BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Radford and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2013-009

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Alan Radford
Number
2013-009
Programme
One News
Channel/Station
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News – reported domestic violence statistics showing an increase in the number of deaths caused by family violence – contained interviews with Labour Party spokesperson for Women’s Affairs, and Christchurch Women’s Refuge representative – allegedly in breach of standards relating to balance, accuracy, fairness, discrimination and denigration, and responsible programming

Findings
Standard 4 (controversial issues), Standard 5 (accuracy), Standard 6 (fairness), Standard 7 (discrimination and denigration), and Standard 8 (responsible programming) – item focused on statistics showing increase in deaths caused by family violence – it did not comment on the gender of perpetrators and victims, and did not specify that the increase in deaths was among women only – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Introduction

[1]  A One News item reported on recently released statistics for domestic violence in New Zealand. The item was introduced as follows:

There has been a worrying rise in deaths from domestic violence in New Zealand. Labour says the spike is being buried because police only have to report the numbers every three years. And the problem of domestic violence is even worse in Christchurch.

[2]  The item included interviews with the Labour Party spokesperson for Women’s Affairs, and a Christchurch Women’s Refuge representative. The item was broadcast on 25 November 2012 on TV One.

[3]  Alan Radford made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item misrepresented the statistics by suggesting the increase in fatalities was among women, therefore failing to recognise that women could be perpetrators of domestic violence. In his view, the item was unbalanced, unfair, and encouraged discrimination against, and the denigration of, men.

[4]  The issue is whether the item breached standards relating to balance (Standard 4), accuracy (Standard 5), fairness (Standard 6), discrimination and denigration (Standard 7), and responsible programming (Standard 8) as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[5]  The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the item breach broadcasting standards?

[6]  We disagree with the complainant that the item misrepresented statistics, and that it was necessary to explicitly acknowledge that women can also be the perpetrators of domestic violence. In summary, the item did not breach any of the standards nominated by the complainant because:

  • the item did not purport to be a balanced discussion about the gender of perpetrators and victims of domestic violence, so it was not necessary to explicitly state that women can be perpetrators and men the victims (Standard 4);
  • the item was accurate on all material points of fact and would not have misled viewers (Standard 5);
  • the fairness standard applies only to individuals, not groups, so it cannot be applied to men in general (Standard 6);
  • the item was a straightforward news report and carried no invective towards men as a section of the community such that it could be said to have encouraged the denigration of, or discrimination against, all men (Standard 7)
  • the item formed part of an unclassified news programme targeted at adults (Standard 8).

[7]  The statistics were not presented in such a way as to suggest the increase in fatalities was among women only, as opposed to children or male victims. Rather, the figures were said to show that:

  • “There has been a worrying rise in deaths from domestic violence”;
  • deaths caused by family members have significantly increased”; and
  • “there has been a 50 percent increase in the number of family violence deaths between 2008 and 2011.” [our emphasis]

[8]  The item was also introduced by reference to a child victim, and included visual re-enactments of child abuse, including a girl being dragged by her hair.

[9]  The story included an interview with the Labour Party spokesperson for Women’s Affairs to demonstrate the political response to the issue of domestic violence; she said the Government’s response was to cut funding, and in her view the solution was annual reporting by police. She was an appropriate person to obtain comment from, and neither her gender nor her position as spokesperson for Women’s Affairs had any bearing on the key messages in the story. Similarly, the interview with the Christchurch Women’s Refuge representative was included because, as stated in the introduction, the problem of domestic violence was apparently worse in Christchurch. Women’s Refuge is New Zealand’s most significant domestic violence organisation, and it represents not only women, but also children.

[10]  For these reasons, 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

 

Peter Radich
Chair
7 May 2013

Appendix

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

1           Alan Radford’s formal complaint (including attachments) – 10 December 2012

2          TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 29 January 2013

3          Mr Radford’s revised referral to the Authority – 4 March 2013

4          Mr Radford’s further comments in support of referral – 4 March 2013

5          TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 21 March 2013

6          Mr Radford’s final comments – 4 April 2013