Media Matters in New Zealand Inc., a registered charity with the Charities Commission, is pleased that one of its member’s appeal to the High Court against a BSA order issued against him, has been successful, at least in part (see below). Members of Media Matters are “campaigning for a better media”. Their “Vision” is “a Media Environment in New Zealand that is safe to all: free of gratuitous sex, violence, asnd offensive language… so parents can trust what their children see.” Members are also very concerned about inaccurracies in the media (Source: www.viewers.org.nz ).
Fairfax Media reported on 2 May 2012:
A Wellington beneficiary has succeeded in overturning a Broadcasting Standards Authority [BSA] ruling that he should pay $50 costs to deter him from making too many complaints.
Donald McDonald, of Newtown, [a keen member of Media Matters] took a complaint to the BSA following a One News bulletin on January 6, 2011, which incorrectly stated the distance of a supernova from Earth.
He has been called a prolific complainer and his complaints make up nearly five per cent of TV One’s complaints.
Mr McDonald complained the supernova was 240 million light years away, instead of 240 light years as stated in the news item.
His complaint to the BSA was rejected on the basis of the supernova’s distance being “peripheral” to the story, which focussed on the discovery of the supernova by a young Canadian girl.
But with Mr McDonald a regular complainant, the BSA opted to also fine him $50 as a deterrent against complaining about “frivolous and trivial” matters again. TVNZ also declined to retract the incorrect details.
Mr McDonald opted to take the complaint to the High Court. The court upheld the BSA ruling, but dismissed the order for the $50 costs.
However, Mr McDonald maintained his complaint was lodged in the interest of maintaining accuracy, and he would continue to lodge complaints whenever such errors came up.
“I will have to prove my arguments more clearly to those who do not understand numbers, which is the news media in many cases.
“For TVNZ not to admit the error is a disappointment to hundreds of stargazers and schoolteachers.”
While he would not pursue it further in the courts, Mr McDonald still hoped TVNZ would apologise for the inaccuracy.
“I’m not just a mad scientist but a stickler for fairness and truth.
“I’ve been described by some as an amateur vexatious litigant, which is not really me and it’s not what I think of myself. I’m anxious for this opportunity to avoid such connotations.”
It was up to TVNZ to acknowledge that in every case his complaints had been accurate, Mr McDonald said.
“When there is a mistake it should be published in some way, not just a private matter. Because nobody in the whole world realised I was right, and I was.”
An earlier version of this story incorrectly indicated Mr McDonald had won a High Court appeal against the BSA ruling.
The Court decision issued on 31 April 2012 stated:
 The appeal against the decision to dismiss the complaint without determination is dismissed. The appeal against an order to pay $50 costs is allowed, and the order quashed.