BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Byles and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2006-051

Members
  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
  • Diane Musgrave
Dated
Complainant
  • Pamela Byles
Number
2006-051
Programme
One News promo
Channel/Station
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Generic promo for One News – showed Ahmed Zaoui outside Mt Eden Prison – complainant alleged that promo glamorised anti-social behaviour – allegedly inconsistent with the maintenance of law and order

Findings
Standard 2 (law and order) – no portrayal of anti-social behaviour – broadcast did not show criminal activity or encourage viewers to break the law – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] TV One broadcast a generic promo for One News during several weeks of 2006. The promo included various well-known newsmakers using the phrase “It’s about me” including Ahmed Zaoui, an Algerian who had arrived in New Zealand in 2003 and sought refugee status. Mr Zaoui spent almost two years in prison waiting for his case to be decided as he fought a Security Intelligence Service certificate declaring him to be a security risk and a person who should not remain in New Zealand.

Complaint

[2] Pamela Byles made a formal complaint about the promo to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, objecting to the image of Ahmed Zaoui standing in front of Mt Eden Prison. The complainant believed that Mr Zaoui was a criminal, and that he should not have been included in the promo.

[3] In a further letter, Ms Byles contended that Standard 2 (law and order) and guideline 2e (glamorising anti-social behaviour) had been breached. She argued that Mr Zaoui – who, she said, was still under investigation by the government – was being “glamorised” by his inclusion in the promo.

[4] Ms Byles maintained that if Mr Zaoui was going to be part of the promo, he should have been portrayed in an actual news clip. For example, she said, TV One should have used a clip of his arrest or one showing the investigation into his activities. She submitted that the promo amounted to a “glamorisation of someone who has committed the crime of anti-social behaviour and deceit”.

Standards

[5] TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 2 and guideline 2e of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provide:

Standard 2 Law and Order

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the maintenance of law and order.

Guideline 2e

The realistic portrayal of anti-social behaviour, including violent and serious crime and the abuse of liquor and drugs, should not be shown in a way that glamorises these activities.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[6] TVNZ stated that the imagery of Mr Zaoui had done no more than acknowledge that he was a person in the news, and the subject of wide public interest. By including him in the promo, neither TVNZ nor One News had made any judgment on him, it said, it simply recognised that he was a man whose activities were closely watched by interested members of the public.

[7] The broadcaster did not agree that Mr Zaoui was “glamorised”, noting the dictionary definition of “to glamorise” was “to make something seem glamorous or desirable”. TVNZ noted that Mr Zaoui had not been described in those terms; indeed, he was not described at all. It contended that Mr Zaoui’s image simply acknowledged that he was among the newsmakers. TVNZ said:

In drawing attention to the merits of a news programme, it would be misleading if the imagery was confined only to people of high standing in the community. News involves people in all walks of life, from the vilest of criminals, the dishonest, the intolerant, the violent, through to heroes and philanthropists. All are newsmakers.

[8] TVNZ was of the view that guideline 2e, cited by the complainant, was not relevant. The promo did not include “the realistic portrayal of anti-social behaviour”, it said, which was the context in which “glamorising” was forbidden under the guideline.

[9] Further, TVNZ did not agree that the promo was inconsistent with “the maintenance of law and order”. It found that Standard 2 was not breached.

Referral to the Authority

[10] Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s response, Ms Byles referred her complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. She maintained that it was inappropriate to use Mr Zaoui in the promo, and argued that television viewers would be “brain washed into accepting him by repetitious advertising”. This would glamorise him so that the public would forget his original crime, Ms Byles said.

Authority's Determination

[11] The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

Procedural matter

[12] The Authority notes that the promo complained about was a generic trailer for One News, as opposed to being a promo for one particular programme on a particular date. The Authority has not previously made a ruling on whether such promos fall within its jurisdiction.

[13] Under section 2(1) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, the Authority has jurisdiction over any programme which “promotes a scheduled programme on behalf of a broadcaster”. The Authority considers that One News, which is broadcast each day at the same time, is a “scheduled programme” which falls within this definition. Accordingly, the Authority concludes that the promo is within its jurisdiction.

Standard 2 (law and order)

[14] Mrs Byles alleged that Mr Zaoui was a criminal who had engaged in anti-social behaviour, and that the broadcaster had “glamorised” this behaviour by including his image in the promo. However, the Authority notes that guideline 2e only applies to broadcasts which include “the realistic portrayal of anti-social behaviour”. Since the promo did not portray Mr Zaoui engaging in any such behaviour, the Authority agrees with TVNZ that guideline 2e is not relevant.

[15] Looking generally at Standard 2, the Authority has stated on a number of occasions that the intent behind the law and order standard is to prevent broadcasts that encourage viewers to break the law, or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity (e.g. Decision No. 2005-133). In the present case, the Authority finds nothing in the promo which encouraged viewers to break the law, and no criminal activity was shown. It finds that Standard 2 was not breached.

 

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
14 August 2006

Appendix

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

  1.    Pamela Byles’ formal complaint – 4 May 2006
  2.    Ms Byles’ further letter to TVNZ – 10 May 2006
  3.    TVNZ’s decision on the formal complaint – 22 May 2006
  4.    Ms Byles’ referral to the Authority – 25 May 2006
  5.    TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 1 June 2006