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Decisions
Arps and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2019-073B (7 May 2020)
2019-073B

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a Newshub segment that discussed the potential rise of far-right ideology in New Zealand breached the balance and accuracy standards. The Authority found that the segment was balanced as it contained multiple points of view. The Authority also found that the presenter’s reference to the complainant as a ‘white supremacist’ was a statement of analysis and opinion to which the accuracy standard does not apply.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy

Decisions
Dewhurst and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2019-109 (7 May 2020)
2019-109

A complaint that an episode of The AM Show breached the balance standard was not upheld. The episode featured multiple segments that addressed various climate change related issues including interviews with a Fonterra representative about its sustainable farming practices, an interview with sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke about their marine conservation initiative ‘Live Ocean’ and a panel discussion about the recently founded Sustainable New Zealand Party. The Authority found that while climate change issues are controversial issues of public importance, none of the segments amounted to unbalanced discussions for the purposes of the standard.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Arps and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2019-073A (7 May 2020)
2019-073A

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a 1 News segment breached the discrimination and denigration and balance standards. The Authority found that people who hold the views represented in the segment do not amount to a ‘recognised section of the community’ for the purposes of the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority also found that, while the broadcast discussed a controversial issue of public importance, it was balanced by the inclusion of multiple points of view from several parties.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Balance

Decisions
Atkin and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2019-094 (9 March 2020)
2019-094

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a segment on Seven Sharp regarding an advertisement by Fluoride Free NZ. Mark Atkin, on behalf of Fluoride Free NZ, complained that the programme was in breach of the balance and accuracy standards. The Authority found that the segment did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance, as required for the balance standard to apply. The Authority also found that none of the points identified by the complainant were inaccurate.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy

Decisions
Garrett and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2019-093 (9 March 2020)
2019-093

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an item on 1 News about the release of the Department of Corrections’ strategy ‘Hōkai Rangi’, aimed at reducing the disproportionately high number of Māori in prisons, was unbalanced. The Authority recognised that the item discussed a controversial issue of public importance to which the balance standard applied, but found that the broadcaster provided sufficient balance for viewers. The item included a number of significant viewpoints on the issue, including comment from: Corrections Minister, Hon Kelvin Davis; justice campaigner, Sir Kim Workman; Corrections Chief Executive, Christine Stevenson; and the National Party’s spokesperson for Corrections, David Bennett. Hōkai Rangi was also widely reported on in other news media during the period of current interest. While the complainant wished for different individuals to be interviewed and/or to be given more air time, the Authority found that did not result in the news item being unbalanced or prevent the audience from reaching an informed view on the issue.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Guenole and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2019-091 (9 March 2020)
2019-091

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a segment on Breakfast where John Campbell interviewed technology commentator Paul Brislen about the alleged potential health effects of the rollout of the 5G cellular network breached the balance and accuracy standards. The Authority found that, considering the clear perspective of the broadcast and the ongoing media coverage of the 5G rollout, audiences had sufficient information to enable them to make reasoned decisions about 5G. The Authority noted that it was not its role to determine the scientific accuracy of Mr Brislen’s statements and ultimately found that TVNZ made reasonable efforts to ensure their accuracy.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy

Decisions
Garrett and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-079 (4 February 2020)
2019-079

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a segment on Morning Report about the release of the Department of Corrections’ strategy ‘Hōkai Rangi’, aimed at reducing the proportion of Māori in prisons, breached the balance standard. The broadcast included a pre-recorded interview with Corrections Minister, Hon Kelvin Davis, followed by a discussion between host Susie Ferguson and guests Sir Kim Workman and Julia Whaipooti about the issues for Māori in the corrections system and whether the strategy would help to address these. The following morning, the National Party’s Corrections spokesperson David Bennett was interviewed on Morning Report about why the National Party was critical of the strategy. The complaint was that the interview with Sir Kim and Ms Whaipooti was unbalanced and one-sided. The Authority found that sufficient balance was achieved taking into account: the signalled approach of the discussion with these two individuals (which focused on the perspectives of people with expertise in justice reform and Māori experiences in the corrections system); the follow up interview with Mr Bennett who gave an alternative perspective; and significant media coverage of the issue within the period of current interest, which enabled the audience to arrive at an informed and reasoned opinion on the strategy.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Parlane and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-075 (4 February 2020)
2019-075

The Authority declined to determine a complaint regarding a news item covering the expansion of a sexual violence court pilot. The complainant submitted that the victim advocate interviewed in the item should not have been interviewed and should not have been referred to as a rape survivor. The Authority concluded that, in all the circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined by the Authority. The Authority found the concerns raised in the complaint are matters of editorial discretion and personal preference rather than broadcasting standards, and are therefore not capable of being determined by the broadcasting standards complaints procedure.

Declined to determine: Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Accuracy, Privacy, Fairness

Decisions
Seafood New Zealand Ltd and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-083 (4 February 2020)
2019-083

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a Checkpoint segment about a media release issued by Forest and Bird stating that commercial fishing set nets were responsible for the deaths of an estimated 30 yellow-eyed penguins was unbalanced or unfair. The Authority found that Fisheries Inshore New Zealand Ltd was treated fairly by RNZ as it was contacted for a response to Forest and Bird’s statement prior to the broadcast. The Authority found this amounted to being given a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment for the programme before it was broadcast. The Authority also found that the item was balanced as RNZ broadcast a summary of the response sent by Fisheries Inshore during the Checkpoint segment. The Authority noted the importance of freedom of expression with respect to the examination and criticism of public and industry organisations and found that, on this occasion, any restriction on that freedom would be unjustified.

Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance

Decisions
Phillips and Racing Industry Transition Agency - 2019-044 (22 January 2020)
2019-044

The Authority has upheld a complaint that two episodes of The Box Seat breached the accuracy and balance standards of the Pay TV Code of Broadcasting Standards. The Authority found that the segments about blood spinning in harness racing covered a controversial issue of public importance but failed to include balancing views on the issue being discussed or indicate that the programmes were presented from a specific perspective. The Authority also found that, although the broadcasts did not contain any specific factual inaccuracies, the omission of alternative perspectives and information on the safety and propriety of blood spinning meant that the broadcast was misleading as a whole. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the fairness standard. The Authority considered the publication of this decision sufficient to censure the breach of standards by the broadcaster and made no orders.

Upheld: Balance, Accuracy. Not upheld: Fairness. No orders

Decisions
Cotterall and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-072 (16 December 2019)
2019-072

A complaint that segments on Morning Report which discussed the abortion legislative reform process were unbalanced was not upheld. First, the Authority found the complaint amounted to a ‘formal complaint’ for the purposes of the Broadcasting Act 1989. However the Authority found the items did not breach the balance standard as they clearly approached the topic of abortion legislative reform from a particular perspective and that listeners could reasonably be expected to have a level of awareness of significant arguments in the debate.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Davis and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-061 (16 December 2019)
2019-061

The Authority has upheld one aspect of a complaint that an interview with Sir Andrew Dillon, the CEO of the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) breached the accuracy standard. The Authority found that listeners were invited by the item to draw negative comparisons between the role and functions of NICE and of PHARMAC in the New Zealand context, which was misleading through the omission of relevant contextual information about the two agencies. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the balance standard, as inviting a comparison of the two agencies did not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue to which the balance standard applied. The Authority also did not find any breach of the fairness standard on the grounds PHARMAC is a high-profile, public-facing agency which is frequently subject to scrutiny and criticism and it was not necessary to give PHARMAC an opportunity to comment in this case. Additionally, Sir Andrew made some moderating remarks which reduced the potential for unfairness.

Upheld: Accuracy

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

No Order

Decisions
Graf and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-071 (16 December 2019)
2019-071

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an interview on Morning Report with Martin Sellner, the leader of an Austrian far-right group, was unbalanced or misleading. Interviewer Corin Dann questioned Mr Sellner on the donation he had received from the alleged Mosque attacker and Mr Sellner’s choice to give some of the money to Victim Support, a charity assisting victims of the Mosque attacks. In response to other questions, Mr Sellner also provided some comment regarding his ideologies. During the interview, Mr Dann questioned whether Mr Sellner had a role in radicalising the alleged attacker and whether Mr Sellner felt any responsibility for the attacks. The Authority found that the balance standard was not breached considering the clear approach of the broadcast, focussing on the perspective of Mr Sellner, the introduction prior to the interview and Mr Dann’s questioning of Mr Sellner. The Authority also found the broadcast was unlikely to mislead listeners as it was clearly Mr Sellner’s opinion that was being portrayed during the interview. The Authority noted the potential for harm to be caused as a result of giving publicity to extremist ideologies but found the potential for harm ultimately did not reach the level required to justify a restriction of RNZ’s right to freedom of expression on this occasion.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy

Decisions
Neate and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-074 (16 December 2019)
2019-074

A complaint that an RNZ news bulletin item breached the balance standard was not upheld. The item reported on a ‘Northland farmer’ who said his business would be put at risk by the government’s proposed methane reduction targets included in the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill. The Authority found that while climate change issues are controversial issues of public importance, the item did not amount to a ‘discussion’ for the purposes of the standard, as it was a brief, straightforward news report that did not purport to be an in-depth examination of the proposed methane reduction targets or the Bill.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Tongan Health Society and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2019-054 (2 December 2019)
2019-054

 The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a 1 News segment that discussed allegations and criticisms about the operations of the Tongan Health Society. The segment featured interviews with former employees and Board members who criticised the management of the Society, its CEO Dr Glenn Doherty, and called for an independent review of the Society. The Authority found that the requirements of the fairness and balance standards were met as TVNZ had taken reasonable steps to seek, and then adequately presented, the Society’s point of view on the issues raised in the programme. The Authority found the disclosure of the CEO’s request for a bonus and extracts from correspondence between the CEO and Board relating to this amounted to a breach of privacy, but determined that the defence of public interest applied on this occasion.

Not Upheld: Balance Fairness, Accuracy, Privacy

Decisions
Garrett and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-056 (18 November 2019)
2019-056

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that two interviews on Morning Report with contributors to the recent report ‘He Waka Roimata: Transforming our Criminal Justice System’, published by the Te Uepū Hāpai i te Ora: Safe and Effective Justice Advisory Group, breached the balance and accuracy standards. The Authority found that the clear perspective and focus of the interviews, combined with the public interest and ongoing nature of the issue discussed, resulted in a balanced broadcast that would assist listeners in arriving at informed and reasoned opinions. The Authority also found that statements made by a host and an interviewee regarding the ‘three strikes’ law were not statements of fact to which the accuracy standard applied. Finally, the Authority found the interviews were unlikely to mislead viewers through these statements or by omission of certain information.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy

Decisions
Pask and Mediaworks TV Ltd - 2019-057 (18 November 2019)
2019-057

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an item on Newshub Live at 6pm concerning US immigration breached the good taste and decency and balance standards. The complaint was that showing the bodies of a toddler and her father who drowned while trying to enter the US was gratuitous, and that the item’s coverage of migrant detention camps and interviews with protestors outside were unbalanced as no comment was included from US authorities. The Authority found that including the images of dead bodies was justified in the public interest, and the warning preceding them was sufficient to enable viewers to exercise choice and control over their viewing, so there was no breach of good taste and decency. Under the balance standard, the Authority found the item was clearly signalled as being focused on the plight and struggles of child migrants primarily from Central America and the obstacles and risks they face, rather than immigration policy itself, therefore comments from US authorities would not be expected. Additionally, the issue is the subject of ongoing media scrutiny around the world, so viewers could reasonably be expected to be aware of significant viewpoints on the issue, including from US authorities, and would not be left significantly misinformed as a result of this item.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Balance

Decisions
Brenner and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2019-029 (6 November 2019)
2019-029

A complaint that Malcolm Brenner was treated unfairly when interviewed for a segment on Dom, Meg and Randell about his previous sexual relationship with a dolphin has been upheld. MediaWorks interviewed Mr Brenner about his relationship with a dolphin but ultimately decided not to broadcast the interview in full. They did however broadcast a small segment of the interview in which one of the hosts called Mr Brenner ‘sick’ and stormed out of the interview. The Authority found that Mr Brenner was treated unfairly and was not adequately informed about the nature of his participation in the broadcast. In particular, he was misled into thinking a four minute version of the interview would be broadcast (rather than only the brief segment including the host’s reaction to him), when the final broadcast had already occurred. The Authority also found that, while listeners may have already formed a negative impression about Mr Brenner, the broadcast of the interview segment had the potential to adversely affect him and he should have been given the opportunity to comment on air. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the discrimination and denigration, balance and accuracy standards, finding they were not applicable.

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

Decisions
EJ, Oughton & Gulf Harbour Healthcare Ltd and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2019-035 (29 October 2019)
2019-035

Two complaints from the subjects of a Fair Go investigation have not been upheld. The investigation focussed on the sale of a massage product to an elderly man with severe foot pain. The Authority found the privacy of the salesperson was not breached through the brief broadcast of their business card which contained their image and contact details. The Authority found this did not amount to a highly offensive disclosure of private information. The Authority also found the broadcasts did not breach the balance, accuracy and fairness standards, finding that the broadcasts were unlikely to significantly misinform viewers regarding the sale of the product and the product itself. The Authority also found that, while there was public interest in the story, it did not amount to a controversial issue of public importance for the purposes of the balance standard. Finally, the Authority found the company responsible for the sale and the company’s founder had been treated fairly by TVNZ.

Not Upheld: Privacy, Balance, Accuracy, Fairness

Decisions
Hurley and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-043 (10 October 2019)
2019-043

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an item on Insight that investigated the history and current state of far-right, alt-right and nationalist ideologies breached broadcasting standards. The Authority found the broadcast was balanced as it contained a range of significant perspectives. The Authority also found people who hold these ideologies do not amount to an ‘organisation’ for the purposes of the fairness standard and therefore that the fairness standard does not apply.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

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