New Zealand Law Society - BSA issues guidance on terrorism and extremism reporting

BSA issues guidance on terrorism and extremism reporting

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The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has released a guidance note for broadcasters when reporting on terrorism, violent extremism and crisis events.

The guidance follows the issue of decisions by the BSA last year on broadcast coverage of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

When it released its decisions last year, the Authority acknowledged the significant potential for harm that can be caused to audiences when crisis events are reported.

Following consultation with broadcasters, the Authority has not introduced any new standards for reporting on terrorism in the Codes of Broadcasting practice. The Authority and broadcasters found that the decisions issued last year demonstrated that existing broadcasting standards and guidelines provide appropriate safeguards for broadcast reporting on terrorism in New Zealand without harm.

However, with the assistance of the broadcaster working group, the BSA has prepared a guidance note for broadcasters that draws on the principles set out by the Authority in its decisions issued in 2019. The note highlights key considerations for broadcasters when reporting on terrorism.  Considerations include broadcasters:

  • Striking a balance between the duty to inform and the need to avoid being used as a vehicle for hateful, ultraviolent propaganda.
  • Avoiding content that may promote, amplify and glorify the attacker/terrorist and their method, message and actions
  • Being mindful of content that may incite or encourage violence, or promote serious anti-social and illegal behaviour, in the form of terrorist activity
  • Exercising care and discretion in carefully balancing the obligation to report accurate and timely information to the public
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