BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Dougherty and Television New Zealand Ltd and TVWorks Ltd - 2010-142

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Ian Dougherty
One News, 3 News
TV One and TV3

Complaints under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News and 3 News – items reported on New Zealand Film and Television Awards – allegedly in breach of accuracy standard

Standard 5 (accuracy) – material to be included in news items is a matter of editorial discretion not broadcasting standards – Authority declines jurisdiction to accept and consider the complaints on the grounds that Mr Dougherty did not lodge valid formal complaints with the broadcasters

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]   On Sunday 19 September 2010, both One News (broadcast on TV One) and 3 News (broadcast on TV3) reported on the results of the Qantas Film and Television Awards which had been announced the previous evening.


[2]   Ian Dougherty made formal complaints to Television New Zealand Ltd and TVWorks Ltd, the broadcasters, alleging that the news items breached Standard 5 (accuracy). He argued that the items were not impartial because they referred only to awards won by their own networks.


[3]   Mr Dougherty nominated Standard 5 and guideline 5c of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice in his complaints. These provide:

Standard 5 Accuracy

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/or
  • does not mislead.

Guideline 5c

News must be impartial.

Broadcasters’ Responses to the Complainant

[4]   TVNZ maintained that the item did not only refer to TVNZ winners, and nor did it discuss all of the awards TVNZ received on the night. It considered that the item was a quick overview of the awards, and that it was not required to list all of the awards. TVNZ concluded that the item was not misleading or inaccurate, and it declined to uphold Mr Dougherty’s complaint.

[5]   TVWorks stated that it had declined to accept Mr Dougherty’s complaint on the basis that his concerns did not raise issues of broadcasting standards. It argued that “editorial selection of material to be included in news is the domain of the editor of the programme and not subject to review by [the TVWorks Standards Committee]”.

Referral to the Authority

[6]   Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Dougherty referred his complaints to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[7]   TVNZ pointed out that the Authority had previously declined to determine a complaint on the same grounds raised by Mr Dougherty (Calder and TVNZ and TVWorks1).

Authority's Determination

[8]   The members of the Authority have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaints without a formal hearing.

[9]   In Calder, the Authority declined to accept jurisdiction over complaints identical to those lodged by Mr Dougherty. We note that Mr Dougherty’s sole complaint is that both TV One and TV3 only reported on awards for people connected with their own organisations. We agree with TVWorks that the selection of material to be included in a news item is a matter of editorial discretion, not broadcasting standards. Further, we note that section 5(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 states:

Complaints based merely on a complainant’s preferences are not, in general, capable of being resolved by a complaints procedure.

[10]   Mr Dougherty’s complaint that these news items should have contained coverage of different awards is clearly his own preference rather than a matter of broadcasting standards which could be resolved by this complaints procedure.

[11]   As no issue relating to broadcasting standards was raised, we find that the broadcasters were not required to accept and respond to those complaints under the Broadcasting Act 1989, and this Authority has no jurisdiction to accept a referral of Mr Dougherty’s complaints.


For the above reasons the Authority declines jurisdiction to accept Mr Dougherty’s complaints.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
22 February 2011


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

Ian Dougherty and TVNZ

1                  Ian Dougherty’s complaint to TVNZ – 19 September 2010

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 22 October 2010

3                 Mr Dougherty’s referral to the Authority – 22 October 2010

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 23 December 2010


Ian Dougherty and TVWorks Ltd

1                  Ian Dougherty’s complaint to TVWorks – 19 September 2010

2                 TVWorks’ response to the complaint – 23 September 2010

3                 Mr Dougherty’s referral to the Authority – 18 October 2010

4                 TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 21 December 2010

1Decision No. 2010-151