BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Nightingale and NZME Radio Ltd - 2021-129 (20 December 2021)

  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • John Gillespie
  • Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i
  • Dr Karen Nightingale
Callum & P
The Hits


[This summary does not form part of the decision.]

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a discussion on Callum & P breached the privacy of a person interviewed on-air by disclosing their COVID-19 vaccination status. The Authority found the interviewee was a willing participant in the disclosure of her vaccination status. On this basis the broadcast did not breach the privacy standard.

Not Upheld: Privacy

The broadcast

[1]  Callum and P is a morning radio show broadcast on The Hits (Dunedin) at 6am on weekdays. The broadcast complained about was aired on 20 October 2021 and featured an interview with Tracey Chambers (host of another programme on The Hits (Dunedin)) and subsequent discussion regarding her COVID-19 vaccination status. The discussion was introduced as follows:

So what do you do if one of your staff mates at work, one of your close working colleagues, isn't vaccinated yet hasn't even got their first vaccination yet? Isn't an anti-vaxxer, has every intention of getting the jab but is dragging the chain and the days are going by and nothing's happening. What do you do about it? Well we've decided this morning as a collective, to confront the matter and so let’s get said staff member in here now.

[2]  Host Callum Procter then had the following discussion with Chambers:

Procter:           Can I ask you, first of all, a very important question? Are you vaccinated yet? Have you received your first jab yet?

Chambers:      No.

Procter:           The deal, though, Tracy. Here's the deal. Okay? Either you get the jab on Friday, right? Yeah, and, if you don't right, then it's either you or us, okay, that don't come to work on Monday.

Chambers:      Wow. Do you have that authority?

Procter:           Absolutely not.

The complaint

[3]  Dr Karen Nightingale made a direct privacy complaint to the Authority, submitting ‘Callum and P lightheartedly disclosed [Chambers’] vaccination status…then proceeded to coerce her to get vaccinated. Appallingly!’

The broadcaster’s response

[4]  NZME provided the following submissions on Dr Karen Nightingale’s complaint:

  • ‘Firstly – and most importantly – Tracey knew about this segment, and consented to participating. She was happy for this matter to be discussed on air.  She was in fact keen to publicise that she was not an anti-vaxxer – merely that she hadn’t gotten around to it yet. For the purposes of Standard 10, we do not consider that this is private information that was highly offensive to disclose, because the individual involved consented to this matter being discussed (guideline 10g).’
  • ‘However, we do acknowledge that the execution of this segment may have indicated (or created an appearance) that because there was an “ultimatum” around Tracey being vaccinated, she was pressured into disclosing this information. There was not. Despite this, during the break, the Content Director for the Hits did correct hosts as to the tone being used, as he did consider it was becoming too robust.’
  • ‘…listeners did note – and [co-host] Petrina read out – criticisms about the approach being taken, noting comments such as “why bully those that aren’t [vaccinated]?” and “what about freedom of choice?”’
  • ‘…for some matters (such as personal choices around vaccinations and other medical matters) the “magic of radio” may lead to a misapprehension of the actual understandings of the participants behind the scenes (and in this case, Tracey’s consent).’

The standard

[5]  Broadcasters should maintain standards consistent with the privacy of the individual.1 The privacy standard aims to respect, where reasonable, people’s wishes not to have themselves or their affairs broadcast to the public. However, it also allows broadcasters to gather, record and broadcast material where this is in the public interest. The guidelines assist broadcasters to strike this balance.2

[6]  Generally, there are three criteria for finding a breach of privacy under the standard:

a)  The individual whose privacy has allegedly been interfered with was identifiable.3

b)  The broadcast disclosed private information or material about the individual, over which they had a reasonable expectation of privacy.4

c)  The disclosure would be considered highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.5

Our analysis

[7]  We have listened to the broadcast and read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

[8]  As our starting point, we considered the right to freedom of expression which includes the broadcaster’s right to impart ideas and information and the public’s right to receive that information. Our task is to weigh the public interest and value in the item against the harm alleged to have been caused.6

[9]  Chambers was clearly identifiable during the broadcast.7 However, to the extent the broadcast may have disclosed private information (her vaccination status), Chambers’ willing participation in the broadcast and disclosure of her vaccination status means there is no breach of her privacy.8 As outlined by the broadcaster in its submissions, Chambers knew about the broadcast in advance and was happy to discuss her vaccination status on-air to clarify she was not an anti-vaxxer. Therefore, we do not find a breach of the privacy standard.

[10]  Regarding Dr Nightingale’s complaint that the hosts attempted to coerce Chambers into getting vaccinated, this issue is not covered by the privacy standard, which is the only standard the Authority can consider in regard to a direct referral.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Susie Staley
20 December 2021




The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1  Dr Karen Nightingale’s direct privacy complaint to the Authority – 24 October 2021

2  NZME’s response to the complaint – 26 November 2021

3  Dr Nightingale’s confirming no further comments – 26 November 2021

1 Standard 10 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
2 Commentary: Privacy, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 21
3 Guideline 10a
4 Guideline 10b
5 Guideline 10c
6 Commentary: Freedom of Expression, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 6
7 Guideline 10a
8 Guideline 10g