The Authority found it had no jurisdiction to determine a complaint about the movie Overlord as the complaint to the broadcaster did not amount to an allegation that the programme was in breach of broadcasting standards. The Authority found that the broadcaster did not have to accept this as a valid formal complaint, on the grounds the complaint was about the storyline and genre, rather than an allegation that the programme was in breach of broadcasting standards.
Warning: This decision contains language that some readers may find offensive.
The Authority upheld a complaint that the use of the word ‘fuck’ in an episode of the programme Eating Fried Chicken in the Shower breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. While the Authority recognised the value and nature of the programme, it was not preceded by any offensive language warning which the Authority considered necessary as the language used was outside audience expectations for the programme, and the programme was aired at 7:30pm, at a time when children may be listening.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
The Authority did not uphold a complaint about an item on Fair Go investigating On the Go Eastgate (OTG Eastgate), a business providing vehicle Warrants of Fitness (WoFs). A customer had complained to Fair Go that OTG Eastgate did not inform her about a $10 weekend surcharge prior to carrying out and charging her for her WoF. Fair Go sent an actor with a hidden camera to investigate this and other claims about OTG Eastgate’s services. Danny Chand, the owner of OTG Eastgate, complained that the broadcast breached the fairness, accuracy and programme information standards. The Authority found that Mr Chand and his business were treated fairly as he was given sufficient opportunities to respond to the claims made in the broadcast, and it was reasonable and justified in the public interest for the broadcaster to use a hidden camera to investigate the claims. The Authority did not consider any of the points raised by the complainant breached the accuracy standard, and it found the programme information standard did not apply to the broadcast.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy, Programme Information
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
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of the terms ‘synthetic cannabis’ and ‘synthetic cannabinoids’ in a Newshub segment that reported on these products, their availability and the fact they have been responsible for a large number of deaths in New Zealand recently breached the accuracy standard. The Authority found that while these products do not contain actual cannabis, the terms ‘synthetic cannabis’ and ‘synthetic cannabinoids’ are commonly used to describe them, both by agencies like the Ministry for Health and the NZ Drug Foundation, and also by the media. Therefore, the Authority did not consider it likely viewers would be significantly misinformed by their use in this broadcast.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority declined to determine a complaint about a news item featuring an eleven year old boy who won a trip to go to a Rugby World Cup 2019 game in Japan with Richie McCaw. The Authority was unable to identify any elements in the broadcast that would raise any concerns under the standards raised. The Authority declined to determine the complaint on the basis it was frivolous and trivial.
Decline to determine: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence, Alcohol, Accuracy
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
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
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a joke on The Project referring to Mark Lundy breached the good taste and decency standard. After an introductory remark referring to Mr Lundy’s latest appeal, a photo was shown of a car number plate reading ‘I DID IT’, and presenter Jesse Mulligan joked that Mr Lundy ‘may want to re-think the car he’s using to get to and from court’ and referred to the car ‘travelling at a very high speed’. Diana Yukich complained that the joke was in poor taste as it made light of domestic violence by alluding to Mr Lundy’s crimes, and undermined the work being done to counter violence against women. The Authority found that while the segment might be considered insensitive by some, taking into account relevant contextual factors and the satirical nature of the comments, as well as the fact the joke did not refer specifically to Mr Lundy’s crimes, the broadcast did not threaten standards of good taste and decency and was unlikely to cause widespread offence or undue distress.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
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