BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Lowes and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2006-104

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
  • Archie Lowes
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
National Bank Young Farmer Contest – included among a series of questions to the contestants was “The Queen of England’s husband is the Duke of…?” – answer “Edinburgh” – allegedly inaccurate

Standard 5 (accuracy) – complaint similar to past complaints – in view of comments in earlier decisions, on this occasion decline to determine as trivial

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1] The National Bank Young Farmer Contest, screened at 9.40pm on TV One on 8 July 2006, included a number of “quick fire” quiz questions put to the contestants.  One question asked “The Queen of England’s husband is the Duke of…?”  The answer was given as “Edinburgh”.


[2] Archie Lowes complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the answer, the Duke of Edinburgh, was inaccurate.  That title, he wrote, was Scottish in origin and could only be given by a monarch of the United Kingdom, not of England.

[3] The husband of Queen Elizabeth the Second of the United Kingdom, he added, was known as Prince Phillip of the United Kingdom.  That title had been given to him by the Queen.


[4] TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 5 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice which provides:

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

[5] TVNZ clarified with Mr Lowes that the point at issue was the description of the Queen of the United Kingdom as the Queen of England.  It then referred to two previous Broadcasting Standards Authority decisions on complaints from Mr Lowes (2005-025 and 2005-050) where it had been found that the use of the phrase “Queen of England” was not inaccurate as the phrase was in common use and would not have misled viewers.  Accordingly, TVNZ said, the question and answer during the broadcast on this occasion was not inaccurate.

[6] TVNZ accepted that the complainant did not like to hear the Queen described as the “Queen of England” rather than the “Queen of the United Kingdom”.  However, it pointed out, the Authority did not consider the former description to be inaccurate.

Referral to the Authority

[7] Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s response, Mr Lowes referred his complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[8] The complainant included correspondence from the Office of the Attorney-General who advised that, in New Zealand, the Queen’s title was the “Queen of New Zealand”, and in the United Kingdom was the Queen of “the United Kingdom”.  He also enclosed a letter from the Governor-General who acknowledged that the term “Queen of England” was incorrect, although a matter of common usage.  Mr Lowes acknowledged that the phrase “Queen of England” was used in the Treaty of Waitangi, but that commentators had pointed out that it was the “Queen of the United Kingdom” who concluded the treaty with the Māori chiefs at Waitangi.

[9] Mr Lowes contended that, in view of the legislation which set the title “Queen of the United Kingdom” (Royal Style and Titles Act), the title “Queen of England” was inaccurate.  He argued that some New Zealanders sought to politicise the monarchy to the disadvantage of people of Scots ethnicity, adding:

There has not been a Queen of England since 1707.

Authority's Determination

[10] 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.

[11] The Authority has twice previously declined to uphold similar complaints (Decisions No. 2005-025 and 2005-050).  In the latter decision, it advised Mr Lowes that it might use its power to decline to determine as trivial any future complaint about the use of the phrase “the King/ Queen of England”.  It reached that opinion in view of the considered and reasonable responses Mr Lowes had received from broadcasters about the use of the phrase, and the Authority’s agreement with the broadcasters. 

[12] The current complaint does not raise any issue which has not been previously addressed.  Accordingly, the Authority declines to determine the complaint on the grounds that it is trivial.


For the above reasons above, the Authority declines to determine the complaint, under section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, on the basis that it is trivial.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Joanne Morris
20 November 2006


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

1     Archie Lowes’ formal complaint – 27 July 2006

2    TVNZ’s request to Mr Lowes for clarification – 31 July 2006

3    TVNZ’s further request to Mr Lowes for clarification – 2 August 2006

4    Mr Lowes’ reply to TVNZ – 5 August 2006

5    TVNZ’s Response to Mr Lowes – 7 August 2006

6    Mr Lowes’ reply to TVNZ – 7 August 2006

7    TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 15 August 2006

8    Mr Lowe’s referral to the Authority – (plus attachments) – 6 September 2006

9    The Authority’s request to Mr Lowes for clarification – 13 September 2006

10   Mr Lowes’ reply – 22 September 2006

11   The Authority’s letter to Mr Lowes explaining its role – 2 October 2006

12   TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 5 October 2006