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PN and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-041 (15 September 2016)

An episode of Dog Squad featured footage taken at a named international airport in New Zealand, during which a Ministry for Primary Industries detector dog found an apple in a couple’s bag. PN, a Quarantine Officer, was shown questioning the couple about the apple and issuing them with a fine. The faces of PN and the couple, and PN’s identity tag, were blurred and PN was not named. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the segment breached PN’s privacy. While it found that, despite the blurring, PN was identifiable in the broadcast, it did not consider that any private information was disclosed during the segment. The segment was filmed in a busy airport, in view of passengers and staff, and the Authority therefore did not consider PN had a reasonable expectation of privacy over information concerning his role or his infringement of the couple. The Authority however recorded its concern that PN did not consent to the broadcast of the footage and had made a number of attempts to make his objection to being included in the programme known to the production company. It urged the broadcaster and the production company to collectively ensure PN’s wishes are given due consideration in the event of any repeat broadcast or similar filming circumstances in future.

Not Upheld: Privacy 

SW and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-030 (18 December 2015)

An episode of Dog Squad showed dog handlers with the Department of Corrections searching visitors to a prison. The episode showed two occasions of the complainant (SW) being searched; firstly, her bag was searched when she was driving onto prison premises, and secondly, a sniffer dog identified that she was carrying contraband (tobacco) inside the prison and she was shown surrendering this to Corrections staff. In both instances her face was blurred. The Authority upheld SW’s complaint that broadcasting the footage breached her privacy. She was identifiable despite her face being blurred (by clothing, body type, voice, etc), and the disclosure of private facts about her, including prescription drugs she was taking, among other things, was highly offensive. SW did not give informed consent to the broadcast and the public interest message about prison protocol could have been communicated without identifying SW.

Upheld: Privacy

Order: Section 13(1)(d) $1,000 compensation for breach of privacy

DS and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2011-144

During an episode of the reality TV series Dog Squad, a dog handler carried out routine checks of vehicles as they entered prison grounds, including a car which had apparently taken a wrong turn near the prison. The occupants of the car (a couple) were questioned, and following the search the dog handler stated that “there was something in the car, or drugs had been used in the car” and “We are going to confiscate that, okay?” The Authority upheld the complaint that this breached the privacy standard: the complainant was identifiable and the footage disclosed private facts suggesting drug use, which was a highly offensive disclosure. The Authority ordered $750 compensation to the complainant for breach of privacy.

Upheld: Privacy

Order: $750 compensation to complainant