BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Wood and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2007-022

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
  • Terry Wood
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News – sports news "Best of 2006" reviewed rugby league – allegedly unfair in view of the issues covered, allegedly inaccurate in reporting a comment from the Kiwis' coach, and the violence shown was gratuitous

Standard 5 (accuracy) – no inaccuracies – not upheld

Standard 6 (fairness) – review explained its approach and fairly reflected the 2006 season – not upheld

Standard 10 (violence) – no gratuitous violence screened – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]   The 2006 year in rugby league was reviewed in a sports news series entitled "Best of 2006". The item was broadcast on 29 December 2006 during One News at 6.00pm on TV One and began:

The 2006 rugby league season will probably be remembered more for all the off-field dramas than any playing action. It was the year the NZRL self- destructed - haemorrhaging after an eligibility rort now known as grannygate.

[2]   The issues covered in the review included:

  • the Warriors cheating the NRL salary cap
  • the Kiwis cheating on the eligibility rules for the Tri-Nations series
  • an all-in brawl which occurred during one of the Tri-Nations tests
  • the violent tackle by Kiwis' David Kidwell on Australia's Willie Mason
  • the Kiwis coach's remark that winning the Tri-Nation series was comparable to Sir Edmund Hillary's ascent of Mount Everest.

[3]   The item also showed clips from some of the Kiwis' good performances during the year.


[4]   Terry Wood complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the review "showed a serious bias against the Code" as it covered only the negative aspects of the league season. He contended that the item was unfair to the Kiwis' coach Brian McClennan by referring to his remark that winning the Tri-Nation series was comparable to Sir Edmund Hillary's ascent of Mount Everest. Mr Wood also argued that the play shown unnecessarily included some of the rare incidents of violence which had occurred. He argued that it was gratuitous to repeat those incidents.


[5]   TVNZ assessed the complaint under the standards and guidelines in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice nominated by the complainant.   They provide:

Standard 5 Accuracy

News, current affairs and other factual programmes must be truthful and accurate on points of fact, and be impartial and objective at all times.

Guideline 5b    

Broadcasters should refrain from broadcasting material which is misleading or unnecessarily alarms viewers.

Standard 6 Fairness

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are required to deal justly and fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to.

Guideline 6a    

Care should be taken in the editing of programme material to ensure that the extracts used are a true reflection, and not a distortion, of the original event or the overall views expressed.

Standard 10 Violence

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are required to exercise care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence.

Guideline 10h  

In sports programmes, care should be taken to ensure that violent incidents during or surrounding play are not repeated gratuitously.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[6]   TVNZ expressed surprise that it had received the complaint, observing:

It seemed that for even the most ardent of New Zealand league fans, 2006 must have been a year they would rather forget. That is what the item reflected.

[7]    It said that the item did not contain any inaccuracies and noted that the coach's comment about Sir Edmund's ascent of Mount Everest appeared to be an "unfortunate foot in mouth" moment.

[8]   TVNZ said that the item was not unfair in reflecting the controversies around rugby league in 2006. It also stated that the violence standard was not breached as the item showed some significant, if not pleasant, moments in rugby league. These incidents, it continued, had not been screened gratuitously.

[9]   TVNZ declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[10]   Dissatisfied with TVNZ's response, Mr Wood referred his complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.  

[11]   Mr Wood acknowledged that there were some negative aspects to the 2006 rugby league season. However, he considered that TVNZ's reply confirmed the bias evident in the item. He believed that the Tri-Nations series had contained some extraordinarily exciting football and he included two newspaper articles to substantiate that view. However, those matters had not been covered in the item.

Broadcaster's Response to the Authority

[12]   TVNZ reiterated that the item, which summarised the year in rugby league, was accurate and fair in giving the impression that it had been an unfortunate season.

Authority's Determination

[13]   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.

[14]   First, the Authority does not agree with Mr Wood that repeating Mr McClennan's comment comparing winning the Tri-Nations with climbing Mount Everest was unfair to him. The comment was made and reported at the time, and the Authority can see no basis upon which to conclude that a simple reference to it was unfair. It declines to uphold the fairness complaint.

[15]   Second, the Authority does not agree that the item was misleading. The item's introduction pointed out that the season would be remembered more for the off-field dramas rather then for the playing action.   Nonetheless, it referred to and showed some of the Kiwis' good performances. In view of the matters covered in the item, the Authority considers that it accurately presented the highlights of the 2006 year for rugby league. Accordingly it does not uphold the Standard 5 complaint.

[16]   Finally, the Authority finds that coverage of the Tri-Nation series did not contain gratuitous violence. Rather, it showed some brief scuffles between players in a very physical sport. None of these incidents was repeated or prolonged. The Authority considers that TVNZ displayed appropriate care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence, and it finds that Standard 10 was not breached.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Joanne Morris
3 May 2007


The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1            Terry Wood's formal complaint – 9 January 2007
2           TVNZ's decision on the formal complaint – 1 February 2007
3           Mr Wood's referral to the Authority – 26 February 2007
4           TVNZ's response to the Authority – 9 March 2007