The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on Morning Report and a summary bulletin that discussed complaints about Kāinga Ora tenants forcing people to leave their homes. Kāinga Ora complained it was not given an opportunity to comment on one of two situations discussed during the broadcast, which led to the item being unbalanced, and was unfair to the agency. Noting the issue, and numerous similar cases, had been discussed over a number of months in RNZ reporting, the Authority found it was not required in the interests of either balance or fairness for Kāinga Ora to be given a specific opportunity to comment in relation to that particular case. In any event, the Housing Minister’s response, which referred to Kāinga Ora treating complaints seriously and its updated processes for dealing with complaints, was adequate to address the issues raised.
Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness
The Authority has declined to determine six complaints about various TVNZ broadcasts, under several standards, as the concerns related to the complainant’s personal preferences on what should be broadcast, issues raised had recently been dealt with and did not warrant further determination and/or the standards raised did not relate to the relevant complaint. Two complaints were also trivial.
Decline to determine (section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 – trivial; and section 11(b) in all the circumstances the complaint should not be determined): Balance, Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Offensive and Disturbing Content
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a Sunday item questioning what legacy could be left behind by a (now shut) chemical plant in Paritūtū, New Plymouth, which produced 2,4,5-T, containing the contaminant TCDD. The complaint was that the item breached the accuracy and balance standards as it exaggerated the harms of the chemical to people and the environment, and took insufficient care to fully investigate non-expert comments of interviewees ‘in spite of adequate explanatory reports in the public domain.’ Noting the high public interest and value in the item overall, the Authority found the segment was clearly presented as focusing on local residents’ perspectives of and concerns about the plant; the interviewees’ comments were clearly contextualised, and the item included references to reputable reports as well as appropriate comment from an expert in the area. Overall the Authority concluded sufficient information and viewpoints were presented to enable the audience to reach their own views, and any potential harm did not outweigh freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance
The Authority has not upheld a complaint an item on 1 News was denigrating or unfair by including footage of a displaced West Auckland resident, following the Auckland Anniversary floods, taking a donut from a box. The complaint stated the footage represented a racial stereotype, degrading the woman. The Authority found the broadcast did not breach the discrimination and denigration standard as it concerned the woman as an individual rather than a recognised section of the community, and was not unfair as she was not portrayed unfairly negatively. In any case, inclusion of the footage was an editorial choice that was open to the broadcaster.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness
The Authority has upheld one aspect of a privacy complaint regarding an episode of A Question of Justice which contained sensitive and traumatic photos of the complainant. The programme contained a re-enactment of an assault on the complainant in 2008, and showed photos of the complainant in hospital with extensive injuries and in a state of undress. The Authority found that while the photos had previously been broadcast in 2009, the sensitive surrounding circumstances and traumatic nature of the photos, combined with the passage of time since they had last been made public, meant the photos had become private again (especially since the complainant had no prior knowledge of this broadcast). The Authority did not uphold the remainder of the complaint, finding: disclosing the complainant’s involvement in the story and the re‑enactment did not breach her privacy; the broadcaster took sufficient action having upheld the complaint under the fairness standard (for not notifying the complainant of her inclusion in the broadcast); and the content would not have disproportionately offended or distressed the general audience, in the broadcast’s context.
Upheld: Privacy. Not Upheld: Fairness (Action Taken), Offensive and Disturbing Content.
Orders: Section 13(1)(d) – privacy compensation to the complainant $1,000
The Authority has not upheld a complaint an interview on Saturday Morning, where the host misgendered and ‘deadnamed’ the interviewee, breached the discrimination and denigration standard. While the Authority acknowledged the potential harm in the host’s words, it found the words were directed at the interviewee as an individual, not a section of society as required by the standard. The Authority, in implying the fairness standard, did not consider listeners would have been left with a negative impression of the interviewee. The potential harm therefore did not reach the threshold justifying regulatory intervention.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness
The Authority has declined to determine aspects, and not upheld the remainder of a complaint concerning a talkback call regarding vaccine mandates. The complainant had contacted the station and spoke about her son’s issues re-enrolling at university due to his COVID-19 vaccination status. The complainant alleged the broadcast breached the balance, accuracy and fairness standards as the host did not accept the complainant’s statements concerning the COVID-19 vaccine and related mandates, and prematurely ended the call with the complainant. The Authority declined to determine the complaint under the balance and accuracy standards as the complainant’s concerns have been recently determined in other decisions. The Authority did not uphold the fairness complaint, finding the complainant was not treated unfairly and in any case it was an editorial choice open to the broadcaster to end the call.
Declined to Determine (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, in all the circumstances): Balance, Accuracy
Not Upheld: Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint several broadcasts on RNZ National concerning missiles that crossed into Poland breached broadcasting standards. The complainant alleged the reports were unbalanced, inaccurate as to the ownership of the missiles and other matters, discriminated against Russo and Slavic people, disturbing as they raised the prospect of nuclear war in which children would be harmed, and unfair to children. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the balance standard as the broadcaster had presented significant viewpoints on the issue and had made reasonable efforts to ensure accuracy in the context of a developing story. The other standards either did not apply or were not breached.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Offensive and Disturbing Content, Children’s Interests, Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint an episode of The Panel, which discussed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s recent resignation announcement, breached the accuracy standard. During the episode, the host spoke briefly with a caller who raised concerns about COVID-19 vaccine mandates, to which a panellist responded ‘97% of us got vaccinated’. While the Authority acknowledged this statement was inaccurate, it was unlikely to significantly affect listeners’ understanding of the segment which focused on Ardern’s resignation.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a promo leading to a news report on Newshub Live at 6pm breached the discrimination and denigration standard in its use of the word ‘Aboriginals’ when describing Aboriginal peoples / First Nations peoples in Alice Springs, and for discussing concerns of rising crime in Alice Springs. While acknowledging the description ‘Aboriginals’ rather than ‘Aboriginal people(s)’, is no longer considered appropriate terminology in Australia, the host’s statement was made without malice or nastiness as part of a straightforward news report on rising criminal activity. The broadcaster also advised the complainant’s concern regarding correct terminology has been passed on to the Newshub team. The Authority did not consider regulatory intervention justified in these circumstances.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration