BSA signals end to te reo Māori complaints

4:47 pm on 9 March 2021

Using te reo Māori on air is not in breach of the country's broadcasting standards and the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) is saying that's the end of the matter, refusing to hear further complaints on it.

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Photo: 123RF

The BSA has received 27 inquiries about the use of te reo Māori since June 2020 - five times more than in the same period the year prior - two of them resulting in formal complaints.

The Authority is now encouraging broadcasters to respond to any complaints about the use of te reo by telling the complainant it is not a breach of standards.

It said te reo Māori was an official New Zealand language and noted its use was protected and promoted by existing law. Broadcasting in the language was not a breach of standards.

BSA chief executive Glen Scanlon said te reo Māori was not an issue for standards.

"A complaint about the use of te reo Māori does not raise an issue of harm as envisaged by the standards. The use of te reo Māori is an editorial decision for broadcasters," he said.

"There is no basis for a complaint simply on the use of te reo and we are saying to broadcasters that they can use the indication in this decision that when they are contacted in the first instance that they can refer people to this and they will be able to say 'look, this is what the Broadcasting Standards Authority have said and this is not a complaint or an issue under the standards," Scanlon said.

When asked if action could have been introduced earlier, Scanlon said it had been inquiries turning into formal complaints which was a motive for the BSA to finally draw a clear line.

There were no Māori or te reo Māori speakers on the panel who made the BSA decision, Scanlon said, but he denied this had delayed action on the matter.

He said Covid-19 had meant a delay in appointing a representative who was Māori.

He said the BSA was awaiting changes to appointments to the board, which would be handled by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

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