What to expect 

When a complaint is ‘formal’ - meaning it is made in writing within the required timeframe and alleges a breach of the formal standards/principles - the Broadcasting Act and Media Council rules require RNZ to investigate and respond to the complainant.  

At RNZ this process is managed by the Complaints Co-Ordinator in consultation with the relevant senior manager, who is also informed about the complaint. If necessary, the complaint will also be shared with the programme manager or producer in charge of the content that is the subject of the complaint. 

We aim to respond to your complaint within the statutory timeframe, but we do acknowledge that some complaints are more complex than others and may require more time to respond. If we do not think we will meet our timeframes, we will tell you.  

People’s opinions about our work vary widely but this may not imply a breach of standards. For example, as outlined by the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA), the use of te reo Māori does not raise an issue of harm as envisaged by standards and would not in itself be considered grounds for complaint. RNZ has a statutory duty sent out in its Charter to reflect New Zealand’s cultural identity, including Māori language and culture. 

How does RNZ react to complaints? 

RNZ recognises the right to complain and to be treated with courtesy, irrespective of viewpoint. For any formal complaint received we will judge the issue raised against RNZ’s Editorial Policy, and also either the  Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand  or the Media Council’s Statement of Principles depending on whether the complaint relates to something on air or something online.  

Does the number of complaints make a difference? 

No. We judge each complaint on its merit. Should we receive similar complaints about an item, the responses may be the same for efficiency.  

Can I just go straight to the Broadcasting Standards Authority or the Media Council?  

Both the BSA and the Media Council (MC) ask for the complaint to be directed firstly to the media organisation concerned, so please lodge your complaint to RNZ first. 

The only time you can complain directly to the BSA is if you wish to make a complaint alleging a breach of privacy. You can write to the BSA at PO Box 9213 Wellington 6001, or you can use the BSA online complaint form

For an on air complaint if you are not happy with our response to your complaint, which we must provide within 20 working days of receipt, you can refer it to the BSA and you must do that within 20 working days of receiving our reply. 

For an online complaint, if you are not happy with our response to your complaint, you can refer it to the MC. You should do this promptly.

Misuse of the service 

As a public media organisation, RNZ welcomes robust feedback and seeks to have ongoing conversations with our audiences.  

But RNZ will not tolerate harmful communications - for example, abusive posts on social media, offensive comments and harassment via email or text. For more information, please read our approach to harmful communications.  

How many complaints have you received this year?  

Every two months we will publish a running total of the complaints received so far in the financial year. We will also detail whether the complaint related to something said on air or something online and the principle or standard that it related to and whether a complaint was upheld, resolved or not upheld. 

Here is a summary of complaints received for the 2022/23 financial year:

Feedback and complaints process