Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2015-002
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
- Mary Anne Shanahan
- Allan Golden
ProgrammeNine to Noon
BroadcasterRadio New Zealand Ltd
Channel/StationRadio New Zealand National
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
Nine to Noon broadcast an interview with Joan Withers, chair of Mighty River Power, about her career and the energy industry, among other things. The Authority declined to determine a complaint that Ms Withers was not suitable to interview. RNZ's decision to interview Ms Withers is a matter of editorial discretion rather than broadcasting standards. The complainant has previously made similar complaints about Ms Withers and been warned that further similar complaints would be unlikely to be determined in future. Accordingly the Authority declined to determine the present complaint on the basis it was vexatious.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy, Fairness, Responsible Programming
 Nine to Noon broadcast an interview with Joan Withers, chair of Mighty River Power, about her career and the energy industry, among other things.
 Allan Golden complained that Ms Withers was not an appropriate person to interview. He made a number of allegations about Ms Withers, particularly in relation to her time as a director of Feltex.
 The issue is whether Mr Golden's concerns raise issues of broadcasting standards of a level which warrant our determination.
 The item was broadcast on Radio New Zealand National on 15 December 2014. The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
Does the complaint raise any issues that warrant our determination?
 Mr Golden argued in essence that the interview misrepresented Ms Withers, was 'not in the public interest' and was 'irresponsible programming'. His main issues were with Ms Withers' previous position as a director of Feltex.
 Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises this Authority to decline to determine a complaint if it considers the complaint is frivolous, vexatious or trivial. The policy behind section 11 is that the time and resources of the Authority, which are, in the end, sustained by the people of New Zealand, should not be wasted in having to deal with matters which objectively have no importance.1
 A vexatious complaint is one which has been instituted without sufficient justifying grounds.2 The Authority is usually reluctant to label a complaint vexatious, but the Authority has previously held that, when a complainant refers numerous complaints about the same issue, even though their earlier complaints have been dismissed with comprehensive reasoning, the repeated complaints were vexatious.3
 This is the fourth complaint Mr Golden has referred to the Authority about Ms Withers and/or Feltex.4 In our decision on one of those complaints, we warned Mr Golden that complaints of this nature were 'bordering on vexatious'.5 Despite this he continues to refer similar complaints to us. The language used in this complaint is inflammatory and accusatory (and in the broadcaster's view, also defamatory). Mr Golden's persistent targeting of an individual in our view represents an abuse of the complaints process. Additionally, he is not concerned with the content of the programme but rather with RNZ's exercise of editorial discretion in choosing to interview Ms Withers. This is not a legitimate issue of broadcasting standards which we can properly consider.
 For these reasons, we find the complaint is vexatious and we therefore decline to determine the complaint.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
1 May 2015
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Allan Golden's formal complaint – 10 January 2015
2 RNZ's response to the complaint – 21 January 2015
3 Mr Golden's referral to the Authority – 26 January 2015
4 RNZ's response to the Authority – 12 March 2015
1 Practice Note: Section 11 powers to decline to determine a complaint (Broadcasting Standards Authority, June 2013)
4 Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-167, Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2013-028 and Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2013-086
5 Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2013-028