In a segment on the Mike Hosking Breakfast programme, the host interviewed the Prime Minister about the Government’s decision to extend the Level 3 lockdown restrictions on Auckland in August 2020. The Authority did not uphold the complaints. It recognised the value of robust political discourse in the media and the role of media in holding to account those in positions of power. Overall, it found no harm at a level justifying regulatory intervention. While some may have found Mr Hosking’s approach and comments distasteful, they did not go beyond what could be expected of an interview of this nature.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Good Taste and Decency, Balance, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration, Children’s Interests
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 upheld a complaint about an item on Te Ao Māori News concerning a Northland community’s opposition to the alleged conversion of a neighbouring farm track into a roadway. The Authority found the item inaccurately stated the works undertaken on the roadway were ‘unauthorised’ (and other aspects of the item had contributed to this impression). It was not satisfied the broadcaster made reasonable efforts to ensure accuracy. The item also had the potential to mislead by omission, as it did not tell the other side of the story or include countering comment from the farm owners, which may have altered viewers’ understanding of the situation. The Authority also found broadcasting footage filmed by a third-party of the farm owners on their private property amounted to a highly offensive intrusion upon their interest in solitude and seclusion, in breach of the privacy standard.
Upheld: Accuracy, Privacy
Orders: section 13(1)(d) – $500 compensation for breach of privacy to each of the two farm owners shown in the item; section 16(4) – $1,000 costs to the Crown
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an episode of The Project in which Jesse Mulligan presented his view on whether New Zealand should ‘be more like Sweden’ in responding to COVID-19. Mr Mulligan stated ‘[Sweden's] number of COVID cases is actually going up, the virus is not under control and although their deaths are down, they're seeing more infections every day’. Mr Mulligan’s statement was not materially inaccurate and was unlikely to mislead viewers in the context, including given the wealth of other coverage and commentary available. The potential harm did not outweigh the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority declined to determine a complaint about the use of te reo Māori across a number of TVNZ broadcasts. 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): Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a good taste and decency complaint that the treatment of a clip showing a ‘devastating’ explosion in Lebanon was inappropriate in a segment rounding up ‘all the crazy, messed-up oddities’ of the week. The context and the importance of freedom of expression meant there was no harm justifying regulatory intervention in the circumstances.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency; Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority did not uphold a complaint about a reference to ‘the heebies’ in a Newshub item canvassing reactions to Judith Collins’ appointment as leader of the National Party. The reporter asked then National MP Paula Bennett on camera, ‘Will this give Jacinda Ardern the heebies, do you reckon?’ The complainant argued the term could be interpreted as offensive slang for Jew. The Authority considered most viewers would have understood the term as common slang used to express a feeling of nervousness or anxiety, rather than embedding derogatory connotations about Jewish people as a section of the community. Given the ambiguity around the term’s origins, it found its use in the context was unlikely to encourage discrimination or denigration, or threaten community standards of taste and decency.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a 1 News item covering the resignation of David Clark as Minister of Health misrepresented the complainant’s views in breach of the accuracy standard. The complainant was shown in a series of vox-pops with members of the public in Dunedin (Mr Clark’s electorate). He complained his comments were taken out of context and shown in response to a different question than the one he was asked. The Authority acknowledged the item did not make clear the particular question the vox-pop participants were responding to, which had the effect of misrepresenting the complainant’s views. However taking the item as a whole, the general audience were unlikely to be significantly misinformed at a level justifying regulatory intervention.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority did not uphold an accuracy complaint about Mike Hosking’s comments on the COVID-19 testing regime during his ‘Mike’s Minute’ segment on Newstalk ZB. The complaint was that the segment was inaccurate and misleading, for example by suggesting the Prime Minister was encouraging COVID-19 testing to scare the public and as a political ploy. The Authority found the statements made by Mr Hosking were expressions of his own opinion and analysis to which the accuracy standard did not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority did not uphold an accuracy complaint about a Newshub item describing a new solar paint product as potentially ‘160 times less’ expensive than solar panels. 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 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 did not uphold a complaint about a Newshub item interviewing two ‘dare-devils’ who engage in ‘roof-topping’, an activity which the New Zealand Police issued a ‘stern’ warning about. The Authority found the item did not actively promote or glamorise illegal behaviour as it was made clear the activity was illegal and ill-advised. The remaining standards either did not apply or were not breached in the context.
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Children’s Interests, Good Taste and Decency, Alcohol, Balance
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that statistics given in a news item about a drug used to successfully treat some COVID-19 patients were inaccurate. The statistics were drawn from a press release from the Chief Investigators of the medical trial and were materially accurate and not misleading.
Not Upheld: 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 a segment on 1 News in which reporter Maiki Sherman interviewed the Hon Nick Smith about the National Party blocking a proposal to enable Māori to switch more easily between the general electoral roll and Māori electoral roll. The complainant submitted Ms Sherman was aggressive and interrupted Mr Smith and her attitude was racist. The Authority found Mr Smith was not treated unfairly given, in particular, his experience as a politician and the public interest in the issue discussed. Regarding balance, Mr Smith had an opportunity to present his views on the issue and a range of perspectives were presented in the broadcast. The discrimination and denigration standard did not apply.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance, Discrimination and Denigration
In an episode of The AM Show, Opposition Leader Hon Judith Collins suggested a fellow interviewee should stop talking or she would give him a bruised nose (like she had at the time). The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast breached the violence standard. The Authority found Ms Collins’ comment justified by context and unlikely to incite or encourage violence against men.
Not Upheld: Violence
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a spoof of OMC hit song ‘How Bizarre’, in which the singer mimicked the original artist’s accent, breached the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority found the accent used was an attempt to imitate the distinctive singing voice of Mr Fuemana and sound of ‘How Bizarre’, in the spirit of spoofing the song itself, rather than an attempt to imitate a specifically Māori or Pacific Island English accent. It did not encourage discrimination against or denigration of Māori or Pacific Islanders.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a segment on Newshub which stated, ‘The White House has reportedly asked about adding President Trump's face to the famous granite carvings at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial’. The complainant submitted the news was fake and Mr Trump had already confirmed this before the broadcast. The Authority noted the statement was qualified by the word ‘reportedly’, and was accurate to the extent such reports had been made. While the segment carried little value in terms of public interest, the Authority found viewers were unlikely to have been misled.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
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 has not upheld a complaint about an episode of New Zealand Hunter Adventures featuring two groups of duck shooters in New Zealand. The episode included footage of people, including young people, using firearms, shooting ducks, celebrating successful shots, holding and plucking dead ducks, and showcasing hunting gear and equipment. Taking into account the relevant contextual factors including the programme’s classification, target audience and audience expectations, the broadcast did not breach the good taste and decency, children’s interests or violence standard.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence