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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

Decisions
Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2021-028 (15 July 2021)
2021-028

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on 1 News reporting on COVID-19 vaccine rollouts. The Authority found, in the context of the broadcast, the statistics cited in relation to Israel’s vaccine rollout were accurate. A discussion of access to vaccines in Israel by Palestinians was not material to the item and its omission would not have misled viewers. The remaining standards did not apply to the broadcast or issues raised in the complaint.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-029 (15 July 2021)
2021-029

The Authority has not upheld a complaint alleging an item on Morning Report misrepresented the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s views responding to iwi concerns about groundwater issues, including why local streams were drying up, and did not properly examine the complexity of the issues. The Authority found no breach of the balance standard as the item focused on one aspect of the issue and was clearly presented from the iwi’s perspective, and there is ongoing coverage of various viewpoints on the topic.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
New Zealand Defence Force and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-024 (15 July 2021)
2021-024

The Authority has not upheld a complaint from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) about an interview with Nicky Hager discussing the results of an Australian enquiry into its Defence Force and the implications for the NZDF. The Authority noted the high public interest in the broadcast and found that as it was clearly coming from Mr Hager’s perspective and other news bulletins signalled other views, the balance standard was not breached. The broadcast was not unfair to the NZDF. It is a government agency that can reasonably expect public scrutiny. In addition, comment from the Defence Minister was sought and included in later news bulletins.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Frost and NZME Radio Ltd - 2021-013 (29 June 2021)
2021-013

The Authority has not upheld a complaint regarding a broadcast in which the host commented on the US election results and suggested outgoing President Trump had been defrauded of votes, particularly in Georgia. Listeners would have been well aware of other views and not expected a balanced approach to the issue in the context of a talkback programme which approached the subject from a particular perspective. The complainant also did not identify any person or organisation that was treated unfairly in the broadcast. In any event, the discussion of US political events, in the context of the broadcast, was unlikely to cause unfairness.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Wong & Soper and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-177 (22 June 2021)
2020-177

The Authority has not upheld two complaints about an item on 1 News that reported on protests in Washington DC in opposition to the results of the United States Presidential election. The complaints were the item’s description of the Proud Boys as a ‘white supremacist’ group was inaccurate because its leader, Enrique Tarrio, is African-Cuban and it is an ‘American chauvinist’ rather than a white supremacist group. Mr Soper also complained the item’s descriptions of Joe Biden as President-Elect, before his confirmation by the Electoral College, and of voter fraud claims as unproven, were unbalanced and inaccurate because Mr Biden’s election had not been confirmed and there was substantial evidence of voter fraud. The Authority found use of the term ‘white supremacist’ was distinguishable as analysis and opinion, to which the requirement for factual accuracy does not apply. The Authority also noted: ‘President-Elect’ is an unofficial term widely used from as early as election night and all claims of voter fraud remained untested in the Courts as at the date of broadcast. The Authority found, in the context of the broadcast, these descriptions were not materially inaccurate nor likely to mislead viewers. The balance standard did not apply.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance

Decisions
Egan and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-002 (2 June 2021)
2021-002

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an interview on Newshub Nation, featuring electrical engineer and Pike River Mine researcher, Richard Healey. Mr Healey commented on his claims of ‘new crucial evidence’ the miners could have survived the explosions and of the existence of a pipeline which could be used to recover more evidence. The complaint alleged Mr Healey’s claims were speculative and unsupported by evidence, were not challenged by the host and caused emotional harm to the victims’ families. The Authority acknowledged the sensitivity of the matters discussed, which also carried a high degree of public interest. It found the broadcast clearly presented Mr Healey’s claims as one theory and from a particular perspective. The wide range of information and coverage available over a long period of time since the original events reduced any risk of viewers being misled or significantly misinformed. The Authority also found, in the context, the interview did not undermine community standards of taste and decency.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Good Taste and Decency

Decisions
McCaughan and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2020-166 (25 May 2021)
2020-166

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a news item reporting on the Rt Hon Winston Peters’ likelihood of not returning to Parliament after the General Election. The item did not discuss a controversial issue, so the balance standard did not apply. It was not unfair to Mr Peters, given his position as an elected public figure and experience dealing with the media. Coverage of political issues close to Election Day is not in itself a breach of broadcasting standards.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Povey and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-173 (25 May 2021)
2020-173

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that various 1 News items referring to Joe Biden as the ‘president-elect’ before confirmation by the United States Electoral College breached the balance, accuracy and fairness standards. The Authority found this was a technical distinction that would not have altered viewers’ overall understanding of the items, therefore it was not a ‘material’ point of fact for the purposes of the accuracy standard. To the extent the items touched on the outcome of the United States election, which in some circumstances may amount to a controversial issue of public importance triggering the balance standard, the Authority was satisfied the standard was not breached taking into account the perspectives acknowledged within the items as well as in a wide range of other coverage both by TVNZ and media generally. The Authority also found the items did not result in any unfairness to President Donald Trump.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Gibbs and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-156 (28 April 2021)
2020-156

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

Decisions
Morton and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-150 (20 April 2021)
2020-150

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

Decisions
Lobb and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-154 (20 April 2021)
2020-154

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

Decisions
Te Whata and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2020-141 (31 March 2021)
2020-141

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

Decisions
Markula and Mediaworks Radio Ltd - 2020-144 (31 March 2021)
2020-144

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

Decisions
Real Nappies Ltd and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-148 (31 March 2021)
2020-148

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

Decisions
Vorwerk and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2020-158 (31 March 2021)
2020-158

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

Decisions
Ancel and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-112 (16 March 2021)
2020-112

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

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