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Broadcasting Standards issue

By Steven | October 3, 2014

I wonder when the Broadcasting Standards Authority are going to tell us that one of the BSA board members quit a couple of weeks ago. That hasn’t come out yet, has it? A member of the BSA has up and walked. They haven’t mentioned that one yet, have they?

(Some might say that I have just made an unqualified factual assertion that a member of the BSA resigned. Not the BSA, though! They said a statement just like this one, by Martin Devlin on Radio Sport, was pure speculation and gossip, and therefore not subject to the accuracy standard. So even though it turned out to be entirely untrue, there was no breach of broadcasting standards. In fairness to the BSA, this was during talkback, Devlin is provocative and not always to be taken seriously, and the producer did add “we’ll wait for that story to break”. But I don’t think those factors tell against what was plainly an assertion of fact. Here’s the full statement and BSA’s reasoning:

I wonder when Team New Zealand are going to tell us all that one of their chief designers quit a couple of weeks ago. …That hasn’t come out yet, has it? Because you know how they wanted their salaries to keep all their designers and stuff? But one of their main designers has up and walked. They haven’t mentioned that one yet, have they? … I don’t think that one’s coming out yet, is it?

We do not think that this amounted to an unqualified statement of fact which was subject to standards of accuracy, or which listeners would have interpreted as authoritative or certain. Rather, most listeners would have taken the comments in the nature of speculation or gossip, due to the host’s repeated questioning whether it had ‘come out yet’. The impression created was that Mr Devlin had perhaps heard rumours, but this clearly had not been stated or corroborated by ETNZ itself. This was supported by the producer’s reaction when he said, ‘we’ll wait for that story to break’, again indicating it had not been confirmed.)

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