BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Morris and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2015-059

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Paula Rose
Dated
Complainant
  • Roger Morris
Number
2015-059
Programme
Worldwatch
Broadcaster
Radio New Zealand Ltd
Channel/Station
Radio New Zealand National

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

 

Roger Morris complained that an alleged discussion on Worldwatch about the 'Ukraine coup d'etat' failed to mention a number of key facts, primarily about the United States' involvement in the conflict. The Authority declined to determine the complaint as the broadcast identified by the complainant in his complaint did not feature any content about Ukraine.

Declined to Determine: Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness, Responsible Programming


Introduction

[1]  Roger Morris complained that an alleged discussion on Worldwatch about the 'Ukraine coup d'etat' failed to mention a number of key facts, primarily about the United States' involvement in the conflict. He considered that the omission of these facts was in breach of the controversial issues, accuracy, fairness and responsible programming standards of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[2]  The item identified by Mr Morris was broadcast on 15 July 2015 on Radio New Zealand National. The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The issue is whether the complaint is able to be determined given that the broadcast identified in the complaint did not contain the material that is alleged to have breached broadcasting standards.

Is the Authority able to properly determine the complaint?

[3]  Mr Morris argued that 'by [RNZ] not covering... critical news events as they unfolded, a seriously diminished conversation by the listening public is generated'. He listed several alleged facts that he considered should have been mentioned by RNZ, for example the 'absolute interference in the sovereign politics of Ukraine' by the United States.

[4]  RNZ maintained that they were not able to identify any mention of Ukraine in the Worldwatch broadcast complained of, or in Morning Report or Checkpoint broadcast the same day. In any case, it argued that 'the formal standards only allow complaints about material which has been broadcast, not material which has not been broadcast'.

[5]  Section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 states that the Authority may decline to determine a complaint if it considers that in all the circumstances, it should not be determined.

[6]  The Authority has previously invoked section 11(b) where the content alleged to have breached standards did not in fact appear in the broadcast identified in the complaint.1 We have listened carefully to the broadcast which Mr Morris specified in his complaint and, like RNZ, we could not identify any content within the programme that mentioned Ukraine. The programme discussed events in Georgia, South Africa and Yemen, among other things. It also covered the United States' presidential election but did not make any reference to its policy on Ukraine.

[7]  It is possible that in this case Mr Morris was mistaken about the date or time of the broadcast. Had there been a specific discussion about Ukraine then his concerns about the omission of relevant information may have been able to be considered under the controversial issues standard or the accuracy standard.2 However we are not in a position to assess the broadcasting standards raised by Mr Morris in the absence of any recording which corresponds to his complaint.

[8]  Accordingly, in all the circumstances, we find it appropriate to decline to determine the complaint in accordance with section 11(b) of the Act.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

 

Peter Radich
Chair
10 November 2015

 

Appendix

The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1      Roger Morris' formal complaint – 30 June 2015
2      Radio New Zealand Ltd's response to the complaint – 24 July 2015
3      Mr Morris' referral to the Authority – 6 August 2015
4      Mr Morris' further comments on his referral – 24 August 2015
5      RNZ's response to the Authority – 18 September 2015

 

 


1See, for example, Moore and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2014-077 and Baxter and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2012-117

2See Standard 4 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice which states that when controversial issues of public importance are discussed in news, current affairs and factual programmes, broadcasters should make reasonable efforts, or give reasonable opportunities, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest. Standard 5 (accuracy) states that broadcasters must make reasonable efforts to ensure that programmes do not mislead.