Dated: 22 February 2006
Decision No: 2006-001

Complainant
GRAHAM WOLF
of Lower Hutt

Broadcaster
TELEVISION NEW ZEALAND LTD


Members
Joanne Morris, Chair
Tapu Misa
Diane Musgrave
Paul France

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989

Eating Media Lunch – item mentioned Charlotte Dawson a number of times – allegedly unbalanced, inaccurate and unfair

Findings

Decline to determine complaint under s.11(a) of Broadcasting Act 1989

This headnote does not form part of the decision.

Broadcast

[1] An episode of Eating Media Lunch broadcast on TV2 on 8 November 2005 at 10pm contained a segment called “Save our Stars”, in which an actor went around the streets of Auckland collecting donations for various television presenters currently working for Prime Television.

Correspondence

[2] Graham Wolf complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, about the number of times Charlotte Dawson, a local celebrity, was mentioned in the programme. He argued that she had been referred to at least 11 times in the last 10 minutes of the episode, and submitted that Standards 4, 5 and 6 had been breached.

[3] TVNZ declined to consider the complaint that the item was unbalanced or inaccurate. Those standards, it wrote, applied only to “news current affairs and factual programmes” and were not relevant. It assessed the complaint under Standard 6 (fairness).

[4] TVNZ maintained that Ms Dawson was only referred to five times and was not singled out in the item. TVNZ stated that the focus of the entire episode was on lampooning the media’s preoccupation with celebrity, and in that context Ms Dawson had been accorded no higher profile than any of the others who were mentioned.

[5] Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s response, Mr Wolf referred his complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Authority's Determination

[6] The members of the Authority have viewed a copy of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[7] The Authority notes that this complaint is the fourth it has received from Mr Wolf in which he has argued that an item on Eating Media Lunch intended to denigrate the same celebrity. The Authority has dismissed that aspect of each complaint, and in Decision No. 2005-056 it cautioned Mr Wolf that it might decline to determine further similar complaints under s.11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 on the grounds that they are “frivolous, vexatious, or trivial”.

[8] Mr Wolf’s complaint about the repetition of a celebrity’s name does not raise any issues of broadcasting standards and thus, in the view of the Authority, the complaint is trivial within the meaning of section 11(a). Accordingly, it declines to determine the complaint.

For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

Joanne Morris
Chair

22 February 2006

Appendix

The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

  1. Graham Wolf’s formal complaint – 23 November 2005
  2. TVNZ’s decision on the formal complaint – 6 December 2005
  3. Mr Wolf’s referral to the Authority – 30 December 2005
  4. TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 13 January 2006