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 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
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 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 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 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
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
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 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 declined to determine a complaint that a broadcast covering the name change of an investment and advisory group from ‘First NZ Capital’ to ‘Jarden’ was inaccurate finding that the complaint was frivolous, trivial and vexatious. The Authority ordered the complainant to pay a reasonable portion of costs to the broadcaster to compensate for the time and resources spent in dealing with the complaint.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy
Order: Section 16(2)(a) – $200 costs to the broadcaster
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an item on Insight that investigated the history and current state of far-right, alt-right and nationalist ideologies breached broadcasting standards. The Authority found the broadcast was balanced as it contained a range of significant perspectives. The Authority also found people who hold these ideologies do not amount to an ‘organisation’ for the purposes of the fairness standard and therefore that the fairness standard does not apply.
Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness
The Authority found it had no jurisdiction to determine a complaint about a segment on Nine to Noon because the complaint did not explicitly or implicitly identify any broadcasting standards breached by the broadcast.
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that quotes from the book ‘Everything is F*cked’ by Mark Manson, broadcast as part of a review of that book, breached the good taste and decency, programme information and violence standards. The Authority noted that the right to freedom of expression allows individuals to express themselves in their own words, provided this does not cause undue harm. In this case, the nature of the item was clearly signalled by the introduction, and the quotes were contextualised by the reviewer who was using them as examples to emphasise and support his criticism of the book. This enabled listeners to make an informed decision about their listening and that of children in their care. Taking into account contextual factors, such as the adult target audience of Nine to Noon and RNZ National, the broadcast was unlikely to unduly distress or disturb listeners, and children were unlikely to have been listening.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Violence
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that the song Why Won’t You Give Me Your Love breached broadcasting standards. The complaint was that the song lyrics described an ‘intention to stalk, kidnap, imprison and rape’ and the song was inappropriate to broadcast in the afternoon. The Authority determined that the song’s satirical nature and upbeat style reduced the potential for the darker tone of the lyrics to cause harm. The song was within audience expectations for the eclectic music selection of the host programme, Matinee Idle and, taking into account the context of the broadcast, the lyrics did not undermine widely shared community standards and would not have unduly harmed child listeners.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an item on Morning Report discussing the possible boycott of the Tuia – Encounters 250 commemorations was unbalanced, inaccurate and unfair. The Authority found the item was balanced through the presentation of alternative perspectives and the existence of significant media coverage within the period of current interest. The Authority also found the broadcast did not contain any material inaccuracy with respect to Captain Cook’s first arrival in New Zealand. Finally, the Authority found the fairness standard did not apply as the complainant did not identify any person or organisation who took part in or was referred to in the broadcast who was treated unfairly.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that replacement programming broadcast on RNZ National instead of Children’s Storytime breached the children’s interests standard. On 17 March 2019, shortly after the 15 March 2019 attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, instead of the usual Children’s Storytime, RNZ played excerpts from the podcast Public Enemy, a four-part series from 2016/17 looking at growing up Muslim in the post September 11 world. The Authority found that while the replacement broadcast contained material that could be disturbing for children, and while there was a greater chance of children tuning in due to the usually scheduled programming at that time, the broadcaster took steps to adequately inform listeners of the nature of the programme. This would have enabled caregivers to decide whether the content was suitable for children in their care. Further, the replacement programme had significant public interest in the context of the recent 15 March attacks. The Authority therefore found any restriction on the right to freedom of expression would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests
The Authority has declined to determine a complaint about an item on Nights, which discussed the New Zealand Book Council’s initiative to create a men’s book club, with the aim of encouraging more men to read books. Mr Golden complained that the item was inaccurate. He submitted that men should not be encouraged to read more books, as paper-based books were, for example, heavy, spread unwanted bacteria and could cause eye problems. The Authority declined to determine the complaint on the basis that it was frivolous and trivial, and ordered the complainant to pay a reasonable portion of costs to the broadcaster to compensate for the time and resources spent in dealing with the complaint.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy
Order: Section 16(2)(a) – $100 costs to the broadcaster
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a host’s comment during Nights, regarding the likelihood of the manned moon landings being fake, was inaccurate. The comment occurred during a talkback segment of the programme, with the host providing his response to an email received from the complainant. In this context, the statement by the host was not a material point of fact but a statement of comment or opinion, to which the requirements of the accuracy standard do not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy