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
Two complaints from the subjects of a Fair Go investigation have not been upheld. The investigation focussed on the sale of a massage product to an elderly man with severe foot pain. The Authority found the privacy of the salesperson was not breached through the brief broadcast of their business card which contained their image and contact details. The Authority found this did not amount to a highly offensive disclosure of private information. The Authority also found the broadcasts did not breach the balance, accuracy and fairness standards, finding that the broadcasts were unlikely to significantly misinform viewers regarding the sale of the product and the product itself. The Authority also found that, while there was public interest in the story, it did not amount to a controversial issue of public importance for the purposes of the balance standard. Finally, the Authority found the company responsible for the sale and the company’s founder had been treated fairly by TVNZ.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Balance, Accuracy, Fairness
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an episode of Sunday about voluntary ‘DIY’ sperm donation in New Zealand, and in particular the complainant’s history of frequent sperm donations, breached broadcasting standards relating to privacy, fairness and accuracy. The Authority found there was a high level of public interest in discussing the risks associated with using DIY sperm donors, as well as CA’s extensive donation history in particular, which outweighed the potential harm to CA. The Authority concluded the programme did not disclose any private information about CA, and overall CA was treated fairly and was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment in response to allegations made about him in the programme. Doorstepping CA (approaching him on the street with cameras rolling) was not unfair in the circumstances, and he willingly engaged in a lengthy interview with the reporter. Finally, the Authority did not consider the programme contained any inaccurate statements of fact or would have misled viewers.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Fairness, Accuracy, Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an episode of Sunday about legal proceedings brought against Claims Resolution Service Ltd breached the accuracy or fairness standards. The programme discussed the service provided by Bryan Staples and Claims Resolution Service Ltd to Christchurch home owners looking for help to resolve claims with their insurance companies and the Earthquake Commission after the Canterbury earthquakes. The Authority found that none of the statements made about the proceedings raised by the complainants were inaccurate or misleading. The Authority also found that the edited version of a phone call between Mr Staples and John Campbell that was broadcast fairly and accurately reflected the tenor of the views expressed by Mr Staples. Finally the Authority found that TVNZ gave Mr Staples a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment prior to the broadcast.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness
The Authority received a complaint about a promo for a scheduled programme Seven Sharp which was viewed on TVNZ’s Facebook page. The Authority declined to determine the complaint under s11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. The Authority acknowledged that it raised complex issues of jurisdiction arising from the online environment, which had not yet been determined by the Authority. Taking into account its assessment of the substance of the complaint, which it considered was unlikely to result in a finding of a breach of standards, the Authority declined to determine the complaint.
Declined to determine: Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration
A complaint that a news item which included blurred clips of a politician in a strip club breached the children’s interests standard has not been upheld. The Authority found that the short news item contained brief and inexplicit clips from inside the strip club which were shown in the context of a news item about Australian politics. Generally audiences are aware of the need to exercise discretion during news programming to regulate their own and their children’s viewing. The Authority found that due to audience expectations of 1 News, which is an unclassified news and current affairs programme, the brevity of the clip and blurring applied, the public interest, and the focus of the item being on Pauline Hanson’s response to the resignation of a party candidate, the item would not cause undue harm to children.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests
A complaint alleging that an interview on Breakfast with Professor Douglas Pratt, an expert in theological and religious studies, breached broadcasting standards has not been upheld. The interview was exploring Professor Pratt’s views on the possible motivation behind the attacks on 15 March 2019 on two mosques in Christchurch. The Authority found that the interview was not a discussion as contemplated under the balance standard, but rather Professor Pratt’s in-depth, expert opinion, and therefore the balance standard did not apply. The Authority also found that the broadcast did not contain a high level of condemnation towards the Christian community nor the level of malice or nastiness required to breach the discrimination and denigration standard.
Not Upheld: Balance, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has upheld a complaint that a promo for The Shallows shown during Finding Dory breached the children’s interests standard. The Authority found that the promo, which featured sinister and scary shark related content, was inappropriate for a child audience which would likely have been disturbed or alarmed by it. The Authority noted the importance of scheduling and editing promos for AO programmes appropriately, taking into account the classification of the host programme, and also the time of broadcast, target and likely audience of the host programme, and audience expectations. In considering the contextual factors, the Authority also found that the promo did not meet the G classification of the host programme. The Authority made no orders, and determined that the publication of the decision was sufficient to publicly notify and remedy the breach and would provide appropriate guidance to the broadcaster and to broadcasters generally.
Upheld: Children’s Interests. No order.
Warning: This decision contains content that some readers may find distressing.
Following the 15 March 2019 attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, 1 News at 6pm twice broadcast an edited clip taken from the alleged attacker’s 17‑minute livestream video. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast was in breach of the good taste and decency and violence standards. The content of the clip, and the broadcast as a whole, was newsworthy and had a high level of public interest. The very brief clip was an edited segment of the livestream video which provided information to audiences, but which did not contain explicit graphic or violent content and did not promote or glorify the actions of the attacker. Specific warnings and extensive signposting ensured audiences were sufficiently informed about the disturbing nature of the content. Taking into account the unprecedented nature of these attacks in New Zealand, the Authority found that the alleged harm did not outweigh the important right to freedom of expression and the high level of public interest in the broadcast. The Authority’s intervention in upholding the complaint would therefore represent an unreasonable or unjustified limit on the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Violence
Warning: This decision contains content that some readers may find distressing.
On 15 March 2019 a special 1 News broadcast covered the terrorist attacks on two Christchurch mosques. The broadcast featured footage of victims being taken into hospital, many of whom had visibly sustained gunshot injuries and/or were identifiable. The Authority did not uphold two complaints that the coverage breached the privacy standard. The Authority found that media coverage of this event had high public interest in light of the unprecedented nature of extreme violence that occurred. The media had an important role to play in informing the public of events as they unfolded, including the nature and scope of injuries suffered and the action of first responders, including medical personnel. The Authority acknowledged that the repeated use of footage of identifiable victims amounted to a breach of privacy but found that the public interest defence applied. The Authority also did not uphold a complaint that the good taste and decency, children’s interests and violence standards were breached. The Authority found that there was sufficient signposting by the broadcaster of the nature of the event being reported on to enable audiences to make informed choices as to whether they, or children in their care, should watch the coverage. The Authority held that the footage of the victims (which illustrated the gravity of the situation) was justified in the public interest.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence
A complaint about the use of the alleged mosque attacker’s name during a 1 News report was not upheld. The Authority found that in the context of the item the single use of the name and the broadcast’s limited reference to violence did not breach the violence standard.
Not Upheld: Violence
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that two answers provided during Mastermind New Zealand, about historical New Zealand events, were inaccurate and unbalanced. The Authority noted that both questions appeared to have been answered accurately by the contestant. Viewers were unlikely to be left misled or misinformed by the omission of further context around these answers, particularly given the well-known quiz format of the programme. The programme did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance, given historical events were raised only briefly in the form of quiz questions, and the requirements of the balance standard therefore did not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance
The Broadcasting Standards Authority has not upheld a complaint that a clip from Family Guy, featured in a promo montage for upcoming programmes on TVNZ, breached the good taste and decency standard. The clip showed Peter Griffin, a male cartoon character, sitting on a chair and opening his legs to show his genitals (which were pixelated). The Authority found that, given the time of the broadcast was after 9pm, the fact that Family Guy is a cartoon comedy and that the scene was brief, the promo was not outside audience expectations and did not undermine current norms of good taste and decency. The Authority therefore found any restriction on the right to freedom of expression would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an item on 1 News, which reported on the United States (US) government shutdown, breached the accuracy standard. The Authority found the statement: ‘The crisis began after Democrats refused to sign off on the President’s demands for eight and a half billion dollars to build a border wall with Mexico’, was unlikely to mislead or misinform viewers about the latest events in the US government shutdown, reported on during the item. The Authority noted that in the context of the item as a whole, the presenter’s comment was an acceptable shorthand introduction to the key issues reported on. Finally, in this case the Authority found that the broadcaster was not required, in the interests of accuracy, to specify that the amount sought for the border wall was reported in New Zealand dollars.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld two complaints about episodes of Shortland Street, which followed the ongoing storyline of a threesome between a married couple and their nanny. The Authority acknowledged that some viewers might find this storyline distasteful and that some scenes and references might have raised questions for children. However, the Authority found that various contextual factors, including audience expectations of the long-running television drama and a warning for sexual material, prepared audiences for the likely content and minimised the potential for undue harm. The sexual material and references contained in these episodes were relatively inexplicit, with no nudity or sexual activity beyond kissing shown. Finally, the fictional sexual activity took place between consenting adults and no illegal or seriously antisocial activity was portrayed during the programme. The Authority therefore found no grounds to justify restricting the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an episode of Sunday, which investigated gay conversion therapy in New Zealand, was unbalanced and inaccurate. The Authority found the existence of differing viewpoints was pointed to throughout the programme, with balancing comments provided by those featured and in final comments from the presenter. The broadcaster made reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of the programme, relying on authoritative medical opinion from health experts regarding current views on gay conversion therapy and the potential harm that could be caused by the practice. In making these findings, the Authority recognised the high public interest in this story and found that upholding the complaint would represent an unjustified and unreasonable limit on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld complaints from seven members of the public about an episode of Sunday, which investigated gay conversion therapy and whether this practice was happening in New Zealand. Three individuals were filmed covertly during the programme, appearing to offer gay conversion therapy to an undercover reporter, ‘Jay’, who posed as a young Christian ‘struggling with same sex attraction’. The Authority found that the broadcaster’s use of a hidden camera in this case represented a highly offensive intrusion upon the three individuals’ interest in seclusion. All three individuals were discussing a sensitive matter and could not have reasonably expected their one‑on-one conversation to be recorded in its entirety and broadcast. The Authority found that on its face the broadcast breached the privacy of these individuals. However, in this case the Authority recognised the legitimate public interest in the issue of gay conversion therapy in New Zealand, and the role of investigative journalism in disclosing issues such as this to the New Zealand public. The Authority found that the high level of public interest, both in the programme as a whole and in the hidden camera footage, justified the broadcaster’s use of a hidden camera and therefore did not uphold the privacy complaints.
Not Upheld: Privacy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an episode of Breakfast, in which the phrase ‘he rooted my missus’ was read out on air, breached the good taste and decency standard. The Authority found that while the phrase was coarse and may have offended some viewers, the term ‘rooted’ was unlikely to undermine or violate widely shared community norms. Overall, the Authority found that 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 has not upheld complaints from two complainants, a Christian organisation and its director, about an episode of Sunday which investigated gay conversion therapy and whether this practice was happening in New Zealand. The director, ‘X’, was filmed covertly during the programme, appearing to offer gay conversion therapy to an undercover reporter, ‘Jay’, who posed as a young Christian ‘struggling with same sex attraction’. The Authority found that the broadcaster’s use of a hidden camera in this case represented a highly offensive intrusion upon X’s interest in seclusion and that, on its face, this broadcast breached their privacy. However, the Authority found that the high level of public interest, both in the programme as a whole and in the hidden camera footage, justified the broadcaster’s use of a hidden camera. Further, the broadcaster complied with its obligations under the fairness standard, providing the complainants with sufficient information about the nature of the broadcast and X’s participation, and a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment in response to the issues raised by the programme. Finally, the Authority found that the broadcast accurately and fairly portrayed the nature of the conversation between X and Jay, and the support and services being offered to him.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Fairness, Accuracy
Warning: This decision contains language that some readers may find offensive
During an interview on Breakfast about a proposed cull of Himalayan tahr, the Minister of Conservation, Hon Eugenie Sage, appeared to use the word ‘cunters’ when referring to the educational effort undertaken by tahr hunters. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the Minister’s use of this word during this interview breached the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards. The use of the word was an accidental slip of the tongue and it was clear that the Minister intended to refer to ‘hunters’ during this section of the interview. The use of the word was not deliberate nor was it used with any malice or invective. The Minister herself acknowledged that she could have enunciated the word ‘hunters’ more clearly during the interview and apologised for any offence it caused. Overall, the Authority found that the use of this term, in the particular context, did not meet the threshold tests for breach of the relevant standards.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration