BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Green and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2015-013

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Peter Green
Number
2015-013
Programme
3 News
Broadcaster
MediaWorks TV Ltd
Channel/Station
TV3 # 4

Summary

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

A 3 News item about Andrew Little's 'state of the nation' address, in which he promised that under the Labour Party, New Zealand would have the lowest unemployment rate in the OECD, featured an exchange between the reporter and Mr Little about unemployment rates. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the item was misleading and unfair to Mr Little in giving the impression he did not know New Zealand's current unemployment rate when in fact he did. It was clear that the figure Mr Little was unable to quote was the current lowest OECD unemployment rate and the item did not unfairly distort his views.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness


Introduction

[1]  A 3 News bulletin reported the 'state of the nation' address from each of the leaders of the main political parties. Labour Party leader Andrew Little was shown promising that, under Labour, New Zealand would have the lowest unemployment rate among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The item then included an exchange between the reporter and Mr Little about unemployment rates.

[2]  Peter Green complained that the report was misleading and unfair to Mr Little, as selective editing gave the impression he did not know New Zealand's current unemployment rate when in fact he did.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the accuracy and fairness standards as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. We have assessed both standards together as Mr Green raised the same concerns under each.

[4]  The item was broadcast on TV3 on 28 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.

Did the broadcast breach broadcasting standards?

[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]  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

[7]  In the segment subject to complaint the following exchange took place between the reporter and Mr Little:

Mr Little: The present rate... I don't know what the present rate is.
Reporter: But your promise in the speech is to get unemployment to the lowest in the OECD – you don't even know what that rate is?
Mr Little: No, but I know that we have got it down – we have had the lowest rate of unemployment in the OECD.

[8]  Mr Green argued that selective editing distorted Mr Little's comments to give a misleading and unfair impression that Mr Little did not know New Zealand's current unemployment rate, when it was the OECD rate he was unsure of. He considered the report selectively focused on the rate Mr Little was unable to quote (the lowest rate in the OECD) while ignoring that he knew the two most relevant unemployment rates – the current New Zealand rate and his goal rate if Labour was elected in 2017.

[9]  MediaWorks said the key point was that Mr Little had set a huge target during his state of the nation address – to drop unemployment to the lowest rate in the OECD – without knowing what that rate, and therefore his target, actually was. It maintained that there was no reference to the New Zealand unemployment rate, and that the exchange between Mr Little and the reporter was clearly about the OECD unemployment rate.

[10]  We are satisfied that the broadcast was not unfair and would not have misled viewers. During the exchange between the reporter and Mr Little it was very clear that it was the OECD unemployment rate, not New Zealand's unemployment rate, that he was referring to. This was particularly so given it was preceded by footage of Mr Little's address in which he promised to achieve the lowest rate of unemployment in the OECD, should Labour be elected. It was entirely legitimate for the broadcaster to focus on the OECD rate in this context and we agree with the broadcaster that the complainant's desire for the item to focus on New Zealand's unemployment rate (the rate Mr Little allegedly could quote) is a matter of editorial discretion, not broadcasting standards.

[11]  Accordingly we decline to uphold the complaint under Standards 5 and 6.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
16 June 2015

 

Appendix

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

1      Peter Green's formal complaint – 4 February 2015
2      MediaWorks' response to the complaint – 3 March 2015
3      Mr Green's referral to the Authority – 5 March 2015
4      MediaWorks' response to the Authority – 8 April 2015
5      Mr Green's further query – 8 April 2015
6      Mediaworks' response to query – 17 April 2015
7      Mr Green's final comment – 17 April 2015

 

 


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

2 Commerce Commission and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2008-014