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Gibbs and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2016-091 (8 March 2017)

An item on Sunday Morning with Wallace Chapman, titled ‘Abortion and Civil Liberties – the Thames Stand-Off’, discussed ‘pro-life’ protestors, Voice for Life, and their longstanding protests outside Thames Hospital. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the presenter was biased and that his treatment of the ‘pro-life’ representative was negative, unfair and unbalanced in comparison to his treatment of the ‘pro-choice’ representative. The Authority found that Mr Chapman’s treatment of the interviewees did not result in an unbalanced broadcast, as both perspectives on the debate were adequately put forward during the programme. While Mr Chapman’s questioning of the ‘pro-life’ representative was robust, his criticisms related to the Voice for Life group as a whole, and he did not attack the interviewee personally or come across as abusive towards her, such that she was treated unfairly. The allegedly inaccurate statement made by Mr Chapman represented his interpretation of the issues discussed, and as such could be distinguished as analysis, comment or opinion, rather than a point of fact subject to the accuracy standard.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness, Accuracy 

Evans and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2016-080 (19 January 2017)

An item on Sunday Morning featured an interview with journalist Paula Penfold about the recently published book, Don’t Dream It’s Over: Reimagining Journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand. During the interview, Ms Penfold discussed the Stuff Circuit team’s investigation into the death of a teenage girl with Down Syndrome at the Gloriavale Christian community. Ms Penfold referred to the complainant’s documentary, Gloriavale: A Woman’s Place, saying, ‘And I know a little bit about how that works with Hopeful Christian, the leader at Gloriavale. You know, he will insist on editorial control’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that Ms Penfold’s statements were inaccurate. Ms Penfold’s statement represented her own analysis, comment or opinion, based on her experiences at Gloriavale, and so was not subject to the accuracy standard. While Ms Penfold spoke authoritatively, in the context of her full statement, and the item as a whole, the Authority did not consider that listeners would have interpreted her comments as fact.

Not Upheld: Accuracy 


Maasland & Others and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2014-118

Sunday Morning contained two items on the historical relationship between Israel and apartheid South Africa: Counterpoint contained a discussion of the relationship between Israel and South Africa and of Israel’s arms industry; and an interview with an anti-apartheid activist discussed this topic as well as modern-day Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. The Authority upheld complaints that the broadcast breached the controversial issues standard, as no alternative perspective was presented either within the broadcast, in any proximate broadcast or in other media. The Authority declined to uphold the remainder of the complaints because: the statements complained of were either expressions of opinion or matters the Authority cannot determine and therefore were not subject to the accuracy standard; the statements did not reach the high threshold necessary to encourage discrimination or denigration; and the programme did not treat any individual or organisation unfairly.

Upheld: Controversial Issues

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness

No Order

Lace and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2014-111

The Authority declined to uphold a complaint that Radio New Zealand’s Sunday Morning coverage of ‘Dirty Politics issues’, was unbalanced, irresponsible and unfair. The broadcast covered a range of topics including Dirty Politics, and as the book was one of the political ‘hot topics’ in the lead-up to the 2014 general election and widely reported on, listeners could reasonably be expected to be aware of other views.

Not Upheld: Controversial Issues, Fairness, Responsible Programming

Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2013-028

In an interview with a successful New Zealand businessman on Sunday Morning with Chris Laidlaw, the businessman made a very brief reference to a trustee of one of his projects. The Authority declined to determine the complaint that this breached the accuracy, fairness and responsible programming standards: the complaint was trivial and it was bordering on vexatious for the complainant to continue referring similar complaints following the Authority's previous rulings.

Declined to Determine: Accuracy, Fairness, Responsible Programming

Bolot, Finlay and Gautier and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2013-008

Five items reporting on an episode of escalating violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Gaza Strip were broadcast on Radio New Zealand National. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that they breached the balance standard because they were biased towards the Palestinian position. The broadcaster had clearly made reasonable efforts to present significant viewpoints, including the Israeli perspective, across more than 250 news bulletins and programmes within the period of current interest.

Not Upheld: Controversial Issues

Trussell and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2012-075

During a segment called “Ideas” on Sunday Morning with Chris Laidlaw, broadcast on Radio New Zealand National, the host interviewed a professor about his creative writing course and about writers and the writing community in general; the professor made comments about a “generation” of New Zealand poets, including A.R.D Fairburn and Denis Glover. The Authority did not uphold the complaint  that the programme breached the controversial issues, accuracy and fairness standards: the comments did not form part of a “factual programme”, so the controversial issues standard did not apply; this episode of “Ideas” was not “factual programming” to which the accuracy standard applied, and in any event the professor’s comments amounted to his personal opinion and were therefore exempt from standards of accuracy; and the fairness standard only applies to individuals and organisations – it does not apply to people who are deceased, or to a “generation of poets”.

Not Upheld: Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness

Werry and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2007-083

Sunday Morning with Chris Laidlaw. Theoretical discussion. Balance, fairness, accuracy. Not upheld.

Robinson and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2006-123

Sunday Mornings with Chris Laidlaw. Services for sexually abused. Balance. Not upheld.

Miller and Radio Pacific Ltd - 1993-119

Radio Pacific, Sunday morning programme. Presenter's comment about Ruth Richardson. Not upheld (good taste and decency): action taken sufficient.