BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Davies and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2015-004

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Sheryll Davies
3 News
MediaWorks TV Ltd
TV3 # 4


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

  A 3 News item covered a high-profile New Zealand equestrian’s reportedly controversial exclusion from Equestrian Sports New Zealand’s high performance squad. It included an interview with the head of ESNZ, and briefly showed a copy of the equestrian magazine Show Circuit on his desk. The Authority declined to uphold a complaint that the broadcast breached standards because it wrongly associated Show Circuit with ESNZ. The inclusion of the shot of the magazine was incidental to the story and did not suggest that Show Circuit supported ESNZ, as alleged.   Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Responsible Programming


[1]  A 3 News item covered a high-profile New Zealand equestrian’s reportedly controversial exclusion from Equestrian Sports New Zealand’s high performance squad. It included an interview with the head of ESNZ, and briefly showed a copy of the equestrian magazine Show Circuit on his desk.   [2]  Sheryll Davies of Show Circuit magazine complained that it was unfair and inaccurate to show the magazine in association with an organisation she alleged was surrounded by controversy.    [3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the accuracy, fairness and responsible programming standards, as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.    [4]  The item was broadcast on TV3 on 11 January 2015. The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.  

Was the broadcast inaccurate or misleading?

[5]  The accuracy standard (Standard 5) 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 receiving misinformation and thereby being misled.1    [6]  Ms Davies argued that the broadcast suggested that Show Circuit supported ESNZ, which was misleading. MediaWorks argued that there were no statements about Show Circuit in the broadcast, and accordingly the accuracy standard did not apply.   [7]  In our view, there was no suggestion of any association between the two organisations or that Show Circuit supported ESNZ in any way. Show Circuit was not verbally mentioned at all. The very brief shot of the magazine was likely used as ‘visual wallpaper’ – showing an equestrian image during an item about equestrian sport. We do not think that ordinary viewers would have formed any meaningful impression of, or views about, Show Circuit based on this brief image. Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint that this resulted in the item being inaccurate or misleading.  

Was Show Circuit treated unfairly?

[8]  The fairness standard (Standard 6) states that broadcasters should deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to in a programme. 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 broadcasts have the right to expect that broadcasters will deal with them justly and fairly, so that unwarranted harm is not caused to their reputation and dignity.2    [9]  Ms Davies argued that the broadcast unfairly ‘associated Show Circuit’s magazine with the controversy surrounding ESNZ’s decisions and position against [the equestrian]’ and pointed out that ESNZ have their own official magazine which could have been included instead. She contended that the broadcast was ‘disappointing and damaging to us’ and said that she had received many enquiries about the magazine’s association with ESNZ following the broadcast.   [10]  MediaWorks maintained that the two organisations were not associated in the broadcast and that the magazine was ‘fairly portrayed as an incidental inclusion in the story’.   [11]  As we have said in relation to accuracy, the inclusion of one very brief image of Show Circuit magazine did not suggest that it supported ESNZ or showed the magazine in a negative light. The most that could have been implied was that the head of ESNZ read Show Circuit. We do not accept that by virtue of a magazine sitting on an individual’s desk viewers would infer that the magazine as a business supported that individual. The item was wholly focused on the issue of the equestrian’s exclusion and in this context viewers were unlikely to have been left with any meaningful impression of the magazine, much less an unfairly negative impression.   [12]  We therefore decline to uphold the fairness complaint.   

Did the broadcast breach the responsible programming standard? 

[13]  The responsible programming standard (Standard 8) requires broadcasters to ensure that programmes are correctly classified and screened in the appropriate time-band.   [14]  As the broadcast was an unclassified news programme, Standard 8 does not apply. The complainant’s concerns have been adequately and appropriately addressed as matters of accuracy and fairness. Accordingly we decline to uphold the complaint under the responsible programming standard.   For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.   Signed for and on behalf of the Authority         Peter Radich Chair 1 May 2015    


The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:   1      Sheryll Davies’ formal complaint – 28 January 2015 2      MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 29 January 2015 3      Ms Davies’ referral to the Authority – 4 February 2015 4      MediaWorks’ response to the Authority – 6 March 2015 5      Ms Davies’ final comments – 27 March 2015  

Bush and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-036 2 Commerce Commission and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2008-014