BSA fines complainant Donald McDonald

Media Matters in NZ | Sunday, 14 August 2011

It appears from its decision in respect of a complaint from one of our members, Donald McDonald, a retired scientist, about news accuracy, which has resulted in its effectively fining Mr McDonald for having the temerity to complain, that the Broadcasting Standards Authority has relinquished any claim to credibility as a monitor of standards in NZ Broadcasting.

Instead of having on the broadcasters for their persistent breaches of acceptable standards, especially in respect of sex violence and bad language, all of which it continues to allow to be thrust daily into the faces of the young and vulnerable in our society, the BSA has decided to go after complainants instead.

The sum of $50 (see attached BSA decision 2011-020) may seem small but Mr McDonald is an elderly beneficiary who cannot afford any sort of financial impediment.  Instead of penalizing him financially, they should be pinning a medal on his chest for the many times he has complained in a valiant if vain attempt to make the BSA live up to its responsibilities.

The media landscape in NZ today is littered with examples where programme makers and advertisers are exploiting the young of our society, purely for profit.  Violent and sexually explicit scenes from adult programmes continue to be screened in what is supposed to be children’s only viewing time, and the BSA, by its consistent failure to insist that the Watershed which is supposed to signal programmes with adult content in them, be marked and monitored, is failing to protect our greatest asset which is our children.

The BSA refuses even to meet with us, the only media advocacy group in NZ, so that we might be able to air our concerns to them.

In short they effectively treat complainants and their advocates with ignore, while simultaneously buddying up to the broadcasters, with whom they actually share offices.

It is time for the Broadcasting Standards Authority to be disbanded, and replaced by people who are willing to stand up for decency, fairness and accuracy, instead of capitulating regularly to the battery of over-paid media lawyers who represent the electronic media in this country, who pretend to advocate Freedom of Speech when they’re actually advocating an electronic media Free-For-All.

John Terris
Media Matters President
Tel. (04) 566 3175
55 Queen's Grove Lower Hutt