The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a comment made by the Hon. Debbie Ngarewa-Packer about the BMI test being ‘crafted by white supremacists’ breached the discrimination and denigration standard. Ms Ngarewa-Packer’s comment was a genuine expression of her opinion on a matter of public interest – possible discrimination in access to public funding for IVF treatment. The standard, which has a high threshold, was not intended to prevent the broadcast of such opinions, the Authority found.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on The Detail that discussed Auckland Council efforts to monitor and improve the water quality and swimmability of Auckland beaches. The complaint was that the item failed to present alternative views, or test or challenge the views presented by Auckland Council representatives. The Authority noted the balance standard allows for significant viewpoints to be presented over time, and does not require every programme to canvass all significant views on a particular topic. It found there was extensive coverage around the time of the broadcast that provided a range of information on the water quality and swimmability of Auckland beaches, and the broadcast approached the issue from a particular perspective, not purporting to be a balanced examination of the adequacy of Auckland Council efforts. The fairness standard did not apply.
Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness
Warning: This decision contains language that some readers may find offensive
The Authority has upheld a complaint about the classification and scheduling of an episode of SAS Australia which was classified ‘M’ and screened at 7.30pm. The episode featured aggression, potentially distressing psychological elements and frequent coarse language (more than 35 instances or variations of ‘fuck’). The Authority found this content warranted a higher classification of ‘16’ rather than ‘M’, a stronger warning for frequent language and a later time of broadcast outside of children’s normally accepted viewing times (after 8.30pm). It therefore upheld the complaint under the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards, as viewers were not given sufficient reliable information to make an informed viewing choice or exercise discretion.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
Not Upheld: Violence
The Authority has declined to determine a complaint that a hip hop song contained racial slurs (including the n-word). The Authority noted the broadcaster apologised to the complainant for the offence caused and removed the song from its playlist. The Authority considered this action was sufficient and, in all the circumstances, it was not necessary to determine the complaint.
Declined to Determine (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, in all the circumstances): Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Children’s Interests, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Privacy
While filling in on Magic Talk’s Magic Mornings, John Banks discussed former CEO Grainne Moss’s departure from Oranga Tamariki. One talkback caller made comments which were endorsed by Mr Banks. MediaWorks found these were denigrating towards Māori and breached the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards. The Authority upheld a complaint that the action taken by MediaWorks did not sufficiently remedy the harm caused by the breaches. It found the comments were foreseeable in the broadcast environment MediaWorks had created.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency (Action Taken), Discrimination and Denigration (Action Taken)
Orders: Section 13(1)(a) – broadcast statement; Section 16(4) – $3,000 costs to the Crown
In an item about road rage on Seven Sharp, the presenters were discussing slow drivers when Jeremy Wells made the comments ‘grandpa’ and ‘always a grandpa’. Media Matters in NZ complained the comment breached the discrimination and denigration and accuracy standards. The Authority declined to determine the complaint on the basis it was trivial or frivolous.
Declined to determine: Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy
The Authority did not uphold a complaint about an item on Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan that featured interviews with National Secretary of the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union, Wattie Watson, and previous board member of the United Fire Brigades' Association (UFBA), Judith Stanley, about the handling of complaints by UFBA, and an investigation into its chief executive, Bill Butzbach, citing allegations made against him, and the board’s chair, Richie Smith. The complaint was that the item breached the balance, accuracy, privacy and fairness standards on the basis it gave undue prominence to the ‘ill-informed’ views of those with a vested interest in discrediting the UFBA, and did not present the views of the UFBA and facts provided by it until the very end. The Authority found the item achieved balance and fairness by giving the UFBA a reasonable opportunity to respond, and including its statement. The Authority also found the item was not materially inaccurate, and did not disclose facts to which a reasonable expectation of privacy attached.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Privacy, Fairness
The majority of the Authority has not upheld a complaint an episode of the programme Renters breached the privacy of the tenants of the properties featured. The majority of the Authority did not find any of the tenants were identifiable. As the privacy standard only applies to identifiable individuals, the standard did not apply. The minority view was that the information disclosed was adequate to enable viewers, beyond family and close friends who would reasonably be expected to know about the matters disclosed, to identify one individual and the information had the quality of private information such that the disclosure breached the privacy standard.
Not Upheld by Majority: Privacy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on Seven Sharp in which Hilary Barry made comments about the safety of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine and about ‘anti-vaxxers’, including suggesting those who do not want to be vaccinated could ‘jump on a ferry and go to the Auckland Islands for a few years, and then when we’ve got rid of COVID-19…come back’. The complaint alleged these comments breached the good taste and decency, discrimination and denigration, balance, accuracy and fairness standards, by suggesting the safety of the vaccine was almost without question, and denigrating those with a different view. The Authority found Ms Barry’s comments were unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress or undermine widely shared community standards. It found the broadcast did not address a controversial issue so the balance standard did not apply. The fairness, discrimination and denigration and accuracy standards also did not apply or were not breached.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Balance, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy
The Authority did not uphold a complaint about four items on Morning Report covering an open letter to Government calling for ‘a major overhaul of the drug laws’. The Authority found the items did not breach the balance standard, as, while they discussed a controversial issue of public importance to which the balance standard applied, a reasonable range of perspectives were included, particularly given they were reporting on the publication of the open letter. In the context of items covering a challenge to the status quo, and when debate around drug reform is an ongoing issue in New Zealand, it was unlikely that listeners would have been left uninformed or unaware there were other perspectives on this issue.
Not Upheld: Balance