New Zealand Law Society - Report on public interest defence did not breach standards

Report on public interest defence did not breach standards

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The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has not upheld a complaint about a broadcast of TV programme Te Kāea, which reported, 31 July 2018, on a new public interest defence in defamation proceedings recognised by the Court of Appeal.

The case at the centre of the Court’s ruling was between the complainants, Sir Edward Taihakurei Durie and Donna Hall, and Māori Television, the broadcaster responsible for Te Kāea.

The two complained that the broadcaster misrepresented the court’s findings and failed to include their views on the outcome of the decision, which was unfair.

The BSA recognised that, in news broadcasting: “[c]omplex situations and facts will often … be reduced to key points to convey the essence of the story to viewers. It is not usually possible, or reasonable, for every detail to be included.”

The authority found that the focus of this item was the Court of Appeal’s finding that a new public interest defence existed in New Zealand. The broadcast accurately reported the essence of the Court of Appeal’s judgment and viewers were unlikely to be misled.

Finally, the Authority “did not consider comment from the complainants was required to be included in the item, in the interests of ensuring they were treated fairly,” and did not uphold the fairness complaint.