TV special’s ‘lack of balance’ prompts complaint
The boss of the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) says he will be filing a complaint with the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) this week over the lack of balance presented in John Campbell’s live broadcast from Christchurch marking the fourth anniversary of the first earthquake.
CEO Tim Grafton said he had told Campbell Live producers from the get-go that he would not attend the broadcast at Shirley Boys High School from their initial invitation sent on 26 August.
However, he said he had made multiple offers to pre-record a segment up to and including the day of broadcast on 4 September.
Grafton, who was due to appear along with Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Earthquake Commission (EQC) CEO Ian Simpson who also declined to appear, said initially his concerns were just due to the format of the programme.
The programme’s producers had also invited ‘a hostile audience’ of Christchurch residents with unresolved issues to come and air their frustrations, with earthquake recovery leaders expected to respond on the spot.
However, in the run-up to the day, which was just three days after the Ashburton Winz shooting, Grafton said very real threats to his safety became evident which confirmed the decision he had already made not to appear.
He told Insurance Business this morning: “On the night before and on the day I received advice that gave me rise to concerns about security which further confirmed the decision I’d already taken.
“There were security concerns to my safety.”
Grafton refused to be drawn on the details, for fear of encouraging copycat acts.
“I’m not going to go into any detail because I think those sorts of things just encourage people potentially to do that sort of stuff,” he said.
An EQC spokesman was reported as saying that last Monday’s shooting had intensified the focus on personal safety as EQC staff had received threats in the recent past.
And a spokesman for Brownlee was reported on stuff.co.nz as saying that a live television show was not the best place to help people with complex insurance problems, especially if relevant information was not supplied in advance.
Grafton agreed with this saying those are all issues that are rightly and appropriately addressed to the insurer concerned.
He said he took issue with the fact he was made to appear as if he had turned down the opportunity at the last minute.
“Campbell Live somehow created the impression that we were going to go on but my position all along had been that we were not going on live.
“But quite consistently we offered a one on one pre-recorded interview on at least half a dozen occasions and also on the day of 4 September when I was in Christchurch I made myself available for an interview which they did not acknowledge on the programme, suggesting that I’d cancelled out at the last minute.
“It’s not the first time Campbell Live have provided what I would consider a lack of balance in their programmes on earthquake issues, and I was just disappointed.
“It’s very frustrating because I think the programme lacked balance.”
Grafton confirmed he would be putting together a complaint this week.
“The Broadcasting Standards Authority guidelines in this area are very clear that because of a non-appearance it does not absolve a broadcaster of the responsibility to add balance to that programme.”