Wednesday, 2 August 2017

I have received a reply from Radio New Zealand

Here is the “tricky-Dicky” response from Radio New Zealand to my complaint to their atrocious item on the calving of Larsen C a few weeks ago.

It is a letter designed, I think, to be unintelligable, or the author is only semi-literate.

Take this as the main example:

lf your complaint had suggested that the item was inaccurate because it did not identify global warming or climate change as the cause of the iceberg creation, the complaint would have been rejected.”

Perhaps I did not express myself clearly enough but I thought that that was exactly what I was trying to say.

The item certainly DID NOT identify climate change as the cause of the iceberg creation. Otherwise what on earth does icebergs calf all the time. It is business as usual in the Antarctic and in the Arctic” mean?!!

In any case they DID reject my complaint.

As an exercise in futility I am considering taking this to the next stage and complaining to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

A non-response to a complaint to Radio New Zealand

Dear Mr Westenra

1 write in response to your formal complaint regarding an item on "Morning Report" reporting the calving of the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica which was broadcast on July 13, 2017. Your complaint has been investigated. As requested, we have couched your complaint in terms of a possible breach of the balance and accuracy standards, anda decision has been reached.

We appreciate you had concerns about the ítem, but that does not necessarily mean it was in beach of the formal standards. As a short news ítem, it was
· never designed to be an in-depth analysis of the causes or outcomes of climate change. For the avoidance of doubt, the balance standard only applies to news and current affairs or factual programmes where a matter is "discussed". The standard is not intended to cover short form news reports such as this ítem on Morning Report. Radio New Zealand notes that it has previously interviewed Professor Eric Rignot in February this year as a part of its overall coverage of the climate change issue. For these reasons this aspect of your complaint was not upheld.

The accuracy standard is designed to protect the audience from being misled on facts contained in news and current affairs or factual programmes. The thrust of this item was to report that a massive iceberg had broken away from the Antarctic; it was not a review to determine the cause of the iceberg's creation. As your complaint does not state explicitly why the accuracy standard was breached, this aspect of your complaint was not upheld. lf your complaint had suggested that the item was inaccurate because it did not identify global warming or climate change as the cause of the iceberg creation, the complaint would have been rejected.

ln line with the requirements of the Broadcasting Act, this letter advises you of the reason why your formal complaint was not upheld and of your right, if you wish, to refer this decision for review to the Broadcasting Standards Authority, PO Box 9213, Wellington. A referral must occur within 20 working days.

Again, we appreciate you had concerns about the item and we thank you for your interest in Radio New Zealand and for drawing this matter to our attention.

George Bignell

Complaints Coordinator

Here is my original complaint to Radio New Zealand

Letter to Radio New Zealand


Dear Mr. Edwards.

I wish to register with you my strong distaste for the coverage of Radio NZ’s coverage of the calving of the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica which came some hours after other media covered it.

The print media correctly reflected the fact that there is some disagreement over the nature of this phenomenon

"Some climate scientists believe the warming in the region was at least in part a consequence of human-caused climate change, while others have disputed that, seeing a large role for natural variability — and noting that icebergs have been breaking away from ice shelves for many millions of years. But the two camps agree that the breakup of ice shelves in the peninsula region may be a preview of what is in store for the main part of Antarctica as the world continues heating up as a result of human activity»

One of these people saying this calving is related to planetary warming is glaciologist Dr. Eric Rignot of NASA.

Glaciologist Professor Eric Rignot previously described the potential loss of the ice sheets, which make up the Antarctic continent, as being "like an eggshell that became too thin".

"It's not going to melt away. It's going to fracture," he said.

"It's going to reach a limit beyond which it is not stable.»

The Radio New Zealand piece was deeply biased as it created the impression that there is a consensus that this phenomenon is NOT CAUSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE, something that could not be further from the case.

It is my understanding that in the case of controversy like this BOTH sides of the argument should be given equal status.

Instead I find it hard to escape the impression that your coverage on this (and prior to this) is government-led propaganda to softpeddle the impacts of climate change and to pull the wool over the eyes of the public.

RNZ, as a public broadcaster has a responsibility to inform its listeners and not to "manufacture consent» for the National governments refusal to take any action on something that is a dire emergency.

One way to redress this egregious imbalance would be to invite comment from someone of Dr. Rignot’s stature,

Unless I detect an attempt to correct this bias I shall take a case to the Broadcasting Standards Authority on the grounds of bias and a failure to present both sides of the argument.

Your sincerely,
Robin Westenra

As a postscript, here is the interview of Eric Rignot with Radio NZ

Professor Eric Rignot: The Tale Told by Polar Ice Sheets

From Saturday Morning, 10:05 am on 25 February 2017 

The Riiser-Larsen Ice Shelf in AntarcticaThe Riiser-Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica Photo: NASA

Professor Eric Rignot has been in New Zealand to give the S.T Lee Lecture on future sea-level rise from warming of the polar ice sheets at Victoria University.

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