Taranaki Regional Council and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2014-141
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Mary Anne Shanahan
- Taranaki Regional Council
BroadcasterRadio New Zealand Ltd
Channel/StationRadio New Zealand National
*Te Raumawhitu Kupenga declared a conflict of interest and did not participate in the determination of this complaint.
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
An item on Rural News discussed Taranaki Regional Council's response to a previous Rural News story about landfarms, and included the statement that TRC 'consents the disposal of oil industry waste on to about a dozen dairy and drystock farms, known as landfarms in the region'. The Authority declined to uphold a complaint that the statement was inaccurate and misleading as it was not material to the item and was clarified in the context of the story as a whole.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
 An item on Rural News discussed Taranaki Regional Council's response to a previous Rural News story about landfarms. The item included a statement that TRC 'consents the disposal of oil industry waste on to about a dozen dairy and drystock farms, known as landfarms in the region'.
 TRC complained that the statement was inaccurate and misleading as it implied that TRC allowed for waste to be disposed of onto active farmland, which it maintained is not the case.
 The issue is whether the broadcast breached the accuracy standard, as set out in the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.
 The item was broadcast on Radio New Zealand National on 8 October 2014. The members of the Authority have listened to 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
 TRC argued that, as landfarms are not used for agricultural purposes, it was misleading to say that they are 'dairy and drystock farms'. The reporting, it said, 'cause[d] continued alarm to the public and damage to the Council'.
 RNZ argued that, as the phrase was followed by '...known as landfarms in the region', the full phrase 'convey[ed] something different to that which was complained of'.
 Based on the information before us, it seems that while in some isolated cases landfarms are used as dairy or drystock farms, this is not the norm as the broadcast implied. In this respect the wording of the item was unfortunate. However, we do not consider the phrase 'dairy and drystock farms' would have materially altered listeners' understanding of the item as a whole. Most importantly, the item explicitly clarified that landfarms are used agriculturally only on 'isolated occasions' and that such use was 'not routine' and 'not condone[d]' by TRC. The purpose of the broadcast was to air TRC's response to a previous story by Rural News about its involvement with landfarms, so the tone of the item was not alarmist or aimed at damaging TRC.
 We are satisfied that overall the item was not inaccurate or misleading and we decline to uphold the complaint under Standard 5.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
4 March 2015
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Taranaki Regional Council's formal complaint – 8 October 2014
2 RNZ's response to the complaint – 4 November 2014
3 TRC's referral to the Authority – 14 November 2014
4 RNZ's response to the Authority – 15 December 2014
1 Bush and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-036