Everything trivial

Organisations like the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Advertising Standards Authority have a difficult job dealing with the multitude of complaints that come flooding in. But they do get to laugh at the ridiculous ones and P J Radich, the chair of the Broadcasting Standards Authority, has released a list of trivial complaints that it has received. 

The BSA will usually apply the ordinary meanings of the words frivolous, vexatious or trivial. Obviously, there is some overlap in the meanings of these expressions.

Frivolous means not serious or sensible, or even silly. A frivolous complaint is one which the BSA considers to be unworthy of being treated in the same way in which it would treat a complaint which is not frivolous or which has some merit.

A trivial complaint is one which is of little or no importance and is at such a level not to justify it being treated as a serious complaint.

Examples of complaints that the BSA has declined to determine on the basis they were frivolous or trivial include:

Trivial accuracy complaints

  • A complaint that promos for upcoming programmes containing the word “next” were inaccurate, because there were advertisements between the programmes (2007-095)
  • A complaint that a reference to “government superannuation” was inaccurate as it should have referred to “New Zealand superannuation” (2009-164)
  • A complaint that the meaning of the phrase “50 times less power” was unclear and therefore inaccurate (2009-150)
  • A complaint that a reference to a “31 percent difference” in men’s and women’s pay was inaccurate (2010-015)
  • A complaint that a reference to “wind chill factor” did not indicate which temperature measurement was being used (2010-033)
  • A complaint that a reference to Prince William as “the next King of England” was inaccurate because he was also the next King of New Zealand (2011-004)
  • A complaint that a reference to a train “engine” was inaccurate (2011-009)
  • A complaint that a reference to a search area should have been in square nautical miles, not kilometres (2010-055)
  • A complaint that the phrase Police “force” was inaccurate because the police were not part of the Armed Forces (2011-067)
  • A complaint that a reference to “an area of around 15,000 rugby fields” was inaccurate because that was not a proper area measurement (2012-100)
  • A complaint that a reference to colony cages for hens being “4cm more than conventional cages” was inaccurate (2012-100)

Complaints about low-level language

  • A complaint about the word “bugger” in a factual travel programme (2011-084)
  • A complaint about the word “damn” in an election advertisement (2011-143)
  • A complaint about the use of the word “gay” in a news item, to mean “homosexual” (2011-118)

Other frivolous/trivial matters

  • A complaint that an election advertisement which used a voiceover by a child was inappropriate because children are not allowed to vote (2011-158)
  • A complaint that a news item containing footage of a reporter walking backwards was dangerous and breached standards of law and order (2012-100)

Good to see some New Zealanders are worrying about the important issues. 

Hat tip: Victoria Young

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