BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Connolly and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2011-153

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Simon Connolly
One News
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News – graphic “Election 2011” during election coverage included ticked blue box – allegedly in breach of controversial issues standard

Standard 4 (controversial issues) – use of the logo did not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue – broadcaster entitled to editorial discretion to use standard graphics – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]  During One News election coverage broadcast on TV One at 6pm on 18 October 2011, a logo was displayed stating “Election 2011”, which included a blue box with a white tick mark.

[2]  Simon Connolly made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the image consisting of “a voting form tick box” which was blue, amounted to subliminal messaging encouraging viewers to vote for the National Party in the general election.

[3]  TVNZ maintained that blue was one of TVNZ’s colours, and noted that the captions in the news items were red, which was also a colour used by TVNZ. It argued that “The colours used in the graphics and the titles during TVNZ programmes are chosen for editorial and business reasons, not to ‘subliminally’ influence voters.” TVNZ provided a colour image of the logo, and pointed out that it was not the same shade of blue as the one used by the National Party.

[4]  The issue is whether the use of the graphic breached Standard 4 (controversial issues) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[5]  We have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the use of the logo result in the programme being unbalanced?

[6]  Standard 4 states that when controversial issues of public importance are discussed in news, current affairs and factual programmes, broadcasters should make reasonable efforts, or give reasonable opportunities, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.

[7]  In our view, the use of a particular graphic – in this case the election logo – clearly does not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue to which Standard 4 applies.

[8]  In any event, we agree with TVNZ that the colour of the logo was not the same as the shade of blue associated with the National Party, and all of the captions used in the related news items were red – a colour traditionally associated with the Labour Party. We accept that blue is frequently used by TVNZ in its editorial content, and that the election logo was a standard graphic which the broadcaster was entitled to use in accordance with its editorial discretion.

[9]  We therefore decline to uphold the complaint.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
28 February 2012


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

1                  Simon Connolly’s formal complaint – 19 October 2011

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 18 November 2011

3                 Mr Connolly’s referral to the Authority – 19 November 2011

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 29 November 2011