An election advertisement for the Labour Party included the statement, ‘we’ll…make apprenticeships free to prepare for tomorrow’s jobs...’ The complainant argued that this statement was inaccurate because the apprenticeships are not free but paid for by the taxpayers. The Authority did not uphold the complaint finding that a reasonable viewer was unlikely to be misled by the programme.
Not Upheld: Election Programmes Subject to Other Standards (Accuracy)
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that the reading of an adaptation of the novel My Name Was Judas by author C.K. Stead was offensive to Christians in breach of the good taste and decency, and discrimination and denigration standards. The Authority did not consider that the broadcast’s content was likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress or undermine widely shared community standards and it did not reach the high threshold necessary for finding that it encouraged the denigration of, or discrimination against, Christians as a section of the community. The Authority also found that the balance standard did not apply as the programme was not a news, current affairs or factual programme.
Not upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration, Balance.
The Authority has upheld a complaint that comments made by Mike Hosking during his ‘Mike’s Minute’ segment were misleading in breach of the accuracy standard. Mr Hosking made statements referring to death-rate statistics in Italy related to COVID-19, including that ‘99.2% percent died with underlying health issues. In other words, the very things that were killing them anyway, at over 1,600 per day’. The Authority found the comments were misleading as the broadcaster conflated its own conclusions, drawn from a study into Italy’s COVID-19 figures, with the figure of 1,600 deaths per day, which was based on 2018 population data and ignored both cause of death and the notion of ‘excess mortality’. In this respect, the Authority emphasised the importance of data literacy among broadcasters and journalists, to ensure statistics are not misinterpreted or misrepresented. Finally, the Authority found the comments about people with ‘underlying health conditions’ did not reach the high threshold for finding a breach of the discrimination and denigration standard.
Upheld: Accuracy. Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration.
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an item on Newshub Nation about the New Conservative Party breached broadcasting standards. The Authority found that the New Conservative Party was not a recognised section of the community for the purposes of the discrimination and denigration standard, and that the accuracy standard did not apply as the complaint concerned matters of analysis and opinion rather than statements of fact. The Authority also found that the New Conservative Party and Party members were not treated unfairly, noting that the scrutiny of political parties is a vital component of freedom of expression, and is of particular importance in the lead-up to a general election.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an interview conducted with then-Minister of Health, Dr David Clark, on his breaches of the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 ‘lockdown rules’. The complainant argued that the interview amounted to harassment and bullying, and breached the fairness standard. The Authority found that the robust questioning was within the scope of what could be expected of a public figure being interviewed on a matter of significant public interest, particularly given the expectation as to how politicians will be treated by the media.
Not Upheld: Fairness
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that comments made by Paul Henry during Rebuilding Paradise with Paul Henry undermined the Director-General of Health’s directions regarding compliance with COVID-19 Alert-Level conditions. Mr Henry noted there were no new cases of COVID-19 on the day of broadcast and commented, ‘I don’t want Dr Ashley Bloomfield to threaten me and you with the “if New Zealanders aren’t good at Level 3, they won’t get to Level 2” warning. I realise people think he walks on water, but I don’t. …Obedience in the population is the job of the police and, god help us, the reluctant [Police] Commissioner’. Noting the importance of the right to freedom of expression and that Mr Henry was clearly giving his views on a topic of high public interest, the Authority found no actual or potential harm that justified regulatory intervention. Mr Henry is well known for offering strong, sometimes controversial, opinions and at the time of broadcast a wide range of information and alternative views were available to the public regarding the importance of complying with the Government’s Alert-Level conditions. The comments did not actively encourage non-compliance or seriously undermine law and order. Nor did they result in Dr Bloomfield or the Police Commissioner being treated unfairly. Given their high-profile positions, they can reasonably expect to be the subject of robust scrutiny and a wide range of media coverage and commentary.
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Balance, Fairness, Accuracy, Programme Information
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a Newshub Live broadcast reporting on the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s treatment for COVID-19 was inaccurate when it referred to President Donald Trump as ‘the world’s leading expert on fake news’. The Authority considered the statement was distinguishable as a statement of opinion and accordingly the accuracy standard did not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about the use of the term ‘bugger’ by weather presenter Dan Corbett during a broadcast of Seven Sharp. The Authority considered the term constituted low level coarse language which would not have offended a significant number of listeners in the context of the broadcast.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
Warning: This decision contains coarse language that some readers may find offensive
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that use of the word ‘cunt’ in the New Zealand crime drama series, One Lane Bridge, breached the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority observed that the standard is not intended to prevent the broadcast of legitimate drama and considered that the threshold for its intervention had not been reached. It determined that use of the word, in its context, did not contain the level of malice or nastiness required to find a breach of the discrimination and denigration standard and did not amount to hate speech or a sustained attack on women as a section of the community.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a satirical segment would have been offensive to Christians. The segment was an imagined promo for reality show The Block, set in Jerusalem and featured contestants who shared the names of biblical figures, including Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Thomas and Judas. The promo was broadcast on Good Friday. The Authority did not consider the broadcast’s content would have unduly offended or distressed the general audience, and it did not reach the high threshold necessary for finding it encouraged the denigration of, or discrimination against, Christians as a section of the community. The broadcast did not cause actual or potential harm at a level which justified limiting the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration