At the Media Law Journal, Wellington based media lawyer Steven Price has been looking at the recent decisions of the Advertising Standards Complaint Board (a self-regulatory body) related to the election. There are a series of them and the decisions are weird. More importantly they are ineffectual in the great tradition of industry self-regulatory bodies. This can be seen clearly in the third decision – where there was clear lie from Act, but which they get no penalties for.
Wrong – ASC Appeal Board upheld a complaint against Labour that a YouTube video saying the National was planning to cut KiwiSaver in half. Steven thought that decision was wrong, and so do I. Everything I’ve seen says that the contributions from government will be dropped by more than half, and employer contributions by a lot. But it appears that the ASCAB have a problem with numbers.
Wrong again! – The ASCB upheld a complaint against Act that their advertising “ACT was the only party opposed to the Emissions Trading Scheme” was incorrect. The Kiwi Party also opposed the ETS. In this case we’re talking about a party that had virtually no chance of getting into politics. In fact they got less votes than the Bill & Ben party. Again the ASCB seems to have a problem distinguishing the numbers and reality.
Right – Act said ‘Safe’ New Zealand is now almost three times more violent than the US.
As usual, the ASCB invited ACT to substantiate its claim. It seems from the decision that ACT, despite being given two opportunities, could not. The party merely talked generally about how it depends on how you compare statistics. It seems that ACT didn’t supply any actual source for its claim.
Pause here. How staggering that ACT was happy to garner votes with this claim, but not prepared to substantiate it – even to a body whose self-regulatory nature ACT would presumably applaud.
Looking at how Act played with some incomparable statistics to get to this statement, it is completely unjustifiable, and in my opinion has to have been done deliberately. This is probably why they didn’t bother to mount a credible defense against the complaint. The question is what gets done about it?
Well nothing – the decision comes from a self-regulatory industry body with no teeth. From the ASCB judgment
In making its ruling the Complaints Board acknowledged that it had received advice from the Advertiser that the claim as it stood would not be used in any future advertising. This it said indicated the Advertiser’s commitment to the self-regulatory process.
Well of course not – the election is over. It doesn’t mean that they swear off using this type of dirty political tactic again, or that other parties will not follow the same path. After all there are no penalties. The lie has presumably helped Act get votes by screwing the political system. This is something that they rail against for everyone else – ask Winston. Act are hypocrites asking for penalties for others and avoiding it themselves.
Now what was Rodney put in charge of again? Something to do with government regulation that usually carries penalties. This from a party that wants to reduce government regulation and prefers self-regulation. So now we know the type of self-regulation that Act prefers – ineffectual.