Arps and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2019-073A (7 May 2020)
- Judge Bill Hastings (Chair)
- Paula Rose QSO
- Susie Staley MNZM
- Phillip Arps
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a 1 News segment breached the discrimination and denigration and balance standards. The Authority found that people who hold the views represented in the segment do not amount to a ‘recognised section of the community’ for the purposes of the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority also found that, while the broadcast discussed a controversial issue of public importance, it was balanced by the inclusion of multiple points of view from several parties.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Balance
 A segment on 1 News reported on the police visiting a family in connection with the public posting of anti-Islamic flyers. The item also featured comment from several parties including an AUT Professor, the President of the NZ Muslim Association and a Deputy Police Commissioner about the issue of freedom of expression in New Zealand.
 The segment was broadcast on 2 July 2019 on TVNZ 1. In considering this complaint, we have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
 Phillip Arps complained that the broadcast breached the discrimination and denigration and balance standards of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. Mr Arps said the broadcast was discriminatory and unbalanced towards people who hold views similar to those of the family featured in the broadcast.
The broadcaster’s response
 TVNZ submitted the broadcasts did not breach the nominated standards for the following reasons:
- The broadcast would not lead to the denigration or discrimination of any section of the community.
- The item discussed a controversial issue of public importance (the right to freedom of expression). However, the item was balanced through comment from the woman featured and her son, the NZ Muslim Association President, the Police and an AUT History Professor.
 The discrimination and denigration standard (Standard 6) protects against broadcasts which encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, any section of the community on account of sex, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, occupational status or as a consequence of legitimate expression of religion, culture or political belief.
 The balance standard (Standard 8) states that when controversial issues of public importance are discussed in news, current affairs and factual programmes, broadcasters should make reasonable efforts, or give reasonable opportunities, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.
 In New Zealand we value the right to freedom of expression. Accordingly, when we consider a complaint that a broadcast has breached broadcasting standards, we weigh the value of the programme, and the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression, against the level of actual or potential harm that might be caused by the broadcast.
Discrimination and denigration
 The first question under this standard is whether people who hold views similar to those of the family featured in the broadcast amount to a ‘recognised section of the community’ for the purposes of this standard. We find people who hold such views do not amount to a ‘recognised section of the community’ for the purposes of this standard.
 In any event, we find the broadcast was unlikely to encourage the discrimination and denigration of any section of the community as the broadcast was a straightforward news report on the relevant incident and the wider issue of freedom of expression.
 Accordingly, we do not uphold the complaint under this standard.
 The balance standard only applies to situations where a ‘controversial issue of public importance’ is ‘discussed’ in ‘news, current affairs or factual programmes’.1
 We find the right to freedom of expression in New Zealand to be a ‘controversial issue of public importance’ that was ‘discussed’ in this broadcast for the purposes of this standard. However, we find the broadcast was balanced as it included multiple points of view from several parties including the family featured in the broadcast, an AUT Professor, the President of the NZ Muslim Association and a Deputy Police Commissioner.
 Therefore, we do not uphold the complaint under this standard.
For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
Judge Bill Hastings
7 May 2020
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1. Phillip Arps’ formal complaint – 11 July 2019
2. TVNZ’s response – 9 August 2019
3. Mr Arps’ referral – 28 August 2019
4. TVNZ’s confirmation of no further comment – 13 November 2019
5. Mr Arps’ letter regarding standards – 19 November 2019
1 Guideline 8a