BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Lowes and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2005-050

Members
  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
Dated
Complainant
  • Archie Lowes
Number
2005-050
Channel/Station
TV One and TV3

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Close Up – use of the phrases “Prime Minister of England” and “future King of England” – allegedly inaccurate
Te Karere – use of the phrase “Te Kuini o Ingarangi” instead of “Te Kuini o Aotearoa” allegedly inaccurate and in breach of law and order
One News – use of the phrase “Queen of England” allegedly inaccurate and in breach of law and order

Findings
Standard 2 – nothing in the items inconsistent with the maintenance of law and order – not upheld

Standard 5 – phrase in common usage – viewers would have known who was being referred to – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcasts

[1] On 8 April 2005 at 6pm, Close Up broadcast an item covering the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, and the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

[2] During the course of the item, references were made to the “Prime Minister of England” and the “future King of England”.

[3] On 14 April 2005 at 4.40pm an item on Te Karere covered an awards ceremony involving the Governor-General. The item made reference to “Te Kuini o Ingarangi” (“Queen of England”).

[4] On One News at 6pm on 11 May 2005, an item was broadcast covering the efforts of a group of returned servicemen to have a Victoria Cross awarded posthumously to a Māori World War II hero.  The item made reference to “the Queen of England”.

Complaints

[5] Archie Lowes complained that the use of the phrase “of England” in conjunction with “Prime Minister”, “future King” and “Queen” was inaccurate. He claimed that England was not a political entity, had no Parliament and was not represented at the United Nations. He also alleged that the phrase “Te Kuini Te Ingarangi” was inaccurate. He contended that the term “Te Kuini o Aotearoa” should have been used.

[6] Mr Lowes alleged that all three items breach accuracy standards. He also maintained that the One News and Te Karere items breached standards relating to law and order.

Standards or Principles

[7] Standards 2 and 5 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice provide:

Standard 2 Law and Order

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the maintenance of law and order.

Standard 5 Accuracy

News, current affairs and other factual programmes must be truthful and accurate on points of fact, and be impartial and objective at all times.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[8] In its response to the complaints, TVNZ noted that Mr Lowes had raised the use of the phrase “of England” on three previous occasions, all of which were awaiting determination from the Broadcasting Standards Authority.   

[9] It stated that its opinion on this matter remained unchanged, noting that the phrase “of England” was in general usage and had been for hundreds of years. It observed that in the Close Up item the phrase was used during an unscripted piece to camera covering the unique constitutional issues posed by the coinciding of the Pope’s funeral with the Royal Wedding.

[10] It considered that no viewer of the items would have been in any doubt as to who was being referred to. TVNZ referred the complainant to its earlier correspondence, where examples of common usage found on the Internet were given.

[11] It also noted from the Act of Union in 1707, that King James I was referred to as “James the 1st of England and James VI of Scotland”. It pointed out that if it was to agree with Mr Lowes’ position, any reference made to Queen Victoria might also have to include her title as “Empress of India” in case devotees of the British Raj complained.

[12] TVNZ stated that it respected Mr Lowes’ concern for technical detail and accuracy in constitutional matters, but stressed that it, and other modern media, were in the business of everyday communication. It concluded that the use of the phrases “of England” and “Te Kuini o Ingarangi” were not a breach of Standard 5.

[13] TVNZ considered that neither the Te Karere item, nor the One News item, breached Standard 2, as nothing in the items was inconsistent with the maintenance of law and order. Accordingly, Mr Lowes’ complaints were not upheld.

Referral to the Authority

[14] Dissatisfied with the response from the broadcaster in respect of the items, Mr Lowes referred his complaint to the Authority. He also claimed that the Close Up item breached Standard 2 (law and order).

[15] Mr Lowes alleged that the term “Queen of England” referred to a person who did not legally exist. He considered that TVNZ’s best argument was that the use of “Queen of England” was a colloquialism, but stated that neither slang nor colloquialisms were acceptable in formal speech.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[16] TVNZ added nothing further to its original response to the complaints, except to advise the Authority that its responses to three earlier complaints, made by Mr Lowes on similar lines, might be relevant to the present matters.

Complainant’s Final Comment

[17] In his final comment to the Authority on the Close Up item, Mr Lowes reiterated statements he had made in earlier complaints on this subject. He claimed that it was unconscionable for TVNZ to deviate from “constitutional laws relating to the sovereign states of New Zealand and the United Kingdom”.

[18] Mr Lowes considered that, in using this phrase, TVNZ had “casually insulted” the monarch of New Zealand and institutions which were central to the constitutions of this country and “therefore demand respect and dignity”.  

[19] In his final comment in respect of the Te Karere complaint, Mr Lowes reiterated points made in earlier correspondence.

Authority's Determination

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

[21] In respect of Standard 5 (accuracy), the Authority agrees with TVNZ that the phrases “Te Kuini o Ingarangi” or “King/Queen/Prime Minister of England” are in common usage in New Zealand and overseas. Further, it finds that viewers of Close Up, One News and Te Karere would have known exactly who was being referred to.

[22] Consequently, the Authority considers that the use of the phrases would not have misled or alarmed viewers. Accordingly, it does not consider that Standard 5 was breached.

[23] In respect of the Close Up item, the Authority declines to determine Mr Lowes’ allegation that the item breached Standard 2. This aspect of the complaint was raised only in the referral to the Authority, and not in the initial formal complaint to TVNZ, and the Authority has no jurisdiction to consider it.

[24] In respect of the One News and Te Karere items, the Authority considers that there is no basis to Mr Lowes’ allegations that the broadcasts breached Standard 2, as there was nothing in the items that was inconsistent with the maintenance of law and order.

[25] The Authority notes that Mr Lowes’ previous complaints on this subject were still awaiting determination when the current complaints were referred to the Authority. Accordingly, it does not decline to determine the current complaints.

[26] However, it notes again that Mr Lowes has referred a number of complaints on this subject to the Authority after receiving a considered and reasonable response from the broadcaster. Should the complainant continue to refer such complaints, the Authority may decline to determine them on the grounds that they are trivial under section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act.

 

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
24 June 2005

Appendix

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

Close Up

  1. Mr Lowes’ formal complaint to TVNZ – 12 April 2005
  2. TVNZ’s response to the formal complaint – 3 May 2005
  3. Mr Lowes’ referral to the Authority – 10 May 2005
  4. Mr Lowes’ final comment – 24 May 2005

    Te Karere
  5. Mr Lowes’ formal complaint to TVNZ – 18 April 2005
  6. TVNZ’s response to the formal complaint – 16 May 2005
  7. Mr Lowes’ referral to the Authority – 18 May 2005
  8. Mr Lowes’ final comment – 2 June 2005

    One News
  9. Mr Lowes’ formal complaint to TVNZ – 11 May 2005
  10. TVNZ’s response to the formal complaint – 24 May 2005
  11. Mr Lowes’ referral to the Authority – 26 May 2005