Media Release Monday 16th November 2015
Right to Life welcomes the decision of the Broadcasting Standards Authority [BSA] to uphold its complaint against the TV programme Seven Sharp. The decision was given on 10 November 2015. The item featured the story of a terminally ill woman who is a longstanding campaigner for euthanasia. The item which screened on 16 February 2015, also included a history of the attempts to pass euthanasia legislation in New Zealand and overseas. The item did not include any information on the views of those opposed to euthanasia such as those being put forward by the medical profession, disability groups or palliative care specialists.
Right to Life believes that the decision is a wakeup call for the media. The BSA state in their decision, “ [29 ]Our findings in that case [and others before it] relied on our expectation that balance on this issue would be presented over time. We considered that to be a reasonable expectation. However, we have not seen this occurring and in our experience it is not straightforward to seek out the alternative view in TVNZ programmes or in other media The Authority has determined numerous balance complaints in recent years about programmes which promulgated the pro-euthanasia position, and we have rarely, if at all, been pointed to evidence of the other view being put forward.”
The Authority upheld the complaint on the grounds that the item lacked balance and was in breach of Standard 4,” which requires that when controversial issues of public importance are discussed in news, current affairs and factual programmes, broadcasters should make reasonable efforts, or give reasonable opportunities, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest. The standard exists to ensure that competing arguments are presented to enable a viewer to arrive at an informed and reasoned opinion.”