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Reference To ‘Jewish Billionaires’ Breaches Discrimination And Denigration Standard

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has found an item on 1 News stating that the ‘Israel Start-up Nation’ cycling team was ‘backed by Jewish billionaires’, breached standards as it had the effect of embedding and reflecting harmful stereotypes.

The segment on 1 News on 1 May 2020 reported on the increase in use of smart trainers for cyclists during the COVID-19 pandemic. It featured New Zealander Greg Henderson, who coaches the road cycling team ‘Israel Start-up Nation’. The reporter referred to ‘Israel Start-up Nation’ being ‘backed by Jewish billionaires’.

The decision signals an adjusted approach by the Authority which, relying on guidelines to the discrimination and denigration standard, generally requires ‘a high level of condemnation, often with an element of malice or nastiness, to conclude that a broadcast encouraged discrimination or denigration’.

However, the Authority noted its obligation to reflect community standards and values and its “understanding of an increased awareness and intolerance of racism”.

In upholding the complaint, the BSA said: “We have previously considered complaints about antisemitism in broadcasts through the narrow lens of the guidelines to the standard. However, with this complaint we have adjusted our approach. In some instances the guidelines, when applied rigidly, can miss underlying prejudice. While we consider there was a lack of intent on the part of the broadcaster, this has had the effect of embedding an antisemitic trope and is insufficient to justify the comment.”

The Authority said that as part of its upcoming code review, it would be consulting with broadcasters and stakeholders on whether changes to the discrimination and denigration standard were needed.

The BSA did not make any formal orders against the broadcaster, finding that publication of the decision was sufficient to address the breach.

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