The Authority declined to determine a complaint that the broadcaster breached broadcasting standards for failing to broadcast the whole of the Director-General of Health’s briefing during the COVID-19 lockdown period. The Authority acknowledged the importance and value of the Director-General’s COVID-19 briefings particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown period. However, it found the complaint did not raise any issue of broadcasting standards capable of being resolved by the complaints procedure.
Declined to determine: Programme Information
The Authority has not upheld a complaint under the balance and accuracy standards about a series of Radio New Zealand broadcasts on 26 June 2020. The items concerned the Government’s management of COVID-19 at the international border, and referred to a series of events including the failure to test 55 individuals for COVID-19 before release from quarantine as ‘border blunders’, ‘bungling at the border’, and ‘COVID botch ups’. The Authority considered the statements were not of fact but of opinion, to which the accuracy standard did not apply, and the broadcasts were unlikely to mislead listeners. The Authority considered the assessment of the Government’s management of COVID-19 at the international border to be a controversial issue of public importance, but found alternative viewpoints were included to enable listeners to arrive at an informed opinion.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a segment on The Project, in which host (and comedian) Jeremy Corbett compared the time then National Party Leader Todd Muller and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent thinking before responding to a question about whether US President Donald Trump is racist. The complaint was that the segment breached broadcasting standards by implying Mr Muller ‘failed’ by answering the question too soon and by comparing Mr Trudeau with Mr Muller rather than Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The segment was clearly intended to be comical rather than a serious political commentary. In that context it would not have misled viewers and did not trigger the requirements of the balance standard. Nor was the item unfair to Mr Muller who, as then Leader of the Opposition, could reasonably expect to be the subject of media coverage and commentary, including satirical commentary.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy, Balance
An episode of Seven Sharp included an item about a tornado and thunderstorm that occurred in New Zealand and an eye witness account from a resident. Considering the contextual factors and the nature of the programme, the Authority did not uphold a complaint that the language used breached the good taste and decency standard.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
In an episode of Seven Sharp, journalist Laura Daniels presented regarding creating a European inspired holiday from within New Zealand, in the context of COVID-19 travel restrictions. It included a scene where she pretended to eat cigarettes from a plate. The Authority did not uphold a complaint the broadcast was inappropriate for children to watch and breached the children’s interests standard. Taking the contextual factors into account, in particular the audience expectations of Seven Sharp, the Authority found the segment was unlikely to adversely affect children.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests
The Authority did not uphold a complaint about the second part of a two-part documentary, Leaving Neverland, concerning sexual abuse allegations made by two men against Michael Jackson. The Authority took into account the nature of the programme, which was clearly presented from the perspectives of the two men featured and included responses to these and similar allegations, from Michael Jackson and his lawyers. In this context, the Authority found: the broadcast would not have caused widespread undue offence or distress as contemplated under the good taste and decency standard; the balance standard did not apply as the broadcast did not address a ‘controversial issue of public importance’ for New Zealand viewers; the programme was unlikely to mislead viewers and did not breach the accuracy standard; and the fairness and discrimination and denigration standards did not apply.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Balance, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an item on Checkpoint covering the Select Committee report on the Abortion Legislation Bill was unbalanced, unfair and discriminated against unborn children. The Authority found: ‘unborn children’ were not a recognised section of the community; the broadcaster made reasonable efforts to present significant viewpoints on the issue discussed; and the item did not result in unfairness to anyone taking part or referred to.
Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an RNZ News item covering anti-racism protests in Washington and London. The item reported that after ‘a largely peaceful day’, some of the British protesters threw bottles at police, mounted officers charged at the protesters, and an officer ‘required hospital treatment after falling from her horse’. The complaint was that this characterisation of the events breached broadcasting standards as the protest was not ‘peaceful’ and other reports noted the horse bolted after a firework or similar was thrown from the crowd. The Authority found the item was materially accurate, and that the remaining standards raised were not applicable to the complainant’s concerns.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about documentary Western Thrace, Contested Space, which examined the lives of ethnic Turks living in the Western Thrace region of Greece. It found that there were no material inaccuracies in the documentary as alleged by the complainant. The documentary was about discrimination felt by the Turkish community as a whole and was exploring their experiences. Some inaccuracies alleged by the complainant were broadly immaterial to the thrust of the documentary, while others were expressions of opinion, comment and analysis, to which the accuracy standard does not apply. It found the balance standard did not apply as it did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance in New Zealand. The remaining standards raised also did not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has upheld a complaint that a 1 News item reporting on then Leader of the Opposition and National Party leader Hon Simon Bridges travelling from Tauranga to Wellington during COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown breached the accuracy standard. The Authority found that the item, which was focussed on MPs breaking lockdown rules, was misleading in putting Mr Bridges in that category. The Authority acknowledged that, during the time of the broadcast, there was confusion surrounding the scope of the rules, particularly as to what constituted an essential service. However, the broadcaster had access to information suggesting Mr Bridges was engaged in an ‘essential service’ and, given the level of harm potentially caused by portraying a senior Member of Parliament as breaking lockdown rules, had not made reasonable efforts to ensure that this particular item did not mislead the public.