BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Todd and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2013-079

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Ian Todd
Number
2013-079
Programme
One News
Channel/Station
TV One

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

A One News item reported an accident involving a truck and a motorcycle. On the basis it was frivolous and trivial, the Authority declined to determine the complaint that the item’s use of the word ‘biker’ gave the impression the motorcyclist was a ‘reckless’ gang member and had caused the accident. ‘Biker’ was a colloquial term referring to the driver of a motorbike, and in any case the words ‘biker’ and ‘motorcylist’ were used interchangeably.

Decline to Determine: Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration


Introduction

[1]  A One News item which reported on an accident involving a truck and a motorcycle used the term ‘biker’ to refer to the motorcyclist. The item was broadcast on 15 October 2013 on TV ONE.

[2]  Ian Todd made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the use of the term ‘biker’ gave the impression the motorcyclist was a ‘reckless’ gang member who had caused the accident, despite inconsistent reports by other media. He considered the item created ‘highly prejudicial’ and ‘sensational’ stereotypes about motorcyclists, in breach of the accuracy and discrimination and denigration standards, as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[3]  The issue is whether the complainant’s concerns raise matters under these standards which warrant our determination.

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

Does the complaint raise issues of broadcasting standards which warrant determination?

[5]  Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises this Authority to decline to determine a complaint if it considers the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, or trivial. The policy behind section 11 is that the time and resources of the Authority, which are, in the end, sustained by the people of New Zealand, should not be wasted in having to deal with matters which objectively have no importance.1

[6]  We have reached the view that it is appropriate for us to decline to determine this complaint under section 11(a), on the basis it is frivolous and trivial. The complainant’s concerns do not in our view raise any issues of broadcasting standards which warrant our determination.

[7]  The use of the term ‘biker’ to describe a motorcyclist involved in a crash would not have led reasonable viewers to believe that the motorcyclist was involved in a gang, was a reckless driver, or was responsible for the crash. The word did not carry any negative connotations and was not offensive in itself, but was merely a colloquial term referring to the driver of a motorbike. In any case, the item used both ‘motorcyclist’ and ‘biker’ interchangeably, and the choice of terminology was not material to the focus of the item.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
19 December 2013

Appendix

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

1                  Ian Todd’s formal complaint – 18 October 2013  

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 11 November 2013

3                 Mr Todd’s referral to the Authority – 14 November 2013

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 14 November 2013


1Practice Note: Section 11 powers to decline to determine a complaint

(Broadcasting Standards Authority, June 2013)