BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Wallbank and Television New Zealand - 2013-083

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Terry Wallbank
TV One

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

During an item on Q+A, one of the presenters referred to the Conservative Party as ‘the Christian conservatives’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this was inaccurate. The presenter was later corrected by a panellist, and she explained her reasons for using that phrase, so viewers would not have been misled.

Not Upheld: Accuracy


[1]  During the political affairs show Q + A, in a discussion about the popularity of the Conservative Party, one of the programme’s presenters stated:

Colin Craig, of course – the Christian conservatives – are starting to show in the polls.

[2]  The item was broadcast on TV ONE on 20 October 2013.

[3]  Terry Wallbank made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, alleging that it was inaccurate to refer to the Conservative Party as the ‘Christian conservatives’. He argued the presenter ‘falsely and negatively branded the Conservative Party… because she knows many people have a negative impression of Christianity’.

[4]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the accuracy standard, 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.

Was the item inaccurate or misleading?

[6]  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

[7]  Mr Wallbank argued that the presenter’s statement was ‘an inaccurate and misleading representation’ of the Conservative Party and a ‘deliberate misstatement’ by the presenter. TVNZ argued that it was clear from the context of the broadcast that she was referring to the demographics of Conservative Party supporters and not to the party itself.

[8]  In our view, the presenter’s statement was not inaccurate or misleading when taking the broadcast in its entirety. The phrase ‘Christian conservatives’ was used only once by the presenter, and in the panel discussion that followed she was corrected by one of the guests, who said:

…you called them the ‘Christian conservatives’. They’re not Christian…

[9]  The presenter then explained why she used that phrase, and had the following exchange with the panellist:

Presenter:       I did call them that, and I did that deliberately because that is certainly part of what
                      they’re talking about.

Panellist:         But they’re very clearly avoiding the word ‘Christian’…

Presenter:       But it doesn’t mean that we can’t talk about it, because that is part of what
                      they’re about...

[10]  Given the clarification by the panellist, and the presenter’s explanation of her own logic and opinion, viewers would not have been misled.

[11]  Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint that the programme breached Standard 5.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
1 April 2014


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

1                 Terry Wallbank’s formal complaint – 21 October 2013

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 18 November 2013

3                 Terry Wallbank’s referral to the Authority – 20 November 2013

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 14 February 2014

1Bush and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-036