Decisions

Thompson v Television New Zealand (16/020)

Content: ONE News Now “Nicky Hager: How to sidestep NZ tax disclosure rules”. Thursday 23 June 2016

Publisher: Television New Zealand

Complainant: R. Thompson

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An article published by Television New Zealand (TVNZ) on its ONE News Now website alleged Complainant R. Thompson, specifically advised his clients to avoid countries with “information sharing agreements” with New Zealand and instructed his clients to avoid any countries that might enter into double tax agreement with New Zealand.

The Complainant said the article contained factual inaccuracies and as he was not asked to comment, it was unbalanced and unfair.

The Complaints Committee found the content was not clearly identified as opinion and, therefore, Standard 1 Accuracy applied.

It considered the reference to the “disclosure rules” in the headline was not ideal but was a reasonable representation of the kinds of agreements referred to in the article. It found the reference to double tax agreements and the other types of agreements identified in the article as “information sharing agreements” was not misleading and was an accurate representation for the likely reader. The Complaints Committee held the headline and the statement above were not in breach of Standard 1 Accuracy and this part of the complaint was Not Upheld.

The Committee ruled the reference to “specifically advised” was misleading as it was not adequately substantiated and was in breach of Standard 1 Accuracy and was Upheld.

The Committee ruled the actions of the Publisher in altering the following statement “there are none of these agreements with the Latin American countries where Mr Thompson and his colleagues do business” had gone far enough to Settle this part of the complaint.

The Complaints Committee considered the Complainant should have been contacted prior to the article being published. It held as this had not occurred, the article lacked a reasonable range of viewpoints and the Complainant was not treated fairly, in breach of Standard 2 Balance and Standard 3 Fairness.

The Committee ruled the complaint was Upheld, in part and Settled, in part.