The Authority did not uphold a complaint that two guest panellists’ comments on The AM Show about English rugby players following the Rugby World Cup final breached the discrimination and denigration standard. Discussing some players’ refusal to wear their silver medals after losing the final, the panellists made comments including that the English players were ‘pouty little babies, pathetic, stupid, dumb, bad sportsmanship’, ‘petulant English kids’, ‘prats’, ‘it’s their upbringing’, ‘those English players who wanted to toss their medals on the ground’. The complaint was that these comments were nasty and offensive, and ‘racist’ by suggesting ‘it’s [the players’] upbringing’. The Authority noted the large majority of the comments were clearly directed at the individual players concerned, rather than commenting on a group of people. In the context, the only comment that could be interpreted as extending beyond the individual players (‘it’s their upbringing’), did not reach the high threshold for finding the broadcast encouraged the denigration of, or discrimination against, all English people as a section of the community. The panellists’ comments were clearly opinion meaning they were not subject to the accuracy standard, and they did not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue of public importance so the balance standard did not apply.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy, Balance
In an episode of Mai Home Run, one of the radio presenters related a story about accidentally taking and not returning a bag containing items, including a gaming console, belonging to Lil’ Romeo. The presenter also disclosed the name of one of the people involved in the story. The Authority upheld the complaint that the item breached the privacy standard, finding that the named individual was identifiable and would have had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to the information disclosed. The Authority also found the disclosure to be highly offensive to a reasonable person, as it had the potential to significantly damage the named person’s reputation. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the law and order standard, finding that in context the broadcast did not encourage or actively promote serious anti-social or illegal behaviour. The Authority also did not uphold the complaint under the discrimination and denigration standard, finding that, in the context, the item did not encourage discrimination against or denigration of the Māori or Polynesian communities.
Not upheld: Law and order, discrimination and denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that the movie Fifty Shades Darker was in breach of standards because it glorified a manipulative and abusive relationship. The Authority found viewers were sufficiently informed about the nature of the content to enable them to manage their own viewing. The movie did not contain any content that would go beyond audience expectations for the classification and timeband, especially given the well-publicised nature of the movie. The movie did not encourage violent or law-breaking activity. Finally, the Authority also found that people who engage in BDSM (a sexual practice that involves the use of physical control, psychological power, or pain) are not a recognised group for the purposes of the discrimination and denigration standard.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration
An item on Seven Sharp featured a community hunting event for children under the age of 16. The item included footage of children using firearms, children carrying dead animals, and animal carcasses hanging by their hind legs. Taking into account the relevant contextual factors including the programme’s target audience and audience expectations, the Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item breached the good taste and decency, children’s interests and violence standards. The Authority noted that the item did not depict animals dying or being killed, and the content was clearly signposted by the presenters.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an episode of Sunday concerning the increasing population of wallabies in New Zealand was inaccurate and unbalanced. The Authority found that the balance standard did not apply as the segment did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance. The Authority also found that the reference to wallabies as an ‘Aussie pest’ did not amount to a material inaccuracy as it was unlikely to significantly affect the audience’s understanding of the programme as a whole.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about two items reporting on the Conservative Party electoral victory in the 2019 United Kingdom general election. The items were on consecutive broadcasts of 1 News. The complainant submitted that a statement by the news presenter that Boris Johnson had won a 365 seat majority in the United Kingdom Parliament was inaccurate, as Mr Johnson’s party had won 365 seats of the total number of 650 seats in Parliament and had an overall majority of 80 seats over all other political parties. The Authority did not consider that this was a material inaccuracy or that viewers would be significantly misinformed by the use of the phrase ‘a 365 seat majority.’
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority declined to determine two complaints regarding broadcasts by Radio New Zealand. The first complaint related to a segment on the Five O’Clock Report which featured an interview with National Party MP Mark Mitchell. The second complaint related to a segment on the Morning Report featuring an interview with then leader of the Opposition, Simon Bridges. Robert Terry complained that the Five O’Clock Report segment contained biased coverage and that the Morning Report segment required balance. The Authority found that the complaints did not relate to the content of the broadcast and were not capable of being determined by a complaints procedure. The Authority considered that, in all the circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined by the Authority.
Declined to Determine: Balance
The Authority did not uphold a complaint under the good taste and decency standard about the use of the phrase ‘child pornography’ in a Newshub item reporting on the arrest of Sir Ron Brierley. The complaint was that the item should have instead referred to child sexual exploitation, as ‘pornography’ infers consent and normalises a terrible practice. The Authority acknowledged the complainant’s concerns about the use of appropriate terminology with regard to very serious criminal conduct against children, and noted that what is appropriate terminology is contested internationally among authorities and global agencies. The Authority also consulted the Digital Safety Team at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), which deals with issues including countering child sexual exploitation. DIA advised that it does not use the phrase ‘child pornography’ and considers the term ‘child sexual abuse material’ most accurately describes the illegal material involving children. Taking into account the wider context of the news broadcast, including the high public interest in the item, the Authority found that the single use of the phrase complained about did not breach broadcasting standards or justify regulatory intervention. However the Authority encouraged broadcasters to note the issues highlighted in this decision and exercise judgement when selecting appropriate terminology to refer to this type of serious criminal conduct.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that news items on 1 News about New Year’s celebrations welcoming in 2020 were inaccurate when referencing the start of ‘the second decade’. The Authority found that the broadcast did not refer to ‘the second decade’, only ‘the new decade’. The reference to 2020 as the start of a new decade (when arguably the decade begins in 2021, as modern calendars began counting at 1) did not amount to a material inaccuracy for the purposes of the accuracy standard. The Authority also found that the broadcast’s references to ‘the new decade’ (and similar) were not inaccurate as the term has different meanings when used from calendrical and cultural perspectives.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld two complaints that a promo for the ASB Women’s Classic tennis competition was in breach of the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards of the Pay Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. The promo depicted a tennis player’s skirt flying up in a brief action shot of her hitting the ball. While acknowledging the potential effect of repeatedly viewing this clip, the Authority found that ultimately the clip was not likely to undermine current norms of good taste and decency and did not contain the high level of condemnation or malice necessary to find a breach of the discrimination and denigration standard. The broadcaster provided an explanation for the selection of the clip and the Authority was satisfied that the promo would not cause harm at a level justifying regulatory intervention.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that Mark Richardson’s response to a gift from a guest on The AM Show breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. Noting contextual factors, including audience expectations of the programme and of Mr Richardson, the Authority did not consider that Mr Richardson’s comments were likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress, undermine widely shared community standards or adversely affect children. The Authority also did not uphold a complaint that a discussion about beer brands breached the alcohol standard. While the Authority found that the positive comments regarding Peroni could be regarded as promotion of the Peroni brand, the Authority considered that any promotion of alcohol was socially responsible in the context.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Alcohol
The Authority did not uphold a complaint under the good taste and decency standard about the use of coarse language in the American action comedy film Beverly Hills Cop. Taking into account relevant contextual factors, including the AO classification, time of broadcast at 8.30pm during adult viewing time, clear warning for frequent use of coarse language, and audience expectations of the film and TVNZ DUKE, the Authority was satisfied the broadcaster gave viewers sufficient information to regulate their own, and their children’s, viewing. In the context, the broadcast did not threaten community standards of good taste and decency and the broadcaster adequately enabled child viewers to be protected from potentially unsuitable content.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
The Authority has found that a segment on Newshub regarding the sale of a report summarising data received from schools in a survey run by the Ministry of Education and I.D.C. New Zealand Limited breached the accuracy standard. The item reported on concerns of the New Zealand Educational Institute and survey participants regarding the sale of the report to Microsoft and Google. The Authority found that the statement ‘sensitive, private data about schools and their students pawned off to private companies by Chinese data giant’, which was included in the item, was materially inaccurate and likely to mislead viewers given the data contained in the report was anonymised and aggregated. The Authority also found the broadcaster did not make reasonable efforts to ensure that the relevant statement was accurate and did not mislead.
The Authority did not uphold a complaint under the good taste and decency standard about a brief segment on The Project displaying an image of a scented candle developed by celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow. The complaint was that the name of the candle was disgusting and vile and unnecessary to report on. The Authority acknowledged that this content could have been better signposted for viewers, and some may have been surprised by it and found it distasteful. However reporting the name of the candle in itself did not threaten standards of good taste and decency at a level which warranted limiting freedom of expression, taking into account the wider context of the broadcast. The segment reported on a real product available for sale and the item viewed in its entirety was consistent with audience expectations of The Project and its typical style of presentation and humour.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
The Authority has upheld two complaints that a segment on The Project, about an incident where charges against a man who allegedly shot at a drone were dropped, was in breach of the fairness and accuracy standards. The Authority found the segment was unfair to the man and would have misled audiences as it provided an inaccurate account of events through an interview with the drone’s pilot and additional comments from presenters. The drone pilot interviewee was allowed to put forward unchallenged his views on the man, and the broadcaster did not do enough to provide the man with an opportunity to respond to the comments. As the broadcast did not disclose any private information about the man, nor discuss a controversial issue of public importance, the privacy and balance standards were not upheld.
Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy
Not Upheld: Privacy, Balance
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the usage of the word ‘root’ in a Seven Sharp item breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. The Authority took into account the relevant contextual factors including the nature of the discussion, the nature of the programme and the audience expectations of the programme. The Authority did not consider that the use of the word threatened community norms of good taste and decency, or that any potential harm justified restricting the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
The Authority did not uphold a complaint under the discrimination and denigration standard about a personal anecdote told by Seven Sharp presenter Jeremy Wells, describing the moment ‘Angela D’Audney sat on my desk as a 20-year-old in a leopard-print mini-skirt’. Stumbling over his words, Mr Wells then said, ‘see, it’s got me excited even thinking about it’. The complaint was that Mr Wells: outlined sexually inappropriate conduct against a female coworker; undermined and demeaned his female coworkers; and by saying it on national television, normalised and condoned sexual discrimination in the workplace. The Authority acknowledged Mr Wells’ choice of anecdote was ill-advised and inappropriate and that it may have offended some people. However it emphasised that in itself is not sufficient to find a broadcast encouraged discrimination or denigration. There is a high threshold for finding a breach, in light of the important right to freedom of expression. In this case, the comments were clearly not intended to be malicious or nasty, but rather as a light-hearted personal anecdote following ‘The Friday Countdown’ segment which celebrated 50 years of the network news. In the context, the broadcast did not encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, women as a section of the community.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has declined to determine a complaint regarding a broadcast discussing Fonterra’s write-down of assets and the Reserve Bank’s announcement of an official cash rate cut. The Authority considered that the complaint was trivial, frivolous and vexatious and raised matters which were not covered in the broadcast and amounted to the complainant’s personal preference rather than issues of broadcasting standards.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy
The Authority upheld a complaint that a broadcast of First Up was misleading and breached the accuracy standard. The Authority found the quiz question ‘what charges did Sweden drop last week against WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange?’ was misleading, as charges were never formally laid against Mr Assange. The Authority also found that RNZ did not make reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of the broadcast noting that the error was careless. The Authority did not make any orders on this occasion.
The Authority has declined to determine a complaint that a reference to ‘the future King of England’ during a news segment was inaccurate. The complainant has previously referred a number of complaints about similar issues to the Authority, which were either not upheld, with comprehensive reasons given for the Authority’s decision, or which the Authority declined to determine. The complainant’s appeal of a previous decision to the High Court on a similar issue was also dismissed. The Authority therefore declined to determine the complaint under section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, on the grounds that it was trivial and vexatious.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy