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BSA finds Ross Campbell interview breaches standards

30 July 2019

BSA finds ‘The Long Lunch’ interview with Ross Campbell breaches broadcasting standards

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has found an interview between Wendyl Nissen and Horowhenua District Councillor Ross Campbell was unbalanced, misleading and unfair.

The programme featured an interview with Cr Campbell, who talked about his decision to wear a body camera to Council meetings after what was described as incidents of bullying towards him. During the broadcast Cr Campbell described one of the alleged incidents of bullying and his subsequent complaint to the Police, which led to Cr Campbell wearing the body camera. The Authority found the broadcast was likely to mislead audiences by giving the impression that HDC had a systemic culture of bullying.

“Statements by [programme host] Ms Nissen… combined with the absence of any acknowledgement that the HDC has a contrasting view of the events, gave the impression that a culture of bullying existed within HDC. However, this had not been investigated or verified by MediaWorks, HDC’s perspective had not been sought and no alternative views were presented,” the Authority said.

The Authority also found the interview required the acknowledgement or broadcast of other perspectives in relation to the alleged culture of bullying at the HDC and the incidents Cr Campbell described to Ms Nissen.

“This broadcast had the potential to give listeners the impression that the HDC had a culture of bullying that had been allowed to flourish, therefore balancing comment was required to allow listeners to arrive at an informed and reasoned opinion,” the Authority said.

Finally the Authority acknowledged that MediaWorks accepted that comment should have been sought from the HDC prior to the broadcast and that the failure to do so resulted in an unfair broadcast. However, the Authority ultimately found the action taken by MediaWorks in an attempt to remedy the unfairness caused was insufficient.

In its decision, the Authority emphasised the role of the media in scrutinising and holding public institutions to account. However, the Authority also acknowledged the significant risk of harm due to the potential for unfair, unbalanced or inaccurate criticism that can mislead the public and unduly damage the reputation of, and public trust in, those criticised.

The Authority ordered that a broadcast statement be aired by MediaWorks on Magic Talk to remedy the potential harm caused.


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