Advertising Standards Authority, Broadcasting Standards Authority, NZ Media Council and Electoral Commission offer “no wrong door” to deal with election and referendum complaints

2 September 2020

In the lead up to the 17 October 2020 General Election and referendums, the public is reminded of New Zealand’s standards for election and referendum broadcasts, advertising, and publisher content. This is supported by a free and accessible complaints system designed to support a fair and democratic election process.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA), NZ Media Council and the Electoral Commission oversee this regulatory framework. They offer a “no wrong door” approach to complainants and undertake to ensure that people making a complaint to any agency will be directed to the right organisation.

Representatives of the four organisations say, “We are collectively focused on supporting a free and democratic process. We seek to support broadcasters, publishers, advertisers, commentators, political parties, candidates and other promoters to meet the standards expected.”

“Political speech, which includes robust political debate and the scrutiny of politicians, policies, and referendum issues, is valued highly and is a vital component of the right to freedom of expression.”

Parties, candidates and other promoters campaigning across media are required to meet standards detailed by the ASA, BSA, NZ Media Council and the Electoral Commission.
Listeners, viewers and readers can complain under various standards about:

  • Election and referendum advertisements,
  • broadcasts, including advertising, on TV and radio,
  • paid digital and print advertisements, paid communications on social media platforms, addressed and unaddressed mail, cinema and outdoor (out of home) advertising,
  • news articles in print and online news sites,
  • opinion pieces in print and on news websites.

“Given the abundance of information available at election time, it is important that voters seek out information from a variety of reputable sources, and consider it critically.”


For more information contact any of the organisations below:
ASA (Contact: Hilary Souter on 04 472 7852)
BSA (Contact: Raina Ng on 021 623 794)
NZ Media Council (Contact:
Electoral Commission (Contact: Clare Pasley on 027 551 7845)

A brief infographic depicting which organisation handles what types of complaints and matters associated with election and referendum matters can be found here:

The Advertising Standards Authority is an industry organisation that sets standards for responsible advertising across all media in New Zealand through its Codes of Practice. To support code compliance, the ASA provides education and training and a free consumer-complaints processes. The nine member Complaints Board has five public members and four industry members and meets fortnightly to adjudicate on complaints.
For more information see our website:

The BSA is an independent Crown entity that oversees the broadcasting standards regime in New Zealand. The BSA determines complaints that broadcasts have breached standards, undertakes research and oversees the development of broadcasting standards in consultation with broadcasters.
The Authority members are Judge Bill Hastings (Chair), Paula Rose QSO, Leigh Pearson, and Susie Staley MNZM.
The Acting Chief Executive is Helen Cruse.
For more information see our website:

The New Zealand Media Council is an independent forum for resolving complaints about the following

  • Content of newspapers, magazines and periodicals in circulation in New Zealand including their websites.
  • Online content of the following broadcasters – TVNZ, Mediaworks, Māori Television, Sky Network
  • Television, NZME Radio and Radio New Zealand.
  • Digital sites with news content, including blogs characterised by news commentary, that have been accepted as members of the Media Council.

The Media Council comprises six public members and five industry members. The Chair is Hon Raynor Asher, former Court of Appeal judge.
For more information see our website:

The Commission is an independent Crown Entity under the Crown Entities Act 2004 responsible for administering all aspects of Parliamentary elections, by-elections and referendums including:

  • registering electors and maintaining the electoral rolls,
  • promoting public awareness of electoral matters,
  • conducting general elections, by-elections, and referendums,
  • administering compliance with electoral laws,
  • supporting the boundary review process by the Representation Commission,
  • registering political parties and party logos, and
  • considering and reporting to the Minister and to the House on electoral matters