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Decisions
O'Neill and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-086 (25 March 2020)
2019-086

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an interview with Simon Bridges, National Party leader and Leader of the Opposition, was in breach of the accuracy, balance and fairness standards. The complainant submitted that the interviewer’s description of a tweet from National MP Chris Penk regarding the Abortion Legislation Bill as ‘fake news’, ‘misinformation’, and ‘wrong’ was inaccurate. The Authority found that this description amounted to comment and analysis, to which the accuracy standard does not apply. The Authority also found that the interview was balanced, as it was reasonable for the interviewer to take a position opposing that of Mr Bridges, and Mr Bridges was given ample opportunities to present his perspective on issues discussed. Given Mr Bridges’ position and experience in the media, and the reasonable expectations Mr Penk would have around treatment of his tweet in the media, the Authority also found that neither was treated unfairly.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness

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
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
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
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
Stubbs and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-049 (17 September 2019)
2019-049

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an item on Morning Report discussing the possible boycott of the Tuia – Encounters 250 commemorations was unbalanced, inaccurate and unfair. The Authority found the item was balanced through the presentation of alternative perspectives and the existence of significant media coverage within the period of current interest. The Authority also found the broadcast did not contain any material inaccuracy with respect to Captain Cook’s first arrival in New Zealand. Finally, the Authority found the fairness standard did not apply as the complainant did not identify any person or organisation who took part in or was referred to in the broadcast who was treated unfairly.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Barclay and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-003 (20 May 2019)
2019-003

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an interviewee’s language, broadcast during an item on Morning Report on 10 December 2018, was violent and inappropriate. The item reported on the declining memberships of sports clubs in New Zealand and featured an interview with the Club Captain of a tennis club. The interviewee commented that the tennis courts were so empty ‘you could… fire a machine gun and hit no one.’ The Authority noted that the right to freedom of expression allows individuals to express themselves in their own words, provided this does not cause undue harm. In this case, the comment made by the interviewee was brief, was not overly graphic or targeted at a particular individual or group, and was not intended to be taken literally. Taking into account contextual factors, such as the adult target audience of Morning Report and RNZ National, the broadcast was unlikely to unduly distress or disturb listeners, or any children that might have been listening, and was not so graphic as to require an audience advisory for violent content.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Children’s Interests, Violence

Decisions
Rama and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-007 (7 May 2019)
2019-007

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that the use of the term ‘booted out’, in reference to the Speaker of the House, Hon Trevor Mallard, ejecting the Leader of the Opposition, Hon Simon Bridges, from the House, was inaccurate. The Authority found there was no reason to suggest the broadcaster did not make reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of the broadcasts complained about. The Authority found that the use of terms such as ‘booted out’ and ‘kicked out’, in reference to Members of Parliament who have been ordered by the Speaker of the House to leave the House, is common in New Zealand and therefore its use was unlikely to mislead or misinform listeners.

Not Upheld: Accuracy

Decisions
Anderson and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2018-091 (4 February 2019)
2018-091

A complaint about an interview between Kim Hill and Rt Hon Winston Peters regarding the relationship between New Zealand First and the Labour Party was not upheld. The complainant submitted the interview was unbalanced because Kim Hill’s interviewing of Mr Peters was ‘biased, rude and condescending’. The Authority found that, while Ms Hill asked Mr Peters challenging and critical questions, Mr Peters had a reasonable opportunity to put forward his competing point of view. Given the level of public interest in the interview, Mr Peter’s position and his experience with the media, the Authority also found Ms Hill’s interview style did not result in Mr Peters being treated unfairly.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Seafood New Zealand Ltd and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2018-054 (19 September 2018)
2018-054

A complaint from Seafood New Zealand Ltd (Seafood NZ) about an interview between Morning Report host Guyon Espiner and Dr Russell Norman of Greenpeace was not upheld. Dr Norman and Mr Espiner discussed Greenpeace’s view that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) had been ‘captured’ by the fishing industry, and why MPI has not prosecuted anyone for under-reporting whiting catches, with reference to a leaked MPI report from 2012. While RNZ acknowledged the interview did not meet its internal editorial guidelines, as it should have at least acknowledged the views of other stakeholders, the Authority did not find any breach of broadcasting standards. The Authority found the interview was unlikely to mislead listeners as it was clear that the interview comprised Dr Norman’s and Greenpeace’s opinions and analysis. The Authority noted that, although the interview was clearly presented as being from Greenpeace’s perspective, Mr Espiner did challenge Dr Norman during the interview, and another broadcast later the same day contained comment from both Seafood NZ and MPI. The Authority emphasised the importance of holding central government departments to account in a way that is balanced and fair, and concluded that in this instance the broadcaster achieved this and did not breach broadcasting standards.

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

Decisions
Loder and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2018-041 (10 August 2018)
2018-041

An item on Morning Report reported that, over the past ten years, reported firearm theft has increased by 35%, and through the comments of three interviewees considered whether the increase of firearm theft is related to issues around their safe storage and registration. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item breached standards of balance and fairness. The Authority found the item provided sufficient balance through multiple alternative points of view that enabled listeners to form their own opinion on the topic. The fairness standard cannot be applied to licenced firearm owners as they are not an ‘organisation’ for the purposes of the standard.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Beckers and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2018-008 (18 April 2018)
2018-008

An item on Morning Report reported on and discussed the introduction of ACT MP David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill 2017 to Parliament. The broadcast featured excerpts from speeches made during the first reading of the Bill, comments from RNZ’s political commentator and an interview with Mr Seymour. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that statements made by Mr Seymour that ‘[assisted dying is] becoming normal around the world’ were inaccurate. The Authority emphasised the importance of freedom of political expression and the high threshold required to justify limiting that expression. It found that the statement complained about was clearly distinguishable as Mr Seymour’s analysis and opinion, rather than a statement of fact to which the accuracy standard applied. Additionally, alternative viewpoints on the Bill were presented during the item so listeners would not have been misled.

Not Upheld: Accuracy

Decisions
Johnson and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2018-003 (28 March 2018)
2018-003

An item on Morning Report featured an interview between presenter Kim Hill and a seismologist from GNS Science, following a 4.3-magnitude earthquake the previous night. At the beginning of the interview, during a discussion of the seismologist’s initial reaction to the earthquake, Ms Hill said, ‘WTF’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of the term ‘WTF’ in this broadcast was unacceptable and a breach of the good taste and decency standard. The Authority found that, taking into account relevant contextual factors, including the nature of the programme, audience expectations of RNZ and Kim Hill, and the fact that the offensive word implied was not explicitly stated in the broadcast, the use of ‘WTF’ did not threaten community norms of taste and decency, or justify restricting the right to freedom of expression.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency

Decisions
Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd - ID2018-005 (9 March 2018)
ID2018-005

Allan Golden complained about two segments broadcast on RNZ’s Morning Report and Nine to Noon programmes. The Authority declined jurisdiction to accept and consider the complaints. The Authority found it was open to the broadcaster to not accept these as valid formal complaints, on the grounds the complaints were based on the complainant’s own opinions of what the broadcasts should include, rather than raising issues of broadcasting standards.

Declined Jurisdiction   

Decisions
Ministry of Social Development and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2017-097 (9 March 2018)
2017-097

An item on Morning Report featured an interview with a Social Policy Advisor at the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), who discussed CAB’s experience assisting the public with income support applications to Work & Income New Zealand (WINZ). The Authority did not uphold a complaint from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) that this interview was unbalanced, unfair and inaccurate. The Authority found that because of the nature of the item – which comprised a brief interview with one individual, who approached a widely reported issue from a clearly identified perspective – audiences would not have expected to hear MSD’s response to the comments made. While the interviewee’s comments were critical, MSD could expect to be subject to scrutiny, and listeners were likely to be broadly aware of MSD’s position in relation to this issue. In this context, and given the nature of the item, listeners would not have been left with an unfairly negative impression of MSD, and the broadcaster was not required to seek comment in response. Finally, it was clear that the interviewee’s comments represented her own opinion, based on the experiences of CAB clients, which were not subject to the requirements of the accuracy standard.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness, Accuracy

Decisions
Lee and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2017-088 (16 February 2018)
2017-088

A segment on Morning Report discussed one Auckland individual’s challenge to Auckland Council to open a discussion about removing or altering a monument to Colonel Marmaduke Nixon in Ōtāhuhu. The item briefly summarised Colonel Nixon’s role in colonialism and in the Waikato land wars, including the invasion of Rangiaowhia. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item lacked balance and was inaccurate in its account of the events at Rangiaowhia. The Authority found the item did not purport to provide a comprehensive examination of what occurred at Rangiaowhia. Rather, the item focused on one individual’s challenge to the Council to consider removing or altering the monument. In this context, it was not required in the interests of either balance or accuracy to present alternative accounts of the historical events. The Authority noted that, following the item, alternative viewpoints were nevertheless acknowledged in further online coverage by RNZ.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy

Decisions
Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd - ID2017-073 (16 October 2017)
ID2017-073

A segment on Morning Report discussed a press release by a named investment banking firm. The Authority declined jurisdiction to accept and consider a complaint that the programme ought to have disclosed certain alleged conduct by that firm. The Authority found the broadcaster was correct to not accept this as a valid formal complaint, as the complaint was based on the complainant’s own opinion of the firm rather than raising issues of broadcasting standards within the broadcast.

Declined Jurisdiction

Decisions
Keane and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2017-054 (9 August 2017)
2017-054

An item on Morning Report featured an interview with the manager of teacher practice at the Education Council. The interview discussed the Council’s drug testing of teachers and its ‘zero tolerance’ approach to cannabis use, and referred to a recent finding of misconduct against a New Zealand teacher who refused to undergo a drug test. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item ‘pushed’ marijuana use by teachers. The item did not promote the use of illegal drugs or condone the behaviour of the teacher referred to. Rather, it offered a robust examination of the Council’s methods of drug testing teachers and its ‘zero tolerance’ approach to cannabis use. In this context the item did not encourage listeners to use illegal drugs or otherwise undermine law and order. The item also did not contain any material which had the potential to adversely affect any child listeners.

Not Upheld: Law and Order, Children’s Interests

Decisions
Henderson and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2016-014 (27 June 2016)
2016-014

Seven items on Morning Report contained references to greenhouse gas emissions, specifically agricultural emissions and the outcomes of discussions at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP 21). The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging it was inaccurate and unbalanced to state or infer that livestock emissions amount to half of New Zealand’s total emissions. The Authority found that references to the amount of livestock emissions in several of the items were not material points of fact to which the accuracy standard applied. In relation to the other items the Authority was satisfied that the broadcaster made reasonable efforts to ensure accuracy as it drew on a range of reputable sources and scientific evidence in support of the statements made.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Controversial Issues

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