Brian Edwards Media

Media Tip: If you didn’t get a fair go…


If you’re unhappy about the treatment you’ve received from any branch of the media, you have a number of possible courses of action. Which course you take will depend on the seriousness of your complaint. 

If you feel you’ve been misquoted, quoted out of context, unfairly edited, misrepresented, mistreated, misled as to the intention, style or nature of the item, you should write to the immediate superior of the journalist or reporter who did the story. This will normally be the Chief Reporter in the case of a newspaper, the editor in the case of a magazine, or the Head of News and Current Affairs in the case of television and radio.  If that fails, approach the next person up the chain, and the next, and the next, until you reach the top. 

If you still get no satisfaction from the publication or broadcaster, you can take your complaint to the Press Council, in the case of newspapers and magazines, or the Broadcasting Standards Authority, in the case of radio and television programmes. 

The Press Council is a voluntary body supported by the industry and has no power to compel newspapers to do anything or to punish them for their misdeeds. However, its findings on a complaint will be taken very seriously by the publication concerned and will be  published by them whether favourable or unfavourable. 

The Broadcasting Standards Authority is a statutory body and has available to it a range of punishments for breaches of the Broadcasting Standards. These include compelling the broadcaster to broadcast an apology or retraction, imposing a fine on the broadcaster or, in extreme cases,  requiring it to be commercial free for a period.

You should consult a lawyer if you believe you’ve been defamed.

On the other hand, if you feel you were fairly treated, why not let the immediate superior of the interviewer or reporter know that as well. Journalists don’t get a lot of positive feedback either.

For more information here are the links to the BSA and NZ Press Council:

 “Television and Radio Complaints: A Guide for Viewers and Listeners” (PDF – 56k)


  1. Most of the complaints to the BSA have been of a frivolous and vexatious nature. Usually, the complainants are those who have too high opinion of themselves, esp when it comes to risque advertising. Though, I must admit, some ads are of questionable taste, these days.

    • Most of the complaints to the BSA have been of a frivolous and vexatious nature

      I’m not sure that that’s entirely true, Catalina Y. The majority of complainants are probably genuinely upset or offended by what they’ve seen or heard. We may think them silly, but that’s rather different from being frivilous or vexatious. My impression is that a majority of the complaints are turned down, but quite a few are upheld.

  2. Advertising complaints do not go through the BSA. They are handled by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) – an entirely different authority, and the two are completely independent of each other.