The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on Morning Report which briefly discussed soil contamination at, and the possible repurposing of, a chemical plant site in Paritutu, New Plymouth. The complainant, an interviewee on the broadcast, argued the item misrepresented likely contamination levels by citing test results from outside of the plant site, and through a comment that the site was cleaner than that at Mapua. The Authority found the statements complained about either were not materially inaccurate, or were clearly distinguishable as opinion, to which the requirement for factual accuracy does not apply. The broadcast was unlikely to mislead listeners. The balance and fairness standards either did not apply or were not breached.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a question during a social welfare debate on Morning Report suggesting an ACT Party policy ‘smacks of eugenics’. In the context it was not outside audience expectations for Morning Report and political debate. It would not have caused widespread offence. The complaint did not raise any issues under the balance standard. The question was comment and analysis, to which the accuracy standard does not apply. Ms McKee and the ACT Party were treated fairly in the context of the debate.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Balance, Accuracy, Fairness
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a 1 News at Midday item about the United States presidential election lacked balance because it included clips of Joe Biden supporters and Biden’s campaign, but not Donald Trump supporters or the Trump campaign. The US election, while it could be considered a controversial issue of public importance for the purposes of the balance standard, was an issue that was widely covered by the media, including by TVNZ. Balance is not achieved by a ‘stopwatch’ meaning broadcasters are not required to give equal time to alternative viewpoints. The lack of emphasis on Trump supporters and the Trump campaign in this particular item would not have left viewers uninformed and did not breach the balance standard, given the widespread coverage available including of Mr Trump’s campaign and supporters.
Not Upheld: Balance
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about comments by Sean Plunket on his talkback programme regarding Christians and Christianity. While Mr Plunket made highly critical comments and expressed scepticism, this was not beyond audience expectations for a robust, opinionated programme and was unlikely to cause widespread offence. Equally, the comments were unlikely to encourage the discrimination or denigration of Christians. The Authority found callers in to the programme were treated fairly by Mr Plunket, given they had willingly phoned in to provide views on a discussion in which Mr Plunket was criticising the Christian faith, and were given the opportunity to express their own views. The remaining standards did not apply.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness, Violence, Accuracy, Balance
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an interview between Magic Talk host Ryan Bridges and World Health Organisation Special Envoy Dr David Nabarro. The complainant argued the interview contained inaccurate information about Sweden’s approach to COVID-19 and mask wearing, and inaccurately suggested Dr Nabarro advocated New Zealand adopt Sweden’s approach. The Authority found the relevant statements were comment, analysis or opinion to which the accuracy standard does not apply. It also concluded they were not materially inaccurate or misleading in the context of the interview. The standards of good taste and decency, balance and fairness either did not apply or were not breached.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Good Taste and Decency, Balance, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an item on Fair Go dealing with the ‘flushability’ of nappy liners breached the accuracy, fairness, privacy and balance standards. The Authority found the programme was not inaccurate or misleading in suggesting the liners were not ‘flushable’. It found the complainant was not treated unfairly as a result of the broadcast of a recorded ‘cold call’ and the complainant’s views were fairly reflected in the programme. It also found there was no breach of privacy standards and the balance standard did not apply as the programme did not deal with a controversial issue of public importance.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Privacy, Balance
The Authority declined to determine a complaint about the use of te reo Māori on Newshub Live at 6pm. Te reo Māori is an official New Zealand language. Its use is a matter of editorial discretion appropriately determined by broadcasters. The Authority declined to determine the complaint because the use of te reo Māori does not raise any issue of broadcasting standards.
Declined to Determine (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, in all the circumstances): Balance
A 1 News item reported on studies showing an increase in emperor penguin numbers in the Antarctic, followed by ‘a word of caution’ about the danger posed to the penguin population by climate change. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the second part of the piece, which included a forecast that the global population of emperor penguins could decrease by half by the end of this century, was based on ‘unproven science’. Considering, in particular, the subject matter, language and manner of presentation, the Authority found viewers were likely to interpret the comments and predictions as analysis or opinion to which the accuracy standard does not apply. Given the wide social acceptance of the existence and predicted impacts of climate change, the Authority did not consider the item discussed a ‘controversial issue’. Therefore the balance standard and the requirement to present alternative viewpoints did not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance
An item on RNZ’s Midday Report reported ‘Scientists warn polar bears may become extinct by the end of the century because of climate change.’ The complainant alleged climate change was not threatening polar bears as reported in the item. The Authority found the statements in the item were clearly framed as predictions, and attributed as being the scientists’ view. Therefore, they were analysis and opinion (rather than statements of fact) and the accuracy standard did not apply. Reporting on the predicted future impact of declining sea ice on polar bear survival, as shown in studies, did not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue, so the balance standard did not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Programme Information
An item on 1 News (sourced from the BBC) reported on the impact of sea ice decline on polar bears, including a statement by the reporter, ‘At the current rate of warming, the researchers say all but a few polar bear populations will collapse before 2100.’ The complainant alleged climate change was not threatening polar bears as reported in the item. The Authority found the broadcaster was entitled to rely on internationally reputable sources in the report and had made ‘reasonable efforts’ as required by the accuracy standard. Reporting on the predicted future impact of declining sea ice on polar bear survival as shown in studies did not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue, so the balance standard did not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Programme Information
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that the leaders’ debate between Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Hon Judith Collins breached broadcasting standards. The programme carried a high level of public interest. Both debate participants were senior politicians who had a clear understanding of the nature of their participation in the debate and were given fair opportunity to respond to the questions raised.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and denigration, Balance, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on 1 News which reported on the shooting of Jacob Blake by police and the subsequent protests that occurred. The complainant argued the item included false statements, and omitted relevant background information about the incident and about Mr Blake. The Authority found the statements made were not materially inaccurate and were unlikely to mislead viewers in the context, given the wide coverage and commentary available at the time. The Authority also found the omitted background information was not material to the matters reported. The Authority found the balance and fairness standards did not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on Newshub Live at 6pm, in which Prince Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall fund was described as ‘essentially his private slush fund’. The complaint was that this description was inaccurate and suggested illegal practices. In the context, given the public’s general understanding of ‘slush fund’, and the discretionary nature of the Duchy of Cornwall fund, the Authority found the use of the term was not inaccurate or misleading. The Authority also found this term did not undermine widely held community standards, and the balance standard did not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Good Taste and Decency, Balance
A complaint about an interview between Susie Ferguson and Hon Judith Collins regarding issues which arose in the preceding day’s Leaders’ Debate was not upheld. Given the level of public interest in the interview and Ms Collins’ position and experience with the media, the Authority also found Ms Ferguson’s interview style did not result in Ms Collins being treated unfairly. Given the framing and structure of the interview, there was no lack of balance. The question about Ms Collins’ motivations for praying (and her photograph being taken) in a chapel was not likely to encourage the different treatment, or devalue the reputation, of Christians. The accuracy standard did not apply as the relevant statements were comment, analysis or opinion.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance, Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an interview with Hon Paul Goldsmith on Morning Report breached the balance and fairness standards. As the complaint did not specify a particular ‘controversial issue of public importance’ the balance standard did not apply. The Authority highlighted the value of robust political discourse and the vital role of media in encouraging and engaging in such discourse. Considering the nature of the programme and contextual factors, including the significant public interest in the interview and Mr Goldsmith’s experience in dealing with the media, the Authority did not find Mr Dann’s interview approach to be unfair.
Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness
In a segment on the Mike Hosking Breakfast programme, the host interviewed the Prime Minister about the Government’s decision to extend the Level 3 lockdown restrictions on Auckland in August 2020. The Authority did not uphold the complaints. It recognised the value of robust political discourse in the media and the role of media in holding to account those in positions of power. Overall, it found no harm at a level justifying regulatory intervention. While some may have found Mr Hosking’s approach and comments distasteful, they did not go beyond what could be expected of an interview of this nature.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Good Taste and Decency, Balance, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration, Children’s Interests
The Authority has not upheld a complaint from the New Zealand Forest Owners Association regarding a two-part investigation into the impact of carbon farming and the Emissions Trading Scheme on rural communities, particularly around the East Coast. The items examined the shift from sheep, beef and dairy farming to forestry, particularly carbon farming, and interviewed locals as to their perspectives on the impact of this. The Authority found the period of interest relating to the issue discussed in the items was ongoing, and that balance was achieved with significant viewpoints presented in other coverage as well as within the pieces. The Authority also found they were not inaccurate as the broadcaster made reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of material points of fact. Other inaccuracies raised were not material, or were technical, unimportant points unlikely to mislead viewers.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
The Authority did not uphold a complaint about a Newshub item interviewing two ‘dare-devils’ who engage in ‘roof-topping’, an activity which the New Zealand Police issued a ‘stern’ warning about. The Authority found the item did not actively promote or glamorise illegal behaviour as it was made clear the activity was illegal and ill-advised. The remaining standards either did not apply or were not breached in the context.
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Children’s Interests, Good Taste and Decency, Alcohol, Balance
The Authority has not upheld a complaint regarding the question ‘How can anyone trust anything that you say?’ put to Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health, following the positive tests of two women who were released from managed isolation on compassionate grounds. Dr Bloomfield’s answers to the question (which was posed twice) were shown on-air. Viewers would not have been left with an unduly negative impression of him. As a public health official he is reasonably subject to robust scrutiny, especially during a pandemic. The fairness standard was accordingly not breached and the remaining standards did not apply.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy, Balance, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a segment on 1 News in which reporter Maiki Sherman interviewed the Hon Nick Smith about the National Party blocking a proposal to enable Māori to switch more easily between the general electoral roll and Māori electoral roll. The complainant submitted Ms Sherman was aggressive and interrupted Mr Smith and her attitude was racist. The Authority found Mr Smith was not treated unfairly given, in particular, his experience as a politician and the public interest in the issue discussed. Regarding balance, Mr Smith had an opportunity to present his views on the issue and a range of perspectives were presented in the broadcast. The discrimination and denigration standard did not apply.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance, Discrimination and Denigration