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Broadcasting watchdog finds TVNZ breached standards over ‘Jewish billionaires’ reference

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has found 1 News breached standards with “the effect of embedding an antisemitic trope” after a reference to ‘Jewish billionaires’ during one of its segments.

The broadcasting watchdog upheld a complaint about an item which aired on 1 News on May 1, 2020 about the ‘Israel Start-up Nation’ cycling team.

The segment reported on the increase in use of smart trainers for cyclists during the Covid-19 pandemic and featured New Zealander Greg Henderson, who coaches the road cycling team ‘Israel Start-up Nation’.

The reporter referred to ‘Israel Startup Nation’ being ‘backed by Jewish billionaires’.

In its ruling, the BSA noted its obligation to reflect community standards and values and its “understanding of an increased awareness and intolerance of racism”.

“We have previously considered complaints about antisemitism in broadcasts through the narrow lens of the guidelines to the standard. However, with this complaint we have adjusted our approach. In some instances the guidelines, when applied rigidly, can miss underlying prejudice.

“While we consider there was a lack of intent on the part of the broadcaster, this has had the effect of embedding an antisemitic trope and is insufficient to justify the comment.”

The BSA did not make any formal orders against 1 News, finding that publication of the decision was sufficient to address the breach.

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