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Decisions
Meridian Energy Ltd and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-085 (13 October 2021)
2021-085

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an item covering the Electricity Authority’s new trading rule breached the accuracy and fairness standards. The item was materially accurate, given its focus was the introduction of a new trading rule, motivated in part to address an undesirable trading situation (associated with Meridian Energy’s actions). It was not unfair to Meridian, as the programme was not inaccurate in how it presented Meridian’s contribution to the ‘revamped’ rule.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness

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
Thwaites and Radio New Zealand Limited - 2021-078 (22 September 2021)
2021-078

The Authority has not upheld a complaint under the discrimination and denigration and fairness standards about an item on Morning Report. The Authority did not consider referencing the iwi affiliation of the subjects featured in the piece discriminated against or denigrated other New Zealanders stuck in India due to COVID-19 who are not tangata whenua. It also found the complaint did not identify a particular individual or organisation that was alleged to have been treated unfairly in the broadcast, so the fairness standard did not apply.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration and Fairness

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
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
Mosen and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-044 (2 August 2021)
2021-044

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on Morning Report including an interview between reporter Phil Pennington and Minister for the Environment Hon David Parker, regarding toxic waste contamination at Tiwai Point. During the interview Mr Parker described himself as being ‘blind’ on the state of contamination at Tiwai Point. In the introduction to the interview, presenter Susie Ferguson referred to this comment, and in the course of examining Mr Parker’s awareness of the issue Mr Pennington queried it twice. The complainant submitted the use of ‘blind’ in this way denigrated people who are blind as it equated blindness with ignorance. The Authority found the use of ‘blind’ in this context did not meet the high threshold required to find a breach of the discrimination and denigration standard.  

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration

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
Andrews & Murray and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-153 (13 May 2021)
2020-153

A number of news bulletins on Morning Report reported findings from fact-checking group First Draft about political spending on Facebook advertising in the lead-up to the 2020 General Election and referendums. Two complaints alleged the bulletins inaccurately reported pro-cannabis group Make It Legal NZ had misleading ads removed from Facebook. The Authority did not uphold the complaints, finding although the morning bulletins were misleading and the broadcaster did not make reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of those reports, a later news bulletin during Midday Report was sufficient to clarify and correct the misleading impression created earlier. The Authority also found Make It Legal was not treated unfairly, as it is a lobby group that could reasonably expect a level of public scrutiny, and it was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to respond to the morning news items.  

Not Upheld: Accuracy, 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
Laven and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-169 (28 April 2021)
2020-169

The Authority did not uphold a complaint about an item on Morning Report discussing data showing Wellington to have the highest assault and sexual assault rates. Discussing the causes for this, the interviewer posed the question: ‘Do we have a problem with masculinity here?’ and a discussion followed regarding the potential contribution of ‘toxic masculinity’ to Wellington’s crime rate. The Authority found the term did not carry the derogatory connotations suggested and the item did not contain the high level of condemnation or malice towards men required to contravene the standard.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration

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
Cowie and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-133 (9 March 2021)
2020-133

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

Decisions
Croft and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-078 (24 November 2020)
2020-078

The Authority has not upheld a complaint under the balance and accuracy standards about a series of Radio New Zealand broadcasts on 26 June 2020. The items concerned the Government’s management of COVID-19 at the international border, and referred to a series of events including the failure to test 55 individuals for COVID-19 before release from quarantine as ‘border blunders’, ‘bungling at the border’, and ‘COVID botch ups’. The Authority considered the statements were not of fact but of opinion, to which the accuracy standard did not apply, and the broadcasts were unlikely to mislead listeners. The Authority considered the assessment of the Government’s management of COVID-19 at the international border to be a controversial issue of public importance, but found alternative viewpoints were included to enable listeners to arrive at an informed opinion.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy

Decisions
Tinsley and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-067 (28 October 2020)
2020-067

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about three RNZ broadcasts regarding political commentator Matthew Hooton. Two items on 21 and 22 May 2020 comprised interviews with Mr Hooton about the National Party leadership contest at that time, following which an item on 24 May 2020 discussed the emergence of Mr Hooton’s conflict of interest in this regard. The complaint was the 21 and 22 May items failed to disclose the conflict and the 24 May item failed to address it adequately. The Authority did not consider the broadcasts breached the accuracy standard, noting Mr Hooton disclosed his friendship with Todd Muller (National Party) in the 21 May item and accepted he had ‘nailed his colours’ to the Muller mast in the 22 May item. The conflict of interest generated by his subsequent engagement by Todd Muller did not arise until after these broadcasts. The nature and disclosure of his conflict was then discussed at length in the 24 May item once the details had emerged. Regarding balance, the Authority was satisfied significant points of view were adequately presented. Overall, the Authority did not find actual or potential harm at a level that justified regulatory intervention or restricting freedom of expression.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Pink and Radio New Zealand -2020-036 (24 August 2020)
2020-036

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that segments on the News and Morning Report reporting on a murder suicide breached the good taste and decency, children’s interests and violence standards. The Authority noted the public interest in the broadcasts and audience’s awareness of the need to exercise discretion during news programming to regulate what their children are exposed to. The Authority also found that the News bulletins covering the item did not reach the threshold necessary to require a warning and that the warning that preceded the Morning Report item was sufficient to enable audiences to make informed choices as to whether they, or children in their care, should listen to the broadcast.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, and Violence.

Decisions
Garrett and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-079 (4 February 2020)
2019-079

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a segment on Morning Report about the release of the Department of Corrections’ strategy ‘Hōkai Rangi’, aimed at reducing the proportion of Māori in prisons, breached the balance standard. The broadcast included a pre-recorded interview with Corrections Minister, Hon Kelvin Davis, followed by a discussion between host Susie Ferguson and guests Sir Kim Workman and Julia Whaipooti about the issues for Māori in the corrections system and whether the strategy would help to address these. The following morning, the National Party’s Corrections spokesperson David Bennett was interviewed on Morning Report about why the National Party was critical of the strategy. The complaint was that the interview with Sir Kim and Ms Whaipooti was unbalanced and one-sided. The Authority found that sufficient balance was achieved taking into account: the signalled approach of the discussion with these two individuals (which focused on the perspectives of people with expertise in justice reform and Māori experiences in the corrections system); the follow up interview with Mr Bennett who gave an alternative perspective; and significant media coverage of the issue within the period of current interest, which enabled the audience to arrive at an informed and reasoned opinion on the strategy.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Cotterall and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-072 (16 December 2019)
2019-072

A complaint that segments on Morning Report which discussed the abortion legislative reform process were unbalanced was not upheld. First, the Authority found the complaint amounted to a ‘formal complaint’ for the purposes of the Broadcasting Act 1989. However the Authority found the items did not breach the balance standard as they clearly approached the topic of abortion legislative reform from a particular perspective and that listeners could reasonably be expected to have a level of awareness of significant arguments in the debate.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Graf and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-071 (16 December 2019)
2019-071

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an interview on Morning Report with Martin Sellner, the leader of an Austrian far-right group, was unbalanced or misleading. Interviewer Corin Dann questioned Mr Sellner on the donation he had received from the alleged Mosque attacker and Mr Sellner’s choice to give some of the money to Victim Support, a charity assisting victims of the Mosque attacks. In response to other questions, Mr Sellner also provided some comment regarding his ideologies. During the interview, Mr Dann questioned whether Mr Sellner had a role in radicalising the alleged attacker and whether Mr Sellner felt any responsibility for the attacks. The Authority found that the balance standard was not breached considering the clear approach of the broadcast, focussing on the perspective of Mr Sellner, the introduction prior to the interview and Mr Dann’s questioning of Mr Sellner. The Authority also found the broadcast was unlikely to mislead listeners as it was clearly Mr Sellner’s opinion that was being portrayed during the interview. The Authority noted the potential for harm to be caused as a result of giving publicity to extremist ideologies but found the potential for harm ultimately did not reach the level required to justify a restriction of RNZ’s right to freedom of expression on this occasion.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy

Decisions
Neate and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-074 (16 December 2019)
2019-074

A complaint that an RNZ news bulletin item breached the balance standard was not upheld. The item reported on a ‘Northland farmer’ who said his business would be put at risk by the government’s proposed methane reduction targets included in the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill. The Authority found that while climate change issues are controversial issues of public importance, the item did not amount to a ‘discussion’ for the purposes of the standard, as it was a brief, straightforward news report that did not purport to be an in-depth examination of the proposed methane reduction targets or the Bill.

Not Upheld: Balance

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