Please read the following Complaints Procedure before lodging a complaint.
- The Media Council's complaint procedure is public and transparent and Council rulings are published on its website. Therefore, the name of a complainant will be published unless there are exceptional circumstances, as determined by the Media Council.
- A person bringing a complaint against a publication (see member list here) must, unless exempted by the Executive Director of the Council, first lodge the complaint in writing with the editor of the publication.
The complaint (to be clearly marked as a letter of complaint) is to be made to the editor, online author or publisher within the following
- A complaint about a particular article, within one calendar month of its publication.
- A complaint arising from a series of articles, within one calendar month of the earlier of the date from which the substance of the complaint would have been reasonably apparent to the complainant, or the publication of the last article in the series.
- A complaint concerning non-publication of any material, within two calendar months of the date on which the request to publish was received by the publication.
- A complaint about an online article or blog, within one calendar month of the date of first publication, with the complaint option kept open for two years if the offending article remains uncorrected electronically, or longer at the Chairperson of the Council’s discretion.
- A complaint which does not arise from the publication or non-publication of any material, within one month of the incident giving rise to the complaint.
- If the complainant is not satisfied by a publication’s response or receives no response within 10 working days from the date on which the editor or online publisher received the complaint, the complainant should then complain promptly to the Council.
- Complainants are requested where possible to use the online complaint below or on a form provided by the Council. The Council will, however, accept complaints by letter. All complaints must be accompanied by the material complained against and copies of the correspondence with the publication. The main thrust of the complaint is to be summarised in up to 500 words. Other supporting material may be supplied. Legal submissions are not required.
- On receipt of the complaint it will be assessed for acceptance, to determine whether it should be referred to the Chair, to a Committee of Council or to the full Media Council. The Chair has the power to decline a complaint; Council Committees (comprising the Chair, one public member and one industry member) have delegated powers from the Council to determine some complaints.
The time limits which will apply on receipt of a complaint are:
- After the Council refers the complaint back to the publication, the publication has 10 working days from receipt of that complaint to reply.
- On receipt of the response, the Media Council will refer it to the complainant. The complainant may then, within 10 working days, in approximately 200 words, reply to any new matters raised by the publication. The complainant should not repeat submissions or material contained in the original complaint
- The Executive Director of the Council has the power to extend time limits but will not do so without compelling reason.
- In appropriate circumstances, guided by rules of natural justice, the Council may request or receive further information from one or both of the parties
- Once submissions have been exchanged the Media Council will at its next meeting consider and usually determine the complaint. Most complaints are determined on the papers but, if wishing to make a personal submission, a complainant may apply to the Executive Director of the Council for approval to attend. If approval is given the editor, or representative of the editor or publisher of an online article will also be invited to attend the hearing. No new material may be submitted at the hearing without the leave of the Council.
- Timeliness of a publication’s response will be taken into account in a judgment, and may itself be the subject of a Council ruling.
Publication of adjudications
- If a complaint is upheld the publication, print or online, must publish the adjudication giving fair prominence. Where an offending print article has been published on pages 1-3, the Council may direct the adjudication to run on page 3, to a maximum of 400 words. If the decision is lengthy the Media Council will provide a shortened version.
- A short pointer is to run on page 3, with the full adjudication further back if it relates to an article published on a later page.
- A website or blog should publish the adjudication in the section in which the original story ran.
- Magazines should publish a pointer on the first available editorial page with the full adjudication appearing on a later page.
- The decision must be published unedited and unaccompanied by editorial comment, though publications are not proscribed from commenting on the decision elsewhere. If a complaint is not upheld the publication may determine whether to publish the decision and where it should be published.
- All ruled-against electronic copy that is enduring and deemed to be conveying inaccuracy must be noted as having been found incorrect and why. In cases where a potential harm outweighs the need to keep public record intact, the Council may require the removal of story elements or the taking down of a story in its entirety.
If a ruled-against article has been further published on a publication’s website, or distributed to other media, the Council requires that:
- In the instance of a website, the article is to be flagged as having been found to have breached Media Council Principles, and a link provided to the decision on this website.
- Where there has been further distribution to other news media, the Media Council will provide a short statement to be published in each publication known to have published the original item.
- The Council reserves the right to direct a right of reply, correction, or retraction. In egregious circumstances, with a unanimous decision, the Council may censure a publication. Such a censure must be published in the publication or website giving due prominence.
- All decisions will be available on the Council’s website and published in its relevant annual report, unless the Council, on its own volition or at the request of a party, agrees to non-publication. Non-publication will be agreed to only in exceptional circumstances.
- Where the circumstances suggest that the complainant may have a legally actionable issue, the complainant will be required to provide a written undertaking not to take or continue proceedings against the publication or journalist concerned.
- The Council may consider a third party complaint (i.e. from a person who is not personally aggrieved) However, it reserves the right to require the complainant to first seek written consent from the individual who is the subject of the article complained of.
- Publications, websites and blogs must not give undue publicity to a complaint until it has been resolved or adjudicated. However, the fact a complaint has been made can be reported.
- Editors are to publish, in each issue of the publication, the Council’s complaints process. This should be by way of a brief at either the foot of a news briefs column, or on the editorial or letters page; on the contacts page for websites and blogs and on the imprint page for magazines.
VOD Complaints Procedure
Please read the following Complaints Procedure before lodging a complaint.
New Zealand Media Council - VOD Classifications Code – Application & Complaints Process
- Complaints under the New Zealand Media Council’s Video-On-Demand (“VOD”) Classifications Code (“Code”) may be made only against online content that is required to be classified according to the Code (“VOD programmes”).
- Online programmes classified prior to the service provider becoming a signatory to the Code are not required to be reclassified according to the Code.
Complaints & Time Limits
- Complaints under the Code may be brought at any time whilst the VOD programme remains available on the service provider’s website.
- Complaints shall first be directed to the relevant service provider for consideration in accordance with its internal complaints procedure. Providers shall provide user-friendly guidance on their websites on how to access their complaints procedure, such guidance to explain the circumstances in which a complaint may proceed to the Media Council.
- A service provider must provide a response to any genuine complaint as soon as is practicable.
- If the complainant is not satisfied with the service provider’s response, the complainant may refer the complaint to the Media Council, such complaint to be lodged in writing within ten working days of the date of receipt of the service provider’s response. The complaint should include the service provider’s response. Complaints should be lodged via the Media Council’s website or in writing to the Media Council .
- The Media Council may not consider a complaint if the complainant is currently taking or is likely to take proceedings against the service provider in another jurisdiction. The Media Council may at its discretion request a written undertaking not to take or continue proceedings against the provider before proceeding with the complaint.
- The Chairperson of the Media Council shall determine whether the complaint meets the criteria for acceptance by the Media Council. The complainant will be advised whether or not the complaint is to be heard by the Media Council. If the complaint is not accepted, the complainant will be advised of the reasons for this decision. The Chairperson’s decision will be final.
- If the Chairperson considers there is a potential breach of a VOD classification which will be investigated by the Media Council, she/he will refer the complaint to the service provider and seek comment from it within 10 working days or sooner if the Chairperson considers that the material in question gives rise to a real risk of significant harm to an individual or group of individuals.
- The Chairperson may choose to assist the parties to mediate complaints. Complaints may also be withdrawn and/or settled between the parties at any time.
- A service provider may withdraw or reclassify the VOD programme in question at any time, and shall refer to this in its response to the Media Council.
Adjudication of Complaints made under the Code
- Complaints accepted for consideration will be put before the VOD Classifications Committee of the Media Council (“Classifications Committee”). The Classifications Committee shall consist of five persons appointed by the Governance Committee of the Media Council (or their alternates).
The members of the Classifications Committee shall comprise:
- The independent Chairperson of the Media Council
- Two public members nominated by the Chairperson of the Media Council
- Two industry members nominated by service providers
- The Classifications Committee will determine its own procedures for the most efficient way of adjudicating complaints, with the objective of determining whether the service provider’s classification is a reasonable classification decision, such that is broadly consistent with previous classification decisions and audience expectations of the classification.
- The quorum for any meeting of the Classifications Committee shall be three members with a majority of public members.
- If a complaint under the Code is upheld in whole or in part, the service provider must reclassify the VOD programme as stipulated by the Classifications Committee.
The powers of the Council are set out in the New Zealand Media Council’s Rules [live link here]. In summary:
- Members must comply with any direction from the Council to reclassify any VOD programme.
- Where content is reclassified, Members must take all reasonable steps to have the content reclassified on any third party sites that they control where they are aware the content has been published.
- If the Council upholds a complaint, the Council shall publish the decision on its website.
- In egregious circumstances, with a unanimous decision, the Council may censure a Member to the extent permitted under the Council’s rules and procedures.
- Where the Council directs a VOD programme to be reclassified, any other Memberpublishing the same content must also comply with the decision when they receive notification from the Council or otherwise become aware of it.
- The powers of the Council are set out in the New Zealand Media Council’s Rules [live link here]. In summary: