A discussion on Marae about freedom of expression, in the wake of Posie Parker’s New Zealand visit, breached the accuracy standard, the Broadcasting Standards Authority has found in a split decision.
A majority of the Authority upheld, in part, a complaint about a discussion between the host and three guests in the episode aired on TVNZ 1 on 12 April 2023.
The complainant argued the segment was inaccurate in multiple respects, and unbalanced, disproportionately favouring views against Parker’s Let Women Speak events.
The Authority considered most of the alleged inaccuracies were unlikely to have significantly affected viewers’ understanding of the broadcast as a whole. However, the majority found one comment by rainbow community activist Shaneel Lal was materially inaccurate, and justified a finding of a breach.
Lal said Parker had told her followers that “due to the transgender agenda, cisgender women are being kidnapped, blended and put into meat for human consumption”.
The BSA found viewers “would have perceived Lal’s statement as an assertion of fact, and it had the potential to mislead viewers as to Parker’s perspective”, given Parker had not stated the “transgender agenda” was responsible for the relevant crime.
“The misleading characterisation of Parker’s statement…strayed into the realm of personal attack. It detracted from, rather than contributing to, viewers’ understanding of the issues being discussed – an unfortunate outcome in a broadcast considering such important, topical and contentious issues,” the BSA said.
The minority agreed with the principles and conclusions expressed by the majority but did not agree any potential harm met the threshold for an uphold – noting the value of discussing a topical and contentious issue at a time when it had assumed public importance, and that the misleading comment was one aspect of a broader discussion.
The BSA was unanimous in finding no breach of the balance standard as the segment adequately presented significant viewpoints through the inclusion of multiple guests, through the host’s questioning, and in the introductory segment.
Broadcast coverage of Parker’s New Zealand visit gave rise to a number of complaints, most of which were not upheld – previous decisions can be seen here. In response to proliferating complaints about coverage of gender identity issues the BSA recently issued new guidance for complainants and broadcasters.