BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Archer and Television New Zealand Ltd - 1997-043, 1997-044

Members
  • J M Potter (Chair)
  • R McLeod
  • L M Loates
  • A Martin
Dated
Complainant
  • N E and M H Archer
Number
1997-043–044
Programme
One Network News
Channel/Station
TV One


Summary

A young man recently released from custody was named in an item on One Network

News on 9 October 1996 at 6.00pm when it examined the response to his presence in a

community close to four schools. A second news item on 14 October named the

mother of a three month-old child who was left alone while her mother went out.

Mr and Mrs Archer of Rotorua complained to the Broadcasting Standards Authority

under s.8(1)(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 that the items breached the privacy of

the two people by naming them and providing other identifying information.

Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, argued that it was undesirable that

complainants should concern themselves about the privacy of others, particularly if

the person whose privacy was at issue knows nothing of the complaint. It maintained

that each of the stories was in the public interest and in both cases, the identifying

information was already in the public arena.

For the reasons given below, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint about the 9

October item and declines to determine the complaint about the 14 October item.


Decision

The members of the Authority have viewed the items complained about and have read

the correspondence (summarised in the Appendices). As is its practice, the Authority

determines the complaints without a formal hearing.

Two different news items broadcast on One Network News, one on 9 October 1996

and the other on 14 October, named respectively a young man recently released from

custody who was identified by the police as a potential threat to children in a

community close to four schools, and a woman whose three-month-old baby was

found distressed and unattended when a neighbour responded to its cries.

Jurisdictional Matters

When asked to respond to the complaints, TVNZ emphasised its view that a

complainant should not be allowed to make a breach of privacy complaint on behalf of

someone from whom they had received no mandate to do so. It suggested that Mr and

Mrs Archer had in effect interfered with the two named people's right to choose for

themselves whether to complain, and that the Archers themselves were engaged in a

breach of privacy. Referring to the legislation in Britain which specifically prohibits

an unaffected complainant from lodging a privacy complaint, TVNZ suggested that

there was an important principle involved about the rights of individuals not to have

their private affairs interfered with. It urged the Authority not to accept the

complaints.

The Authority considered first TVNZ's argument that a privacy complaint should

only be brought by a person affected, or with the consent of that person. The New

Zealand Broadcasting Act is not the same as the comparable British legislation and has

no qualifications as to who is entitled to complain. The Authority has already

established by its previous decisions that it is not constrained from accepting privacy

complaints from unaffected complainants, and in terms of the Broadcasting Act, will

continue to do so. It now turns to the complaints.

9 October item

Mr and Mrs Archer complained that displaying the picture of the man, twice

identifying him by name, and giving other personal details about him was a gross

invasion of his personal privacy. They considered it was unnecessary to provide the

personal details about him since it was clear that he was not guilty of any

misdemeanour. While they acknowledged that it was legitimate to report what action

the police and other authorities may have taken (publishing and distributing a

photograph of the man and describing him as at risk of aggressive or deviant

behaviour), they argued that it was not legitimate for TVNZ to take that same action

and to publish a picture, along with the man's name.

TVNZ argued that the story was a major one in the public interest. The item

concerned what it described as a known deviant who had been placed in

accommodation close to four Christchurch schools, and reported that the police had

taken the unusual step of circulating a photograph of him to all four schools. TVNZ

then assessed the complaint under privacy principles (ii), (v) and (vi). Privacy

principle (ii) reads:

(ii)  The protection of privacy also protects against the disclosure of some

kinds of public facts. The "public" facts contemplated concern events

(such as criminal behaviour) which have, in effect, become private

again, for example through the passage of time. Nevertheless the

public disclosure of public facts will have to be highly offensive to a

reasonable person.


TVNZ argued that the public facts about the young man had not become private again

because of the actions of the police in identifying him to the parents of the school

children in the community. In this case, TVNZ maintained, it was simply reporting

information which had been released by the police. Furthermore, it noted, comment

was made about the propriety of the actions of the police in naming the young man. It

concluded that principle (ii) was not breached.

Privacy principle (v) reads:

(v)  The protection of privacy includes the protection against the disclosure

by the broadcaster, without consent, of the name and/or address and/or

telephone number of an identifiable person. This principle does not

apply to details which are public information, or to news and current

affairs reporting, and is subject to the "public interest" defence in

principle (vi).


TVNZ regarded the details revealed as public information, since the police had

circulated the information to four school communities. It also claimed that the story

was in the public interest since it focused on a police concern about public safety.

Principle (vi) reads:

(vi) Discussing the matter "in the public interest", defined as of legitimate

concern or interest to the public, is a defence to an individual's claim

for privacy.


In TVNZ's view, the matter was of legitimate concern and interest to the public. It

believed it was the news media's role to bring the matter to the attention of the public.

The Authority accepts that the information was already in the public arena, having

been released by the police. Accordingly, under principle (v), the information was

public information and therefore, it concludes, the principle was not breached by

broadcasting the young man's name and other personal details. In addition, the

Authority also accepts that the name and other information about the man were of

public interest, given that the police, in the interests of public safety, had taken the

steps described above. Any concern about the invasion of the man's privacy is

outweighed by the public interest in the issue.

14 October item

Mr and Mrs Archer complained about an item which reported the name, age and

nationality of a woman who had left her three-month-old baby unattended in her home.

The baby had been found in a distressed state by a neighbour who heard it crying. The

report stated that the police had not laid charges against the woman and were saying very

little about the baby and her mother. Mr and Mrs Archer considered the naming of the

woman to be completely unwarranted and that by naming her and not giving her an

opportunity to speak, TVNZ had breached its responsibilities to protect her privacy.

TVNZ responded that it was the police who released the woman's identity, since they

were anxious to contact her extended family, and once the name, age and nationality were

in the public arena, it was legitimate for news services to use the information. It

maintained it was a matter of editorial judgment to publicise the identifying details.

It applied privacy principles (v) and (vi) when it examined the complaint. It submitted,

with respect to principle (v), that the details were public information and that because of

the condition in which the baby was found, the matter was in the public interest. With

reference to principle (vi), it submitted that because the matter was of legitimate concern

to the public, the woman had no claim for privacy. It also repeated that the woman

herself had not claimed her privacy was breached.

The Authority has attempted to clarify the official position with respect to the release of

the woman's name by the police. According to the Police Media Office in Auckland,

there was no official release of the name by the police. The Authority accepts that the

information may, however, have come from sources other than the Police Media Office.

Because it cannot establish whether the woman's name was released by the police – either

officially or unofficially – the Authority is unable to determine the facts surrounding the

reasons for the release of the name. Without that information, it cannot assess whether

factors existed to justify the release of the woman's name as a matter in the public

interest. Under those circumstances, the Authority declines to determine this aspect of

the complaint in all the circumstances, under its powers in s.11(b) of the Broadcasting Act

1989. That section reads:

s.11 The Authority may decline to determine a complaint referred to it

under section 8 of this Act if it considers

...

(b) That, in all the circumstances of the complaint, it should not be

determined by the Authority.

 

For the reasons set forth above, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint

about the 9 October item and declines to determine the complaint about the 14

October item.


Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Judith Potter
Chairperson
21 April 1997

Appendix I


NE and MH Archer's Complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Authority - 16

October 1996

Mr and Mrs Archer complained directly to the Broadcasting Standards Authority

under s.8(1)(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 about the breach of privacy of a person

featured in an item on One Network News on 9 October 1996. The item concerned the

action of police and schools in the Christchurch area in relation to a person living in

that area.

They also complained about a news item on 14 October which is summarised in

Appendix II.

As for the item on 9 October, the Archers pointed out that the person was named and

pictured, and other personal details were given. In Mr and Mrs Archer's view,

unnecessary personal detail was given in the circumstances. They considered that

since the person was not wanted for any misdemeanour, it was not necessary for

details about him to be broadcast. They wrote:

The reports indicated that the person was aged 18. Nationwide reports of this

kind almost totally remove any chance a person of this age has to rehabilitate

or to make any progress in life. TVNZ does not have the right to make such

judgments.

It is legitimate for TVNZ to report what action the police and other authorities

may have taken but it is not legitimate, in the course of those reports, for

TVNZ to take that same action itself. The actions of police and others are

answerable to different jurisdictions and may themselves be illegitimate. Such

actions of other authorities do not legitimize the actions of TVNZ.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority - 7 November 1996

TVNZ responded to each complaint separately. First it addressed the complaint

about the naming of the young man, pointing out that he had been recently released

from custody and had a background of deviant and aggressive behaviour.

Before assessing the specific complaint, TVNZ emphasised its view that a person

should not be able to make a breach of privacy complaint on behalf of someone from

whom they had received no mandate to do so. It wrote:

We suggest that by lodging a complaint about an alleged breach of this young

man's privacy, the complainants are in fact interfering with the man's right to

choose for himself whether he follow such a course of action. They are in

effect engaged themselves in a breach of the young man's privacy.

TVNZ added that it considered it most undesirable that a person could involve

themselves in another person's private affairs without referring to that person,

suggesting that it was of particular significance because the decisions of the Authority

were made public.

TVNZ pointed out that in Britain the legislation prevented non affected parties from

making complaints about privacy.

Next, TVNZ pointed out that the story was of importance because a known deviant

had been placed in accommodation in Christchurch close to four schools. The Police

had taken the unusual step of circulating the man's identity and a photograph of him

to all four schools and to the parents of pupils at those schools.

Referring to privacy principle (ii), TVNZ noted that the facts about the young man

had not become private again because of the actions of the Police who had identified

him to thousands of parents of Christchurch schoolchildren.

It suggested that TVNZ was simply reporting in good faith information which had

been released by the police and which raised several questions in the public interest.

It concluded that privacy principle (ii) was not breached.

Turning to privacy principle (v), TVNZ advised that it considered the details included

were public information, noting:

The police had circulated the information to four urban schools, thus

guaranteeing its disclosure to thousands of parents, and beyond them to

extended families, friends and acquaintances across the country.

TVNZ also claimed that the story was in the public interest, involving a police

concern about public safety.

Finally, it turned to principle (vi) which notes that discussion of a matter in the public

interest was a defence to a claim for privacy.

Mr and Mrs Archer's Final Comment - 4 December 1996

Mr and Mrs Archer apologised for the length of their response, explaining that

TVNZ's letter raised so much new and debatable material that they felt bound to try

to provide the Authority with the necessary opposing view.

They contended that much of TVNZ's reply was irrelevant to the complaints. Their

comprehensive response concluded with the following points:

Conclusion and Summary

1. The basic principles of privacy are universal and should affect all people and

all matters in the same way.

2. Every person has a statutory right to approach the Broadcasting Standards

Authority concerning broadcasting standards - especially privacy standards.

This is in line with other similar New Zealand legislation, eg Privacy Act.

3. To limit this right to certain persons only will put at risk certain vulnerable

sections of society.

4. The validity of a complaint is not changed or limited by who makes the

complaint.

5. The Broadcasting Standards Authority has the power to decline to determine a

complaint (s.11) and this should be sufficient if matters are brought to it

unreasonably.

6. The powers of the Broadcasting Standards Authority are conferred by

Parliament. The Broadcasting Standards Authority itself cannot, and should

not, limit those powers.

7. TVNZ should make any approaches to change the powers of the Broadcasting

Standards Authority, to Parliament or the Executive - consulting the

Broadcasting Standards Authority if it wishes.

8. TVNZ should not use the Complaints Procedure for other purposes.

Particularly, it should not repeatedly do so.

9. The two incidents which are the subject of these complaints are newsworthy,

and the facts to do with them should be made, and need to be made, public.

10. In neither incident does the privacy of the individuals involved need to be

breached. The full reporting of the incidents does not suffer in any way by

omitting the personal details. Those details are completely gratuitous.

11. Broadcasting the personal details did not help or assist anyone - neither the

subjects of the stories nor the viewers.

12. TVNZ has confused newsworthiness of items with the privacy requirements

of individuals. TVNZ has failed to comprehend that many incidents can be

made public without breaching privacy.

13. TVNZ do not have the same role in society as do the Police. The Police have a

duty, a care, a responsibility to society. TVNZ has no similar task.

14. Limited information necessarily issued by the Police for specific reasons in

pursuance of their duties and responsibilities should not be misused for other

purposes by broadcasters - in this instance, by TVNZ.

15. TVNZ, on their admission, published more information, more specifically,

than had the Police. TVNZ's publication was nationwide and with a maximum

viewing audience.

16. If TVNZ, and/or other broadcasters, continue to misuse information put out

for specific purposes by Police (or similar authorities) it will hamper Police in

their statutory duties and/or unnecessarily force essentially private information

into the public arena.

17. The Privacy Principles issued by the Broadcasting Standards Authority are

guidelines for specific situations which may arise. The main requirement of the

Act - "to maintain standards which are consistent with the privacy of the

individual" - remains paramount and the enforcement of this requirement by

the Broadcasting Standards Authority is assisted by its use of three basic

qualifications in judging alleged breaches of privacy.

From the Advisory Opinion of 6 May 1996 these are:

[The seven] principles are not necessarily the only privacy principles

the Authority will apply;

The principles may well require elaboration and refinement when

applied to a complaint;

The specific facts of each complaint are especially important when

privacy is an issue.

18. Permission for powerful media groups to breach privacy should be given

grudgingly - once privacy has been breached it cannot be regained. Chief

Justice Eichelbaum's observation "The term [privacy] should receive a fair,

large and liberal interpretation" should assist the Broadcasting Standards

Authority in maintaining its statutory direction and in maintaining its role of

protecting broadcasting - especially privacy - standards.

As a postscript, Mr and Mrs Archer wrote:

We note that neither TVNZ nor ourselves have needed, in this correspondence,

to name the individuals who were named in TVNZ's two news broadcasts.

There must be a message in that fact!

In addition, their submission focused on the following points:

The unaffected complainant

To TVNZ's argument that they had no authority to complain on behalf of people

they did not know, the Archers responded that whether the claim was made by the

person themselves or by someone else, the validity of the claim remained. They

argued that the principles remained universal and did not accept that it was legitimate

for TVNZ to insist on a restriction. They pointed out that the Authority's powers

were statutory and if TVNZ wished to change them, it would have to do so by

changing the legislation.

Breach of the complainants' privacy

Responding to TVNZ's point that by making the complaint they were themselves

invading the privacy of the two individuals, the Archers pointed out that had TVNZ

not breached their privacy in the first place then there would have been no action from

them at all. They noted that they had a right to make their complaints and considered

that TVNZ had breached a very basic principle of privacy.

Mr and Mrs Archer expressed their concern that a personal attack was made upon

them by TVNZ rather than a response to their complaint.

Newsworthiness v relevance of personal information

Mr and Mrs Archer agreed that both reports were in themselves newsworthy.

However, they argued, in neither case was anything added to the stories by the

inclusion of personal details, nor were the personal details newsworthy in their own

right. They maintained that the personal details were not newsworthy in their own

right but were simply gratuitous, adding:

We are tempted to believe that the personal details were added to the broadcast

simply because the information was available and TVNZ was pandering to the

lowest common denominator of viewer taste.

The Archers next commented on TVNZ's justification for naming the two people -

that the Police had already made the information public. With respect to the

Christchurch incident, the personal details were issued by the Police because of a

concern for public safety. The Police made it clear that they did not seek publicity.

Therefore, the Archers asked, what purpose was there in making the personal details

public to the majority of New Zealanders?

Turning to the Auckland case, they noted that TVNZ again blamed the Police for the

release of the personal details because they were anxious to track down the woman's

family. However, Mr and Mrs Archer pointed out, when the item went to air, the

mother had been tracked down. They asked what purpose was served by making the

mother's name public. They also argued that by broadcasting the name without

referring to any mitigating circumstances that might have applied, TVNZ was

manifestly unfair. They suggested that TVNZ had a responsibility not only to be fair

but to consider the effect on the public good and the effect on the persons named.

Further, Mr and Mrs Archer suggested that when personal information was issued by

the Police for a specific and particular reason, it was a misuse of that information to be

used for purposes other than for which it was issued.

In the opinion of Mr and Mrs Archer, privacy was precious and, they noted, could

not be regained once it was lost. They therefore considered that the privacy principles

should be applied to favour the provision of privacy rather than its breach.

The complainants suggested that TVNZ implied that the two individuals at the centre

of the complaints were at fault in some way and had therefore forfeited their right to

privacy and deserved to be named. They wrote:

Judgment by TV is still not the law in this country particularly in the field of

individual privacy - remembering that in the "home-alone" case no details were

broadcast to indicate the mother's reason for leaving the baby alone and in

Christchurch the broadcast details indicated that the youth had completed and

complied with judgments relating to his earlier transgressions.

Application of Privacy Principles

Mr and Mrs Archer suggested that the complaint should be considered under the aegis

of Note 5 in the Broadcasting Standards Authority's Advisory Opinion and requested

that the Authority not consider the complaints in relation to the privacy principles.

They noted that TVNZ's discussion under Privacy Principles (ii), (v) and (vi) argued

that newsworthiness was a relevant factor. However, they repeated, there was no

reason to release the identity of the person involved.

Further Correspondence

In a letter dated 17 December 1996, TVNZ responded to points made by the Archers

in their 10 page-long final comment.

TVNZ elaborated on its argument that complaints about a breach of privacy should

only be brought by those directly affected. It argued that it was clear that the

Authority had the right and the power to add a principle covering who may allege a

breach of privacy and thus draw a clear line between section 4(1)(c) of the Act and

standard G4 of the Code of Practice.

It denied that the privacy of the two individuals had been breached. To the accusation

made by the Archers that TVNZ was "pointing the finger" at the police, TVNZ said it

had done no such thing. It simply stated that in both cases, information was released

to the public by the police and therefore the information was already in the public

arena and could not breach the relevant privacy principles. It noted that principle (v)

specifically stated "this principle does not apply to details which are public

information."

Regarding the comments by the Christchurch police that they did not seek publicity

about the message they sent to parents concerning the young man, TVNZ asserted

that while the police did not seek publicity, they were happy when the story got out.

They cooperated with the reporter and agreed to appear in the item. It added:

Anyone with any experience in daily news work, in any branch of the media,

knows that a great deal of material comes from utterances or releases from

authorities who were not "seeking" publicity, but were hopeful nevertheless

that they might find it. It is part and parcel of the relationship between a free

press and officialdom, be it police, civil service departments or politicians.

TVNZ denied that it defied the wishes of the police.

It also made a general observation that essential press freedoms were enshrined in the

Bill of Rights Act. It stated that it found disturbing the Archers' appeal for control of

information by various authorities. It concluded:

We see little purpose in entering a philosophical or semantic debate paragraph

by paragraph. TVNZ stands by its journalism in these cases, the judgement of

the editorial staff concerned and the freedoms which allow us, other

broadcasters and the press to disseminate information properly obtained,

checked for accuracy and fairness and falling squarely into the category of the

public's right to know.

It believed there were proper reasons for identifying those involved in the broadcasts.

Further Correspondence

When asked if they wished to comment on this response, Mr and Mrs Archer

expressed surprise that TVNZ had been given an opportunity to make a further

submission. They asked why the Authority had sought an additional response. They

maintained that the matters raised in TVNZ's response to the Authority dated 7

November raised contentious issues which they felt bound to reply to in detail in their

4 December letter. They denied that they had raised any new matters in that response

and considered that there was therefore no reason to prolong the exercise by asking

TVNZ for further comment.

On the other hand, they argued, TVNZ's letter did introduce new matters which they

considered required an equivalently lengthy response to ensure that "spurious issues

are adequately countered by the Authority". They added:

A number of the issues now raised by TVNZ are not, in our opinion, strictly

relevant to the complaints but they are relevant to the operation of the

Authority and now they are raised we would feel bound to make some attempt

to address them in addition to replying to TVNZ's letter.

In a further letter dated 23 January 1997, the Archers responded to points made in

TVNZ's letter dated 17 December.

First they considered the question of whether or not people not involved in an alleged

breach of privacy may raise that issue with the Authority. They noted that the

Authority, in Decision No 1996-172 took the view that people not affected could still

make a privacy complaint, and expressed concern that TVNZ appeared not to accept

that decision. In their view, if TVNZ did not agree with the decision, it should appeal

rather than inappropriately dispute it.

Further Correspondence

The Authority sought clarification from the police and from TVNZ regarding the

disclosure of the name of the mother who left her baby unattended in letters dated 31

January 1997.

In its response of 5 February, TVNZ advised that the mother's name was published in

a press release issued by the police on 14 October. It advised that the police were

anxious to contact friends and family of the baby's mother. They hoped that by

releasing her name, friends or family might come forward to assist with the inquiry.

In a telephone conversation on 7 March, and in follow up correspondence dated 2

April the police advised that there was no official press release by the police which

named the mother, although it was noted that individual police officers do give verbal

press releases about newsworthy items. The police were unable to confirm whether

there was a verbal press release on this occasion. The media officer wrote:

Our normal policy in such situations is that the mother would not have been

named unless there was an operational reason which made it necessary to do

so.

Both TVNZ and Mr and Mrs Archer were sent copies of the record of the telephone

conversation. TVNZ, in a letter dated 13 March re-emphasised that the information

broadcast was from a police handout. The handout was a fax on police letterhead

paper.

TVNZ asked the Authority to consider first where it could have got the woman's

name, if not from the police, and secondly, what possible motive it would have had to

use the name maliciously.

Mr and Mrs Archer responded in a letter dated 20 March. They noted that they had

made a similar inquiry to the Commissioner of Police in October 1996 and had been

advised that:

Although the media did report both the identities and details of the personal

circumstances of each of the individuals concerned, that information was not

provided by the Police. Apart from the basic depersonalised information

disclosed by Police in accordance with policy, the media obtained all the other

details reported from their own sources.

Mr and Mrs Archer expressed concern that the Authority had not made contact with

his guardian, who was interviewed on the item, regarding assurances given to her by

the reporter.

In a letter dated 25 March, TVNZ commented on matters raised by Mr and Mrs

Archer. It expressed surprise to learn that Mr Archer had been corresponding with

the Commissioner of Police on the matters at issue and that there was a police

investigation underway. Referring to the Christchurch incident, TVNZ pointed out

that the police revealed his identity by circulating his picture to a large number of

people. Those people were not asked to keep the information confidential, and the

police cooperated in the compilation of the item.

Regarding the young man's guardian, TVNZ suggested that she would have been naive

in the extreme to discuss his photograph in a visual medium and not expect the

photograph to be used.

Mr and Mrs Archer responded in a letter dated 10 April. First they asserted that

TVNZ had admitted that it was TVNZ and not the police who made the young man's

name public when it wrote "...the police revealed the identity of the man by circulating

his photograph to a wide number of people."

Next they complained that TVNZ had referred to Mr Archer only in its letter. Mr

and Mrs Archer reminded TVNZ that it was a joint complaint, made by both of them.

Referring to the police inquiries, Mr and Mrs Archer advised that the exchange of

letters with the Police was a discussion on policy matters and guidelines and was not

relevant to the present proceedings except for the advice that the media obtained all

other details about the cases from its own sources.

With respect to the assurances made to the man's guardian about the broadcast, Mr

and Mrs Archer stated that they could not comment further, and that it was for the

guardian to comment on if she wished, and if she was asked.

They urged the Authority not to pursue this point without first ascertaining the facts.

Appendix II

Mr and Mrs Archer's Complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority - 16

October 1996

Mr and Mrs Archer appended a second complaint about an item on One Network

News broadcast on 14 October 1996. It referred to an incident involving a mother

leaving her three month-old child alone. The report stated that the police had not laid

charges but had named the woman. Her name, age and nationality were then shown on

screen.

Mr and Mrs Archer wrote:

We consider this action by TVNZ to be totally unwarranted. Simply because

the police name someone does not necessarily legitimize that naming nor does

it authorise TVNZ to then name and identify that person publicly to the

nation. Apart from this TVNZ has pre-empted possible action by legitimate

authorities. Should charges be laid by the police and factors come forward

which could support court suppression of details then that suppression would

now be almost impossible to achieve.

Further, they complained, the report offered no opportunity for the woman to put her

side of the situation. The possibility remained that there may have been mitigating

circumstances.

Mr and Mrs Archer contended that had the person not been identified then the public

report would have been legitimate. But, in their opinion, by identifying the woman

and not giving her a chance to speak, TVNZ had breached its responsibility to respect

her privacy and to be fair.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority - 7 November 1996

TVNZ summarised the item as being one which told of a "home alone" case in which

police found a three month-old child distressed and unattended having been alerted by

an anxious neighbour who had heard the baby's cries.

TVNZ stressed again that in its view the complaint should not be accepted because

the complainants did not know the person on whose behalf they were complaining. It

added it would have had no objection had Mr and Mrs Archer obtained the consent of

the person named to complain on her behalf.

In TVNZ's view, the item was newsworthy because it was an example of child neglect

which had become in recent years a major social problem in the country. It reminded

the Authority that it was a particularly serious case.

TVNZ noted that it was the New Zealand Police who released the woman's identity

because they were anxious to contact members of her extended family. It argued that

when the Police have put the woman's name, age, and nationality in the public arena,

it was legitimate for news services to use the information, adding that it was a question

of editorial judgment and not legality.

TVNZ continued:

We advise the Authority that TVNZ treats each story of this nature on its

merits, as do other branches of the media. We do however in general agree with

the views of the New Zealand Commissioner for Children, Mr O'Reilly, who

says this country has an "appalling" record of child safety with the number of

"home alone" cases increasing 500 per cent in the past four years.

It advised that it identified privacy principles (v) and (vi) as being relevant. It

submitted that the details were public information and that given the extreme condition

in which the infant was found, were therefore a matter of public interest. In addition it

submitted that this was a matter of legitimate concern or interest to the public. It also

noted that the individual concerned had made no claim for the protection of her

privacy.

Further Correspondence - 8 November 1996

In his letter, Mr Archer sought advice on the workings of the Authority with reference

to time limits. He advised that he had just received information about the news item

on 14 October. If correct, he considered that information would exacerbate the

transgression. However, he was waiting for confirmation before he included it.

Mr Archer noted that the broadcast stated:

West Auckland police have tracked down the baby's mum and she's been

talking to Social Workers. Police say the woman's name is Anastasia

Tambieva... [Other personal details then followed and all were shown on

screen.]

He advised that the NZ Police had informed him that they did not provide the

personal information and identity of this person, and suggested that if that was

correct, the TVNZ had breached broadcasting standards.

Until he received confirmation of the facts, he wished the complaint to be treated as a

pro forma notice of formal complaint.

Mr Archer appended a copy of a letter he had written to TVNZ advising that

information had come into his possession which would indicate a breach of standards

G1, G4, G14 and G21 of the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

Further Correspondence -14 November 1996

Mr and Mrs Archer sought an extension of time to respond to the Authority's request

for a brief final comment on TVNZ's letter of 7 November. Pointing out that many of

the issues raised in the response had not been part of the original complaint, the

Archers suggested that an instant reply would not serve the purpose for which it was

written. They wrote that ordinary New Zealanders need to be given a reasonable

chance to ensure broadcasting standards were maintained.

In a second letter dated 20 November, Mr and Mrs Archer advised that they wished

to respond to the comments made by TVNZ particularly as there were some points of

principle involved.

Mr and Mrs Archer's Final Comment - 4 December 1996

Mr and Mrs Archer's final comment is summarised above in Appendix I.