BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Hashimoto and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2011-012

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Masaru Hashimoto
Number
2011-012
Programme
Sunday
Channel/Station
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Sunday – item reported on ex-All Black who now lived in Japan and his ongoing struggle with depression – reporter stated “Alone in Tokyo, population 35 million, chaotic, frenetic, intense. Perhaps the last place in the world you’d expect to find someone trying to stay balanced after coming through the blackest period of his life” – allegedly inaccurate

Findings
Standard 5 (accuracy) – term “chaotic” used to convey reporter’s opinion – not a material point of fact – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]   An item on Sunday, broadcast on TV One on 24 October 2010, reported on an ex-All Black who now lived in Japan and his ongoing struggle with depression. The reporter travelled to Tokyo to interview him about the imminent publication of his book. At the beginning of the item, footage of Tokyo was shown and the reporter commented, referring to the ex-All Black, “Alone in Tokyo, population 35 million, chaotic, frenetic, intense. Perhaps the last place in the world you’d expect to find someone trying to stay balanced after coming through the blackest period of his life.”

Complaint

[2]   Masaru Hashimoto made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item was inaccurate.

[3]   The complainant said that the presenter’s use of the word “chaotic” to describe Japan was “subjective” with “negative connotations”, and had the potential to mislead viewers. They said that while the word may have been used to describe the population density in some areas of Japan, the reporter should have used more “objective” language.

Standards

[4]   The complainant nominated Standard 5 of the Free-To-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice in the complaint. This provides:

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.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant

[5]   TVNZ noted that the Oxford English Dictionary defined “chaotic” as “utterly confused or disordered; exhibiting or characterised by chaos”. It said that the word was used in the broadcast in a “line-up” of terms, including “frenetic” and “intense”, to accompany a busy night-time scene of a large crowd of pedestrians in Tokyo. The broadcaster considered that the term was intended to be “descriptive of one of the busiest cities in the world to accompany footage showing thousands of people”. No negative connotations were intended, it said.

[6]   Accordingly, TVNZ found that the item was not inaccurate or misleading and it declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[7]   Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s response, Masaru Hashimoto referred the complaint to the Authority under Section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[8]   First, the complainant argued that Tokyo’s population was 13.01 million and not 35 million as reported. Second, they maintained that the word “chaotic” had “negative connotations”, such as “confusion” and “disorder”, and said that these were “emphasised and confirmed” by the reporter’s last sentence, “Perhaps the last place in the world you’d expect to find someone trying to stay balanced”. In the complainant’s view, the statement was “extremely biased, offensive, misleading and false”, and reflected the reporter’s “preconception” that Tokyo was the “most densely populated place in the world”, which they argued was inaccurate.  

[9]   The complainant considered that it was “totally unacceptable and inexcusable” for TVNZ to claim that no negative connotations were intended. They said that the word “chaotic” inferred “the state is causing a negative consequence or impact on people involved such as unhappiness, stress, inconvenience etc”. Use of the word “frenetic” meant “involving a lot of energy and activity in a way that is not organised”, they said.

[10]   Masaru Hashimoto disputed TVNZ’s contention that the statement accompanied footage of “thousands” of people, which they said was a “totally false” exaggeration of the size of the crowd shown on the programme. The complainant was “very upset and extremely offended” by the language used in the item to describe Tokyo.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[11]   TVNZ argued that the complainant had raised accuracy only in relation to the word “chaotic” in the original complaint. It maintained that other matters raised in the referral could not now be considered. 

Authority’s Determination

[12]   The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

Preliminary Matter

[13]   We agree with TVNZ that the original complaint was limited to use of the word “chaotic”, and we therefore find that we have no jurisdiction to consider the other accuracy points raised by the complainant in the referral.

Standard 5 (accuracy)

[14]   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.

[15]   On this occasion, the term “chaotic” was used to convey the reporter’s personal opinion of a city significantly more populated than New Zealand. It was not a material point of fact to which the accuracy standard applies. Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
29 March 2011

Appendix

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

1                  Masaru Hashimoto’s formal complaint – 25 October 2010

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 23 November 2010

3                 Masaru Hashimoto’s referral to the Authority – 20 December 2010

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 10 February 2011