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BSA Decision On Holmes’ Kofi Annan Comments

BSA Releases Decision On Holmes’ Kofi Annan Comments

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has released its decision concerning comments made by Paul Holmes on Newstalk ZB in September. Among many other controversial statements Mr Holmes twice referred to the Secretary General of the United Nations as a ‘cheeky darkie’.

The Broadcasting Act requires broadcasters to determine formal complaints first. The Radio Network (TRN, the broadcaster) upheld all complaints received about the broadcast and took a range of actions in mitigation. Among other things, Mr Holmes broadcast two nationwide apologies, sent a letter of apology to Mr Annan, met with the leaders of the Ghanaian community in New Zealand and the Race Relations Conciliator.

TRN took internal disciplinary action, also wrote and apologised to Mr Annan, hosted a staff training seminar on racism run by the Race Relations Conciliator and made a donation to charity.

When this matter was subsequently referred to the BSA by ten complainants, the main task was to consider whether or not the action taken by TRN was sufficient. Some additional grounds of complaint were also considered.

The BSA agreed with TRN that the comments went well beyond the limits of acceptability and were a serious breach of broadcast standards. That such editorial opinion was made in the context of a news and current affairs programme, and made by one of New Zealand’s leading broadcasters, compounded the damage.

The BSA noted that the actions taken by TRN were swift, comprehensive and reflected the seriousness of the complaints. It also noted that some of the remedial actions voluntarily undertaken by the broadcaster were beyond its own powers to order.

Therefore the BSA has determined that the broadcaster’s actions were sufficient and has not upheld the complaints that further action should be taken. Other aspects of the complaints were also not upheld. A copy of the full decision is available on http://www.bsa.govt.nz.

The BSA advises that, in accordance with its usual practice, there will be no comment about this decision other than the information contained in this statement.

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