The Authority has issued a split decision in relation to a Sunday item which reported on a ‘silicosis epidemic’ in Australia’s engineered stone workforce and raised questions about New Zealand’s response to the same concerns, suggesting New Zealand is failing to address its own ‘looming health crisis’. The complaint alleged the broadcast breached the accuracy and balance standards as it misled the audience to believe the industry in New Zealand had the same regulatory failings as Australia, and was unbalanced as it omitted other perspectives on the New Zealand situation (for example, from the industry). The Authority did not uphold the accuracy complaint, finding it was reasonable for TVNZ to rely on the selected interviewee as a local authoritative source and spokesperson on this issue. However, a majority of the Authority found the broadcaster did not provide any balancing perspectives within the programme, and there was only limited other coverage elsewhere prior to the broadcast, meaning viewers were not given sufficient viewpoints to form their own opinions about the issues discussed. The minority considered that while the broadcast may have lacked balance, the overall value of the broadcast in highlighting a serious health risk outweighed the potential harm.
Upheld (by Majority): Balance
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority1 has not upheld a complaint a discussion on an inquiry and proposed reforms to the Retirement Villages Act 2003 breached the accuracy, balance and fairness standards, due to the broadcaster failing to provide prior warning to the complainant of the inclusion of a further participant to the discussion, and for not providing sufficient time for the complainant to respond to the new participant’s analysis. The Authority found the complainant was provided with a fair opportunity to articulate his position and to respond to concerns raised by other participants; the alleged inaccuracies amounted to analysis, to which the accuracy standard does not apply, and the analysis was not materially misleading with respect to any facts referred to. Noting the perspectives included in the broadcast, the Authority found the complainant’s concerns about balance were better addressed under accuracy and fairness.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness
The Authority has upheld a complaint that it was inaccurate for the host of The Mike Hosking Breakfast to state, responding to listener feedback asking whether ‘striking teachers do all this on full pay’: ‘Well of course they do! …people who go on strike have always been on full pay. They're supported by the unions.’ The Authority found: the statement was materially inaccurate in the context of the broadcast; text messages read out later in the programme commenting on the pay situation for teachers on rolling strikes as opposed to full strikes did not serve as a correction to Hosking’s earlier inaccuracy; and the broadcaster did not make reasonable efforts to ensure accuracy. The Authority found publication of the decision was sufficient to notify the breach of the accuracy standard and provide guidance to broadcasters, and no further orders were necessary.
The Authority has declined to determine a complaint alleging an item on Nine to Noon breached the offensive and disturbing content standard, due to a presenter using the expression ‘effing annoying’ when describing a character in a book review. 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 this complaint.
Declined to Determine (section 11(b) in all the circumstances the complaint should not be determined): Offensive and Disturbing Content
The Authority declined to determine a complaint that an episode of Country Calendar depicted cruelty towards animals. The episode focused on the work of the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation and the Foundation’s conservation work. It included footage of Wapiti deer being hunted and shot from a helicopter, collected, and processed at an abattoir. The Authority has consistently found that hunting is a reality of life in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the depiction of hunting footage is generally acceptable provided it does not depict undue cruelty. The Authority did not consider this broadcast included any such footage justifying a departure from these findings.
Declined to determine (section 11(b) in all the circumstances the complaint should not be determined): Offensive and Disturbing Content
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that broadcasting an image of Julian Batchelor’s car (sign-written with ‘stop co-governance’ advertising, including Batchelor’s website domain name, and cell phone number) breached Batchelor’s privacy due to the car’s licence plate not being blurred. The Authority found that no private information had been disclosed – noting the car was parked in a publicly visible place, and the Authority has previously found brief footage of licence plates in a broadcast does not amount to an offensive disclosure of private facts, for the purposes of the standard.
Not Upheld: Privacy
The Authority has declined to determine a complaint an item on 1 News reporting on the leak of classified Pentagon documents and the presence of butterfly land mines in Ukraine breached the balance standard. The Authority found the complaint related to the complainant’s personal preferences on what should be broadcast and raised issues which had been addressed in recent decisions.
Decline to determine (section 11(b) in all the circumstances the complaint should not be determined): Balance
The Authority has declined to determine a complaint that the presentation of a 1 News Kantar Public poll concerning support for political parties ahead of the 2023 general election was misleading. The Authority has previously determined that excluding undecided voters from poll figures was not inaccurate, and the issue of poll figures adding to 100% did not require our determination. On this basis the Authority considered it appropriate to decline to determine the complaint.
Declined to determine (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, in all the circumstances): Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a broadcast of Mediawatch, which contained commentary on a recently released Media Council decision concerning an article about puberty blockers, breached the balance, accuracy and fairness standards. The Authority found the programme was sufficiently balanced, noting its focus was on the Media Council’s decision (including its implications for journalists) and that it did not purport to be a balanced examination of the safety or reversibility of puberty blockers. It found alleged inaccuracies in the broadcast constituted comment, analysis or opinion to which the accuracy standard does not apply. Taking into account the Media Council’s role as a public-facing organisation, the Authority noted it can reasonably expect its decisions to be subject to public scrutiny, and found the critique of its decision did not result in unfairness.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an RNZ News bulletin reporting on the arrest of Kiritapu Allan, and political commentators’ views on the implications for Labour’s election chances, breached the balance and fairness standards. The complaint considered the item favoured two ‘negative’ opinions that were ‘noticeably biased against the Labour government’ and ignored a ‘positive’ balancing view available ‘just minutes earlier’ from Minister James Shaw. The Authority found the item was balanced, having included alternative significant perspectives just prior to the news bulletin. The fairness standard did not apply to the concern of how a ‘situation’ is presented, and in any event, the Authority did not consider either Allan or the Labour Party were treated unfairly.
Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness