BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Nugent and TVWorks Ltd - 2009-070

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Dr Jane Nugent
60 Minutes
TVWorks Ltd
TV3 # 3

Complaint under section 8(1A) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
60 Minutes – item about CCTV and New Zealand increasingly becoming a surveillance society – included footage of two school pupils fighting – allegedly in breach of privacy

Standard 3 (privacy) – poor quality footage – no identifying features – pupils not identifiable – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]   An item on 60 Minutes, broadcast on TV3 at 7.30pm on 22 June 2009, looked at the increase in CCTV video surveillance in New Zealand and whether the country was becoming a “surveillance society”.

[2]   The item included brief footage showing two school pupils fighting. The footage was grainy and looked to have been recorded on a cell phone. It showed a group of pupils standing around and jeering as one boy walked up to another and punched him in the head. The boy who was punched fell to the ground dazed and the crowd could be heard jeering and shouting.

Referral to the Authority

[3]   Dr Jane Nugent made a privacy complaint directly to the Authority under section 8(1A) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. She contended that showing the footage of the boy being assaulted would have re-traumatised him and was a breach of his privacy.


[4]   Standard 3 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice and privacy principle 1 of the Authority’s Privacy Principles are relevant to the determination of this complaint. They provide:

Standard 3 Privacy

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards consistent with the privacy of the individual.

Privacy principle 1

It is inconsistent with an individual’s privacy to allow the public disclosure of private facts, where the disclosure is highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[5]   TVWorks stated that when it considered a complaint about a breach of privacy, it first had to decide whether the person whose privacy had allegedly been interfered with was identifiable in the broadcast.

[6]   The broadcaster contended that the footage of the boys fighting was “very grainy and the distinguishing facial features of those in the video could not be seen”. It noted that the boys were not facing the camera and, at times, they were completely obstructed from view by other people watching the fight.

[7]   TVWorks argued that the boys may have been identifiable to close family or friends, but not to the wider public. It pointed out that no names were mentioned and contended that the boys’ school uniforms were common colours and not distinctive.

[8]   The broadcaster declined to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 3.

Authority's Determination

[9]   The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[10]   When the Authority deals with a privacy complaint, it must first consider whether the individual was identified by the broadcast. On this occasion, it agrees with the broadcaster that the footage shown in the item was grainy and of such poor quality that no distinguishing features of the pupils or their uniforms could be seen.

[11]   Accordingly, the Authority finds that the broadcast did not breach the privacy of any of the students in the footage. It declines to uphold the complaint that the programme breached Standard 3.


For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Joanne Morris
17 September 2009


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

1.            Dr Jane Nugent’s direct privacy complaint – 23 June 2009

2.           TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 17 July 2009