Guest Post by Nigel Kearney:
Broadcasting Standards Authority – September Decisions
The BSA issued 21 decisions in September made up of 9 TVNZ, 4 TV3, 5 radio, 1 Sky and 2 election ads. Only one was (partially) upheld and, as you would expect, most had no real merit and were quickly disposed of. The decisions can be found here.
There’s no point in trying to analyze the merit or reasoning of the decisions because the very existence of the BSA is inconsistent with free speech. But what we can do is amuse ourselves with the foolishness of the complainants and, occasionally, the authority itself.
The silliest complaint decided in September was made by a Rebecca van der Kley of Christchurch. It concerned a Fair Go investigation into a Christchurch roofer who had taken money from customers and not completed the work. The roofer was interviewed and gave his side of the story so you may wonder what the problem was.
One of the roofer’s excuses for his non-performance was that he had mental health issues. He volunteered this information when he knew he was on camera. Apparently Ms van der Kley was nevertheless sufficently outraged that she decided to lodge a complaint alleging a breach of the fraudster’s privacy.
It’s possible for anyone to complain to the BSA about a breach of someone else’s privacy. It doesn’t matter whether the ‘victim’ considers their privacy has been breached or may even have voluntarily revealed the information. These kind of complaints seem very popular. Normally, a complaint about breach of broadcasting standards has to be lodged with the broadcaster first but a privacy complaint can be made directly to the BSA. I’m no psychologist, but I think maybe the sort of people who make these complaints prefer a ‘blab to the teacher’ approach rather than directly confronting the person they have a problem with, and the privacy standard allows them to do that.
Dishonourable mentions for most unjustified complaining go to Metua Pekepo of Auckland for complaining about inaccuracy where the Internet party was referred to by the name of its bankroller instead of the offical party name, and to Elizabeth Samuel of Kaiapoi for complaining about the word ‘fuck’ being used in show screened after 8:30 and after a warning about ‘frequent use of coarse language’. Apparently it was too soon after 8:30 or something.
As I said above, I don’t believe the BSA serves any purpose, and therefore no complaint should be upheld ever. But it’s worth noting their rationale for declining a complaint by Victor Wieland of Auckland about lack of balance in a global warming story:
“…this item did not purport to discuss the different sides of the debate around the existence, or causes of climate change. It simply reported the latest findings of the IPCC, so it did not amount to a ‘discussion’ which required the presentation of alternative views.”
I wonder if it would be the same if there was a story on the economy consisting entirely of repeating some findings from the NZ Initiative.
This post would not be complete without mentioning the ‘heifers and lardos’ comment by Rachel Smalley. Chris Du Fall of Wellington saw fit to complain to the BSA about this even after the broadcaster itself upheld her complaint and apologized publicly. The BSA rightly rejected the complaint and also noted they would not have taken any action even if the broadcaster had done nothing. The actual comments were, of course, absolutely true and their broadcast was a valuable public service, albeit unintentional.Tags: BSA