BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Wakeman and Māori Television - 2004-162

Members
  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
Dated
Complainant
  • Peter Wakeman
Number
2004-162
Programme
Te Kaea
Broadcaster
Māori Television
Channel/Station
Māori Television

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Māori Television – news programme Te Kaea – complainant stated that he appeared on programme – programme allegedly unbalanced as not in English – allegedly in breach of law and order standard as complainant denied right to speak in English on programme.

Findings
Complaint does not raise any issues of broadcasting standards – decline to determine under s.11(b) of Broadcasting Act 1989

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] Te Kaea is Māori Television’s nightly news programme, broadcast at 8:30p.m. 

Complaint

[2] Peter Wakeman complained to Māori Television, the broadcaster, that Te Kaea, broadcast on 8 July 2004, breached Standard 4 (balance) and Standard 2 (law and order) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.  Mr Wakeman complained that as Māori Television does not broadcast news in English, Te Kaea was unbalanced.  He also complained that he appeared on the programme but was denied his right to speak in English, contrary to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and thus standard 2 of the Code. 

Standards or Principles

[3] Standards 2 and 4 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice state:

Standard 2 Law and Order

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the maintenance of law and order.

Standard 4 Balance

In the preparation and presentation of news, current affairs and factual programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards consistent with the principle that when controversial issues of public importance are discussed, reasonable efforts are made, or reasonable opportunities are given, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[4] Māori Television declined to uphold the complaint, noting that while it recognised Mr Wakeman’s right to freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights Act, it also had that right. 

[5] In relation to the issue of balance, Māori Television noted that the item was balanced, and was not deliberately biased or partial.

Referral to the Authority

[6] Mr Wakeman referred his complaint to the Authority, reiterating his view that broadcasting the programme in te reo Māori made it unbalanced and in breach of both the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and standard 2 of the Free-to-Air Code.

[7] Mr Wakeman also requested that the Authority:

  • Request Māori Television to produce all of its coverage of the by-election in the Te Tai Hauauru electorate;
  • Obtain an English transcript of this coverage;
  • Request Māori Television to provide “details of their funding with respect to the use of English in their news programme Te Kaea”;
  • Convene a formal hearing, although this request was later withdrawn.

[8] Mr Wakeman also commented that he considered Māori Television’s practice of broadcasting in te reo Māori encouraged discrimination against those who speak only English, although this did not form part of his original complaint to Māori Television.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[9] In response to the referral, Māori Television reiterated the points made in its original response to Mr Wakeman.  It also noted that despite Mr Wakeman’s assertion to the contrary, Mr Wakeman did not in fact appear in Te Kaea on 8 July. 

Authority's Determination

[10] Mr Wakeman complained on two grounds; first, that by virtue of being broadcast in te reo Māori, Te Kaea lacked balance and second, by allegedly not broadcasting Mr Wakeman’s own words in English, Māori Television breached the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and thus standard 2 of the Free-to-Air Code.

[11] In his referral to the Authority, Mr Wakeman also complained that Māori Television encouraged discrimination against those who did not speak te reo Māori.  As this did not form a part of his original complaint to the broadcaster, the Authority has no jurisdiction to consider the issue.

[12] There is no merit in the complainant’s arguments.  The Authority can conceive of no circumstances in which a programme, merely by virtue of being broadcast in te reo Māori, could raise any potential issue of broadcasting standards. 

[13] The Authority observes that te reo Māori is an official language of New Zealand, and the Māori Television Service (Te Aratuku Whakaata Irirangi Māori) Act 2003 requires Māori Television to broadcast, during prime time, mainly in te reo Māori.

[14] The Authority further notes that, despite his assertion to the contrary, Mr Wakeman does not appear on Te Kaea on 8 July and nor is there any reference to him.  Accordingly, the Authority does not need to further consider Mr Wakeman’s complaint that his right to freedom of expression was denied, and thus that Standard 2 of the Free-to-Air Code was breached. 

[15] As Mr Wakeman’s complaints do not raise any issue of broadcasting standards, and also have been made on the mistaken assumption that he appeared in the programme, the Authority declines to determine them pursuant to section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[16] In light of this decision, the Authority does not need to further consider the complainant’s request for the production of additional material. 

 

For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaints pursuant to section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
18 February 2005

Appendix

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

  1. Peter Wakeman’s formal complaint – 3 August 2004
  2. Māori Television Service’s response to the formal complaint – 2 September 2004
  3. Mr Wakeman’s referral to the Authority – 2 & 6 September 2004
  4. Māori Television Service’s response to the referral – 2 November 2004
  5. Letter from New Zealand Translation Centre – 24 November 2004
  6. Mr Wakeman’s final comment – 2 February 2005