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Decisions
Ong and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-086 (13 October 2021)
2021-086

An item on RNZ’s Midday Report covering reports of violence against protesters at Kennedy Point Marina included interviews with a protester, and the developer of the site. The Authority has not upheld a complaint the item breached the balance and fairness standards. The Authority found the item presented a reasonable range of perspectives and developer Kitt Littlejohn was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to present his point of view. Given the level of public interest in the item, Mr Littlejohn, in his position, could reasonably expect the media’s scrutiny and the programme was unlikely to leave listeners with an unduly negative impression of him.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Wills and Discovery NZ Limited - 2021-087 (13 October 2021)
2021-087

The Authority has not upheld a complaint under the balance, accuracy and fairness standards. It noted the complainant had not identified any inaccuracies or particular issues of public importance requiring balance. It also found the two interviewees were treated fairly and the interviews represented what it expects of the media in performing its role of scrutinising and holding to account those in power.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness

Decisions
Te Ora Hou Ōtautahi Incorporated and Radio New Zealand Limited - 2021-082 (22 September 2021)
2021-082

The Authority has not upheld a complaint under the balance standard about an interview on Nine to Noon. The complaint was that the interview about the subject of the truancy service system in schools only canvassed a single perspective. Considering the interview was signalled as approaching the issue from a particular perspective, the perspectives presented were criticism of the status quo, and the period of current interest is still ongoing, it is unlikely listeners would be left misinformed by the broadcast or unaware there were other perspectives on the issues discussed.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Drinnan and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-083 (22 September 2021)
2021-083

The Authority has not upheld a complaint alleging an interview with Waikato University senior lecturer in psychology Dr Jaimie Veale was inaccurate and unbalanced. While the item discussed a controversial issue of public importance, the selection of a transgender woman to the New Zealand Olympic team, it was clearly signalled as coming from a particular perspective. It focused on one aspect of the issue, the potentially stigmatising effect of the debate on trans people, and was part of a range of media coverage on the issue. The Authority also found there was nothing inaccurate or misleading in the way Dr Veale was introduced.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy

Decisions
Garrett and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-073 (22 September 2021)
2021-073

The Authority has not upheld a complaint alleging an item on Midday Report lacked balance. The item reported on findings from the Chief Ombudsman regarding ‘undignified and barren’ conditions in two prisons. It was clear the item was coming from a particular perspective. The continuing media coverage of prison conditions means the period of current interest is ongoing, and audiences would not have been misinformed by the broadcast.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Cochran and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-066 (15 September 2021)
2021-066

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a promo for Checkpoint, broadcast after the 8am news on 11 May 2021, which included soundbites, showcasing the previous day’s news, concerning a supermarket stabbing in Dunedin. The complaint alleged the promo sensationalised news that was no longer current, suggesting another stabbing had occurred, and unnecessarily repeated scenes of violence when affected families were still suffering and children were likely to be listening. In its context, the Authority found the promo content was not likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress and did not breach the children’s interests standard. The programme information, violence and balance standards either did not apply or were not breached.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Children’s Interests, Violence, Balance

Decisions
Spring and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-072 (6 September 2021)
2021-072

The Authority has declined to determine a complaint regarding a news item which included a quote from Liz Cheney calling Donald Trump’s claims that he had won the 2020 US Election ‘dangerous lies’. The complainant was concerned about RNZ referring to some politicians as liars but not others. The Authority found the content of the complaint did not relate to the substance of the broadcast, and was not capable of being properly determined by a complaints procedure.

Declined to Determine: Programme Information, Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Accuracy, Fairness (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989)

Decisions
Grammer and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-070 (24 August 2021)
2021-070

The Authority has not upheld a complaint under the accuracy and balance standards about an item discussing the impact of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (the HSNO Act) on medical research, particularly in the context of COVID-19 vaccines. The item contained opinions from three scientists, which were not subject to the factual accuracy requirement and were presented accurately. The item was not required to include detail about how the HSNO Act regulated outdoor use of genetic modification compared to medical or laboratory use, as this was not material to the broadcast. The item also contained differing views, so balance was achieved within the programme.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance

Decisions
Hehir and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2021-058 (24 August 2021)
2021-058

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on 1 News including criticism of Easter trading restrictions and of the councils imposing them, in the wake of COVID-19 and its impact on retailers. The complainant alleged the item was unbalanced on the basis it failed to include the views of the councils being criticised, and of others who supported current restrictions, such as unions and churches. The Authority found, in the context of an item discussing criticism of the status quo, and where debate about Easter trading restrictions and coverage of such debate is ongoing, viewers were unlikely to be left misinformed by the broadcast.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Armstrong and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-027 (11 August 2021)
2021-027

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on The Detail that discussed Auckland Council efforts to monitor and improve the water quality and swimmability of Auckland beaches. The complaint was that the item failed to present alternative views, or test or challenge the views presented by Auckland Council representatives. The Authority noted the balance standard allows for significant viewpoints to be presented over time, and does not require every programme to canvass all significant views on a particular topic. It found there was extensive coverage around the time of the broadcast that provided a range of information on the water quality and swimmability of Auckland beaches, and the broadcast approached the issue from a particular perspective, not purporting to be a balanced examination of the adequacy of Auckland Council efforts. The fairness standard did not apply.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

Decisions
United Fire Brigades’ Association and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-038 (11 August 2021)
2021-038

The Authority did not uphold a complaint about an item on Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan that featured interviews with National Secretary of the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union, Wattie Watson, and previous board member of the United Fire Brigades' Association (UFBA), Judith Stanley, about the handling of complaints by UFBA, and an investigation into its chief executive, Bill Butzbach, citing allegations made against him, and the board’s chair, Richie Smith. The complaint was that the item breached the balance, accuracy, privacy and fairness standards on the basis it gave undue prominence to the ‘ill-informed’ views of those with a vested interest in discrediting the UFBA, and did not present the views of the UFBA and facts provided by it until the very end. The Authority found the item achieved balance and fairness by giving the UFBA a reasonable opportunity to respond, and including its statement. The Authority also found the item was not materially inaccurate, and did not disclose facts to which a reasonable expectation of privacy attached.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Privacy, Fairness

Decisions
Donald and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2021-033 (2 August 2021)
2021-033

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on Seven Sharp in which Hilary Barry made comments about the safety of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine and about ‘anti-vaxxers’, including suggesting those who do not want to be vaccinated could ‘jump on a ferry and go to the Auckland Islands for a few years, and then when we’ve got rid of COVID-19…come back’. The complaint alleged these comments breached the good taste and decency, discrimination and denigration, balance, accuracy and fairness standards, by suggesting the safety of the vaccine was almost without question, and denigrating those with a different view. The Authority found Ms Barry’s comments were unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress or undermine widely shared community standards. It found the broadcast did not address a controversial issue so the balance standard did not apply. The fairness, discrimination and denigration and accuracy standards also did not apply or were not breached.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Balance, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy

Decisions
Family First New Zealand and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-046 (2 August 2021)
2021-046

The Authority did not uphold a complaint about four items on Morning Report covering an open letter to Government calling for ‘a major overhaul of the drug laws’. The Authority found the items did not breach the balance standard, as, while they discussed a controversial issue of public importance to which the balance standard applied, a reasonable range of perspectives were included, particularly given they were reporting on the publication of the open letter. In the context of items covering a challenge to the status quo, and when debate around drug reform is an ongoing issue in New Zealand, it was unlikely that listeners would have been left uninformed or unaware there were other perspectives on this issue.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Hector & Casey and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-052 (2 August 2021)
2021-052

Two complaints about a report on ‘explosive scenes at Parliament’ including a comment from Willow Jean Prime MP that statements from the National Party ‘really sound[ed] like “she asked for it, her skirt was too short. She was drunk”’ were not upheld. The Authority found the omission of Ms Prime’s subsequent withdrawal of the statement was not material to the story, and her specific comment was opinion to which the accuracy standard does not apply. The balance standard did not apply as the statement did not concern a controversial issue of public importance, and there was no unfairness to the National Party.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Balance

Decisions
Mulgan & Winkler and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2021-032 (2 August 2021)
2021-032

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on 1 News that discussed ‘growing calls’ for New Zealand’s right to silence laws to be urgently changed. The complaint was the item failed to present the views of the many authorities who support the status quo, or include relevant historical context, and used unduly emotive language to advance an unbalanced narrative. The Authority noted the balance standard allows for significant viewpoints to be presented over time, within the period of current interest, and does not require every programme to canvass all significant views on a particular topic. It found there was extensive coverage around the time of the broadcast that provided a range of views and information on the right to silence in cases of child abuse. It also found the broadcast approached this issue from a particular perspective and did not purport to be a balanced examination. In the context, the Authority found the broadcast did not breach the balance standard.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Right to Life New Zealand and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-054 (2 August 2021)
2021-054

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about coverage on The AM Show of proposed changes to safe zones around abortion clinics. The statements alleged to be inaccurate were comment, opinion or analysis, to which the accuracy standard does not apply. The balance standard did not apply as the separate news bulletins did not amount to a discussion; and in any event, differing perspectives from Abortion Rights Aotearoa and Voice for Life NZ were included. The fairness standard did not apply.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Grimwood and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-018 (21 July 2021)
2021-018

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about RNZ’s election night broadcast. During a discussion about the likely make-up of the incoming government based on preliminary election results, one guest commentator remarked that climate change was ‘not a “technical” portfolio, it’s an existential crisis’, to which the host said, ‘yeah okay, I’m not going to get into that now’. The complaint was that this breached the balance standard on the basis climate change was of fundamental relevance to, and should have been the focus of, a discussion about the future of politics and elected representatives. The Authority found this was a matter of editorial discretion and did not raise issues under the balance standard, in the context.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Kane and NZME Radio Ltd - 2021-031 (21 July 2021)
2021-031

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about comments made by Jack Tame during his morning show including the statement ‘Māori don’t just deserve special treatment, but are contractually guaranteed a form of special treatment under the Treaty’. The Authority found, in context, the comment amounted to analysis to which the accuracy standard does not apply. The comment was not the focus of the discussion, and an opinion-based segment such as this is not required to provide alternate perspectives under the balance standard. The remaining standards did not apply.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness

Decisions
Maysmor and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-048 (21 July 2021)
2021-048

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about multiple images of needles and vaccinations being performed shown in two Newshub Live at 6pm items reporting on COVID-19. The Authority found the images were unlikely to cause widespread undue offence. There is a high public interest and value in news reporting about the vaccination programme. In the context of a news item, the images would not adversely affect child viewers. The balance standard did not apply.

Not Upheld: Good taste and decency, Children’s interests, Balance

Decisions
Stranaghan and NZME Radio Ltd - 2021-041 (21 July 2021)
2021-041

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a broadcast on the criticism faced by London Police following their actions in stopping a vigil for murdered woman Sarah Everard, as participants were not abiding by the COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time. The Authority found the item was not unfair to the London Police Chief or the London Police. It did not actively encourage non-compliance or seriously undermine law and order. The balance standard was not applicable as the item did not amount to a ‘discussion’.

Not Upheld: Fairness, Law and Order, Balance

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