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TVNZ WILL FIGHT BSA DECISION ON ARAMOANA IN HIGH COURT


13 April 2011

TVNZ WILL FIGHT BSA DECISION ON ARAMOANA IN HIGH COURT

TVNZ will appeal to the High Court against a decision by the Broadcasting Standards Authority which the broadcaster describes as 'incomprehensible'.

TVNZ says the issue at stake is the right of adult New Zealanders to hear - for the first time - the exact exchange that took place between the Aramoana gunman David Gray and the policeman who then shot him dead.

This moment of extreme tension, during one of the nation's most notoriously violent and terrifying events, included the word 'f***ing' - which was recounted by the police officer who spoke publicly about the highly-charged encounter during the course of an interview on TV ONE's Sunday programme marking the 20th anniversary of the massacre.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority today ruled in a majority decision that the use of the word breached standards of good taste and decency and did not adequately consider children's interests.

In a dissenting opinion the chairman of the BSA, Peter Radich, noted that warnings on content and language had been given twice and said: "I find it difficult to hold that a programme about the mass murder of men, women and children is within broadcasting standards as they apply to children but that the use of the word "f***ing" in that programme takes the programme to an unacceptable level."  He considered that "to have bleeped or otherwise obscured the words would have been purposeless, inappropriate and demeaning of the policeman..". 

TVNZ agrees absolutely with Mr Radich's opinion, and is disturbed to note that his commonsense approach did not prevail amongst his colleagues.

TVNZ rarely appeals to the High Court on BSA decisions but the broadcaster says in this case it feels it has no option because to let the ruling stand would be to damage the right to freedom of expression in reporting on matters of such high public interest and historical significance to this country.

Contact:
Megan Richards
Corporate Affairs
021 804 123