New Zealand Law Society - Discussion on use of te reo not in breach of broadcasting standards

Discussion on use of te reo not in breach of broadcasting standards

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The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has not upheld a complaint that a discussion on The AM Show on the Three channel featuring Don Brash, about Dr Brash’s views on the use of te reo Māori in broadcasting without translation, lacked balance or was unfair to the former National Party leader.

Christopher Cape said Dr Brash’s primary point - that when te reo is used it should be broadcast with translation - was ignored and overridden, as the panel focused on the implied or assumed criticism of te reo per se. He also said Dr Brash was prevented from expanding on his point of view by interruptions from co-presenter Duncan Garner and was treated with disrespect.

The authority noted that the panel discussion broadcast on 29 November 2017, “though brief, referred to a topical and legitimate issue, about which people in the New Zealand community will hold a variety of views”.  Therefore, it says, the right to freedom of expression, and to hear differing points of view on the matter, was significant in the interests of public discourse.

The BSA found that Dr Brash was given sufficient time to articulate his point of view and that any criticism during the broadcast was made towards Dr Brash’s opinion. “We acknowledge that this was a robust discussion and that Dr Brash’s views were tested by the panel, particularly by [the AM Show host] Mr Garner. However, in our view this did not result in Dr Brash being treated unfairly and we do not think any harm was caused which outweighed the value in the item,” the authority said.

The BSA found that while the panel debated a potentially challenging issue in a robust way, they did so in a way that was balanced, respectful and mindful of the ongoing discussion in society surrounding the use of te reo in broadcasting and the issue of translation.

How to describe Clarke Gayford

Meanwhile, the BSA has not upheld a complaint about a description of the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s partner.

An item, broadcast on 22 January, on RNZ’s The Panel featured an interview with regular guest on the programme, Clarke Gayford. The interview focused on Ms Ardern’s recent pregnancy announcement and parenthood. At the beginning of the interview, Mr Gayford was introduced as the ‘Prime Minister’s partner’.

The complainant said the broadcast was inaccurate and misleading because Mr Gayford should have been introduced as the Prime Minister’s ‘publicist’.

The BSA declined to determine the complaint on the basis it was frivolous and trivial and did not reach the threshold for being considered under the accuracy standard.