The Authority has not upheld a complaint regarding comments made by Louise Wallace about overweight people, during a panel discussion on AM. The complaint was that the comments were in extremely bad taste and denigrating and discriminatory towards ‘fat women’ in particular. The Authority accepted the comments clearly had the potential to offend. However, noting in particular that the programme hosts challenged Wallace’s comments and made countering remarks, the Authority concluded that the comments did not meet the high threshold for finding the broadcast caused harm at a level that justified regulatory intervention or restricting freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Good Taste and Decency
The Authority has not upheld a complaint under the discrimination and denigration standard in relation to comments about a celebrity dining at an Indian restaurant on Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive. The complaint alleged comments made by the host were racist, including questioning how a $97,000 bill could be possible at an Indian restaurant and questioning the choice to go there. The Authority acknowledged the comments had the potential to cause offence, but found they did not meet the high threshold required for a breach of the standard.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has declined to determine a complaint regarding a broadcast including an interview with a lawyer who was represented as a ‘political commentator’. The complainant made several unsubstantiated allegations to the effect the lawyer was corrupt, and the broadcaster should have disclosed their alleged corruption. The Authority considered the complaint should not be determined in the circumstances as it amounted to the complainant’s personal preference on who should be interviewed, and how they should be portrayed, which are matters of editorial discretion not capable of being resolved by the broadcasting standards complaints process.
Declined to determine (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, in all the circumstances): Law and Order, Balance
The Authority has declined to determine three complaints about different programmes broadcast on TVNZ channels on 4 July 2022 as the concerns related to the complainant’s personal preferences on what should be broadcast, and other issues raised have recently been dealt with and did not warrant further determination.
Decline to determine (section 11(b) in all the circumstances the complaint should not be determined): Offensive & Disturbing Content; Discrimination & Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint regarding an item on The Project discussing whether nurses who were not vaccinated against COVID-19 should return to the workforce given staff shortages. The complainant stated the broadcast breached the offensive and disturbing content standard, as well as other standards, as it encouraged division in Aotearoa New Zealand and the presenters’ comments were ‘uncalled for and unfair’. The Authority found the comments reflected the presenters’ opinions and were unlikely to cause widespread disproportionate offence or distress or otherwise undermine widely shared community standards. The remaining standards either did not apply or were not breached.
Not Upheld: Offensive and Disturbing Content, Promotion of Illegal or Antisocial Behaviour, Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a direct privacy complaint regarding a 1 News item reporting on Kamahl Santamaria’s resignation from Breakfast, where it was stated that ‘allegations of inappropriate behaviour have surfaced’ (reported earlier that day by Stuff). The Authority found Santamaria did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to the information reported, and the item carried high public interest.
Not Upheld: Privacy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on 1 News which reported on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s visit to the United States Congress, where she spoke with lawmakers including Senator Mitt Romney. The complaint alleged the use of the terms ‘Mormon’ and ‘god-fearing and gun-toting’ in the context of comments about Romney breached the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority found the comments 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
An episode of The Detail explored the Productivity Commission’s recommendation the Government review Aotearoa New Zealand’s regulatory framework around genetically modified organisms to ensure they remain fit for purpose. The complainant stated the broadcast was unbalanced and misleading as it, among other reasons, overemphasised the benefits of GMOs, did not critique the Commission, was inaccurate in several respects, and suggested issues with GMOs were largely ethical rather than scientific. The Authority did not uphold the complaint, finding the broadcast was balanced, particularly as it was focusing on a single issue. It also found the broadcast was materially accurate and unlikely to mislead listeners.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
The Authority upheld aspects of seven complaints under the privacy and fairness standards, regarding broadcasts by RNZ which included material stolen from the Waikato District Health Board and released by hackers on the dark web. The broadcasts were about a child under the care of Oranga Tamariki, who was effectively ‘living’ in a WDHB hospital because Oranga Tamariki was unable to find them a placement. The Authority found the child was identifiable and their privacy was breached on a segment on Morning Report. While there was a legitimate public interest in the story, this did not extend to all the details included in the item. The Authority also found the Morning Report segment breached the privacy of the child’s family but not of the social worker involved. The fairness standard was also breached as the broadcasts were unfair to the child and their family. The Authority did not uphold the complaints regarding law and order, as it found the broadcasts would not have the effect of inciting or encouraging illegal or seriously antisocial behaviour.
Upheld: Privacy, Fairness
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Good Taste and Decency
The Authority has issued a split decision in relation to the broadcast of a 14-year-old episode of Intrepid Journeys on Whakaata Māori. The broadcast contained the statement that staff at a Pakistani bakery were ‘working like n*****s out the back’. The complainant submitted that this phrase, and others in the broadcast, were discriminatory and denigrated the local people. Noting the age of the programme, the style of humour and audience expectations of the programme, and the lack of malice in the statements, the Authority unanimously declined to uphold the complaint in relation to most of the statements complained about. However, the Authority was split on its decision in relation to the use of the ‘n-word’. The majority upheld the complaint, finding the use of the ‘n-word’ was derogatory, evoked prejudice, and was capable of embedding negative stereotypes. The minority found insufficient malice and condemnation in the use of the word in the context, and noting that the phrase was directed at working conditions rather than at any particular class or group of people, did not find a breach of the standard. Due to the decision not being unanimous, and the broadcaster’s swift action to remove the ‘n-word’ from the broadcast, no orders were made.
Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration