Parlane and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2014-032
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
- Mary Anne Shanahan
- Leigh Pearson
- James Parlane
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
Summary [This summary does not form part of the decision.]
An item on Seven Sharp on Valentine’s Day reported on a woman who had auctioned a pair of sunglasses on TradeMe that were left at her house by a man she met on the smartphone dating app ‘Tinder’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the item glamorised theft and was unfair to the man. It was clear from the item that the woman had given the man ample opportunity to retrieve the sunglasses, and he was not treated unfairly.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Fairness, Responsible Programing
 An episode of Seven Sharp, broadcast on 14 February 2014, included an ‘anti-Valentine’s Day’ story where a woman had auctioned a pair of sunglasses on TradeMe that were left at her house by a man she met on the smartphone dating app ‘Tinder’.
 James Parlane made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, alleging that the item glamorised theft and dishonesty, and was unfair to the owner of the sunglasses.
 The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency, law and order, fairness and responsible programming standards, as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.
 The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
Did the broadcast encourage viewers to break the law, or otherwise promote, condone or glamorise criminal activity?
 The intent behind the law and order standard (Standard 2) is to prevent broadcasts that encourage viewers to break the law, or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity.1 The standard exists to ensure that broadcasters refrain from broadcasting material which does not respect the laws which sustain our society.2
 Mr Parlane argued that the broadcaster failed ‘to address the issue of illegality in their item’ and instead ‘promoted the illegal entitlement of a [woman] to take property that was not hers and make some form of “joke” about selling it’. He considered the woman ‘made little or no effort to return [the sunglasses] to the rightful owner’, or to give him the money she received when she sold them.
 TVNZ argued that the item only reported on the woman’s decision to sell the sunglasses, which was newsworthy as the online auction had attracted a high level of interest, and 18,000 views. It said the item made it clear that she had given the owner the opportunity to collect them, in the following exchange:
Interviewer: Did you try and get them to him?
Woman: I did. I text him twice. The first time was very polite. I didn’t hint for like,
‘please see me again’, or anything like that. The second time was more like,
‘dude, come get your glasses’.
Interviewer: And he didn’t text you back?
Woman: I don’t know what happened.
Interviewer: Douchebag. What a douchebag!
 We are satisfied the item did not glamorise, encourage or condone criminal activity. We agree with the broadcaster that it was obvious that the woman had given the owner of the sunglasses ample opportunity to collect them. This was a light-hearted human interest story that was topical to Valentine’s Day (with the moral of the story being that the woman had turned a failed dating experience into a positive Valentine’s Day experience for herself). Seven Sharp is targeted at adults and supervised children with the faculty to understand the story for what it was. Reasonable viewers would not have been unduly influenced by the woman’s actions or taken it as a serious call to ‘steal’ or to sell ‘stolen’ property.
 We therefore decline to uphold the law and order complaint.
Did the broadcast otherwise breach broadcasting standards?
 Mr Parlane argued that the broadcast depicted ‘some sort of revenge’, which was in poor taste, did not allow the man to explain his side of the story and did not educate the public properly ‘on the issue of theft’. In addition to the law and order standard, he raised the good taste and decency (Standard 1), fairness (Standard 6) and responsible programming (Standard 8) standards in his complaint.
 In summary, these standards were not breached because:
- The item was a light-hearted interest story, consistent with Seven Sharp’s usual content and style. It was screened during the PGR time-band and targeted at an adult audience. Most viewers would not have been unduly offended or distressed in this context (Standard 1)
- The item did not refer by name to the owner of the sunglasses, so viewers could not form an unfairly negative impression of him. The woman’s actions, rather than the man’s, formed the focus of the item, so it was not unfair that he was not asked for comment or for his side of the story (Standard 6)
- Seven Sharp is an unclassified current affairs programme broadcast during the PGR time-band. The broadcast did not contain anything that would have caused unwarranted panic, alarm or distress, or deceived or disadvantaged viewers (Standard 8).
 For these reasons, we decline to uphold the remainder of the complaint.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
15 July 2014
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 James Parlane’s formal complaint – 19 February 2014
2 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 18 March 2014
3 Mr Parlane’s referral to the Authority – 21 March 2014
4 TVNZ’s response to the referral – 19 May 2014
See, for example, Keane and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-082
2Hunt and Māori Television, Decision No. 2009-010