McDonald and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-073 (28 January 2016)
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
- Paula Rose
- Donald McDonald
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
Seven Sharp featured the story of a man who, due to delays in having minor surgery for a skin cancer cyst, suffered severe health problems. The man said that ‘[The cyst] went from less than a centimetre to 35 centimetres’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the description of the cyst as ‘35 centimetres’ was inaccurate. The exact measurement was not a material point of fact in the item, and it was clearly the man’s own recollection of his experience.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
 Seven Sharp featured the story of a man who, due to delays in having minor surgery for a skin cancer cyst, had his eye and part of his face removed and was given a terminal diagnosis. The man said that ‘[The cyst] went from less than a centimetre to 35 centimetres – basically almost closing up my eye’.
 Donald McDonald complained that the description of the cyst as ‘35 centimetres’ was misleading.
 The issue is whether the broadcast breached the accuracy standard as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.
 The item was broadcast on TV ONE on 28 July 2015. 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 broadcast inaccurate or misleading?
 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
 Mr McDonald argued that the description of the cyst as ‘35 centimetres’ was misleading as he considered the wound appeared to be ‘much less than 20 centimetres’ in diameter. He felt the broadcaster should have queried ‘exaggerate[d] unreasonable figures’ and should have sought confirmation from the medical record of the man in question.
 TVNZ argued the complainant’s assertion that the man’s description of his own wound was inaccurate was an assumption on the complainant’s part. It maintained that in any case, the precise size of the cyst was immaterial, as the main point of the item was that delays in the man’s treatment had cost him the side of his face and may ultimately cost him his life.
 The accuracy standard is concerned only with material points of fact. We do not consider that the exact size of the cyst was material to the focus of this item. The statement complained about was clearly the man’s own account of his experience, and he was best placed to give details of his own health issues. We agree with the broadcaster that the main message of the story was the severe health problems that the man suffered due to delays in his treatment, and the precise measurement of the cyst would not have affected viewers’ understanding of this message. It was therefore unnecessary for the broadcaster to take steps to confirm the accuracy of the measurement. The complainant’s arguments appear to be based on his perception of the size of the cyst, rather than any evidence of inaccuracy.
 Accordingly we do not uphold the complaint under Standard 5.
For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
28 January 2016
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Donald McDonald’s formal complaint – 28 July 2015
2 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 10 September 2015
3 Mr McDonald’s referral to the Authority – 10 September 2015
4 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 16 October 2015
1 Bush and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-036