The Authority has declined to determine a complaint about the use of the phrase ‘Jesus Christ’ by an English football fan expressing excitement during a news item covering England’s win against Denmark in the UEFA European Football Championship semi-finals. The Authority has found on numerous occasions the use of ‘Jesus Christ’ or similar terms as an exclamation does not amount to a breach of standards.
Declined to Determine: Good Taste and Decency (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989)
The Authority has declined to determine a complaint about the introduction to a news item on New Zealand Rugby which used the terms ‘blasted’ and ‘bombshell’ immediately after an item reporting on violence in Gaza. The Authority considered that the complaint raised issues which were editorial decisions not properly addressed by broadcasting standards, so should not be determined by the Authority.
Declined to Determine: Good Taste and Decency (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act)
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
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a comment made by the Hon. Debbie Ngarewa-Packer about the BMI test being ‘crafted by white supremacists’ breached the discrimination and denigration standard. Ms Ngarewa-Packer’s comment was a genuine expression of her opinion on a matter of public interest – possible discrimination in access to public funding for IVF treatment. The standard, which has a high threshold, was not intended to prevent the broadcast of such opinions, the Authority found.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a privacy complaint about an item covering ‘an early morning street brawl’. The complainant was briefly shown in the item speaking to police at the scene of the brawl. The Authority found that while the complainant was identifiable, the item did not disclose any private information over which she had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Not Upheld: Privacy
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
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 an item on Newshub Live at 6pm, covering the reactions of world leaders to the Capitol Hill riots in Washington DC, that referred to Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani as ‘Iran’s dictator’. The Authority found the description was not a material fact in the context of the item, and in any case the caption describing Mr Rouhani as ‘President of Iran’ reduced any risk of viewers being misled.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
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
The Authority did not uphold an accuracy complaint about a Newshub item describing a storm in Australia as a ‘one in 100 year storm’. The statement was a technical point unlikely to significantly affect the audience’s understanding of the item as a whole.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the phrase ‘pissed off’ in the opening to a news item breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. The phrase was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or cause specific harm to a child audience.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a Newshub Nation item reporting poll results on support for Auckland Central constituency candidates was misleading, as it excluded undecided voters. The Authority found the results were not inaccurate or misleading in the context of the whole item. There was lengthy discussion that followed concerning the poll results and the views of each of the candidates, and at the end of the item, the reporter advised more than 20% of voters still had not decided which candidate to support. Overall, the Authority did not find actual or potential harm that justified regulatory intervention or limiting the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
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
The Authority has not upheld a complaint from the New Zealand Forest Owners Association regarding a two-part investigation into the impact of carbon farming and the Emissions Trading Scheme on rural communities, particularly around the East Coast. The items examined the shift from sheep, beef and dairy farming to forestry, particularly carbon farming, and interviewed locals as to their perspectives on the impact of this. The Authority found the period of interest relating to the issue discussed in the items was ongoing, and that balance was achieved with significant viewpoints presented in other coverage as well as within the pieces. The Authority also found they were not inaccurate as the broadcaster made reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of material points of fact. Other inaccuracies raised were not material, or were technical, unimportant points unlikely to mislead viewers.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
The Authority declined to determine three complaints as they did not raise clear concerns capable of being addressed by the complaints process.
Decline to determine (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 – in all the circumstances): Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence, Alcohol, Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint regarding the question ‘How can anyone trust anything that you say?’ put to Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health, following the positive tests of two women who were released from managed isolation on compassionate grounds. Dr Bloomfield’s answers to the question (which was posed twice) were shown on-air. Viewers would not have been left with an unduly negative impression of him. As a public health official he is reasonably subject to robust scrutiny, especially during a pandemic. The fairness standard was accordingly not breached and the remaining standards did not apply.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy, Balance, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item during the sports segment of the news showing an Ultimate Fighting Championship fight and one of the competitor’s injuries after the fight. The item was brief, and in the context of an unclassified sports news segment, within audience expectations. Viewers would have had sufficient information to exercise choice and control.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests, Violence
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a segment of Newshub Nation which discussed the National Party’s top Members of Parliament (MPs) under then leader Todd Muller. In the segment, reporter Tova O’Brien asked ‘Why is it that all of these women do the mahi and then this dude gets the treat?’ The question referred to Mr Muller being rewarded as leader over his top three female MPs, Hon Nikki Kaye, Hon Amy Adams and Hon Judith Collins. The complaint was that reference to Mr Muller as ‘that dude’ was in bad taste, unbalanced, unfair and sexist. The Authority found the comment was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress as contemplated under the good taste and decency standard. The fairness standard was not breached as the comment would not have left the audience with an unduly negative impression of Mr Muller. The balance standard was not breached as Ms Kaye’s response to the comment was presented.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Fairness, Balance
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an item on Newshub Nation about the New Conservative Party breached broadcasting standards. The Authority found that the New Conservative Party was not a recognised section of the community for the purposes of the discrimination and denigration standard, and that the accuracy standard did not apply as the complaint concerned matters of analysis and opinion rather than statements of fact. The Authority also found that the New Conservative Party and Party members were not treated unfairly, noting that the scrutiny of political parties is a vital component of freedom of expression, and is of particular importance in the lead-up to a general election.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority did not uphold a complaint under the good taste and decency standard about the use of the phrase ‘child pornography’ in a Newshub item reporting on the arrest of Sir Ron Brierley. The complaint was that the item should have instead referred to child sexual exploitation, as ‘pornography’ infers consent and normalises a terrible practice. The Authority acknowledged the complainant’s concerns about the use of appropriate terminology with regard to very serious criminal conduct against children, and noted that what is appropriate terminology is contested internationally among authorities and global agencies. The Authority also consulted the Digital Safety Team at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), which deals with issues including countering child sexual exploitation. DIA advised that it does not use the phrase ‘child pornography’ and considers the term ‘child sexual abuse material’ most accurately describes the illegal material involving children. Taking into account the wider context of the news broadcast, including the high public interest in the item, the Authority found that the single use of the phrase complained about did not breach broadcasting standards or justify regulatory intervention. However the Authority encouraged broadcasters to note the issues highlighted in this decision and exercise judgement when selecting appropriate terminology to refer to this type of serious criminal conduct.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency