BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Lowes and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2014-037

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Archie Lowes
3 News
MediaWorks TV Ltd
TV3 # 4

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

An item on 3 News reporting on a shift in social networking choices by young people in the United Kingdom referred to ‘England’ in its introduction. The broadcaster upheld the complaint that this was inaccurate and apologised to the complainant. The Authority considered the broadcaster took sufficient action and that the broadcast did not breach the other standards nominated.

Not Upheld: Accuracy (Action Taken), Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration


[1]  An item on 3 News reporting on a shift in social networking choices by young people in the United Kingdom, referred to ‘England’ in its introduction. The item was broadcast on 29 December 2013 on TV3.

[2]  Archie Lowes made a formal complaint to MediaWorks TV Ltd (MediaWorks), alleging that the reference to ‘England’ instead of the ‘United Kingdom’ when referring to the ‘supposed sovereign state the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ was inaccurate, unfair and discriminatory. MediaWorks upheld the complaint that the broadcast was inaccurate in referring to ‘England’.

[3]  Mr Lowe referred his complaint to the Authority, arguing that the action taken by the broadcaster in upholding his accuracy complaint was insufficient and maintaining that the broadcast was unfair and discriminatory.

[4]  The issue therefore is whether the action taken by the broadcaster having upheld the accuracy complaint was sufficient, and whether the broadcast otherwise breached the fairness and discrimination and denigration standards, as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

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

Was the action taken by the broadcaster, having upheld the accuracy complaint, sufficient?

[6]  In its consideration of the complaint, MediaWorks agreed that the reference to ‘England’ was a material statement of fact. It did not consider that viewers would have been significantly misled because the application of the research to the United Kingdom was mentioned at the beginning and end of the report. However, on balance, it upheld the accuracy complaint on the basis a distinction was not made between ‘England’ and the ‘United Kingdom’. The broadcaster apologised to the complainant and said that relevant newsroom staff had been given copies of the complaint, and counselled to ensure an awareness of the distinction between the two terms is ‘considered’ in news reporting in future.

[7]  In our view, this was a more than adequate response from the broadcaster, given it upheld the complaint and has taken steps to educate news staff on the distinction to avoid a repeat of the error in future items. This was proportionate and sufficient in the circumstances, and we do not think anymore should have been done.

[8]  We therefore decline to uphold the complaint that the action taken by the broadcaster was insufficient.

Did the item breach the other standards nominated by the complainant?

[9]  Mr Lowes maintained in his referral that the broadcast also breached the fairness and discrimination and denigration standards. In summary, these standards were not breached because:

  • the fairness standard applies only to individuals and organisations taking part or referred to in a programme. It does not apply to nation states so the item could not be unfair to the United Kingdom (Standard 6)
  • similarly, the United Kingdom is not a ‘section of the community’ to which the discrimination and denigration standard applies. The erroneous reference has been acknowledged, it did not carry any invective, and it could not be said to have encouraged the denigration of, or discrimination against, any section of the community (Standard 7).

[10]  We therefore decline to uphold these parts of the complaint.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
15 July 2014


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

1                 Archie Lowes’ formal complaint (including attachments) – 9 January 2014

2                 MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 12 March 2014

3                 Mr Lowes’ referral to the Authority – 4 April 2014

4                 MediaWorks’ response to the Authority – 20 May 2014