BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Dawson and Radio Bay of Plenty Ltd - 2012-116

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Darryl Dawson
1XX News

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
1XX News – news item contained summary of Broadcasting Standards Authority decision declining to uphold a complaint made by Darryl Dawson, the complainant – summary of Authority’s decision allegedly inaccurate and unbalanced

Standard 5 (accuracy) – item gave a fair summary of Authority’s findings – complaint primarily aimed at Authority’s findings and not at broadcast – item not inaccurate or misleading – not upheld

Standard 4 (controversial issues) – brief news report did not amount to a discussion and Authority’s decision was not a controversial issue – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]  1XX News reported on a Broadcasting Standards Authority decision which declined to uphold a complaint made by Darryl Dawson about a previous item on 1XX News.1 Summarising the Authority’s decision, the newsreader stated:

[Darryl Dawson] believed the content of the [broadcast] to be misleading and in breach of accuracy standards, with much of his complaint centred on the difference [between] the words “thorough” and “adequate”.

[2]  The item was broadcast on One-Double-X on 1 October 2012.

[3]  Darryl Dawson made a formal complaint to Radio Bay of Plenty Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item was inaccurate and unbalanced because it failed to properly summarise his complaint. He argued that it was wrong to say his complaint centred on the use of the word “thorough” instead of “adequate”.

[4]  The remainder of Mr Dawson’s complaint was largely similar to his previous complaint, which suggests that he is primarily concerned with the Authority’s determination of that complaint, in that he disagreed with the outcome. In this respect, the appropriate avenue for review of the Authority’s decision is the High Court, though we note the appeal deadline has now expired.

[5]  Our focus is therefore whether the item broadcast on 1 October breached Standards 4 (controversial issues) and 5 (accuracy) of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice in the manner alleged.

[6]  The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Was the item inaccurate or misleading?

[7]  Standard 5 (accuracy) 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.2

[8]  The brief news item was an accurate summary of the Authority’s decision, and it was not necessary, nor possible within the confines of a news bulletin, to provide a more detailed or comprehensive report, or to distinguish and explain the complainant’s two main grounds for his previous complaint. The decision is available online and accessible to anyone seeking more detail.3 The statement that, “much of [Mr Dawson’s] complaint centred on the difference [between] ‘thorough’ and ‘adequate’”, was a fair reflection of the Authority’s summation of the complaint and its findings.4

[9]  Accordingly, we decline to uphold the Standard 5 complaint.

Did the item discuss a controversial issue of public importance which required the presentation of significant viewpoints?

[10]  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. The balance standard exists to ensure that competing arguments are presented to enable a viewer to arrive at an informed and reasoned opinion.5

[11]  A number of criteria must be satisfied before the requirement to present significant alternative viewpoints is triggered. The standard applies only to programmes which discuss a controversial issue of public importance. The subject matter must be an issue “of public importance”, it must be “controversial”, and it must be “discussed”.6

[12]  Here, the item was a brief and straightforward news report on the Authority’s key findings in respect of Mr Dawson’s previous complaint. It was not a discussion of those findings or the complaint. In any event, the Authority’s decision was not a controversial issue, in the sense it had topical currency and excited conflicting opinion, or about which there had been ongoing public debate.7

[13]  We therefore decline to uphold the Standard 4 complaint.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
29 January 2013


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

1           Darryl Dawson’s formal complaint – 3 October 2012

2          Radio Bay of Plenty’s response to the complaint – 3 October 2012

3          Mr Dawson’s referral to the Authority – 12 October 2012

4          Further comments from Mr Dawson – 16 October 2012

5          Radio Bay of Plenty’s response to the Authority – 17 October 2012

1Dawson and Radio Bay of Plenty Ltd, Decision No. 2012-083

2Bush and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-036

4Dawson and Radio Bay of Plenty Ltd, Decision No. 2012-083, paragraphs [6] to [8]

5Commerce Commission and TVWorks, Decision No. 2008-014

6For further discussion of these concepts see Practice Note: Controversial Issues – Viewpoints (Balance) as a Broadcasting Standard in Television (Broadcasting Standards Authority, June 2010) and Practice Note: Controversial Issues – Viewpoints (Balance) as a Broadcasting Standard in Radio (Broadcasting Standards Authority, June 2009)

7See, for example, Dewe and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2008-076