According to TVNZ’s corporate affairs manager Megan Richards, an appeal could well be on the cards. She told Pacific Media Watch that TVNZ had complained to the Broadcasting Standards Authority about the embargo breach. TVNZ had expected the adjudication to be released on March 29. Richards said TVNZ was "considering an appeal in this case, which has a number of very unusual aspects. TVNZ stands by the substance of the story and the integrity and professionalism of the journalist concerned" – respected Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver.
The BSA ruled against TVNZ on accuracy and balance grounds in its 25-page adjudication against the news item broadcast on ONE News on April 6 last year and also run on Tagata Pasifika . It has reportedly ordered TVNZ to make a public apology, awarded costs of $5000 to be paid to the Samoan government and $2000 to the Crown. But two other complaints over fairness and the impact on law and order were not upheld by the BSA.
Unsurprisingly, TVNZ is spitting tacks over the adjudication. This ruling signals a growing trend for Pacific governments to use the BSA as a means of waving a big stick against stroppy and independent journalists. Fairfax’s Michael Field faced a similar caning from the BSA following a complaint by the Fiji regime's solicitor-general in September 2008.
Pacific governments 2 - Regional journalists 0.
Radio New Zealand International picked up the Samoan press release but ran five paragraphs of the government’s spin with no follow-up comment or balancing interviews. It did not get comment from TVNZ or mention that the government had broken the embargo:
The Samoan government has welcomed a ruling by the New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority, which found that Television New Zealand breached standard broadcasting laws in a news item suggesting the widespread presence of gangs, drugs and gun smuggling in Samoa.But RNZI didn’t mention the prime minister’s further comments:
The complaint was lodged by the Samoan government last April year when it claimed that the item tarnished the country’s image and would dissuade tourists from visiting.
In its ruling, the BSA says the report by Barbara Dreaver presented only one perspective and viewers needed information about the gravity of the problem in a wider context and from other perspectives.
TVNZ has been ordered to make a public statement, pay costs to the Samoa government and the Crown.
Samoa’s prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, says he sees the ruling not so much a victory for his government but a victory for responsible and substantive reporting.
There have been far too many incidences of unbalanced reporting withThe ruling wasn’t to be found on either BSA online or the Samoan government press releases website.
reporters and editors alike bent on producing and publishing half-cooked, sensationalised stories with the sole aim of stirring up controversy.
The ruling by the BSA is an onus for broadcasters and publishers to produce fair, balanced, in-depth and accurate news items.
There are also some very important lessons there for our local editors and budding journalists in how they do their jobs.
No doubt there will be plenty of clucking in Samoan media circles, but it doesn’t stem the concerns that many of the region's journalists have about the dreadful threats or vindictive witch hunt faced by Dreaver or the hysterically partisan reporting of the issue in some sections of the Samoan press. It would be unfortunate if the BSA has not balanced its ruling with some stern criticism of the culprits in the Samoan media.
Of course, none of these stories below would have much to do with Samoan “gangs, drugs and guns”, would they?
Cops pay social visit to alleged drug lord's house
Drugs and criminal gangs exposed
Bail hearing for Tagaloasa
Filipaina remains in custody
Inquiry report on police boss role submitted
Pictured: RNZI's report of the "ruling"; TVNZ's Barbara Dreaver; and a still from her "gangs, drugs and guns" story. Other background: