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 The complaint alleged the promo sensationalised news that was no longer current, suggesting another stabbing had occurred, and unnecessarily repeated scenes of violence when affected families were still suffering and children were likely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
Warning: This decision contains language that some readers may find offensive
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that action taken by NZME was insufficient, after it upheld a complaint about language used in an interview on The Nutters Club. The interviewee told his story of overcoming drug addiction and offending, and now working to help others do the same. After saying, ‘Excuse all my language I use, too, it will get a little bit worse, it’s just how it is when you remember’, the interviewee used the words ‘fuck’, ‘shit’, and ‘arse’ (and variations of these) repeatedly. The Authority determined it would not have found a breach of the standards in the first instance, in the context of the broadcast. In particular: the interview carried high value in terms of the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and the narration of an important story about hope, transformation, and community-building, it was broadcast late at night, and the interviewee signposted he would use coarse language, giving listeners an opportunity to decide whether to continue listening. The Authority noted the action taken in response to the language and complaint was significant, which reflected the broadcaster’s sensitivity to the needs and interests of its listeners.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency (Action Taken), Programme Information (Action Taken)
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)
The Authority has declined to determine a complaint that a hip hop song contained racial slurs (including the n-word). The Authority noted the broadcaster apologised to the complainant for the offence caused and removed the song from its playlist. The Authority considered this action was sufficient and, in all the circumstances, it was not necessary to determine the complaint.
Declined to Determine (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, in all the circumstances): Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Children’s Interests, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Privacy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint a news item about sex workers and escorts opening up about their work on social media breached the good taste and decency, children’s interests and programme information standards. The Authority noted the public interest in the broadcast and considered the content was within audience expectations for the news. In this context, the Authority found the item was unlikely to cause widespread offence or undermine community standards. The Authority also found the introduction to the item was sufficient to inform viewers of the nature of the coverage, enabling them to adequately protect themselves and their children from the content by choosing not to watch.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Programme Information
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a comment by Mark Richardson on The Project regarding the Green Party and its responsibility for the protection of native trees. The statement was an opinion not subject to the accuracy standard, and was not unfair to the Green Party. The programme information standard did not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Programme Information
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 upheld a complaint that an episode of 20/20 aired on free-to-air television on a Sunday at 9am, detailing serial killer Ted Bundy’s crimes, motivations, and background, breached the children’s interests and programme information standards. The Authority noted that the broadcast presented in detail some potentially distressing and disturbing content, and themes including sexual violence and perversion, murder, and abduction, without any audience advisory or warning for this content. Additionally, the Authority considered the content and themes were suited for broadcast during the M timeband (suitable for a mature audience), rather than during PG time (which indicated the content was not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers under adult supervision). Viewers were not given sufficient information or signposting about the programme’s likely content to enable them to make informed choices about whether they, or children in their care, should view the broadcast. The Authority therefore found that the potential harm arising from the broadcast, particularly in relation to child viewers, outweighed the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression on this occasion.
Upheld: Children’s Interests, Programme Information.
Orders: Section 16(4) – $750 costs to the Crown
The Authority declined to determine a complaint that the broadcaster breached broadcasting standards for failing to broadcast the whole of the Director-General of Health’s briefing during the COVID-19 lockdown period. The Authority acknowledged the importance and value of the Director-General’s COVID-19 briefings particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown period. However, it found the complaint did not raise any issue of broadcasting standards capable of being resolved by the complaints procedure.
Declined to determine: Programme Information
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that comments made by Paul Henry during Rebuilding Paradise with Paul Henry undermined the Director-General of Health’s directions regarding compliance with COVID-19 Alert-Level conditions. Mr Henry noted there were no new cases of COVID-19 on the day of broadcast and commented, ‘I don’t want Dr Ashley Bloomfield to threaten me and you with the “if New Zealanders aren’t good at Level 3, they won’t get to Level 2” warning. I realise people think he walks on water, but I don’t. …Obedience in the population is the job of the police and, god help us, the reluctant [Police] Commissioner’. Noting the importance of the right to freedom of expression and that Mr Henry was clearly giving his views on a topic of high public interest, the Authority found no actual or potential harm that justified regulatory intervention. Mr Henry is well known for offering strong, sometimes controversial, opinions and at the time of broadcast a wide range of information and alternative views were available to the public regarding the importance of complying with the Government’s Alert-Level conditions. The comments did not actively encourage non-compliance or seriously undermine law and order. Nor did they result in Dr Bloomfield or the Police Commissioner being treated unfairly. Given their high-profile positions, they can reasonably expect to be the subject of robust scrutiny and a wide range of media coverage and commentary.
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Balance, Fairness, Accuracy, Programme Information
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of the term ‘synthetic cannabis’ in a 1 News segment that reported on these products and their likely link to a number of deaths breached the accuracy or programme information standards. The Authority cited a recent decision where it found that while these products do not contain actual cannabis, the term ‘synthetic cannabis’ is commonly used to describe them and is unlikely to mislead viewers. Therefore, the Authority did not consider it likely viewers would be significantly misinformed by its use in this broadcast. The Authority also did not identify any breaches of the programme information standard.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Programme Information
The Authority did not uphold a complaint about an item on Fair Go investigating On the Go Eastgate (OTG Eastgate), a business providing vehicle Warrants of Fitness (WoFs). A customer had complained to Fair Go that OTG Eastgate did not inform her about a $10 weekend surcharge prior to carrying out and charging her for her WoF. Fair Go sent an actor with a hidden camera to investigate this and other claims about OTG Eastgate’s services. Danny Chand, the owner of OTG Eastgate, complained that the broadcast breached the fairness, accuracy and programme information standards. The Authority found that Mr Chand and his business were treated fairly as he was given sufficient opportunities to respond to the claims made in the broadcast, and it was reasonable and justified in the public interest for the broadcaster to use a hidden camera to investigate the claims. The Authority did not consider any of the points raised by the complainant breached the accuracy standard, and it found the programme information standard did not apply to the broadcast.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy, Programme Information
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 upheld complaints from two complainants about a segment of Punjabi talkback programme Panthak Vichar, broadcast on Access Community Radio Inc (Planet FM). During the programme, the hosts made a number of allegations against the complainants, regarding their fundraising activities and whether they were trustworthy, and played a recorded phone conversation with Jaspreet Singh on-air. The Authority found that the comments reflected negatively on the complainants, and that Jaspreet Singh would not have known that the phone call would be played on-air. The Authority upheld the complaint under the fairness standard but did not uphold the remaining aspects of the complaint.
Upheld: Fairness. Not Upheld: Accuracy, Privacy, Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Discrimination and Denigration
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 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 declined to determine a complaint regarding a news item covering animal welfare in rodeos. David Wratt complained that the item, which covered loss of animal life in rodeos, should focus on the deaths of babies as human life is more valuable than animal life. As this complaint relates to a matter of editorial discretion and personal preference, it is not capable of being determined by a complaints procedure. The Authority considered that, in all circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined by the Authority.
Declined to Determine: Good Taste and Decency; Programme Information; Discrimination and Denigration; Balance; Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an interviewee’s language, broadcast during an item on Morning Report on 10 December 2018, was violent and inappropriate. The item reported on the declining memberships of sports clubs in New Zealand and featured an interview with the Club Captain of a tennis club. The interviewee commented that the tennis courts were so empty ‘you could… fire a machine gun and hit no one.’ 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 comment made by the interviewee was brief, was not overly graphic or targeted at a particular individual or group, and was not intended to be taken literally. Taking into account contextual factors, such as the adult target audience of Morning Report and RNZ National, the broadcast was unlikely to unduly distress or disturb listeners, or any children that might have been listening, and was not so graphic as to require an audience advisory for violent content.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Children’s Interests, Violence
A complaint regarding two broadcasts, relating to threats to public officials over the Government’s use of 1080 (including footage of an anti-1080 protest featuring the complainant), was not upheld. The Authority found the use of the footage, in segments on Newshub and The AM Show, did not result in any unfairness to the complainant. The Authority considered these broadcasts did not link the complainant, or the majority of anti-1080 protestors, to the threats, as both broadcasts stated that the threatening behaviour was from the fringes of the movement. The Authority determined that the audience was therefore unlikely to be misled or misinformed. The Authority also found a comment made by host Duncan Garner during The AM Show segment, implying Willie Apiata should be sent to harm the people who made the threats, did not breach broadcasting standards. The Authority noted that the comment was flippant, and when weighed against the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression, it did not reach a point that justified the limitation of that right.
Not Upheld: Programme Information, Violence, Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy, Fairness