Warning: This decision contains coarse language that some readers may find offensive
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that the action taken by NZME in response to a breach of the good taste and decency standard during an episode of the programme Bhuja was insufficient. The Authority agreed that the programme breached standards, by failing to signal to viewers that a highly aggressive interview was staged, and by broadcasting offensive language. However, the Authority found the action taken by the broadcaster holding the hosts to account with regard to language used, was proportionate to the breach and any further action would unreasonably limit the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression. The Authority also found that the fairness, discrimination and denigration, violence and accuracy standards did not apply to the material broadcast.
Not upheld: Good Taste and Decency (Action Taken), Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Violence, Accuracy
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
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a comment made by Patrick Gower during a Newshub segment about the presence of the far right in New Zealand breached the accuracy standard. The Authority found that Mr Gower’s comment that ‘the global far-right is here in New Zealand, influencing us and our politicians whether we realise it or not’ was not a statement of fact to which the accuracy standard applies. The Authority found the statement was one of comment and political analysis, the type of which is common in news and current affairs broadcasts and which viewers would have understood to be Mr Gower’s conclusion based on the information presented in the item.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The majority of the Authority did not uphold a complaint that a comment made by Mike Hosking during a ‘Mike’s Minute’ segment of Mike Hosking Breakfast about the government’s surplus breached the accuracy standard. The majority found that, considering a number of contextual factors, the statement was one of comment and political analysis, the type of which is common in news and current affairs broadcasts to which the accuracy standard does not apply. The minority view was that Mr Hosking’s comment was an inaccurate statement of fact on which he then based his opinion and that the broadcaster did not make reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of the statement on which the following comments were based.
Not Upheld by Majority: Accuracy
A complaint that a radio host asking a caller ‘how Māori are you?’ breached the discrimination and denigration standard has not been upheld. A broadcast of Afternoons with Andrew Dickens featured a discussion between Mr Dickens and a caller about Māori sovereignty, the Treaty of Waitangi and racism. During the discussion Mr Dickens asked the caller ‘how Māori are you?’ The Authority found that while the comment was patronising, misinformed and likely to offend some listeners, it did not contain the level of condemnation required to constitute a breach of the discrimination and denigration standard and therefore any restriction on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
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
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.
Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness
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
The Authority has upheld complaints from two complainants about a segment of Punjabi talkback programme Panthak Vichar, broadcast on Access Community Radio Inc (Planet FM). During the programme, the hosts made a number of allegations against the complainants, regarding their fundraising activities and whether they were trustworthy, and played a recorded phone conversation with Jaspreet Singh on-air. The Authority found that the comments reflected negatively on the complainants, and that Jaspreet Singh would not have known that the phone call would be played on-air. The Authority upheld the complaint under the fairness standard but did not uphold the remaining aspects of the complaint.
Upheld: Fairness. Not Upheld: Accuracy, Privacy, Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Discrimination and Denigration
In an episode of The AM Show, host, Duncan Garner, interviewed economist Cameron Bagrie on the topic of dropping interest rates. During the interview, Mr Bagrie commented regarding the risk of people no longer putting money in the bank, saying, ‘the banks need the money in the bank, because they gotta … get a dollar in the door before they can put the money out the door in the form of a loan.’ The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the item breached the accuracy standard. The Authority found that Mr Bagrie’s statement was clearly distinguishable as analysis, comment or opinion so the accuracy standard does not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
During a segment on The AM Show that discussed immigration to New Zealand host Mark Richardson said: ‘we’re clearly not getting enough English immigrants to become traffic officers’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that Mr Richardson’s comment was discriminatory to nationalities that are ‘not English’ in breach of the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority found the complainant did not identify a ‘section of the community’ for the purposes of the standard. The Authority also found that, considering audience expectations of The AM Show and Mr Richardson, the light-hearted nature of the comment and other contextual factors, the comment did not reach the threshold required to be considered discriminatory or denigratory.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and denigration
During an episode of Newshub, news reporter Emma Cropper referred to police vehicles as ‘paddy-wagons’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of the term breached the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority did not find any element of condemnation, malice or nastiness present in the usage of the term in this context and therefore could not conclude that the broadcast encouraged discrimination and denigration in contravention of the standard.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and denigration
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
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a comment referring to a rugby player as a ‘Jew’ because he was unwilling to pay for his wedding breached the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority observed that the comment was an example of casual anti-Semitism and such comments can contribute to the normalisation of racism. However, while the Authority considered the comment to be ignorant and disrespectful, in the context it did not reach the threshold for regulatory intervention.
Not upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
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
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a promo for The Titan Games, broadcast during Newshub Live at 6pm and containing the phrase ‘holy crap’ breached the good taste and decency standard. The Authority found that the phrase was unlikely to undermine or violate widely shared community norms and overall any potential for harm did not justify a restriction on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a segment on The Project that questioned whether a ‘stolen generation’ was being created in light of an investigative report into Oranga Tamariki’s uplifting of a child breached broadcasting standards. The Authority acknowledged the sensitive nature of the issue addressed but found the item, and specifically the host’s use of the term ‘stolen generation’ was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress. The Authority also found the item was unlikely to mislead viewers regarding the situation considering the nature of the programme and the presentation of alternate viewpoints on the issue. Finally, the Authority found the broadcast did not result in any unfairness to Oranga Tamariki that justified the restriction of the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression, as its perspective was clearly presented in the short item.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Accuracy, Fairness
During an episode of Newshub, political editor Tova O’Brien used the term ‘SNAFU’ in reference to a plane the Prime Minister was supposed to be on breaking down. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of the term ‘SNAFU’ 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 Newshub and the fact that the offensive word implied was not explicitly stated in the broadcast, the use of ‘SNAFU’ did not threaten community norms of good taste and decency, or justify restricting the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
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
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