Campbell assumes Henry's TV complaints mantle

Last updated 05:00 21/11/2012
CONTROVERSIAL HOST: Paul Henry.
ANDREW GORRIE
CONTROVERSIAL: Paul Henry was almost single-handedly responsible for the record 250 complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Authority in 2010/11.

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Thanks to Paul Henry's brief failed foray into the world of Australian breakfast TV, broadcasting complaints dropped in the last year.

The controversial motormouth was almost single-handedly responsible for the record 250 complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Authority in 2010/11.

Last year that number dropped to 195, according to the annual report.

And only 10 per cent of complaints were upheld last year - the lowest figure since the authority was established in 1989.

The mantle of most-complained-about, formerly the territory of Henry's Breakfast and Outrageous Fortune, fell to TV3 current affairs programme Campbell Live this time round.

John Campbell and his crew drew 26 complaints - more than three times their tally from the year before - seven of which were upheld.

They were also stung with the greatest penalty for a segment on Paper Reclaim Ltd. The company argued the item inaccurately reported that striking staff worked in "dirty, unsanitary conditions" and that it had a rat problem.

The BSA upheld the complaint, and ordered the show to broadcast a statement summarising the decision and pay $13,742.20 in legal costs and $3000 to the Crown.

Chief executive Susan Freeman-Greene said while it was pleasing that complaints had reduced, it was too early to say if it was a trend.

"We believe that if the system is working well, complaints will drop over time. The implication of this is that broadcasters breach codes less often, the public are better able to identify breaches and the broadcasters' own complaints processes are more effective, prompting fewer referrals to us," she said.

Most complaints stemmed from television shows (83 per cent) and the most frequent problem respondents had related to "good taste or decency".

Among the dozens of rejected complaints were sacrilegious comments and plenty of partial nudity.

It turned out "dickhead", "bastard" and "shit" might push a few people's buttons but the authority rarely sided with the aurally squeamish.

Similarly, grid girls on morning television and "a brief hand down the pants" in an Australian drama might have raised the temperature in the living room of some Kiwi homes but it took more than sexual suggestion for a complaint to be upheld.

MOST COMPLAINTS

Campbell Live: 26 complaints – 7 upheld

3News/Firstline: 22 complaints – 3 upheld

One News: 20 complaints – 1 upheld

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