John Key's office loses BSA complaint

The Prime Minister's chief spin doctor has had his complaint over a TV news story knocked back by the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA).

Kevin Taylor complained to the BSA over a One News story that aired on May 11 about an upgrade to the Government's BMW fleet.

Taylor said the teaser and news item implied a link between a donation by a BMW dealership and the fleet upgrade. The story had suggested some sort of ''dodgy deal,'' which amounted to an unjustified attack on Key's integrity, Taylor said.

However, the BSA rejected the complaint saying the story did not state as fact that there was a link between the car deal and the donation received by the National Party from a BMW dealership. The item had included ''clear statements refuting any suggestion that there was a link''.

A statement from Key himself was included in the story saying any suggestion of a link between the donation and the fleet upgrade was baseless and ''a smear on his integrity''.

The reporter had also made it plain that the car dealership was a separate entity from BMW New Zealand Limited, and that BMW New Zealand Limited and Bob McMillan, who made the donation, both said that there was absolutely no link.

"We are also of the view that the audience would have understood that it was Labour MP Chris Hipkins who had questioned the Prime Minister's integrity, rather than One News. In this respect, we consider that the broadcaster made reasonable efforts to fairly and accurately present the Prime Minister's response to the allegations made by Mr Hipkins," the BSA found.

There was a high level of public interest in the story and reporting on such allegations - made under privilege in Parliament - were both ''an important role of the media'' and ''a vital component of freedom of expression''.

In another ruling released today, the BSA found in favour of Mana Party MP Hone Harawira over another One News item.

The story, broadcast on April 28, said Harawira had "racked up a $35,000 travel bill,'' which was almost $4000 more than the total amount spent by the four remaining Maori Party MPs.

The BSA ruled that was inaccurate because the figure for the Maori Party only included Parliamentary Service spending and not an additional $20,783 also received from the Ministerial Services for domestic air travel during the same period.

The Dominion Post