that decision – that the item was a straightforward news report which did not purport to be a discussion of the gender breakdown of victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, and did not suggest that men were not also victims of domestic violence – equally applies here. The gender of the actors used to re-enact instances of domestic violence was not material and could not be said to have denigrated all men as a section of the community; the re-enactments were merely visual wallpaper.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
17 June 2014
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Wayne Burrows’ formal complaint – 21 December 2013
2 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 11 February 2014
3 Mr Burrows’ referral to the Authority – 7 March 2014
4 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 3 April 2014
1Practice Note: Section 11 powers to decline to determine a complaint
(Broadcasting Standards Authority, June 2013)
2Burrows and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2012-135