BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present
All Decisions
Livingstone and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2023-013 (16 May 2023)

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a promo leading to a news report on Newshub Live at 6pm breached the discrimination and denigration standard in its use of the word ‘Aboriginals’ when describing Aboriginal peoples / First Nations peoples in Alice Springs, and for discussing concerns of rising crime in Alice Springs. While acknowledging the description ‘Aboriginals’ rather than ‘Aboriginal people(s)’, is no longer considered appropriate terminology in Australia, the host’s statement was made without malice or nastiness as part of a straightforward news report on rising criminal activity. The broadcaster also advised the complainant’s concern regarding correct terminology has been passed on to the Newshub team. The Authority did not consider regulatory intervention justified in these circumstances.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration

McArthur and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2023-004 (16 May 2023)

The Authority has not upheld a complaint several broadcasts on RNZ National concerning missiles that crossed into Poland breached broadcasting standards. The complainant alleged the reports were unbalanced, inaccurate as to the ownership of the missiles and other matters, discriminated against Russo and Slavic people, disturbing as they raised the prospect of nuclear war in which children would be harmed, and unfair to children. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the balance standard as the broadcaster had presented significant viewpoints on the issue and had made reasonable efforts to ensure accuracy in the context of a developing story. The other standards either did not apply or were not breached.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Offensive and Disturbing Content, Children’s Interests, Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness

Right to Life New Zealand Inc & Kavanagh and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2023-001 (1 May 2023)

The Authority has not upheld complaints an item on Sunday breached the accuracy, balance, fairness, and discrimination and denigration standards. The broadcast featured a 30 minute report on Aotearoa New Zealand’s medical staffing shortages, and explored whether this issue could be alleviated by the migration of medical staff from the USA, particularly those dissatisfied with the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v Wade. The complainants considered the broadcast unbalanced, favouring a ‘pro-choice’ perspective. The Authority found: the programme clearly approached the topic of abortion from a specific angle and that viewers could reasonably be expected to have a level of awareness of significant arguments in the debate; the alleged inaccuracies either did not reflect the statements in the broadcast, or related to opinion which is not covered by the accuracy standard; ‘foetuses’ are not a recognised section of the community for the purpose of the discrimination and denigration standard; and the item did not treat any participant unfairly.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration

McKenzie and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2022-141 (1 May 2023)

The Authority has not upheld a complaint the documentary Web of Chaos breached multiple standards. The complainant alleged the broadcast represented ‘women who like sewing and interior design as extremists’, which was allegedly ‘racist, sexist, anti-Christian and anti-women of Celtic origin’, lacked any balancing comment from women involved in the community, contained multiple inaccuracies, and was unfair. The Authority found the broadcast did not discriminate against or denigrate any of the nominated sections of the community and the broadcast was materially accurate. This was because the relevant comments were not claiming that all people participating in online craft communities were white nationalists, but rather these communities (like many other online communities) were exposing inadvertent users to extremist ideas. The balance and fairness standards did not apply.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy, Balance, Fairness

Wilberg and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2022-071 (1 May 2023)

The Authority has upheld an accuracy complaint about RNZ news bulletins broadcast on 19 and 20 April 2022 reporting on the Government’s apparent delay in ending the MIQ system, despite recently released public health advice from November 2021 noting that a changed risk assessment meant MIQ would no longer be justified. The Authority found the items were misleading by omission as they gave a strong impression the advice stated MIQ should be wound up immediately (rather than through a ‘carefully managed transition’ to safely shift to a new system), and the Government had acted contrary to that advice. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the balance standard. While finely balanced, noting the standard allows balance to be achieved over time, the Authority found RNZ’s later coverage (particularly on 20 April) adequately conveyed the Government’s perspective.

Upheld: Accuracy.
Not Upheld: Balance
Order: Section 13(1)(a) broadcast statement

Samson and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2023-010 (12 April 2023)

The Authority has not upheld a complaint an item on Newshub Live at 6pm breached the discrimination and denigration standard. The item reported on the appointment of Chris Hipkins and Carmel Sepuloni as the new Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, and discussed the high levels of diversity in the top four positions in Cabinet. Later in the segment, the political editor stated ‘you can’t have two white guys from Wellington at the top in this day and age’, in reference to why she believed Grant Robertson had not been named Deputy Prime Minister. The Authority found the comments were a genuine expression of the political editor’s opinion, and did not meet the high threshold required to breach the standard and justify restricting the right to freedom of expression.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration

Jones and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2023-006 (12 April 2023)

The Authority declined to determine a complaint alleging an item on AM breached the offensive and disturbing content and children’s interest standards. The broadcast included the phrase ‘get the bloody hell out of here’. In light of the Authority’s guidance on complaints that are unlikely to succeed and previous decisions on low-level offensive language, the Authority considered it appropriate to decline to determine the complaint. 

Declined to determine: Offensive and Disturbing Content, Children’s Interests (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989)

Higgins and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2023-002 (12 April 2023)

The Authority did not uphold a complaint a reference to ‘Māori currently waiting 12 months longer than others for surgery’ in the introduction of a 1 News item breached the accuracy, discrimination and denigration, and fairness standards. The Authority accepted the reference was inaccurate, as it should have said ‘Māori were more likely than others to be waiting 12 months for surgery’ (not waiting 12 months longer). However, the Authority found the inaccuracy was not material, given the item’s focus on the pressures on the health system, potential negative outcomes of long waiting times, and the Planned Care Taskforce’s recommendations to reduce waiting times. In this context, the brief reference to Māori wait times in the introduction was unlikely to significantly affect viewers’ understanding of the item as a whole. The discrimination and denigration and fairness standards did not apply.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness

Ireland and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2023-003 (12 April 2023)

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a report about bomb attacks at bus stops in Jerusalem breached the balance standard. The complainant alleged that the story lacked balance as the item did not include the Palestinian perspective on the ongoing tensions in Israel and Palestine. The Authority found that the standard was not breached, as this was a straightforward news item rather than a ‘discussion’ as the standard requires, and in any case, audiences can be expected to be aware of the major perspectives of this issue.

Not Upheld: Balance

Watkins & Yardley and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2022-142 (12 April 2023)

The Authority has not upheld two complaints about an interview on Morning Report with Sue Grey, lawyer for the parents of a baby whose urgent heart surgery had been delayed due to the parents’ concerns regarding blood from donors vaccinated against COVID-19. The essence of the complaints was that the host did not listen to Grey, constantly interrupted her, did not allow her to answer the questions, and pushed his personal views. The Authority found the interview did not go beyond the level of robust scrutiny that could reasonably be expected in an interview with Grey on this subject, noting in particular that Grey was making claims contrary to public health advice, and was able to put forward key points in the course of the eight-minute interview. Therefore the broadcast overall did not result in any unfairness to Grey. The balance, accuracy and children’s interests standards either did not apply or were not breached.

Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance, Accuracy, Children’s Interests

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