The Authority upheld aspects of seven complaints under the privacy and fairness standards, regarding broadcasts by RNZ which included material stolen from the Waikato District Health Board and released by hackers on the dark web. The broadcasts were about a child under the care of Oranga Tamariki, who was effectively ‘living’ in a WDHB hospital because Oranga Tamariki was unable to find them a placement. The Authority found the child was identifiable and their privacy was breached on a segment on Morning Report. While there was a legitimate public interest in the story, this did not extend to all the details included in the item. The Authority also found the Morning Report segment breached the privacy of the child’s family but not of the social worker involved. The fairness standard was also breached as the broadcasts were unfair to the child and their family. The Authority did not uphold the complaints regarding law and order, as it found the broadcasts would not have the effect of inciting or encouraging illegal or seriously antisocial behaviour.
Upheld: Privacy, Fairness
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Good Taste and Decency
The Authority has issued a split decision in relation to the broadcast of a 14-year-old episode of Intrepid Journeys on Whakaata Māori. The broadcast contained the statement that staff at a Pakistani bakery were ‘working like n*****s out the back’. The complainant submitted that this phrase, and others in the broadcast, were discriminatory and denigrated the local people. Noting the age of the programme, the style of humour and audience expectations of the programme, and the lack of malice in the statements, the Authority unanimously declined to uphold the complaint in relation to most of the statements complained about. However, the Authority was split on its decision in relation to the use of the ‘n-word’. The majority upheld the complaint, finding the use of the ‘n-word’ was derogatory, evoked prejudice, and was capable of embedding negative stereotypes. The minority found insufficient malice and condemnation in the use of the word in the context, and noting that the phrase was directed at working conditions rather than at any particular class or group of people, did not find a breach of the standard. Due to the decision not being unanimous, and the broadcaster’s swift action to remove the ‘n-word’ from the broadcast, no orders were made.
Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld an accuracy complaint about an item on Newshub Live at 6pm which referred to ‘countless drive-by shooting incidents in recent weeks’, in the context of reporting on community efforts to limit gang tension and violence in Auckland in the lead up to a Tonga national rugby league match. The Authority found the item was materially accurate, and it would be contrary to the right, and value, of freedom of expression to restrict such speech.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority has upheld a complaint that an item on Fair Go that dealt with various issues arising from a house being built breached the accuracy and fairness standards. The Authority found the programme was inaccurate and misleading in its portrayal of the issues involved in building the house. It found the complainants were portrayed unfairly and their views were not fairly reflected in the programme. It also found there was no breach of the privacy standard, and the balance standard did not apply as the programme did not deal with a controversial issue of public importance.
Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness
Not Upheld: Privacy, Balance
Orders: Section 13(1)(a) broadcast statement on air and online; Section 16(1) $2,000 legal costs and $98.70 disbursements, Section 16(4) $1000 costs to the Crown
The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging an item on 1 News about nurses suffering ‘fatigue and burnout’ breached broadcasting standards. The complainant was concerned for an interviewee’s mental wellbeing and the broadcast’s omission of any interview with the interviewee’s employer or discussion of the employer’s accountability for the situation. The Authority found the balance standard did not apply, as no controversial issue was discussed; the issue of current nurse shortages is a fact. In any event, significant perspectives on the issue were broadcast within the (ongoing) period of current interest. The Authority also found the broadcast was materially accurate and unlikely to mislead viewers. The discrimination and denigration standard also did not apply.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that two items on 1 News concerning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine breached the balance, accuracy, discrimination and denigration, and fairness standards. The first item reported on possible war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine, and the second on New Zealand providing further financial and military aid to Ukraine. The Authority found the broadcaster made reasonable efforts to present significant points of view in the items, and the accuracy standard was not breached. While the complainant was concerned the broadcasts discriminated against Russian people, the Authority found the broadcasts did not refer to Russian people generally, and rather referred to the Russian government or its military. The fairness standard did not apply.
Not upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint under several standards in relation to a segment on The Project. In the broadcast, comedian Justine Smith joked about throwing a half-eaten apple at anti-abortion protesters. The complainants alleged the segment was offensive, promoted violence and criminal activity, and discriminated against anti-abortion protesters. The Authority found that while the statements may have been offensive to some – in the context of the broadcast as a whole, taking into account audience expectations of the show, and the lack of any specific call to act – the alleged harm caused by the broadcast did not reach the thresholds required to restrict the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression under any of the nominated standards.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence, Law and Order, and Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint an item on Newshub Live at 6pm breached the discrimination and denigration standard in its discussion of the social media and wider impact of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial. The Authority noted the issue of the genders of victims and perpetrators of domestic violence was not the focus of the broadcast, and it did not reach the high threshold of condemnation necessary to find a breach of the standard.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has declined to determine a complaint alleging Weekend Collective breached the discrimination and denigration standard. The programme referred to protesters occupying Parliament grounds as ‘vermin’. In light of the Authority’s recent finding that the standard does not apply to the protesters, the Authority considered it appropriate to decline to determine the complaint.
Declined to determine (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, in all the circumstances): Discrimination and Denigration
A segment on The Project reported on the discovery of the Smeagol slug in South Westland. The hosts took the opportunity to tease their co-host, Kanoa Lloyd, during the segment as they knew she had a phobia of slugs. The complainant stated the segment breached the good taste and decency standard as it normalised bullying behaviour and harassing someone due to their phobias. The Authority did not uphold the complaint, finding the segment amounted to friendly banter without any offensive intent. Accordingly, it did not reach the threshold for regulatory intervention.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency