TVNZ upholds complaint
On 1 March, One News reported on the new employment legislation that came into effect, commonly known as the “ hire and fire law”. The report stated that bosses can sack employees after a 90 day probation period.
Given that they can’t do that, this was inaccurate. Under this law, they can only fire within the probation period. In addition there was no mention in the report that the legislation only extends to employers with 20 employees or less. As accuracy is pretty important in journalism, I complained to TVNZ. It’s the first complaint I have ever done on broadcasting standards but accuracy is more important to me than even balance or fairness. The complaint was assessed on both balance and accuracy and I was sure it would be upheld, at least in part.
And it was. Although appropriate viewpoints were canvassed in the story – meaning it was balanced - it was inaccurate. I even got an apology. "We apologise to you and your family for any distress caused by the error."
It is a pity, though, that TVNZ didn’t even mention that I brought up the lack of a mention that the legislation is restricted to employers with 20 or fewer employees. They ignored that. I thought that was a relevant omission, as viewers may have assumed from that story that it extends to all employers. That could be seen to be misleading, contravening 5b of the guidelines on accuracy. Obviously, to TVNZ, omitting an important fact is not such a big deal as broadcasting something that is factually incorrect. But you would have at least thought TVNZ would have said something about that omission, perhaps that they do not think it the omission was relevant to the standards addressed. Particularly as it was a significant part of my letter.
But to ignore it....
Who thinks I should go to the Broadcasting Standards Authority?