Rupa and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2010-012
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Tapu Misa
- Mary Anne Shanahan
- Dilip Rupa
ProgrammeBreakfast: “On This Day”
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Breakfast – “On This Day” segment referred to financial markets crash in 1929, advances in the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, dedications to two famous monuments and birthdays of famous people – viewer feedback pointed out that it was also the date the New Zealand Declaration of Independence was signed in 1835 – allegedly in breach of controversial issues and accuracy
Standard 4 (controversial issues – viewpoints) – segment did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance – not upheld
Standard 5 (accuracy) – signing of the Declaration was referred to in viewer feedback – viewers would not have been misled by the omission of information about the Declaration in the segment – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 During Breakfast, broadcast on TV One between 6.30am and 9am on 28 October 2009, the programme’s “On This Day” segment noted historical events that had occurred on 28 October. The presenter referred to the 1929 financial markets crash, advances in the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, and dedications to two famous monuments, the Statue of Liberty in 1886 and the Gateway Arch of the city of St Louis in 1965. The presenters then went on to list famous people who were born on 28 October.
 Later in the morning during the viewer feedback segment at 7.40am, presenter Paul Henry read an email from a viewer alerting the programme to the fact that the Declaration of Independence was signed on 28 October 1835. The following exchange took place between Mr Henry and his co-host Pippa Wetzell:
Henry: [reading feedback] “On this day in 1835 the New Zealand Declaration of
Independence was signed.”
Did we know that? I mean obviously we knew it ‘cause we’re TV One. There’s only
so much information we can have on in the morning.
Wetzell: [laughs] I think we had it on at 5.30am this morning.
Henry: Yeah, we mentioned it way earlier... way earlier. You know, when you were
watching the Māori programmes [referring to an earlier email that only TVNZ and
not the other channels had Māori programming].
 Dilip Rupa made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that Breakfast’s and Marae’s failure to mention “the signing of the nation’s first founding document” breached standards relating to controversial issues and accuracy because it disrespected King William IV and the Māori Chiefs who signed the Declaration of Independence. He also considered that this omission would have affected Māori’s choice of flag to be flown on Waitangi Day, the decision whether to award Māori Television broadcasting rights for the Rugby World Cup, and upcoming referendums relating to MMP.
 TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standards 4 and 5 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provide:
Standard 4 Controversial Issues – Viewpoints
When discussing controversial issues of public importance in news, current affairs or factual programmes, broadcasters should make reasonable efforts, or give reasonable opportunities, to present significant poni9ts of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.
Standard 5 Accuracy
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/or
- does not mislead.
Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant
 TVNZ first noted that Marae did not screen on 28 October, and other Māori programmes such as Te Karere on that day did not contain the material referenced in the complaint. It therefore confined its determination to Breakfast.
 TVNZ considered that the brief reference by Mr Henry of the signing of the Declaration in 1835 did not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue of public importance as envisaged by Standard 4. Nor was there any discussion about the choice of flags to be flown on Waitangi Day. The broadcaster therefore declined to uphold the Standard 4 complaint.
 TVNZ stated that it could not find any reference to or images of flags in Breakfast. It maintained that the omission of material relating to the 1835 Declaration of Independence was not deliberate. TVNZ considered that the audience would not have been misled by Breakfast’s brief reference to the Declaration as read out in viewer feedback and “there is no suggestion that the information given in the piece was incorrect”.
 TVNZ therefore declined to uphold the complaint that the programme was inaccurate.
Referral to the Authority
 Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Rupa referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
 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.
Standard 4 (controversial issues – viewpoints)
 Standard 4 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.
 In our opinion, while the “On This Day” segment may have been of interest to viewers, a brief mention of past events that happened on 28 October could not be considered a discussion of a controversial issue as envisaged by Standard 4. Accordingly, we do not uphold this part of the complaint.
Standard 5 (accuracy)
 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.
 In our view, the fact that TVNZ chose only to make passing reference to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1835 during the programme would not have misled viewers in any way. We decline to uphold the complaint that the programme was inaccurate or misleading in breach of Standard 5.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
27 April 2010
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1. Dilip Rupa’s formal complaint – 24 November 2009
2. TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 22 December 2009
3. Mr Rupa’s referral to the Authority – 21 January 2010
4. TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 11 March 2010