New Zealand Law Society - Radio Hauraki ordered to pay $4,000 to cricketer’s mum

Radio Hauraki ordered to pay $4,000 to cricketer’s mum

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Radio Hauraki has been ordered to pay $4,000 to the mother of New Zealand-born English cricketer, Ben Stokes after the station’s breakfast show was found to have seriously breached broadcasting standards.

The ruling by the Broadcasting Standards Authority relates to an incident on 4 April where the breakfast show intentionally broadcast live on-air a caller who had asked to make a complaint off-air.

Deborah Stokes is the mother of Ben Stokes and had called the station to complain about comments made by the hosts regarding her son, and to defend him. When she asked to speak to someone off-air, host Matt Heath assured Mrs Stokes she was off air, however the conversation was being broadcast live on-air.

Mrs Stokes complained to NZME Radio Ltd, the owner of Radio Hauraki, that the broadcast was unfair and breached her privacy. NZME upheld her complaint but the BSA found that NZME Radio did not take sufficient action to adequately rectify the harm caused to Deborah Stokes.

The Authority found the broadcast amounted to a serious breach of broadcasting standards and demonstrated a grave lack of understanding on the radio hosts’ behalf of a person’s fundamental rights to privacy and fair treatment.

“This is a case of public deception, which is a substantial departure from the standards of broadcasting in New Zealand,” it says.

The BSA also found the hosts’ behaviour following the broadcast which appeared to ridicule Mrs Stokes, the hosts’ lack of remorse and the inadequate remedial action taken by NZME, aggravated the initial breach of standards.

The Authority has ordered NZME Radio to pay $4,000 in privacy compensation to Deborah Stokes, $4,000 in costs to the Crown and to broadcast a statement summarising the Authority’s findings.

The full decision is available here.