O'Neill and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-072 (1 December 2015)
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
- Paula Rose
- CJ O'Neill
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
Summary[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
A ONE News item reported on four investigations by British police into historical child sex abuse allegations against former UK Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath. The reporter said, ‘Information from these inquiries will be fed into a wider inspection that’s being run by New Zealander Justice Lowell Goddard’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that referring to Lowell Goddard as ‘Justice’ was inaccurate. The use of the title was not a material point of fact to which the accuracy standard applied.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
 A ONE News item reported on four investigations by British police into historical child sex abuse allegations against former UK Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath. The reporter said:
Information from these inquiries will be fed into a wider inspection that’s being run by New Zealander Justice Lowell Goddard.
 CJ O’Neill complained that it was incorrect to refer to Lowell Goddard as ‘Justice’ as she was technically no longer a judge.
 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 5 August 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 O’Neill maintained that the item was inaccurate as Lowell Goddard had not been a ‘Justice’ since February 2015. In TVNZ’s view the reference was not inaccurate and in any case was not a material point of fact.
 The accuracy standard is concerned only with ‘material points of fact’. This item focused on the investigations into historical child sex abuse allegations against Sir Heath. We do not consider that the brief reference to ‘Justice’ Lowell Goddard was material to that focus or would have affected viewers’ understanding of the item. The term was used informally and as common parlance rather than as a technical term. It served to position Lowell Goddard for the average viewer and give an indication of why she was selected to run the inspection.
 For these reasons we are satisfied that the item did not breach the accuracy standard and we decline to uphold the complaint.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
1 December 2015
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 CJ O’Neill’s formal complaint – 5 August 2015
2 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 2 September 2015
3 CJ O’Neill’s referral to the Authority – 4 September 2015
4 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 16 October 2015
1 Bush and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-036