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
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
In a 1 News report on the ruling of the UK Supreme Court that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful, a statement was made in the introduction of the item that Boris Johnson had ‘lied to the Queen’. TVNZ upheld the complaint that the statement was inaccurate, apologised to the complainant and held discussions with the news team to ensure that systems were put in place to reduce the risk of inaccurate reporting. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the action taken by TVNZ was insufficient, finding that the action was appropriate and proportionate to the breach identified.
Not Upheld: Accuracy (Action Taken)
A 1 News item reported on the confessions of a man identified as America’s most prolific serial killer, Samuel Little. The Authority did not uphold complaints that the inclusion of a statement by the man breached the good taste and decency, children’s interests and violence standards. The Authority determined that the content was justified by context and in the public interest. The Authority acknowledged the high value in news and current affairs reporting and noted that the introduction to the item (which included reference to a ‘chilling’ police interview) was adequate to inform viewers of the nature of the coverage enabling them to adequately protect themselves and their children from the content by choosing not to watch. However, the Authority noted that where broadcasters provide audience advisories about potentially challenging content through a programme host’s introduction, it is important that the introduction is factual and captures the nature of the content to come.
Not upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests and Violence
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
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a remark about suicide made by Mr Burns at the end of The Simpsons Movie was in breach of the good taste and decency, children’s interests and violence standards. The Authority acknowledged that the remark pushed the boundaries of the G (General) classification and recognised the need for broadcasters to take particular care when addressing subjects such as suicide. However, noting the nature of, and audience expectations for, The Simpsons as well as the nature and position (within the credits) of the remark, the Authority concluded that the programme was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress or to be unduly harmful or disturbing to children. The Authority also noted that there were no scenes of violence depicted.
Not upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests and Violence
The Authority did not uphold two complaints that comments made by Mike Hosking during his Mike’s Minute segment breached the discrimination and denigration and accuracy standards. Discussing two recent immigration policy decisions by the Government, Mr Hosking commented, ‘discrimination is no bad thing’ and, ‘Where do too many of the radicalised nutters come from? That particular part of the planet [Africa and the Middle East]... We don’t want to take the risk of a poor-ish person’s parent arriving – so why a jihadist?’ The Authority acknowledged the complainants’ concerns that Mr Hosking’s choice of language was inflammatory. However, it found that in the context of the item, which carried public interest, the comments complained about were brief and moderated by the remainder of the item. Mr Hosking was expressing his genuinely held opinion on a legitimate issue, rather than being malicious or nasty. Therefore the comments did not reach the high threshold for encouraging discrimination or denigration, and did not warrant limiting the right to freedom of expression. The Authority also found Mr Hosking’s comments were distinguishable as analysis, comment and opinion so the accuracy standard did not apply.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of the word ‘douche’ following an interview with Hannah Tamaki breached the good taste and decency standard. The complaint was that Mrs Tamaki was referred to as a ‘douche’, which was not an acceptable way to refer to a woman. The Authority noted that the word was used on two occasions. The first use of the word originated from audience feedback saying Mrs Tamaki was ‘on the same page as [Donald Trump]; and that ‘Trump’s a douche’. The host’s later comment promoting an upcoming item – ‘from douches to [chef] Nadia Lim’ – was ambiguous as to whether or not it was intended to refer to Mrs Tamaki. In any event, the Authority did not consider the use of the word threatened community standards of good taste and decency in the context.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of the term ‘synthetic cannabis’ in a 1 News segment that reported on these products and their likely link to a number of deaths breached the accuracy or programme information standards. The Authority cited a recent decision where it found that while these products do not contain actual cannabis, the term ‘synthetic cannabis’ is commonly used to describe them and is unlikely to mislead viewers. Therefore, the Authority did not consider it likely viewers would be significantly misinformed by its use in this broadcast. The Authority also did not identify any breaches of the programme information standard.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Programme Information
The Authority did not uphold a complaint about a promo for Love Island Australia, which was available to view online on ThreeNow. The promo depicted the programme host, Sophie Monk and two others as angels sitting in the clouds. The ‘god of love’, a heart-shaped cloud in the sky, called down to Sophie saying, ‘we need more love’. Sophie responded that she had ‘the perfect place for falling in love… a love island’, in response to which the ‘god of love’ asked, ‘and what about hot bods?’ The complainant found the promo offensive as he considered it mocked Christianity and Christian beliefs. Weighing these concerns against the right to freedom of expression, the Authority found the promo’s content would not have unduly offended or distressed the general audience, and it did not reach the high threshold necessary for finding it encouraged the denigration of, or discrimination against, Christians as a section of the community. Therefore, the promo did not cause actual or potential harm at a level which justified limiting the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a segment on Newshub regarding the Invercargill Licensing Trust Group (ILT) was inaccurate. The item reported on the ILT’s history, purpose and its funding of community projects and ventures. The Authority found that the segment was unlikely to significantly misinform or mislead viewers regarding the ILT. The Authority also found that none of the issues raised by the complainant amounted to a material inaccuracy for the purposes of the accuracy standard.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority upheld a complaint from ANZ Bank New Zealand Ltd (‘ANZ’) that an item on Seven Sharp was inaccurate and misleading. The item concerned a customer who had had a dispute with the bank and in December 2018 entered an ANZ branch and pretended he had a bomb. The Authority agreed that the item breached the accuracy standard as it created a misleading impression that the customer was paid a settlement as a result of his actions at the bank, when in fact the dispute had been settled and he had received a settlement payment months earlier. The Authority considered the question of whether the item undermined law and order to be borderline. The broadcaster took a light-hearted human interest approach to a serious story, and the item risked encouraging and promoting illegal activity. However, the Authority concluded the presenters’ comments at the end of the item adequately denounced the actions, making it sufficiently clear that the customer’s actions were unacceptable. The Authority concluded that the item as a whole did not actively encourage illegal behaviour. The Authority acknowledged the broadcast may have been upsetting for bank staff involved in the events, but found the fairness standard could not be applied to them as viewers of the item (rather than participants). The Authority considered the publication of this decision sufficient to censure the breach of standards by the broadcaster and made no orders.
Upheld: Accuracy. Not Upheld: Law and Order, Fairness.
A complaint that a segment on The Breakfast Club, on More FM, where the hosts made jokes and puns about a woman who died after being pecked by a rooster, breached the good taste and decency standard has not been upheld. The Authority found that, while the comments were insensitive and had the potential to cause offence to family of the deceased, the programme as a whole did not reach the threshold required to justify a restriction on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression. The Authority found that, considering the context of the item (including the target audience of More FM and the audience expectations surrounding The Breakfast Club and its hosts) and the tone of the item, the item did not undermine widely shared community standards and was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress.
Not upheld: Good taste and decency
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
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
The Authority upheld complaints that the broadcast of potentially offensive language in two episodes of Inside the Red Arrows breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. The complainant made separate complaints about each episode. The broadcaster did not respond within the required 20 working day statutory timeframe, although once the complaint was referred to the Authority, it responded to Mr Francis advising that his complaint about the first episode was upheld. It later advised the Authority that the second complaint was also upheld. Upon considering the substance of the complaints, the Authority recognised the value of the documentary series, however, it found that as the episodes were broadcast at 7.30pm, which is a time that children may be watching, and they were not preceded by any warning for language, the broadcasts breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. Audiences were not given sufficient information about the episodes to exercise choice and control over their and their children’s viewing.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests.
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
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an episode of 20/20 aired on free-to-air television on a Sunday at 9am, covering the abduction of Steven Stayner and the subsequent murder of several women by Steven’s brother Cary Stayner, breached the children’s interests and good taste and decency standards. The Authority found that, while the broadcast discussed some potentially distressing themes and subject matter, such as rape, murder and kidnapping, viewers had sufficient information to enable them to make informed choices about whether they or children in their care should view the broadcast. The Authority highlighted the importance of audience expectations and target audiences in their determination and ultimately found any restriction on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression on this occasion would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests, Good Taste and Decency
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
In an episode of Seven Sharp, host, Hilary Barry, interviewed a woman with type one diabetes about an encounter she had with waitstaff at a restaurant when eating food brought from home. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast breached the accuracy standard (by giving viewers the impression that kumara salad can treat hypoglycaemia). The Authority was satisfied that a reasonable viewer was not likely to be misled by the broadcast into thinking that kumara salad is a treatment for hypoglycaemia.
Not Upheld: Accuracy