TVNZ has lost a Press Council complaint about a Weekend Herald story revealing who would host the broadcaster’s election night coverage.
The story quoted sources saying Hilary Barry and Simon Dallow were set to be announced as part of the broadcaster’s election night line-up, and went on to report industry speculation about several of the network’s shows.
TVNZ complained the article breached the Press Council principles of accuracy, fairness and balance, and confidentiality.
However, the Press Council did not uphold the complaint, saying TVNZ fell “well short of demonstrating breaches”.
In its decision, the Press Council said TVNZ had complained about the use and accuracy of sources. “Yet, the published story [based on sources] regarding the fact that Barry and Dallow would be part of the presentation team for the election coverage, proved to be correct.”
It went on to say the Weekend Herald was entitled to report the industry speculation about the network testing the on-screen chemistry of the pair, and the speculation about Barry’s possible move to 1 News at 6pm. Nothing had been put in front of the council to show the speculation did not exist, and the newspaper had provided the “necessary balance reporting the comments of the TVNZ head of news and current affairs”.
“It is certainly not a case, as TVNZ complains, that NZME cannot continue to repeat allegations that Barry will move to the 6pm bulletin simply because of denials by TVNZ,” the council said.
“Already, the speculation about election coverage has proved to be correct. In any event, it is perfectly proper for the Weekend Herald to report on speculation within media circles of Barry’s long-term role at TVNZ. Quite clearly the categorical denials from TVNZ have not stopped speculation within the industry, and that is what the story is reporting on.
“TVNZ in its complaint seems to suggest that if continued categorical denials are made they need to be accepted. If this indeed is the intent … it strikes the council as unusual, particularly from a complainant part of whose business is reporting on news.
“The history of journalism is replete with stories being shown to be true despite a history of categorical denials.”
In its decision, the Press Council said modern media “has a cult of personality whereby it promotes presenters and others to what is commonly called ‘celebrity status’. Almost inexorably speculation follows celebrity”.
“TVNZ falls well short of demonstrating breaches of the two principles, and the complaint is not upheld.”
New Zealand Business News