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Sawyers, Hughes and Walker, and Segedin and Television New Zealand Ltd - 1996-155, 1996-156, 1996-157

Dated

14th November 1996

Number

1996-155–157

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Summary

An Assignment programme, entitled "Sexual Healing?" broadcast on TV One on 16

May 1996 at 7.30pm examined the controversial beliefs of Noel Mosen, who works to

change the orientation of homosexual men and women. It also examined the attitude of

the Catholic Church to his ministry and the community he founded.

Mr Sawyers of Wellington, Mr Hughes and Mr Walker of Auckland, and Ms Segedin

of the Pride Centre in Auckland, complained to Television New Zealand Ltd that the

programme breached broadcasting standards. They maintained that it contained

inaccuracies, gave credence to views which were opinions only and were not

substantiated by evidence, and that it failed to balance those views.

In its responses, TVNZ emphasised that the programme's focus was not on Mr

Mosen and his views, but was an examination of his community and how it had been

given status and protection by the Catholic Church. It pointed out that the views of

Mr Mosen, and of Dr and Mrs Whitehead, two of his supporters, were clearly shown

as their genuinely-held opinions, and that those views were challenged on the

programme by a number of gay speakers. TVNZ denied that the programme was

poorly researched or unbalanced and declined to uphold any aspects of the

complaints.

Dissatisfied with TVNZ's response, each of the complainants referred their complaint

to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989

for investigation and review.

For the reasons given below, the Authority upholds the complaints that standards G6

and G7 were breached.


Decision

The members of the Authority have viewed the item complained about and have read

the correspondence (summarised in the Appendices). As is its practice, the Authority

determines the complaints without a formal hearing.

The Programme

An Assignment documentary, broadcast by TVNZ on TV One on 16 May 1996,

examined the philosophy of former homosexual Noel Mosen, an outspoken and

controversial believer in the ability of gay people to change their sexual orientation,

and founder of a religious community near Wellington.

The item, titled "Sexual Healing?", reported that Mr Mosen's community had been

embraced by the Catholic Church, and that the Archbishop of Wellington had given his

consent to the group becoming a Catholic community with interim recognition as an

association of members of the Church.

The question at the heart of the programme was, according to the presenter:

Are people born homosexual or do they become homosexual?

The question was put in the context of the work of Noel Mosen and the members of

the Lions of Judah community, whose mission was declared to be to "heal

homosexuals". Noel Mosen, described as a former gay activist, attributed his former

homosexuality to his upbringing and to his relationship with his father, and described

his dramatic conversion which occurred in 1983 while he was in Tunisia. Since that

time he had been active in his ministry, working with homosexuals who wanted to

change. According to the belief of one of the young men in the community,

homosexuality was a learned behaviour and therefore could be unlearned.

When asked how successful his ministry had been, Mr Mosen declined to give exact

numbers though he guessed out of 10 people 8 had changed.

A gay Anglican priest and psychotherapist who also works in the gay community

challenged Mr Mosen's view that homosexuality was a sin punishable by the loss of

eternal life, arguing that Christ stood by marginalised people of all kinds.

The programme emphasised that Mr Mosen was no stranger to controversy, as

evidenced by the physical and verbal threats he had received. It then turned to a group

of homosexuals, led by a PhD student, who held fortnightly philosophy sessions

where they discussed, among other things, the impact of gay discrimination and the

arguments of Mr Mosen and his followers.

The focus then shifted back to the programme's self-proclaimed thesis:

Is homosexuality learnt, or is there something inside a gay person from a young

age which makes them different? In other words, is homosexuality genetic?

Gay people say you can change the behaviour but you can't stop the urges.


It was suggested by one gay man that homosexuality should not be repressed and

should be made respectable.

That view was opposed by Briar and Neil Whitehead, described as a husband and wife

team who backed Noel Mosen. The Whiteheads who, according to the reporter, had

examined the identity of the gay gene, believed that homosexuality could be corrected.

Mrs Whitehead asserted that gay people were unhappy, lonely people who were

unlikely to have long term, loving and stable relationships. Against a footage of a lab-

coated scientist working in a laboratory, Dr Whitehead was introduced as a genetic

scientist who doubted the existence of specific chromosomes which predetermined

sexuality. That view was reinforced by Mrs Whitehead, who claimed that because "so

many homosexuals were changing their orientation", this proved that homosexuality

was not genetic, since if it was, individuals could not change.

The programme then returned to Mr Mosen and his community, and its relationship

with the Catholic Church. The Archbishop, responding to a question about the

Catholic Church's view of homosexuality, emphasised that while the Church regarded

homosexual activity as wrong, it accepted that people were not responsible for their

sexual orientation.

The reporter stressed that the Catholic Church's acceptance of Mr Mosen and his

Ministry should be seen in the context of the debate over homosexuality and the risk it

posed in splitting other church communities. Footage was included of a service at St

Matthews in the City, in Auckland, where services are held for gay members.

In concluding, the programme focussed on Noel Mosen's vow to continue his

ministry, the reporter asserting:

This is a man with a calling. He is as driven in his beliefs about homosexuality

as homosexuals are in their opposition to his claims of healing.


The Complaints

Mr Sawyers of Wellington, Mr Hughes and Mr Walker of Auckland, and Ms Segedin

of the Pride Centre in Auckland, each complained that the programme contained

factual inaccuracies, lacked balance and objectivity, and discriminated against gay

people. Mr Sawyers, Mr Hughes and Mr Walker also complained that TVNZ had

employed a deceptive practice in conveying information about Dr Whitehead's

academic background.

It was alleged by all three complainants that standards G1, G6, and G13 of the

Television Code of Broadcasting Practice were breached. Mr Sawyers also

complained about breaches of standards G3, G7, G19, G20 and G21; Mr Hughes and

Mr Walker about a breach of standard G7, and Ms Segedin about a breach of standard

G4. Standards G1, G3, G4, G6, G7 and G13 require broadcasters:

G1  To be truthful and accurate on points of fact.

G3  To acknowledge the right of individuals to express their own opinions.

G6  To show balance, impartiality and fairness in dealing with political

matters, current affairs and all questions of a controversial nature.

G7 To avoid the use of any deceptive programme practice in the

presentation of programmes which takes advantage of the confidence

viewers have in the integrity of broadcasting.

G13 To avoid portraying people in a way which represents as inherently

inferior, or is likely to encourage discrimination against, any section of

the community on account of sex, race, age, disability, occupational

status, sexual orientation or the holding of any religious, cultural or

political belief. This requirement is not intended to prevent the

broadcast of material which is:

i) factual, or

ii) the expression of genuinely-held opinion in a news or

current affairs programme, or

iii) in the legitimate context of a humorous, satirical or

dramatic work.

The other standards read:

G19 Care must 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.

G20 No set formula can be advanced for the allocation of time to interested

parties on controversial public issues. Broadcasters should aim to

present all significant sides in as fair a way as possible, and this can be

done only by judging every case on its merits.

G21 Significant errors of fact should be corrected at the earliest opportunity.


By way of introduction when it responded to the complainants, TVNZ described the

programme "Sexual Healing?" as giving a perspective on society's attitude to

homosexuals, noting that it was presented within a context in which programmes

about other aspects of homosexuality had been broadcast on other occasions, including

items covering the issue of gay marriages, gay television programmes, the annual Hero

parade, the "Male Call" survey, and safe sex billboards – among others.

It pointed to its legislative obligation under s.4(1)(d) of the Broadcasting Act 1989,

which reads:

4 (1) Every broadcaster is responsible for maintaining in its programmes and

their presentation, standards which are consistent with -

(d) 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;


It maintained that the issues surrounding gay rights and homosexuality were both

topical and controversial and, further, that Mr Mosen's philosophy represented a

significant point of view, particularly as it was apparently endorsed by the Catholic

Church. Before responding to the specific complaints, TVNZ identified what it

considered to be the two principal issues dealt with in the programme: first, the

question of whether people were born homosexual or became homosexual, and

secondly, how the Church, especially the Catholic Church, was dealing with the issue

of gay rights.

TVNZ emphasised that the programme was not an investigation into Mr Mosen or his

views, but was a look at the community and how it was being given status and

protection by the Catholic Church.

The matters which the complainants alleged breached the standards are considered

below under 12 headings.

1. Membership of the community


Mr Sawyers contended that the assertion by a young man interviewed that he had

been a member of Mr Mosen's community for two years was factually incorrect. He

provided evidence which showed that the man had spoken on behalf of the community

prior to that time.

TVNZ responded that although the young man had an association with the

community for longer than that, he had only been a full member for two years. TVNZ

considered it to be a minor point of little relevance.

2. Mr Mosen's membership of the Gay Rights Coalition


Mr Sawyers stated that there was no record of Mr Mosen having ever been a member

of the Gay Rights movement and involved in homosexual law reform, and it was

inaccurate for those claims to have been made in the programme.

TVNZ advised that Mr Mosen was prepared to sign an affidavit to the effect that he

was a member of the Gay Coalition in Auckland in the early 1980s. It denied that the

programme said he was involved in supporting homosexual law reform.

3. Abusive telephone calls, threats of physical abuse


Mr Sawyers contended that the recorded telephone call, included in the programme as

an example of the kind of abuse to which Mr and Mrs Mosen were subjected,

appeared to be the same one as was reported to the Justice and Law Reform Select

Committee in 1993.

Mr Hughes and Mr Walker also asserted that the phone call, or one very like it, was

presented to the committee. Why, they asked, if the Mosens received so many calls

each month, was one played that was several years old? They also argued that the

programme makers should have investigated whether complaints had been made to the

police about the alleged knife attacks and bomb threats which Mr Mosen spoke about.

Ms Segedin objected to the inclusion of the telephone call excerpt, describing it as an

example of sensationalism.

TVNZ acknowledged that while the call might be similar to one reported to the Select

Committee two or three years ago, it was satisfied it was not a call that was several

years old. Its investigation indicated that the Mosens received a number of abusive

calls, apparently from members of the gay community. It considered the phone

threats to be a matter of public record, since a conviction had been made in one

instance and others had had their telephones disconnected. With respect to the

allegations of a knife attack and bomb threats against Mr Mosen, TVNZ advised that

it had sought verification of those allegations from the Lower Hutt police prior to the

broadcast. It noted that the police were well aware of Mr Mosen and his group but

that they had a policy not to confirm threats of this nature unless a formal complaint

had been laid. It added that the research for the programme included speaking to a

range of people in the gay community.

4. Family background of homosexuals

With respect to Mr Mosen's claim that sexual abuse as a child and a distant

relationship with their father were traits common to homosexuals, Mr Sawyers

emphasised that this was a personal opinion and should have been acknowledged as

such. Instead, he complained, it was presented as if it were an accepted statement of

fact.

Ms Segedin described Mr Mosen's assertion as blatantly misleading, pointing out that

Mr Mosen's own experience of sexual abuse as a child was an introduction to

paedophilia, not homosexuality. She disagreed with the implication that molestation

was the direct cause of later homosexual behaviour and identity.

Responding to those complaints, TVNZ emphasised that Mr Mosen was expressing

his own views, and that the programme was perfectly entitled to report those views.

5. Cure rate


When asked by the reporter how successful his ministry had been at changing

homosexuals, in spite of his reluctance to give a figure, Mr Mosen guessed that out of

10 people, maybe 80% had come through.

Both Mr Sawyers and Ms Segedin argued that Mr Mosen should have been required

to provide proof of his assertion that out of 10 people he had "cured" eight.

TVNZ described Mr Mosen as being frank in his evasiveness when asked about his

success rate and emphasised that the 80% rate was Mr Mosen's own calculation.

6. The Whiteheads' examination of the gay gene


Dr and Mrs Whitehead were introduced in the programme as being researchers who

had examined the identity of the gay gene. Mr Hughes and Mr Walker complained

that viewers would have been led to believe that the Whiteheads had conducted

laboratory-based research on the "gay gene". In fact, the complainants pointed out,

the Whiteheads had written from a Christian perspective and argued against the

existence of a determinative genetic basis to homosexuality.

TVNZ did not agree that the segments dealing with Dr and Mrs Whitehead suggested

that their research was laboratory-based. It considered that the couple had done

sufficient work in the area for their views to be included in the programme, adding that

they were working on a book which "apparently refutes the behavioural arguments

about homosexuality".

7. Mrs Whitehead's qualifications


Mr Sawyers and Mr Hughes and Mr Walker objected to Mrs Whitehead being

described as a researcher. Mr Hughes and Mr Walker pointed out that she was a

journalist with a BA who had written two books on homosexuality, both of which

were Christian tracts, published by Christian publishing companies.

TVNZ contended that it was not inaccurate to describe Mrs Whitehead as a

researcher, since her specialty was the emotional and psychological consequences of

people switching from a homosexual to heterosexual life style. It pointed to her book

"Craving for Love" which was based on three years of field research and about 100

interviews.

8. Dr Whitehead's qualifications

Mr Hughes and Mr Walker objected to the description of Dr Whitehead as a genetic

scientist and a genetic researcher, pointing out that he was an employee of the

Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences and an expert on radiation. They

complained that the footage showing a person in a laboratory pipetting liquid into a

centrifuge tube was likely to mislead viewers into thinking that the couple had been

involved in laboratory-based research into the gay gene. In their view, the segment

breached standard G7 because it deceived viewers.

TVNZ reported first that it had ascertained from the School of Biological Sciences at

Auckland University that Dr Whitehead had researched and studied the existence of a

gay gene, and that his study in biomedical science included papers in genetics,

molecular biology and biochemistry. Secondly, it pointed out that he was described

not as a geneticist (a person who studies genetics), but as a genetic scientist, a term

which adequately reflected that Dr Whitehead had the qualifications to speak on the

subject.

It did not agree that the segments dealing with the Whiteheads suggested that their

research was laboratory-based. It acknowledged that the person in the lab was a

technician, and not Dr Whitehead, adding that care was taken to film the couple at

their home to ensure no link was made to his workplace.

Referring to previous decisions of the Authority, TVNZ declined to uphold the

complaint under standard G7 which, it maintained, applied to technical trickery such

as subliminal imagery.

9. The relationship of the Whiteheads to Mr Mosen and his Ministry


Mr Sawyers and Mr Hughes and Mr Walker argued that the programme did not make

clear the deep involvement of the Whiteheads with Mr Mosen's Ministry. Mr

Hughes and Mr Walker pointed out that in January 1993, Dr Whitehead was

answering correspondence on behalf of the Ministry, while in June 1996 he was a

keynote speaker at an Auckland seminar titled "A Christian Response to

Homosexuality". They considered it extremely unbalanced that a person intimately

associated with a fundamentalist Christian "ex-gay" Ministry should be the only

person to speak about whether the gay gene exists.

TVNZ retorted that the script explicitly stated that Dr and Mrs Whitehead backed

Noel Mosen, thus establishing for viewers the perspective in which his views were to

be considered. With respect to the criticism that he should not have been allowed,

unchallenged, to question the existence of gay genes, TVNZ responded that because

scientific views which supported the proposition that gay genes existed were reported

by it and other media on other occasions, it did not consider that standard G6 had been

breached.

10. The psychological profile of homosexuals


In the programme Mrs Whitehead described homosexuals as lonely people, most of

whom were unable to form long term, loving and stable relationships. She added that

many of them were changing their orientation and that this gave the lie to the claim

that homosexuality was genetic, since if it were, they would be unable to change.

Mr Sawyers complained that Mrs Whitehead's comments were unbalanced,

misleading and incorrect. He argued that there were no figures in existence to support

her claims and that other researchers had found gay relationships to be just as loving as

heterosexual ones.

Mr Hughes and Mr Walker argued that the portrayal of homosexual people as lonely,

rejected, addicted to sex, unhappy and having unsuccessful, short-term, and unstable

relationships, breached the requirements of standard G13. Acknowledging that the

standard specifically exempts expressions of genuinely-held opinion in a news or

current affairs programme, they argued that nevertheless there was still an obligation

under standard G6 to balance controversial opinions in current affairs programmes

fairly. They contended that because the comments were not rebutted or otherwise

responded to by the gay spokespeople interviewed on the programme, it was not

balanced. They asserted that Mrs Whitehead's deeply biased opinions were

unchallenged. Anticipating TVNZ's possible defence that a number of sensible,

credible gay people were interviewed on the programme, Mr Hughes and Mr Walker

rejected any suggestion that they adequately countered the negative comments which

were broadcast.

TVNZ responded first by emphasising that not only did standard G13 allow for

expressions of genuinely-held opinion but further, under standard G3, broadcasters

were required to acknowledge the right of individuals to express their own opinions. It

suggested that the views expressed by Mr Mosen and by Dr and Mrs Whitehead were

clearly shown as their own views While it did not believe balance could be achieved

by a stop-watch, TVNZ observed that 40% of the interview content of the item was

with two prominent and respected gay spokesmen. Thus, it concluded, Mr Mosen's

views did not go unchallenged.

In addition, TVNZ argued that society's views and knowledge about homosexuality

had developed over the last few years and that the media had reflected changing

perceptions over time. The programme "Sexual Healing?", it contended, added another

perspective to the debate. However, it cautioned, it was not possible that every time

an issue was raised all shades of opinion would be reflected. The gay voice, it

continued, was strongly heard in the programme. TVNZ denied that the item was

poorly researched or unbalanced.

11. The gay gene


On two occasions during the programme its focus was proclaimed to be the issue of

whether people were born homosexual or whether it was learned behaviour.

According to Mr Hughes and Mr Walker, the only references to this issue were made

by those members of Mr Mosen's group or intimate associates of it who supported

the notion that homosexuality was not genetically determined. The complainants

argued that the programme failed to point out that those who challenged the existence

of the gay gene were all intimately associated with a fundamentalist Christian "ex-gay"

ministry and thus the discussion was unbalanced.

TVNZ responded that the gay view was heard strongly in the programme, but that it

was important to reflect the fact that in the community there were people with strong

contrary views who had found support in mainstream churches. It noted that over the

years considerable coverage had been given in the media to the issues surrounding

homosexuality, including the scientific reports on the genes research in 1993 which

suggested a link between genes and homosexuality.

TVNZ suggested that in addition to the gay genes issue, the programme also focused

on how the Catholic Church (and other mainstream churches) were dealing with gay

rights issues. It emphasised that the programme was not an investigation into Mr

Mosen and his views, but an examination of how the community which he founded

was being given status and protection by the Catholic Church.

12. Depiction of the Hero parade


Two of the complainants criticised the inclusion of the footage showing aspects of the

Hero parade as a way of illustrating gay culture. Mr Sawyers complained that the

scenes were edited in such a way as to titillate viewers and showed extremes of the

lesbian and gay culture. He noted that no shots were included of the protests and

disruption caused by right wing fundamentalist Christians at the parades.

Ms Segedin considered the shots of the Hero parade were a waste of valuable time in

the programme, especially as the programme skirted over other valuable points. She

rejected TVNZ's argument that the Hero parade was the most public face of

homosexuality, arguing that the stereotype thus portrayed was one of the media's

own creation and arose because the parade was almost the only aspect of gay culture

featured in the media. In her view, the footage served no purpose in the programme.

TVNZ justified the inclusion of the scenes from the Hero and devotion parades as

providing a visual contrast to the scenes in the Catholic Church. In its view, it was

entirely relevant to include the most public face of homosexuality in the programme.


Conclusion

Overall the complainants considered that a stereotypical view of homosexuals as

inherently inferior was reinforced by the lack of balance to the views put by Mr

Mosen and his followers. In particular, the complainants rejected TVNZ's assertion

that balance was achieved because 40% of the interview time was given to the various

gay spokesmen, pointing out that none of them had the opportunity to counter the

proposition advanced by Dr and Mrs Whitehead that homosexuality was learned and

not genetic.

Mr Hughes and Mr Walker emphasised that since homosexual men and women were a

minority group which was still marginalised in society, it was incumbent on

broadcasters to ensure that when gay issues were examined, the gay community itself

was guaranteed a carefully balanced voice.

TVNZ denied that the programme contained inaccuracies, arguing that it reflected

accurately the views of Mr Mosen and the Whiteheads, as well as the counter position

taken by spokesmen for the gay community. Since the programme provided an

accurate summary of both positions, TVNZ contended it did not breach the

requirement for accuracy. In addition, it continued, it was mindful of the obligation to

acknowledge the right of individuals to express their own opinions (standard G3), with

which it complied by allowing the views of Mr Mosen and of the gay community to

be heard.

The Authority's Findings

The Authority observes that each of the complaints contained a detailed and careful

analysis of the programme, placing it under close and exacting scrutiny.

It is not the Authority's intention to engage in a similarly exhaustive analysis.

First, the Authority assesses the complaints which allege breaches of standard G1.

The allegations of inaccuracies under points 1, 2, 3, and 5 above are disputed by the

parties and therefore the Authority makes no finding under standard G1. However,

the Authority takes into account these points when considering whether the

programme was balanced.

Turning to the question of balance, the Authority first returns to the issue declared as

being central to the programme – whether homosexuality is learned or genetic. In the

Authority's view, that question, highlighted twice in the programme, was not treated

with sufficient balance. Dr and Mrs Whitehead, presented as experts on the existence

of the gay gene, offered one view, but no expert or any other spokesperson was

invited to give a different view. Because the issue is controversial and, as far as the

Authority is aware, one that has not been conclusively resolved, there is a legislative

requirement that balance be provided by giving those with a significant point of view

the opportunity to express their views within the same programme or "within the

period of current interest". To TVNZ's assertion that the requirement was satisfied

by the report on the discovery of a possible gay gene in 1993 and the ongoing

reporting of gay issues, the Authority responds that a report on the gay gene

broadcast three years ago is unlikely to satisfy the broadcaster's obligation under

s.4(1)(d).

In addition, the Authority expresses some disquiet about the status given to Dr and

Mrs Whitehead, who were put forward as experts on genetic research. It notes that

when they were introduced on the programme, Dr Whitehead was described as a

genetic scientist and, in the accompanying footage, there was a shot of a man in a

laboratory using scientific equipment. TVNZ has acknowledged that the person

depicted was not Dr Whitehead and further, that the couple is not involved in

laboratory-based research, but in intellectual research. While the Authority is not in a

position to judge whether a person of Dr Whitehead's background is capable of

conducting the type of scientific research required to verify the existence of a gay gene,

it considers it reasonable to assume that viewers would have concluded, because of the

laboratory footage that he was directly involved. The footage of the laboratory scene

in fact had no relationship to the couple's work – if TVNZ is correct in stating that it

is intellectual research – and was therefore misleading. The Authority concludes

therefore that the inclusion of the laboratory footage breached standard G7.

Returning to the balance question, the Authority acknowledges that although the right

for individuals to express their opinions is enshrined in the standards (G3 and

G13(ii)), nevertheless the overall requirement for balance persists. On the one hand

that does not necessitate responses to the minutiae of every opinion and assertion

made in the programme. On the other hand, balance is not achieved by providing equal

time to the two opposing views if there is not an opportunity given to respond

directly to the key contentious issues raised. Overall, the Authority concludes that

the programme fell short of providing balance as both sides of the question claimed to

be at the heart of the programme, were not dealt with fairly.

With respect to the argument that homosexual men and women were portrayed in a

manner which represented them as inherently inferior, the Authority concludes that

because the views of Mr Mosen and Dr and Mrs Whitehead, and other interviewees

whose statements were in contention, were their own genuinely-held opinions, the

exemption under G13(ii) applies. In addition, it considers the gay spokespeople

interviewed in rebuttal were credible, articulate interviewees who were capable of

putting their view in a robust manner. Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold

this aspect of the complaint.

As noted above, the complainants referred to some other standards in their detailed

complaints. The Authority has explained that it believes that the matters to which it

has responded encompass the central issues.

 

For the reasons set forth above, the Authority upholds the complaint that the

Assignment programme "Sexual Healing?" broadcast by Television New

Zealand Ltd on 16 May 1996 at 7.30pm breached standards G6 and G7 of the

Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.


It declines to uphold any other aspect of the complaint.


Having upheld a complaint, the Authority may impose an order under s.13(1) of the

Broadcasting Act 1989. It declines to impose an order in this instance. The issue

dealt with in the programme promotes very strong views from different sections of the

community and correspondingly high demands from them in respect of balance. While

finding the programme failed to achieve balance in two respects, the Authority

acknowledges that attempts were made by the broadcaster to achieve balance, although

they fell short, and does not consider the lack of balance sufficiently grave to warrant

an order.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Judith Potter
Chairperson
14 November 1996

Appendix I

Calum Sawyers' Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd - 29 May 1996

Mr Sawyers of Wellington complained to Television New Zealand Ltd that its

broadcast of an Assignment programme entitled "Sexual Healing" on TV One at

7.30pm on 16 May 1996 breached broadcasting standards.

The item examined the views of Noel Mosen towards homosexuality and his work in

converting gays back to a straight life through his ministry. The item reported that his

work was supported by the Catholic Church. Included in the programme were

comments and opinions by others who supported Mr Mosen, in particular Dr and

Mrs Whitehead, and those who had an opposing view.

Mr Sawyers listed 15 points which he considered were a breach of standards.

1. David Biggs claimed in the programme that he had been a member of the Lion

of Judah ministry for 2 years. Mr Sawyers said this was patently false and included

evidence which showed that he had been a member since 1991. (Code G1)

2. Noel Mosen was stated to have been involved in the Gay Rights Coalition.

Mr Sawyers attached press releases of 4 November 1985 which showed that his name

was not on the records of the National Gay Rights Coalition. He maintained Mr

Mosen's claims were false and that better investigative reporting would have

uncovered those facts. (Standard G1)

3. When it was stated that Mr Mosen had been involved in the gay rights

movement, footage was shown during the Homosexual Law Reform debate in 1985/86

which implied that Mr Mosen was lobbying for the Bill. Mr Sawyers argued that was

false and misleading as he was not involved in supporting the Bill. (Standards G1, G7

and G19).

4. Mr Mosen based his teachings on the Old Testament. Mr Sawyers pointed

out that the teachings were in Leviticus and that non Jewish Christians were

specifically exempted from the requirements of the Holiness Code under the New

Dispensation of Christ as in Acts 15. He considered this should have been made clear

by the interviewer instead of making the glib comment that for every verse in the Bible

condemning homosexuality there were others supporting it.

He also noted that Mr Mosen and members of his ministry did not obey all of the

other prohibitions of the Holiness Code and it was unlikely they obeyed the Ten

Commandments. Yet, he pointed out, Mr Mosen expected gays and lesbians to live

by two of the requirements of the Holiness Code. In his view that was a double

standard and should have been shown on the programme.

5. With respect to Mr Mosen's claimed cure rate of 80%, Mr Sawyers argued

that Mr Mosen refused to give exact figures of success or failure or even the number of

gay men and lesbians who had been through his Ministry. He referred to a similar

programme where only 30 of 300 had claimed to have become heterosexual, and of

those only 11 were secure enough in their heterosexuality to agree to be interviewed.

Of that 11, only five had become exclusively heterosexual, and only three of the five

did not have any dreams, fantasies or impulses of a homosexual nature. Mr Sawyers

noted that was a 1% total cure rate and was statistically insignificant. That rate of

success was the same as, or less than, would be expected by chance. He argued that

Mr Mosen should have been required to give proof of his success rate. (Standards G6

and G7)

6. The recorded "abusive call" was, according to Mr Sawyers, the same one that

Mr Mosen reported to the Select Committee in 1993, and therefore was not received

"over the past few months". He also noted that the Wellington Lesbian and Gay

Youth Group claimed to exist in the letter to the Select Committee had not ever existed

formally. To Mr Sawyers' knowledge, the only call made to Mr Mosen by the

Wellington Gay Task Force was to challenge his claim that he had been involved with

them. He acknowledged that the call referred to in the item could have been made by

someone else, and suggested that good investigative journalism would have found that

out. (Standards G1, G7 and G19)

7. Mr Sawyers described Mr Mosen's view that abuse as a child and a distant

relationship with their father as common to most homosexuals, was a personal

opinion, which was given as fact. Mr Sawyers said this was not his personal

experience, nor the experience of many gay men he knew. He stated that of the

approximately 200 gay men he knew, only two had been abused as a child, one by a

woman, and one by a pastor and only one had a bad relationship with his father and

stepfather. He pointed to overseas studies which showed that many children who

grew up to be gay and lesbian had very good relationships with their parents, though

sometimes that relationship broke down after they came out and accepted their

homosexuality. Mr Sawyers maintained that better investigative journalism would

have established that. He considered Mr Mosen's statement misleading. (Standards

G6, G7 and G13)

8. Mr Sawyers noted that no mention was made of the changes in the name of the

Ministry from "New Image" to "Lion of Judah" and no reason was given for the latest

change to "Community of the Immaculate Heart of Mary". He suggested better

investigative journalism would have shown that it was to find acceptance with a

mainstream church. (Standards G1, G6 and G7)

9. Cardinal Williams should have been asked about the acceptance or otherwise of

other groups such as Ascent. Failure to do so resulted in lack of balance. (Standards

G1 and G6)

10. Mr Mosen gave a personal view that it was repugnant and wrong for lesbians

and gays to raise children and would turn their children into gays. Mr Sawyers

claimed the opposite was true and that children raised in such environments were

likely to be better balanced than children in straight families, particularly

fundamentalist religious families. (Standards G6 and G13)

11. Both Mr Mosen and Briar Whitehead gave personal opinions about the

loneliness of the gay lifestyle. These remarks were accepted as fact, especially as Mrs

Whitehead was identified as a researcher. Mr Sawyers pointed out that it was not

identified what she researched or her qualifications. He doubted that she was a

behavioural psychologist because of her lack of understanding of the language of

behavioural psychology. Mr Sawyers testified that (after coming out) neither he nor

his friends had experienced the feelings described. He noted that such feelings were

often experienced before coming to terms with sexual orientation. He concluded that

the statements by Mr Mosen and Mrs Whitehead were false and misleading.

(Standards G1, G6, G7 and G13)

Mr Sawyers reminded TVNZ that the Broadcasting Standards Authority had upheld a

complaint against CTV for allowing Mrs Whitehead to express those opinions in "Still

Craving for Love".

12. Mr Sawyers maintained that the scenes of the Gay and Hero parades were

edited in such a way as to titillate the audience and to show extremes of gay and

lesbian culture. He wrote:

The single scene of the people discussing philosophical questions was

insufficient in my belief to warrant being called "balance". Scenes of the right

wing fundamentalist Christians protesting and disturbing the Devotion Parade

were omitted, possibly because of their links to the ex-gay movement, and that

by showing them, it would have shown the extremes to which some

fundamentalists will go. (Codes G6, G7, G13 and G19)

13. Mr Sawyers believed Mrs Whitehead's claim that "many homosexuals are

changing" was an opinion stated as fact and should not have been left unchallenged.

He believed the figures to be quite low. (Standards G1, G6, G7, G13 and G19)

14. Mrs Whitehead also claimed as a fact that most homosexual relationships were

not long term, loving or stable. Mr Sawyers regarded this as highly subjective and

impossible to back up with figures. He considered her statement was unbalanced,

misleading and incorrect. (Standards G1, G6 and G13)

15. Referring to the scene where Mr Mosen was helping children contact their gay

father, Mr Sawyers said that the attempt to reconcile the family was in direct conflict

with his past history of blocking access rights by a gay father. The scene was also in

direct conflict with his remarks on gay parents. Mr Sawyers provided a report by a

Catholic nun on her impressions of Mr Mosen's Ministry in regard to access and

custody. (Standards G1 and G7)

In conclusion, Mr Sawyers acknowledged that under standard G3, individuals were

entitled to express their own opinions, but in his view, those opinions were stated as

fact and no contrary evidence was given.

Mr Sawyers considered that under standard G21, TVNZ was obliged to correct the

inaccuracies, opinions stated as fact and unbalanced views.

He attached a Press Statement dated 4 November 1985 from the Lesbian and Gay

Resource Centre and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches

in NZ, a letter to the Select Committee from the Lion of Judah Ministries signed by

David Biggs, and Observations on Lion of Judah dated September 1992.

TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint - 4 July 1996

At the outset TVNZ observed that it had devoted considerable time to coverage of

issues surrounding homosexuality. It recorded that in recent months it had included

coverage of gay marriages, gay television programmes, the annual Hero parade, the

"Male Call" telephone survey, and safe sex billboards, among others.

It pointed out that "Sexual Healing?" was another aspect of society's attitudes to

homosexuals. It argued that Mr Mosen's view was "a significant point of view"

especially since it was apparently endorsed by the head of the Catholic Church.

In TVNZ's view, the programme raised two main issues:

Whether people were born homosexual, and

That the support for Mr Mosen's Ministry raised the topic of how the

Church was dealing with the issue of gay rights.

TVNZ described Mr Mosen as the thread which wove through the programme and

noted that the issues were bounced off his beliefs. It stated for the record that Mr

Mosen was a former gay rights campaigner who now devoted his life to converting

gays to the straight life through the power of religion. The programme was not an

investigation into Mr Mosen or his views. It noted that his views were well known

and had been examined before. In this programme he was seen in the context of

society in 1996 at a time when churches were examining their attitudes to

homosexuality. It believed his embrace by the Catholic Church was a significant

development.

TVNZ pointed out that 40% of the interview content of the item was with two

prominent gay spokesmen and that Mr Mosen's comments did not go unchallenged.

It then responded to the points raised by Mr Sawyers.

1. Mr Biggs told the programme maker he had been with the Lion of Judah for

two years and although his association went back further than that he was not a full

member until two years ago. TVNZ reported that his relevance to the story was that

he had been "healed" by Mr Mosen. It considered the point of the length of his

association a minor one of little relevance.

2. TVNZ advised that Mr Mosen was prepared to sign an affidavit that he had

been a member of the Gay Coalition in Auckland in the early 80s.

3. TVNZ denied that the programme stated that Mr Mosen was involved in

supporting the homosexual law reform legislation. The programme said:

This was New Zealand in 1985...Noel Mosen was back, this time lending his

voice to the other side of the sexual debate (other side being the anti-law reform

viewpoint.)

4. There is no argument that the Bible contains many prohibitions relating to

homosexuality. The point made by the programme was that for every biblical quote

opposing homosexuality, there were others pleading for tolerance. TVNZ made the

point that while many of the rules for social mores contained in the Bible no longer

applied, the question of homosexuality was one of the issues which fundamentalists

like Mr Mosen still adhered to.

5. TVNZ advised that the cure rate was quoted by Mr Mosen. It noted that he

was frank about his evasiveness and the reporter did not press the issue.

6. With respect to the telephone calls, TVNZ did not doubt that Mr Mosen

received many calls from the gay community. The call recorded on the programme

was from one of Mr Mosen's regular callers and while TVNZ acknowledged it could

have been similar to one reported to the Select Committee two or three years ago, it

was satisfied that it was not one that was several years old. It understood that the

caller's message and song were always the same. TVNZ also noted that no date was

put on the call being received and it was given as an example only, of the types of calls

made to the Mosens.

7. Regarding the comments on the family history of homosexuals, TVNZ said

that the programme was entitled to report Mr Mosen's views in this area.

8. The reasons for the change in name was, in TVNZ's view, Mr Sawyers'

personal opinion.

9. Asking Cardinal Williams about other gay groups was not, in TVNZ's view,

relevant.

10. Regarding the raising of children by gays and lesbians, TVNZ responded that it

was entitled to report Mr Mosen's views.

11. All comments were obviously personal opinion. TVNZ denied that it was

inaccurate to describe Mrs Whitehead as a researcher, noting that her specialty was the

emotional and psychological consequences of people switching from a homosexual to

heterosexual lifestyle.

It maintained that the Broadcasting Standards Authority's decision on the CTV

programme was not relevant, noting that the complaint in that case was upheld

because the programme did not make clear it was approaching the matter from one side

only.

12. TVNZ considered the clips from the "in your face" types of homosexual

events were relevant because they were the most public face of homosexuality.

13. Regarding the criticism of Mrs Whitehead's remark that homosexuals were

changing, TVNZ responded that that was opinion on Mr Sawyers' part.

14. With respect to the point made by Mrs Whitehead that gay relationships were

not long term, loving or stable, TVNZ responded that Mr Sawyers had taken the

comment out of context and that the Whiteheads acknowledged the highs of gay life

and the party time euphoria of the search for Mr Right. They then spoke of what

they believed was a general lack of commitment and the loneliness which would ensue.

15. TVNZ denied that the scene showing the reconciliation was inaccurate or

deceptive.

TVNZ concluded that there were no inaccuracies in the programme. As far as

standard G3 was concerned, it noted that Mr Mosen and the Whiteheads expressed

views on one side of the argument and others expressed counter views.

With respect to standard G6, TVNZ reported that the social issue of the "outing" of

gays had been a fundamental change in society and had been recorded by the media in

hundreds of news items and current affairs investigations. It argued that not every

angle could be explored every time the issue was raised. It wrote:

When TVNZ and the other media reported scientific developments suggesting

a genetic link with homosexuality, did you then complain that people of Mr

Mosen's persuasion were not represented to give a counter view? As

indicated above, the gay voice was heard loud and clear in this programme.

TVNZ advised that it considered standard G7 inapplicable.

With reference to standard G13, TVNZ was unable to identify in the complaint any

specifics which would suggest that gay people were represented in the programme as

"inherently inferior" or in a manner which would encourage discrimination against

them. It noted that comments made by Mr Mosen or the Whiteheads were the

expression of genuinely-held opinion and thus covered by the exemption.

TVNZ did not consider that standard G19 was applicable. It did not believe the

material was a distortion of the information gathered. It advised that standard G20

was subsumed by standard G6 and that standard G21 would only apply if a breach of

standard G1 had been found.

It declined to uphold the complaint.

Mr Sawyers' Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority - 29 July 1996

Dissatisfied with TVNZ's response, Mr Sawyers referred the complaint to the

Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Mr Sawyers repeated that his complaint concerned the representation as fact of

opinions of one or two people in the programme. While agreeing that Mr Mosen's

view was one more in the controversy, Mr Sawyers suggested that it was a viewpoint

that classed lesbian and gay men as "sick" and therefore inferior to others.

Mr Sawyers noted that although Mr Mosen's group had been provisionally accepted

by the Church, another gay Catholic group (Ascent) had recognition by the Church.

He also maintained that Mr Mosen had never been part of the gay rights movement.

In his view, the programme was a vehicle for the viewpoint of Mr Mosen and the

Whiteheads and propaganda for them. He repeated his complaint under the numbering

used earlier.

1. Mr Sawyers did not agree that the information about Mr Biggs was a point of

little relevance. He repeated that it was inaccurate to state that his involvement with

the Ministry was two years.

2. To TVNZ's point that Mr Mosen would provide an affidavit that he was a

member of the Gay Coalition in the 80s, Mr Sawyers advised that he had asked for a

copy of the affidavit and was told it would not be released unless he followed the

matter up. He therefore sought a copy of the affidavit and, he advised, he would

investigate the claims made therein. He added that if he did not receive the affidavit,

then he believed this aspect of the complaint should be upheld.

3. Mr Sawyers withdrew this part of his complaint.

4. Mr Sawyers considered that the point that Levitical law did not apply to non-

Jewish Christians should have been made.

5. Mr Sawyers maintained that the reporter should have inquired as to the total

cure rate Mr Mosen claimed.

6. With respect to the recorded telephone call, Mr Sawyers advised he stood by

his complaint.

7. Turning to the discussion about abuse as a child and a distant relationship with

a father being a characteristic of homosexuals, Mr Sawyers repeated that that was the

opinion only of Mr Mosen and was not fact.

8. Mr Sawyers believed TVNZ should have reported that Mr Mosen had been

"shopping for God" by approaching, being accepted and later leaving several

Churches. He believed it was important to know that his Ministry had been rejected

by Churches in the past.

9. Regarding questioning Cardinal Williams about the Church's involvement with

other gay organisations, Mr Sawyers repeated that by not doing so, the programme

lacked balance.

10. Mr Sawyers emphasised that TVNZ's failure to investigate the truth about

raising children in gay and lesbian families showed that it lacked balance.

11. Mr Sawyers repeated that the views of Mrs Whitehead were presented as fact

and she was given extra credibility by being described as a researcher. He challenged

TVNZ to say what her credentials were and what degrees, if any, she held that would

enable her to speak about the behavioural side of homosexuality, her area of expertise,

where she worked and what she did.

12. Regarding the scenes from the Devotion and Hero parades, Mr Sawyers stood

by his complaint. He pointed out that there were plenty of other activities which

homosexuals engaged in that were not shown. He suggested that the scenes showing

fundamentalist Christians disrupting the parade should also have been shown.

13. Mr Sawyers repeated his objection to Mrs Whitehead's views being passed off

as fact.

14. He repeated that Mrs Whitehead's opinion was passed off as fact.

15. In Mr Sawyers' view, the scene showing Mr Mosen attempting to reconcile

families was a distortion of the truth and therefore deceptive.

In summary, Mr Sawyers argued that passing off personal opinion as fact was, in his

view, a distortion of the truth. With respect to the requirement for balance, he

acknowledged that not every point of view could be explored. Regarding TVNZ's

dismissal of the complaint under standard G7, Mr Sawyers responded that there were

many ways a programme could be made to appear deceptive without using

technology, giving as examples instances where the editing of remarks changed their

meaning.

Mr Sawyers also argued that Mr Mosen's and Mrs Whitehead's views classified

homosexuals as sick and that invited discrimination against them. He repeated that

their comments were presented as fact and no contrary evidence was given. He

maintained that proper investigative journalistic methods would have shown that what

they claimed as fact was actually untrue. In his view, TVNZ was bound by standard

G21 to correct the inaccuracies.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority - 16 August 1996

TVNZ maintained that the focus of the programme was larger than that understood by

Mr Sawyers and included the role and endorsement of the Catholic Church of Mr

Mosen's work. TVNZ then responded to some of the specific points:

1. TVNZ did not consider a challenge of accuracy was meant by Mr Sawyers'

use of the phrase "I therefore believe" when he stated that Mr Biggs' claim was false.

2. TVNZ advised it would provide an affidavit to the Authority if it considered it

relevant and requested it.

6. To Mr Sawyers' suggestion that there was no proof that Mr Mosen was still

receiving calls other than his word, TVNZ responded that likewise there was no proof

that he was not.

7. TVNZ responded that it was at liberty to report Mr Mosen's views fairly.

They were quite clearly presented as his views and not as fact.

11. TVNZ repeated that the CTV decision was not relevant to this complaint. It

advised it did not intend to furnish details of Mrs Whitehead's qualifications because

they were not relevant.

12. With respect to the inclusion of the pictures of the Devotion and Hero

parades, TVNZ responded that it was a visual medium and those pictures presented a

public image of homosexuality.

TVNZ's inescapable conclusion was that the referral arose from Mr Sawyers'

disapproval of Mr Mosen, and that it lacked substantive argument.

The item was not a report on the man and his supporters, but was a further interesting

contribution to a wider debate about the ongoing effect of the Homosexual Law

Reform Act. It concluded:

Mr Sawyers seems to ignore our preamble, choosing instead to pursue his own

narrow focus by delivering a series of opinions on what he perceives as

weaknesses in the "Assignment" story.

Mr Sawyers' Final Comment - 28 August 1996

Mr Sawyers rejected the suggestion that he was pursuing a narrow focus, noting that

he provided names of authors to back his claims as well as observed opinion taken

from the mainstream lesbian and gay communities rather than from the fringe group

represented by Mr Mosen and his followers.

He asked if, as TVNZ stated, one of the core issues was the endorsement of the

Catholic church, why the programme was entitled "Sexual Healing?" and why it

contained so much opinion stated as fact from Mr Mosen and Mrs Whitehead.

Mr Sawyers referred to his numbered points, repeating his argument that the

programme contained a number of inaccuracies and lacked balance. He emphasised

that because Mr Mosen was represented as an expert on homosexuality, his opinions

were presented as fact and no counter claims or proofs were presented to reveal that it

was only opinion.

Mr Sawyers repeated that TVNZ had failed to explain what Mrs Whitehead's

qualifications were, and maintained that it should have been made clear that her views

were her opinions only. He wrote:

I am concerned when any person is represented as an "expert" on the lesbian

and gay communities when they have very little knowledge about such

communities, or what knowledge they do have is selective, and their views are

presented as fact.

He argued that because Mr Mosen and Mrs Whitehead were represented as experts,

their comments were presented as fact and accepted as fact by some people. He

accused TVNZ of accepting, uncritically, the claims of Mr Mosen, noting that had it

investigated his background (which would have shown some of Mr Mosen's claims to

be false) it would have been more circumspect in presenting his views as fact.

Mr Sawyers rejected the suggestion that Mr Mosen's and Mrs Whitehead's remarks

were challenged by the gay spokesmen interviewed. He also objected to the

suggestion, reinforced by the title, that lesbians and gays were sick and therefore had

to be cured.

Mr Sawyers also rejected the claim that the programme was "a further interesting

contribution" to the homosexual debate. In his view, it reinforced many myths about

homosexuality through the presentation of opinion of so-called experts as fact, that

homosexuality was lonely, and sick, and unsatisfying. He considered such

heterosexist assumptions represented gays and lesbians as inherently inferior and

complained that they were not addressed or balanced by the gay spokesmen.

Mr Sawyers attached a number of background papers, including correspondence,

newspaper clippings and press statements which provided additional detail about Mr

Mosen and his ministry.

Appendix II

A J Hughes' and A J Walker's Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd - 11

June 1996

Mr Hughes and Mr Walker of Auckland complained to Television New Zealand Ltd

about three aspects of the Assignment programme broadcast on 16 May 1996.

The complaint included a full transcript which was highlighted and numbered for

reference.

1. The general issue of whether homosexuality is learned or whether gay people

were born that way.

The complainants noted that twice this issue was identified as being the heart of the

programme. On other occasions when the issue was referred to in the transcript,

comments supported the notion that homosexuality was not genetically determined,

and all of the comments were made by members of Mr Mosen's group or intimate

members of it, except for one comment made by the reporter. Mr Hughes and Mr

Walker argued that this was a clear violation of the requirement for balance,

impartiality and fairness.

In the section of the programme dealing with Dr and Mrs Whitehead, the complainants

maintained there were at least three violations of the standards. First, the description

of Dr Whitehead as a genetic scientist and a genetic researcher was not an accurate

description of him. He was an employee of the Institute of Geological and Nuclear

Sciences and was an expert on radiation. Secondly, they argued that as Dr Whitehead

has been deeply involved with Mr Mosen's group it was unbalanced to permit him to

be the spokesperson on whether gay genes exist. They wrote:

...it is a clear violation of [standard] G6 to offer only one side of the argument

about the existence of gay genes - namely that they don't exist, or if they do,

they are not important. Those arguments were presented explicitly by the

Whiteheads... . No specific counter argument on the issue of whether

homosexual orientation is genetically determined was offered, and that is also a

clear infringement of [standard] G20.

The complainants rejected any suggestion that balance was achieved by the reporter's

comment that "Gay people say" you can change the behaviour, but that the

orientation "they argue" makes you naturally attracted to one gender or another. That

comment, in the complainants' view, was couched as a gay community perspective,

whereas the Whiteheads were put forward as scientific experts, who backed Noel

Mosen.

Thirdly, Mr Hughes and Mr Walker argued, standard G7 was breached when the

report, which stated that the Whiteheads had examined the identity of the gay gene

and that Dr Whitehead was a genetic scientist, was accompanied by footage which

showed a laboratory in which a person in a white coat was shown pipetting liquid into

a centrifuge tube. They maintained that most reasonable people would believe from

this that Dr Whitehead was doing laboratory-based research on the gay gene. They

pointed out that was not the case. They added that to imply that Mrs Whitehead was

scientifically qualified was absolutely wrong. She was a journalist and had written

two books on homosexuality.

In addition, the complainants doubted that Dr Whitehead had ever done any research

on the gay gene. He had written from a Christian perspective and argued against a

genetic basis to homosexuality. They considered this should have been made clear to

viewers.

2. Portrayal of gay people in a manner which is likely to encourage discrimination

against them. In particular, the characterising by Mr Mosen and Mrs

Whitehead of homosexual people as lonely, rejected, tormented and having

unsuccessful relationships which were not long term or stable.

Accepting the exemption under standard G13 for the expression of genuinely-held

opinion, the complainants argued nevertheless that did not exempt TVNZ from the

requirements under standard G6. They highlighted a number of comments which they

considered represented gay people as inherently inferior. They objected that those

deeply biased opinions were left unchallenged, noting that although the programme

might be justified in screening those comments, there was a requirement to balance

them. They did not consider the presence of the gay people on the programme

adequately countered those negative comments.

3. The claim by Mr Mosen that he had had abusive phone calls and had been spat

on, and had knives pulled on him.

The complainants argued that because the above statements were serious allegations,

TVNZ should have made proper efforts to ensure they were true. They noted that

the tape recorded abusive song, or one very like it, was one played to the Justice and

Law Reform Committee in April 1993. If so many abusive calls were being received,

why, they asked, was this one played, when it was several years old?

The complainants also argued that TVNZ should have made efforts to determine if the

Mosens had laid complaints with the police about the knife attacks and bomb threats.

They argued that failure by TVNZ to check these details amounted to a breach of

standard G15. At the very minimum, they contended, members of the gay community

in Wellington should have been asked if they knew of any evidence that the Mosens

were being harassed.

In conclusion, the complainants repeated that the programme breached standard G6 in

the matters numbered above primarily because Dr and Mrs Whitehead and Mr Mosen

were the only individuals given a clear say in the programme. They pointed out that

all three had a very negative view of homosexuality and were involved in

fundamentalist Christian "ex-gay" outreaches.

The complainants appended a large number of abstracts and newspaper reports about

the biological and/or genetic basis of homosexual orientation and a copy of the

Authority's Decision No: 54/94. They concluded:

But most significantly, this particular programme is about a minority group

which is still marginalised and misunderstood by many people. We believe it

is incumbent on broadcasters to make sure that when gay issues are put under

the public spotlight the gay community itself is guaranteed a carefully balanced

voice. It is also essential that balance is assured on important factual matters

such as whether or not homosexual orientation has a biological basis.

TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint - 4 July 1996

TVNZ noted at the outset that it had devoted considerable time over the years to

coverage of issues surrounding homosexuality. It described "Sexual Healing?" as the

story of another aspect of society's attitudes to gay people and suggested that the

issues still remained important and controversial.

Before responding to the complaint, TVNZ identified two main issues in the

programme. The first was the question of whether people were born homosexual, and

the second was that the support for Mr Mosen's ministry raised the issue of how the

Church was dealing with the wider issue of gay rights.

TVNZ noted that Mr Mosen was a former gay rights campaigner who now attempted

to convert gay people to the straight life through the power of religion. It emphasised

that the report was not an investigation into Mr Mosen or his views, but a look at a

community and how that community was being given status and protection by the

Catholic Church.

Expressing its view that balance was not achieved by the stop watch, TVNZ pointed

out that 40% of the interview content of the item was with two prominent and

respected gay speakers.

It then turned to the specific allegations of standards breaches.

1. Dr Whitehead

TVNZ reported that it was advised by the School of Biological Sciences at Auckland

University that Dr Whitehead had researched and studied the existence of a gay gene.

It wrote:

The School of Biological Sciences avers that a man with Dr Whitehead's

training would have no difficulty finding his way around DNA data or an other

aspect of genetic research.

It noted that the programme did not describe him as a geneticist, but as a genetic

scientist and genetic researcher. TVNZ did not believe that those descriptions were an

infringement of standard G1.

Next, TVNZ noted that the script expressly stated that Dr and Mrs Whitehead backed

Noel Mosen and therefore the perspective for his views was thereby established.

Further, it argued that TVNZ and other media had in the past reported evidence

supporting gay genes and noted that the viewpoint of Dr Whitehead was absent from

the articles and press clippings which accompanied the complaint. It did not believe

standard G6 was breached.

TVNZ considered that standard G7 was not applicable, noting that in previous

decisions the Authority had ruled that it applied to deception which arose through the

use of technology.

However, it responded to some of the concerns raised under this head. It did not agree

that the segments suggested that the research undertaken was laboratory-based. It

pointed out that the programme took care to interview the couple at home to ensure

that no link was made between Dr Whitehead's views and his workplace.

Although the Whiteheads were not involved in laboratory-based genetic work,

according to TVNZ they were involved in intellectual research in this area. Mrs

Whitehead was a former journalist who now described herself as a researcher and her

research emphasised the emotional and psychological side of the lives of homosexuals.

TVNZ considered that Dr and Mrs Whitehead had done sufficient work in the field for

their views to be included. It also noted that the views of the Whiteheads and Mr

Mosen were discussed with a psychotherapist who, it considered, did a thorough job

of rebutting their views.

With respect to the standard G13 complaint, TVNZ noted that the complainants had

acknowledged that the standard allowed for expression of genuinely-held opinions.

TVNZ suggested that not only did the Whiteheads and Mr Mosen express such

opinions, but that they were countered by the views of various gay speakers.

Turning to the complaint that the description of the abuse against Mr Mosen was

inaccurate, TVNZ advised that it understood the call was not made several years ago,

but that the caller and his song were always the same. It noted that the script did not

put a date on the recording, but identified it as typical of calls received each month.

As far as the telephoned threats were concerned, TVNZ noted that they led to the

conviction of one man and to Telecom taking action against others by disconnecting

their phones.

Regarding the knife attacks, TVNZ advised that reference was made to the Lower Hutt

police who were well aware of the group but had a policy of not confirming threats

unless a formal complaint was lodged. It advised that the knife threat was made in

Parliament in 1986 and that Mr Mosen did not lodge a formal complaint.

Finally TVNZ suggested that the complainants misunderstood the way the news

media handled major on-going issues. It wrote:

You cannot expect that every time an issue is raised, it will reflect all shades of

opinion on that issue. The gay voice was strongly heard in this programme.

We invite you to examine from a detached point of view some of the

newspaper clippings you submitted in support of your complaint. Did they

reflect all shades of opinion on the debate?

TVNZ specifically denied the claim that the programme was poorly researched or

unbalanced, adding:

We do not accept the implication that because homosexuals are "still

marginalised and misunderstood" (your words) that they should not be subject

to the same critical media scrutiny as other groups in society.

Mr Hughes and Mr Walker's Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority

- 5 August 1996

Dissatisfied with TVNZ's response, Mr Hughes and Mr Walker referred the

complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting

Act 1989.

Mr Hughes and Mr Walker repeated that the core of their complaint was that the

programme breached standard G6. They rejected TVNZ's defences (that the specific

subject of gay genes was covered in news footage in 1993, and that 40% of the

programme was given over to gay men and that therefore constituted balance to the

specific comments made by the Whiteheads and Mr Mosen.)

First, they noted that balance had to be achieved within the period of current interest.

They pointed out that the report of a gay gene in 1993 did not constitute the period of

current interest. Secondly, they repeated that balance was not achieved in the content

of the programme on the specific issues. They contended that there were two central

issues - the gay gene, and the group psychological profile - and that balance in content

should have been guaranteed on both of them.

The complainants considered their argument was substantially strengthened by the

fact that both the presenter and the reporter identified the issue of whether people

were born homosexual or became homosexual as being at the heart of the programme.

They found it inexplicable that having identified that as the central issue, none of the

biological evidence to support a genetic basis to homosexual orientation was

presented.

Regarding the breach of standard G13, Mr Hughes and Mr Walker repeated that they

understood the provision had an exemption but considered the if the material

represented gay people as inherently inferior, there was an obligation to ensure it was

balanced. They considered the group profile given of gay people unquestionably

represented them as inferior.

They then turned to specific points in TVNZ's response. They noted that TVNZ

had not responded to the complaint under standard G20. In their view, TVNZ should

take more seriously the intent of standard G13 and not shelter behind the exemption.

As for the recent coverage of gay community issues on television, they asserted they

were irrelevant to the complaint because none of those issues was concerned with the

matter at the heart of this programme.

Regarding Mr Mosen's status as a former gay rights campaigner, and TVNZ's

acknowledgment that there were claims and counterclaims about that point, the

complainants asked why that was not made clear in the programme.

They repeated that the gay men on the programme did not provide balance on either

the gay genes question or the group psychological profile because they did not touch

on either of those issues.

The complainants did not doubt that Dr Whitehead had a degree in biochemistry.

However, they argued, that did not make him a genetic scientist or genetic researcher.

Before according someone the status of expert, they continued, it was to be expected

that they would have done a substantial amount of work in that field. They provided

a list of Dr Whitehead's publications, noting that only one had the slightest relevance

to homosexuality or the gay gene and that was a two paragraph letter to Nature on

AIDS published in October 1994.

Irrespective of Dr Whitehead's correct scientific label, they continued, his personal

bias required that a specialist in human genetics who was not aligned with Mr

Mosen's group should have been interviewed. They advised they were attempting to

get clarification from Auckland University on comments attributed to the School of

Biological Sciences.

They repeated that TVNZ should have reviewed the scientific evidence itself in the

programme, and not, as it appeared to state, relied on other media to cover the debate.

Turning to TVNZ's argument that standard G7 was not applicable, the complainants

responded that in their view the provision appeared to be to prevent deceitful

practices and therefore it was relevant.

Mr Hughes and Mr Walker noted that TVNZ appeared to acknowledge that at the

time of the filming it knew that Dr Whitehead had done no laboratory-based research

on the gay gene. They asked why TVNZ had not told viewers the simple truth that

he wrote his papers from references he found in libraries and on the internet in his

spare time. They considered it was deceptive for TVNZ to create the illusion of

academic expertise which was not backed up by published research in peer refereed

journals; to create the impression that his expertise was from laboratory research; to

not make clear that he was a deeply partisan play and an active member in the "ex-

gay" Christian ministry; and create an impression that the Whiteheads' support for

Mr Mosen was a result of academic expertise alone.

They pointed out that they had never argued that the Whiteheads should not have

been in the programme. However, they believed, the programme should have made

clear that they were involved in Mr Mosen's group and Dr Whitehead should not have

been characterised as an academic. Balance would have been achieved by ensuring that

other voices were also heard as to whether homosexual orientation had a biological

basis.

Mr Hughes and Mr Walker refuted TVNZ's suggestion that the gay speakers

provided balance, noting that they were not asked to comment on whether homosexual

orientation was biologically based, the question at the heart of the programme, and nor

did they comment on the group psychological profile. Their inclusion did not provide

balance.

The complainants noted that TVNZ had acknowledged that Mr Mosen did not lay a

formal complaint about the knife threat and asked why.

Turning to TVNZ's comments about the papers they provided which illustrated the

perspective that the programme had ignored, the complainants wrote that they

considered the response condescending. They wrote:

It is disingenuous in the extreme to respond to us with criticism that our

papers did not contain Dr Whitehead's perspective - which the programme had

explicitly included in detail.

Finally, the complainants made it clear that they never wished to argue that

homosexual people should not be under the same scrutiny as other groups in society.

However, they wrote:

But we do insist that recognised minority groups that are still marginalised and

misunderstood in many quarters "should be guaranteed a carefully balanced

voice". That is, with respect to TVNZ, nothing more than a simple

restatement of what the law already requires. It is not a plea for special

treatment - it is rather a request for a fair go when issues that intimately affect

our personal lives are aired in the public arena.

They continued their argument by noting that had extremely negative remarks been

made about Jewish, Pacific Island, Moslem, or disabled people as a group, the

programme would not have been acceptable. Therefore, they argued, it followed that

they were not acceptable when made about gay men either.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority - 22 August 1996

TVNZ prefaced its response with some general remarks about the complainants'

referral. It suggested that although a number of their allegations were opinion-led, they

had been carefully considered and were rejected for the reasons outlined in its 4 July

response. In response to the accusation of condescension, TVNZ advised that its

intention was to spell out clearly the reasons why the formal complaint could not be

sustained. TVNZ considered that the complainants misunderstood the time and space

constraints put on the programme makers and believed the programme was fair and

balanced as it stood.

TVNZ detected a view in the complaint that it believed indicated that the

complainants had difficulty accepting the rights of non-gay people who were critical

of the homosexual community to hold, or express their views. It then responded to

the specific points raised in the referral.

With respect to the complaint under standard G20, TVNZ advised that it had

subsumed that aspect under G6.

TVNZ denied that the programme discriminated against homosexuals. It repeated that

the context in which the item was set was important to show that aspects of

homosexuality had been covered over the years. It suggested that Mr Mosen's view

was an important one, the more so for having received the provisional endorsement of

the Catholic church.

TVNZ did not agree that its report about the gay gene was outside of the period of

current interest, when it was dealing with a broad based social change that had been

going on for more than a decade.

Regarding Mr Mosen's past, TVNZ repeated that its information was that he was

once a gay rights campaigner.

TVNZ did not agree that the complainants had proved that the gay speakers on the

programme had failed to provide balance on the gay genes question or the group

psychological profile.

TVNZ reported that it stood by its information about Dr Whitehead and the

information provided by the School of Biological Sciences at Auckland University.

With respect to the description of Dr Whitehead as a genetic researcher, TVNZ stated

that it was made clear that the Whiteheads backed Mr Mosen. It maintained that Mr

Mosen's opponents effectively rebutted his views.

TVNZ apologised for causing offence to the complainants by its response. It

suggested that the complainants either misunderstood or pretended to misunderstand

the approach taken and the aims of the programme.

The fact that some groups were marginalised and misunderstood was not, in TVNZ's

view, a reason to silence their critics. It considered the gay voice was well represented

in the programme and that there was no doubt that the gay community and Mr Mosen

were seriously at odds with one another.

Further Correspondence

In a letter dated 25 August 1996, Mr Hughes and Mr Walker advised that they had

obtained clarification from the School of Biological Sciences at Auckland University

regarding comments attributed to the School by TVNZ.

The complainants considered that TVNZ had seriously misrepresented those remarks

and reiterated that they did not believe it was accurate to describe Dr Whitehead as

either a genetic researcher or a genetic scientist. They believed that description caused

the programme to be even more imbalanced than would have been the case if his

professional qualifications and work experience had been set out accurately.

Mr Hughes' and Mr Walker's Final Comment - 27 August 1996

The complainants rejected TVNZ's claims that they did not understand the

constraints of television, their complaint was opinion-led, and that they wanted to

remove people's rights to express their views.

They repeated that the programme failed to present all sides fairly (standard G20) and

that it portrayed gay people as inherently inferior. They emphasised that the content

was not adequately balanced.

The complainants rejected the suggestion that the period of current interest extended

for a period of 3 years or more and denied that they had made the assumption the

programme was intended to be an expose of Mr Mosen. They noted that TVNZ had

not rebutted their allegations regarding the lack of balance on both the gay genes

question and the group psychological profile. They denied that they dismissed the

comments of the gay speakers on the programme, but repeated that balance was

lacking because they were not asked to respond to specific points.

Mr Hughes and Mr Walker repeated that Mr Mosen's views should have been

balanced. As for the description of Dr Whitehead, they considered it was relevant to

state that he was closely linked with Mr Mosen. Nowhere in the programme, they

continued, was there balance to the Mosen/Whitehead view of the basis of sexual

orientation or the psychological adjustment of gay people.

The complainants took further offence at TVNZ's response to their criticism of its

condescending tone. They pointed out that the complaint was that the comments on

the programme were not balanced.

Further Correspondence

In a brief response dated 5 September 1996, TVNZ clarified the issue of its inquiry to

the School of Biological Sciences at Auckland University. It confirmed that one of its

reporters spoke to a member of the faculty to ascertain the position of a scientist with

a PhD in Biochemistry. There was, according to TVNZ, no deception. It accordingly

stood by its story and rejected the complainants' allegation that it was guilty of

serious misrepresentation.

In a letter dated 16 September 1996, the complainants responded to TVNZ's letter.

They repeated that the information which they forwarded made it clear that TVNZ

seriously misrepresented the facts surrounding Dr Whitehead's training.

TVNZ responded to that letter on 20 September 1996 and denied that it had

misrepresented the facts

Appendix III

Ms Segedin's Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd - 10 June 1996

Ms Rosemary Segedin, Manager of the Pride Centre, Auckland, complained to TVNZ

Ltd about its broadcast of the Assignment programme on 16 May 1996.

Ms Segedin listed a number of aspects of the programme which it considered were in

breach of broadcasting standards.

1. Stereotypical images of gay "in your face" homosexuality were shown. Ms

Segedin suggested that with a mere 25 minutes to explore the complex issues, the shots

of the Hero Parade were a waste of valuable time, especially when the programme

skirted over a number of valuable points and lacked arguments to counter Mr Mosen

and his supporters.

2. There were a number of comments which went unchallenged:

· Mr Mosen's characterisation of gay sex as an addiction. Would it be fair, Ms

Segedin asked, to call a married man's desire for sex with his wife an addiction?

· Mr Mosen equated his experience of being molested as a child with his introduction

to homosexuality. Ms Segedin considered this blatantly misleading, as he was

introduced to paedophilia, not homosexuality. It regarded Mr Mosen's assertion

that his experience was similar to many gays as distorted because it implied that

molestation was a cause of later homosexual behaviour and identity.

· With respect to the comments on the spouses of gays who have left them for the

gay life, Ms Segedin noted that no comments were made from the viewpoint of the

gay partner who may have spent years or decades in an unhappy relationship.

Nothing was said about the liberation and healing experienced by so many

homosexual partners when they were finally honest with themselves.

· Mr Mosen's refusal to give figures on the success rate in changing gays into

straights should have been challenged.

· There was no point to airing the abusive phone call, which had nothing to do with

the topic.

· The theory that children could be made gay if they were raised with gay parents

had been thoroughly discredited and should have been challenged. There was also

no challenge to Mr Mosen's assumption that gay children were inferior to straight

children.

· Regarding Briar Whitehead's comment that many homosexuals were changing their

orientation, no questions were put to her, and no statistical evidence demanded.

The interviewer did not appear to have more than a cursory understanding of the

issues.

· It was incorrect to state that the gay community threw members away after they

lose their youth. Nothing was said to challenge this. It could have been pointed

out that heterosexual night clubs were no different.

· Mrs Whitehead's comments that gays were unhappy and unable to form stable

relationships was false. Why was this unchallenged? She either left out happy

gays and lesbians from her research because she did not know they existed, thus

making it skewed and worthless, or left them out deliberately, which indicated that

her research was dishonest. Further, in regard to those who are unhappy and

whose relationships were unstable, nothing was said about the lack of stabilising

institutions which were denied gay people by the heterosexual community.

The hypocrisy of pointing the finger at us and asking why some of us tend to

be so unstable and why some of us tend toward unhappiness with our

orientation, after these very people have constructed a society which

marginalises us throughout our lives, is truly breathtaking.

· Dr Whitehead commented that genetics did not determine behaviour or identity.

The interviewer missed the point that behaviour and identity were not the point, it

was orientation.

3. The historical context of Christianity's opposition to scientific evidence which

contradicted the Bible was left out of the discussion, even though that was of

importance to understanding the group.

Overall, the Ms Segedin concluded, the programme did not display any sophisticated

understanding of either Christianity or sexuality.

When dealing with sensitive issues concerning a historically marginalised group

which is still suffering from widespread misunderstanding and prejudice, it is

imperative that programs such as yours be meticulous in its balance and

fairness. It is my position that this episode of Assignment significantly failed

to either inform or be fair.

TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint - 25 July 1996

TVNZ's general comments were summarised above in the response to Mr Hughes and

Mr Walker. It then turned to the specific matters raised by Ms Segedin.

1. Scenes from the Hero Parade. TVNZ argued that the parades in Auckland and

Sydney represented the most public face of homosexuality, and noted that supporters

did nothing to play down the stereotype. TVNZ believed the scenes were relevant

and provided a visual contrast with the devotional pictures from the Catholic mass.

The script pointed to a change from the exhibitionism of the hero parades to a climate

where gays are seen in more orthodox settings.

2. To the complaint that Mr Mosen's views were not challenged, TVNZ

considered that Ms Segedin had misunderstood the way current affairs investigations

are carried out. It noted that Mr Mosen's views were his own and his opponents

were given an opportunity to speak out. Furthermore, while Mr Mosen's views

were not challenged specifically, nor were those of the gay speakers.

Dr and Mrs Whitehead were clearly identified in the programme as supporters of Mr

Mosen and their views were in that context. TVNZ maintained that a point by point

challenge of Mr Mosen would have removed the programme from its focus.

3. It suggested that Christianity's position on homosexuality was complex and

there were those who argued on both sides. TVNZ considered that Ms Segedin's

remarks showed that she had misunderstood the programme.

Turning to the standards, TVNZ responded that there were no inaccuracies in the

programme. It was Assignment's task to reflect the views of Mr Mosen and the

Whiteheads accurately, and the views of the spokesmen for the gay community.

TVNZ added:

In considering your G1 objections TVNZ is conscious that another standard in

the Codes of Broadcasting Practice requires broadcasters "to acknowledge the

right of individuals to express their own opinions" - and we believe that

Assignment complied with that requirement by allowing both the Mosen view

and that of the gay community to be clearly heard.

TVNZ considered that each of the people represented was fairly treated and fairly

represented in terms of standard G4.

With respect to balance (standard G6), TVNZ suggested Ms Segedin may have a

misunderstanding of the way information about major issues was handled by the news

media. It pointed out that over the last few years the media had reflected changes to

views of homosexuality and that it could not be expected that every time an issue was

raised that all shades of opinion would be reflected. It wrote:

The gay view was heard strongly in this programme - but it was not wrong to

reflect the fact that out in the community there are people with strong contrary

views who have found a level of support in powerful bodies such as the

Churches.

TVNZ pointed out that standard G13 permits expressions of genuinely-held opinion

in a news and current affairs context.

It is important that the news media be able to expose bigotry and it can do it

with authority only if it is able to show individuals making bigoted statements

in a manner in which the views are seen as the genuinely-held opinion of the

speakers.

Ms Segedin's Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority - 16 August

1996

Dissatisfied with TVNZ's response, Ms Segedin referred the complaint to the

Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

She responded to TVNZ's point that 40% of the interview time was with the gay

spokesmen, and that Mr Mosen's views did not go unchallenged, by noting that the

most controversial and damaging of Mr Mosen's comments were not challenged.

Having checked with one of the gay interviewees, Ms Segedin reported his view that

most of his responses on Mr Mosen's views were not included in the programme.

She repeated that insufficient material was included to counter Mr Mosen's claims.

To the argument that the Hero parades were the most public face of homosexuality,

Ms Segedin responded that was only so because the media chose to make it thus. She

wrote:

The reason heterosexuality's public face dominates and permeates

entertainment, advertising, news and every area of the media, is because the

media choose to make it dominant in a society dominated by the sexual

majority, and to largely ignore sexual minorities.

Ms Segedin considered TVNZ arrogant to justify the use of the scenes in that way.

To TVNZ's point that the stereotype of gay people was created by them, Ms Segedin

responded that this amounted to blaming the victims of stereotyping instead of those

who were doing the stereotyping. It noted that the power to destroy stereotypes

rested with the media.

Ms Segedin asked why it was necessary to provide a contrast with the scenes in the

Church. She suggested it was simply to make the programme more sensational.

Responding to TVNZ's suggestion that it did not understand the way current affairs

investigations were carried out, Ms Segedin responded that there were scores of

examples of current affairs investigations which had included far more critical analysis

and questioning than that which TVNZ claimed was necessary.

Ms Segedin argued that it was illogical to divorce Mr Mosen's views from the central

investigation since he was the primary theorist and spokesperson for the community

at the centre of the investigation and therefore his views should have been challenged.

To TVNZ's argument that to have challenged Mr Mosen's views would have altered

the course of the programme, Ms Segedin asked why, if the stated aim of the

programme was to investigate the claims of a group regarding the healing of

homosexuals, he was not asked to give evidence to support his claims.

Ms Segedin rejected the suggestion that the Whiteheads were identified in the

programme as supporters of Mr Mosen.

Regarding Christianity's position on homosexuality, Ms Segedin considered that

TVNZ had misunderstood her complaint. She pointed out that she did not suggest a

history of differing interpretations of the Bible over the centuries but was referring to

new scientific data which apparently contradicts the Church's teachings.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority - 2 September 1996

TVNZ repeated that Ms Segedin, in its view, continued to misunderstand the context

of the item and displayed a lack of understanding of the restraints of time and space in

a television item, and ignored the rights of non-gay people critical of homosexual

orientation to hold and express their views.

It reiterated that the programme was not an investigation of Mr Mosen and his

followers. He was simply a strand running through the programme in which issues

were bounced off his beliefs and those who supported his views. The approbation of

the Catholic church was part of the examination of Church attitudes to homosexuals.

To points raised in Ms Segedin's letter, TVNZ responded:

1. It believed Mr Moore (the gay spokesman) was happy with his interview and

the editing of it. It did not believe the material used was the "least relevant" to the

programme.

2. It did not accept that coverage of the Hero parades were media inspired. The

media, it continued, covered news events. The segment was relevant in the context.

TVNZ rejected the accusation of sensationalism, repeating that if the gay community

wished to stage an event which perpetuated a stereotype, it would undoubtedly be

used as file footage, as on this occasion.

3. TVNZ stood by its view that Ms Segedin misunderstood the thrust of the

programme and its editorial approach.

4. TVNZ repeated that Mr Mosen was not the subject of the investigation. It

argued that an adversarial stance in this case would have been crude and misleading.

5. TVNZ maintained that Mr Mosen was entitled to make his claims and express

his personal beliefs, adding:

If he does not place a numerical quantity on his claims of "cure" we are surely

entitled to say so. Viewers can form their own judgments not only on this, but

on the other claims being advanced by the Mosen group.

To Ms Segedin's question as to how investigative reporters and presenters could

pursue and present topics in which they had no expertise, TVNZ responded that

current affairs teams did this for all media, all around the world. It added that similarly

judges tried cases in which they did not have expertise. It did not mean that TVNZ

should not tackle difficult subjects.

Ms Segedin's Final Comment - 13 September 1996

Ms Segedin, on behalf of the Pride Centre, responded first to TVNZ's claim that the

complaint ignored the rights of non-gay people to express their views. She denied this

was the case, pointing out that the Pride Centre supported people to believe what

they liked. She repeated that the basis for the complaint was that when the topic

under consideration concerned a minority which was subject to discrimination in

society, the media had a responsibility to present the issues in such a way that those

stereotypes were not reinforced. She argued that the group did not object to Mr

Mosen's views being broadcast, but that they were broadcast without balance.

Referring to the interview with Mr Moore, Ms Segedin reported that she had

discussed the interview with him and he agreed that the material used was the least

relevant.

With respect to the media coverage of the Hero parades, Ms Segedin considered that

TVNZ had misunderstood her point which was that all media focused primarily on

sensational and sexually-oriented aspects of homosexuality. She noted that was not

the case with heterosexuality, which permeated all media and was presented in all its

aspects. The reason the Hero parade footage was the most public face of

homosexuality was, she argued, because the media made it so and because other

aspects of gay culture were not shown.

Ms Segedin repeated that no reason was given for the inclusion of the Hero parade

footage.

Regarding TVNZ's admission that its current affairs team did not have expertise in

their topics, Ms Segedin wrote:

To compare a current affairs team which displays a breathtaking lack of

knowledge to a judge who is sitting in a courtroom with both sides being

vigorously presented in his/her presence, is astounding. Additionally, we make

no suggestion that TVNZ should not "tackle difficult and controversial

subjects". We welcome such scrutiny. What we object to is the manner in

which this particular "difficult and controversial subject" was "tackled."

Ms Segedin argued that many of TVNZ's responses to its complaints had seemed to

be attempts to changes the terms of the dispute, or to engage in irrelevancies. She

asked why it would be "crude and misleading" to challenge Mr Mosen's factually

incorrect statements.

She concluded by stating that she did not intend to rubbish the whole programme,

parts of which she believed were good. However, she wrote, that did not excuse the

parts which were not.