Right to Life Inc and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2023-043 (30 August 2023)
- Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
- John Gillespie
- Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i
- Aroha Beck
- Right To Life Inc
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
An item on 1 News reported on Posie Parker entering Aotearoa New Zealand for speaking events, and explored the opposition she would face from transgender rights supporters. The Authority did not uphold a complaint the item was biased and unbalanced. While the broadcast did discuss a controversial issue of public importance for the purpose of the balance standard, the item clearly signalled it was approaching the issue from the perspective of transgender communities intending to attend the counter‑protest, sufficiently signalled the major perspectives on the issue, and the audience could reasonably be expected to be aware of alternative perspectives in any case.
Not Upheld: Balance
 During the 24 March 2023 broadcast of 1 News, a segment was aired concerning the arrival of Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull (aka Posie Parker) to Aotearoa New Zealand.
 The below commentary was included to introduce the segment:
Posie Parker has just touched down in New Zealand after the High Court dismissed a last ditch attempt to stop the anti-transgender activist from coming here. The controversial figure is expected to face vocal opposition when she speaks at a rally tomorrow.
 The segment continued:
Group chant: We’re here! We’re queer! We don’t want you here!
Reporter: One of our most marginalised communities, ready to make their voices heard.
Group chant: Stand up, fight back, our trans rights are under attack!
Counter-protester 1: When hate speech is allowed to fester within our society, we must fight back.
Reporter: They’re gearing up to confront anti-trans activist Posie Parker at Auckland’s Albert Park tomorrow. Some preparing to travel from other cities to be there.
Counter-protester 2: We're not going to let people like that hurt us. And I think that if there's a good show tomorrow of solidarity, I think it's really important.
Reporter: She’s been allowed to enter the country after a last-minute High Court bid to block her arrival failed. She landed at Auckland Airport just moments ago.
Counter-protester 3: It feels like globally and nationally more hate is being whipped up towards us.
Reporter: Posie Parker’s recent rallies in Australia, attended by neo-Nazis, have many here on edge.
Police Minister Ginny Andersen: It does concern me that that particular individual does court the far right.
Max Tweedie | Auckland Pride: We are on the precipice of violence here towards rainbow communities and trans communities in particular.
Reporter: She’s given just one interview with local media so far.
Posie Parker: Women across New Zealand are very, very afraid. What do you think the motive is of a man in a women's space, what do you think his motives might be?
Reporter: But Women’s Refuge say her claims don’t stack up.
Ang Jury | Women’s Refuge: We've been happily accommodating trans women for several years now, maybe even up to five years, without a single problem.
Reporter: A 2019 survey found transgender and non-binary people in New Zealand experienced sexual violence three times more than women in the general population.
Counter-protester 1: It isn't trans people who are actually posing harm to our communities. It's people like her.
Reporter: Trans communities standing united in the face of continuing adversity.
 The reporter further stated:
Look, we are expecting huge numbers at Albert Park tomorrow, I think those extraordinary images we saw of neo-Nazis attending a Posie Parker rally across the ditch have really amplified those anxieties, that tension, ahead of her rally here. Police have told 1 News they will be present and ready to respond to any issue that might arise. But supporters of both sides have said to us that they intend to attend the rally peacefully tomorrow, but there are safety concerns on both sides. We even spoke to parents of trans children, who said they won’t be bringing their kids or their teens to the rally tomorrow, because they don’t want to expose them to any potential hostility from anti-trans groups. Look, it’s clear that this issue is very real and very personal for many whanau across Aotearoa, but it’s also clear that whatever happens tomorrow, both sides are determined to have their say.
 Further background to Parker’s arrival in New Zealand can be found in our recent decision Cross and Television New Zealand Ltd.1
 Right to Life Inc complained the broadcast breached the balance standard of the Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand for the following key reasons:
- The item was ‘biased and lacked balance’.
- ‘The item included interviews with five persons who were all opposed to Kellie-Jay being permitted to speak on the issue of women's rights. There was not one person interviewed to express a contrary view.’
- ‘As this was a freedom of speech issue I believe that it was most unfair not to interview at least one person to defend Kellie-Jay's right of free speech.’
 On referral to the Authority, the complainant made the following key submissions:
- Balance cannot be achieved by ‘delegating the responsibility to other media’.
- ‘…it is defamatory of TVNZ to defame the women’s rights activist Posie Parker as an anti-transgender activist.’
- ‘It is also defamatory for the broadcaster to claim that she courts neo Nazis. This is insulting and offensive.’
The broadcaster’s response
 TVNZ did not uphold Right to Life’s complaint for the following key reasons:
- ‘The Committee notes that significant viewpoints on the issue of Ms Parker's arrival were heard including from Ms Parker, the Police Minister and Women's Refuge and Unite Union. We further note that significant viewpoints on this issue have been canvassed in the media throughout the period of interest so it is reasonable to expect that viewers would be aware of alternative viewpoints that existed.’
- ‘Ms Parker's view was also included in this item to the extent it was available. Ms Parker had given one interview at that time (to RNZ), and a portion of this was played in 1 News. Posie Parker says women across New Zealand are very, very afraid. What do you think a motive is of a man in a women's space, what do you think his motives might be?’
- Other 1 News reports during the relevant period also discussed Parker’s arrival.
- ‘The issues in question have also been discussed widely in surrounding media coverage, so it is reasonable to expect that viewers would be aware of alternative viewpoints that existed.’
 The balance standard2 ensures competing viewpoints about significant issues are presented to enable the audience to arrive at an informed and reasoned opinion.3 The standard only applies to news, current affairs and factual programmes, which discuss a controversial issue of public importance.4
 We have watched the broadcast and read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
 As a starting point, we considered the right to freedom of expression. It is our role to weigh up the right to freedom of expression against any harm potentially caused by the broadcast. We may only intervene when the limitation on the right to freedom of expression is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.5
Did the broadcast discuss a controversial issue of public importance?
 A number of criteria must be satisfied before the requirement to present significant alternative viewpoints is triggered. The standard applies only to ‘news, current affairs and factual programmes’ which discuss a controversial issue of public importance. The subject matter must be an issue ‘of public importance’, it must be ‘controversial’, and it must be ‘discussed’.6
 We have previously found Immigration New Zealand’s decision to allow Parker entry into New Zealand to be a controversial issue of public importance, given the public’s response to this.7 In turn, we consider this item, which reported on Parker entering New Zealand for speaking events, and predominantly explored the opposition she would face from transgender rights supporters in Auckland the following day, amounted to a discussion of a controversial issue of public importance for the purposes of the standard.
Did the broadcaster sufficiently present significant viewpoints in the circumstances?
 The next question is whether the broadcaster adequately presented significant viewpoints either in the same broadcast or in other broadcasts within the period of current interest.
 The standard does not require equal time to be given to each significant viewpoint on a controversial issue of public importance. Broadcasters should give a fair voice to alternative significant viewpoints taking into account the nature of the issue and coverage of that issue.8
 We consider the broadcast met the requirements of the standard, taking into account:
- The segment was introduced by noting Parker had just arrived in New Zealand, after ‘the High Court dismissed a last ditch attempt to stop the anti-transgender activist from coming here’, and stated she was a ‘controversial figure;’ alerting viewers to the existence of conflicting opinions on the issue.
- The requirement to present significant points of view is likely to be reduced, or in some cases negated, where the programme is signalled as approaching the issue from a particular perspective.9 As part of the introduction the presenters stated ‘The controversial figure is expected to face vocal opposition when she speaks at a rally tomorrow,’ and ‘One of our most marginalised communities, ready to make their voices heard.’ We consider the introduction signalled to viewers the broadcast was approaching the issue from the perspective of transgender communities intending to attend the counter‑protest.
- While the item predominantly included perspectives of members of the transgender community (given its focus) it also included the perspectives of:
- Police Minister Ginny Andersen;
- An Auckland Pride representative;
- A Women’s Refuge representative; and
- Posie Parker herself (‘Women across New Zealand are very, very afraid. What do you think the motive is of a man in a women's space, what do you think his motives might be?’).
- The inclusion of comments from Parker herself meant that the major alternative perspective on her arrival was contained in the broadcast, signalling to the audience the existence of this perspective. The existence of alternative perspectives was also signalled by the reporter’s comments ‘supporters of both sides have said to us that they intend to attend the rally peacefully tomorrow, but there are safety concerns on both sides,’ and ‘it’s also clear that whatever happens tomorrow, both sides are determined to have their say’.
- While the complainant is concerned the item was ‘biased,’ we note the standard does not require news, current affairs and factual programming to be presented impartially or without bias. Within the limits established by this standard, broadcasters are free to promote or challenge particular ideas, philosophies or people.10
- The broader issue of Parker’s arrival in New Zealand was the subject of further controversy (and in turn media coverage). Viewers could reasonably be expected to be aware of relevant alternative perspectives on the issue.11
 The complainant also raised concerns that the item labelled Parker an ‘anti-trans activist’ and claimed she courts neo-Nazis. We have previously found it is not unfair or inaccurate to describe Parker as an ‘anti-trans’ activist,12 based on of her rhetoric toward transgender people and issues, and particularly statements denying the very existence of transgender and gender-diverse people.13 In relation to the concern regarding neo-Nazis, the reporter did not claim Parker ‘courted’ neo-Nazis, but rather that neo-Nazis attended her rally in Australia. While Police Minister Ginny Andersen stated she was concerned Parker ‘does court the far right,’ this was her opinion, to which she is entitled.
 In these circumstances, we find no breach of the balance standard.
For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
30 August 2023
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Right to Life's formal complaint to TVNZ - 2 April 2023
2 TVNZ decision on complaint - 1 May 2023
3 Right to Life’s referral to the Authority - 18 May 2023
4 TVNZ's final comments - 19 July 2023
1 Cross and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2023-035 at paras –
2 Standard 5, Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand
3 Commentary, Standard 5, Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand at page 14
4 Guideline 5.1
5 Introduction, Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand at page 4
6 Guideline 5.1
7 Cross and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2023-035 at 
8 Guideline 5.3
9 Guideline 5.4
10 Commentary, Standard 5, Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand at page 15
11 “Anti-transgender Activist on stoush around her entering NZ” RNZ (online ed, 24 March 2023; “Posie Parker says she feared for her life after Auckland rally chaos” Newshub (online ed, 25 March 2023); “Gender activist Posie Parker hits out at her treatment in New Zealand as Twitter row erupts” Newshub (online ed, 26 March 2023); “Posie Parker departs New Zealand; JK Rowling blasts protest as ‘repellent’” RNZ (online ed, 26 March 2023); Sophie Harris “Tomato juice thrower ‘ready to face consequences if necessary’ after Posie Parker incident” Stuff (26 March 2023) “Anti-trans activist Posie Parker says she will return to New Zealand” Stuff (1 April 2023)
12 Cross and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2023-035
13 Cross and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2023-035 at