Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wrong For Being Right

A man who laid a complaint over an inaccurate TVNZ news item has been stung for costs by the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA)…but not because he was wrong.
In January 2011, TVNZ reported a 10-year-old Canadian girl had discovered a supernova 240 light years away. Don McDonald pointed out a supernova that close to Earth would barbeque us…and in fact it was 240 million light years away. TVNZ admitted the error, but refused to uphold the complaint.
[According to Standard 5 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, a broadcast news story should be accurate in relation to all material points of fact, but only "reasonable efforts" are needed for achieve that accuracy.]
The BSA dismissed McDonald's complaint as frivolous and trivial. What's more, it said it was sick of his constant quibbling over minor details - y'see, he’s a regular BSA bitcher (The Dominion Post said he'd generated about 5% of all complaints against TV One in 2009 and 2010!) It warned him a few complaints ago that if he kept up the nit-picking, they'd hit him with costs. Now they've followed through,
ordering him to pay $50 as a form of deterrent, something the BSA has done only a few times.
[…thanx to Media Law Journal]
So was it fair? Did ol' McDonald have a point (ee-i ee-i oh)?
Should we expect journalists to "get it right" every time?
PS: 02 May 2012 - McDonald has his fine dismissed.

1 comment:

Timespanner said...

If TVNZ "acknowledged the complaint" but didn't uphold it -- what the heck? Did they just say to McDonald, "Oh, yeah! You're right, dude. We should have put "million" in there! Wow. Our bad. But hey, dude -- time moves on, y'know? Let's just nod and carry on, shall we?"

If so -- another example of sloppy journalism spoiling things for the better practitioners today, I reckon.

And no, McDonald shouldn't be fined. Bet the BSA's sore now they've had one of their rulings overturned in court ...