The Authority upheld a complaint from ANZ Bank New Zealand Ltd (‘ANZ’) that an item on Seven Sharp was inaccurate and misleading. The item concerned a customer who had had a dispute with the bank and in December 2018 entered an ANZ branch and pretended he had a bomb. The Authority agreed that the item breached the accuracy standard as it created a misleading impression that the customer was paid a settlement as a result of his actions at the bank, when in fact the dispute had been settled and he had received a settlement payment months earlier. The Authority considered the question of whether the item undermined law and order to be borderline. The broadcaster took a light-hearted human interest approach to a serious story, and the item risked encouraging and promoting illegal activity. However, the Authority concluded the presenters’ comments at the end of the item adequately denounced the actions, making it sufficiently clear that the customer’s actions were unacceptable. The Authority concluded that the item as a whole did not actively encourage illegal behaviour. The Authority acknowledged the broadcast may have been upsetting for bank staff involved in the events, but found the fairness standard could not be applied to them as viewers of the item (rather than participants). The Authority considered the publication of this decision sufficient to censure the breach of standards by the broadcaster and made no orders.
Upheld: Accuracy. Not Upheld: Law and Order, Fairness.
A complaint that a segment on The Breakfast Club, on More FM, where the hosts made jokes and puns about a woman who died after being pecked by a rooster, breached the good taste and decency standard has not been upheld. The Authority found that, while the comments were insensitive and had the potential to cause offence to family of the deceased, the programme as a whole did not reach the threshold required to justify a restriction on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression. The Authority found that, considering the context of the item (including the target audience of More FM and the audience expectations surrounding The Breakfast Club and its hosts) and the tone of the item, the item did not undermine widely shared community standards and was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress.
Not upheld: Good taste and decency
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an interview with Simon Bridges, National Party leader and Leader of the Opposition, was in breach of the accuracy, balance and fairness standards. The complainant submitted that the interviewer’s description of a tweet from National MP Chris Penk regarding the Abortion Legislation Bill as ‘fake news’, ‘misinformation’, and ‘wrong’ was inaccurate. The Authority found that this description amounted to comment and analysis, to which the accuracy standard does not apply. The Authority also found that the interview was balanced, as it was reasonable for the interviewer to take a position opposing that of Mr Bridges, and Mr Bridges was given ample opportunities to present his perspective on issues discussed. Given Mr Bridges’ position and experience in the media, and the reasonable expectations Mr Penk would have around treatment of his tweet in the media, the Authority also found that neither was treated unfairly.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a segment on Seven Sharp regarding an advertisement by Fluoride Free NZ. Mark Atkin, on behalf of Fluoride Free NZ, complained that the programme was in breach of the balance and accuracy standards. The Authority found that the segment did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance, as required for the balance standard to apply. The Authority also found that none of the points identified by the complainant were inaccurate.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
The Authority upheld complaints that the broadcast of potentially offensive language in two episodes of Inside the Red Arrows breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. The complainant made separate complaints about each episode. The broadcaster did not respond within the required 20 working day statutory timeframe, although once the complaint was referred to the Authority, it responded to Mr Francis advising that his complaint about the first episode was upheld. It later advised the Authority that the second complaint was also upheld. Upon considering the substance of the complaints, the Authority recognised the value of the documentary series, however, it found that as the episodes were broadcast at 7.30pm, which is a time that children may be watching, and they were not preceded by any warning for language, the broadcasts breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. Audiences were not given sufficient information about the episodes to exercise choice and control over their and their children’s viewing.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests.
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an item on 1 News about the release of the Department of Corrections’ strategy ‘Hōkai Rangi’, aimed at reducing the disproportionately high number of Māori in prisons, was unbalanced. The Authority recognised that the item discussed a controversial issue of public importance to which the balance standard applied, but found that the broadcaster provided sufficient balance for viewers. The item included a number of significant viewpoints on the issue, including comment from: Corrections Minister, Hon Kelvin Davis; justice campaigner, Sir Kim Workman; Corrections Chief Executive, Christine Stevenson; and the National Party’s spokesperson for Corrections, David Bennett. Hōkai Rangi was also widely reported on in other news media during the period of current interest. While the complainant wished for different individuals to be interviewed and/or to be given more air time, the Authority found that did not result in the news item being unbalanced or prevent the audience from reaching an informed view on the issue.
Not Upheld: Balance
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an episode of 20/20 aired on free-to-air television on a Sunday at 9am, covering the abduction of Steven Stayner and the subsequent murder of several women by Steven’s brother Cary Stayner, breached the children’s interests and good taste and decency standards. The Authority found that, while the broadcast discussed some potentially distressing themes and subject matter, such as rape, murder and kidnapping, viewers had sufficient information to enable them to make informed choices about whether they or children in their care should view the broadcast. The Authority highlighted the importance of audience expectations and target audiences in their determination and ultimately found any restriction on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression on this occasion would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests, Good Taste and Decency
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a segment on Breakfast where John Campbell interviewed technology commentator Paul Brislen about the alleged potential health effects of the rollout of the 5G cellular network breached the balance and accuracy standards. The Authority found that, considering the clear perspective of the broadcast and the ongoing media coverage of the 5G rollout, audiences had sufficient information to enable them to make reasoned decisions about 5G. The Authority noted that it was not its role to determine the scientific accuracy of Mr Brislen’s statements and ultimately found that TVNZ made reasonable efforts to ensure their accuracy.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
In an episode of Seven Sharp, host, Hilary Barry, interviewed a woman with type one diabetes about an encounter she had with waitstaff at a restaurant when eating food brought from home. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast breached the accuracy standard (by giving viewers the impression that kumara salad can treat hypoglycaemia). The Authority was satisfied that a reasonable viewer was not likely to be misled by the broadcast into thinking that kumara salad is a treatment for hypoglycaemia.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority found it had no jurisdiction to determine a complaint about the movie Overlord as the complaint to the broadcaster did not amount to an allegation that the programme was in breach of broadcasting standards. The Authority found that the broadcaster did not have to accept this as a valid formal complaint, on the grounds the complaint was about the storyline and genre, rather than an allegation that the programme was in breach of broadcasting standards.