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Michael Laws breaches broadcasting standards again

By Steven | February 23, 2010

The BSA has pinged RadioLive talkback host Michael Laws yet again, this time for “blatant misrepresentation”. He had an exchange of emails with a health official concerned with Maori smoking that said:

Laws: Stick to trying to get Māori to quit smoking, will you? Not exactly a sparkling success story, is it?
Broughton: Not really. Not when Pakeha continue to allow it in the country and make profits from it, both the government AND industry, but I know you’ll have another excuse for your behaviours…

How did Laws describe this to his listeners? He said Mr Broughton:

The BSA said this was unfair. It rejected the privacy complaint (rightly so: you can’t expect privacy when you’re emailing a talkback show). It said that the accuracy complaint was subsumed: it had been dealt with under fairness. It seems to me that even on the BSA’s usual narrow interpretation of the accuracy standard on talkback shows (ie it applies to unqualified statements of material fact that set the scene for discussion), this was an inaccuracy. It strikes me that this was inaccurate and therefore unfair and not the other way around. As Professor John Burrows has pointed out before, the standards are different and should usually be considered separately. Subsuming the complaints muddies the waters.

Given Laws’ history, I find it surprising that the BSA didn’t impose a penalty here. Perhaps it was because they realised that Boughton was   attributing Maori smoking to race factors, and that the debate was about a significant issue. But they didn’t say that.

Topics: Broadcasting Standards Authority, General | No Comments »


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