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 that an item on Te Ao with Moana breached the balance and accuracy standards. It found the broadcaster made reasonable efforts to present significant views which discussed the issue of police conduct in New Zealand in the context of the George Floyd incident in the United States. The Authority found the interviewee’s behavioural history was not a material fact relevant to the audience’s understanding of the programme. The Authority however found Māori Television’s initial response to the complainant unsatisfactory and reminded it of its duties with respect to formal complaints.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about references to Advance NZ/New Zealand Public Party co-leader Billy Te Kahika spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories, during a panel discussion on Te Ao with Moana. The episode included two online panel discussions about the issue of misinformation on social media and its implications for Māori in particular. Noting that two other episodes of the programme broadcast in the preceding weeks had allowed considerable time to Mr Te Kahika to put forward his position on these issues, the Authority did not find any breach of the balance, accuracy or fairness standards.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness
Māori Television Service (MTS) aired a story on Te Kāea about how hapū Te Parawhau felt they had been shut out of negotiations on the sale of a piece of land, known as Pūriri Park in Northland, to Housing New Zealand (HNZ). The Authority upheld HNZ’s complaint under the balance standard, finding the omission of HNZ’s point of view from the initial broadcast likely prevented audiences from arriving at an informed and reasoned opinion about the sale and HNZ’s involvement. The Authority also upheld HNZ’s complaint under the accuracy and fairness standards, finding that while MTS aired a follow-up broadcast featuring comment from Te Parawhau and HNZ, this broadcast did not remedy the harm caused to HNZ by the initial broadcast of inaccurate information about the land sold. As a result, HNZ was likely to be adversely affected by the broadcast and was not provided with a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment. The Authority emphasised that while public entities may be subject to greater scrutiny, they are still entitled to fair and accurate treatment in broadcasting.
Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness; No Order
An item on Te Kāea reported on a new public interest defence recognised by the Court of Appeal in the complainants’ defamation proceedings against the Māori Television Service (MTS). The Authority did not uphold a complaint from the appellants in the Court of Appeal case that this item was inaccurate and unfair. The Authority found that the item accurately reported the essence of the Court of Appeal’s judgment and that the omission of further information about the technical or legal aspects of the case would not have significantly affected viewers’ understanding of the item as a whole. The Authority did not consider that the broadcast created an unfairly negative impression of the complainants and, as they were unlikely to be adversely affected by the broadcast, their comment was therefore not required to be included in order for them to be treated fairly. Overall, the Authority did not consider the harm alleged by the complainants outweighed the right to freedom of expression, and its intervention in upholding the complaint would therefore be unreasonable and unjustified.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness
A campaign clip for the Ban 1080 Party (an election programme for the purposes of the Election Programmes Code) was broadcast on 11 September 2017 on Māori Television. The clip featured a voiceover discussing the purported use and effects of sodium fluoroacetate (1080 poison) on New Zealand’s flora, fauna and waterways, accompanied by footage of animal carcasses and 1080 baits in water. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the election programme was misleading by inferring that there are dead possums and pigs in waterways as a result of 1080, and also by implying that 1080 is deliberately dropped into waterways. The Authority found that the claims made within the context of the broadcast, and the images used, amounted to expressions of political advocacy and opinion rather than fact, made for the purpose of encouraging voters to vote for the Ban 1080 Party. The Authority emphasised the importance and value of political expression, particularly in the lead up to a general election. In this context the Authority did not consider the high threshold for finding a breach of standards was met.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Distinguishing Factual Information from Opinion or Advocacy
East West East: The Final Sprint, an Albanian comedy film about an amateur Albanian cycling team, was broadcast on Māori Television at 8.30pm on 23 April 2017, during the school holidays. The film followed the cycle team as they made their way to France to take part in a race, only to learn that a revolution was underway in Albania, to which they chose to return. The film featured brief sexual scenes and material. East West East: The Final Sprint was preceded by a verbal (te reo Māori) and written (English and te reo Māori) audience advisory, warning that certain scenes and language may offend. The Authority found that the package of information about the film, including the film’s classification, 8.30pm broadcast and audience advisory, sufficiently prepared viewers for the sexual content contained in the film. The Authority found the sexual content was sign-posted for viewers and was in keeping with the quirky humour of the film. As such, the Authority found that the harm alleged to have been caused by the broadcast did not outweigh the right to freedom of expression, of both the broadcaster to screen the film, and of audiences to view it, and found no breach of the good taste and decency standard.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
How to Make Money Selling Drugs, a documentary film about the United States’ drug industry, featured a mock ‘how to’ guide for being a successful drug dealer. The documentary then examined and critiqued the United States’ ‘War on Drugs’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the documentary provided ‘information and tips to… potential drug dealers’ and encouraged crime. How to Make Money Selling Drugs was a satirical documentary which used broadcasting devices to gain viewers’ attention and highlight a significant problem in our society. While the documentary may have initially appeared to present positive aspects of drug dealing, it went on to explore the negative consequences, such as incarceration and death. The documentary did not condone drug dealing, and offered alternative solutions to combatting drug use in society. In this context How to Make Money Selling Drugs could not be interpreted as seriously encouraging or instructing viewers to engage in drug dealing, and did not undermine law and order.
Not Upheld: Law and Order
Native Affairs broadcast an item entitled ‘What Lies Beneath’, which reported on the recent conviction of Northland farmer Allan Titford and examined the cultural and legal impact he had on race relations in New Zealand. The Authority declined to uphold a complaint that the item was biased, inaccurate and unfair. It was not necessary to present alternative views on Mr Titford’s conviction, the item was materially accurate and subject to editorial discretion, and no one was denigrated or treated unfairly.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration
Native Affairs reported on 'jailed Northland farmer, Allan Titford, and his fight with Te Roroa', and his supporters. The Authority did not uphold Kerry Bolton's complaint that the action taken by Māori TV, having upheld his complaint that it was inaccurate to accuse him of being a 'Titford supporter', was insufficient. This was a matter of interpretation and opinion that could not be conclusively assessed as accurate or inaccurate. The Authority also declined to uphold an additional complaint that the report was misleading and unfair. The report was based on the opinions of the interviewees and was legitimately presented from a Māori perspective. It was not necessary to present alternative views on Mr Titford's guilt or innocence, and no participant was treated unfairly.
Not Upheld: Accuracy (Action Taken), Accuracy, Controversial Issues, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Good Taste and Decency, Responsible Programming, Violence
An item on Native Affairs, entitled ‘Bones of Contention’, reported on the discovery of ‘kōiwi’ (human remains) at a development site in Devonport, and apparent tensions between iwi and the owner and developer of the site, Redback Develop Ltd. The Authority did not uphold the complaint from Redback that the item contained inaccurate information about the development and the discovery of kōiwi, and that some guests who took part in a panel discussion made misleading comments. The broadcaster treated Redback fairly and made reasonable efforts to put forward Redback’s position, by inviting onto the programme the individual who it had been referred to as the appropriate person to comment.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Controversial Issues
A special investigation on Native Affairs reported the concerns of some members of Kōhanga Reo about the governance and management of Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust. The report focused on allegations that the trust board had too much power and not enough accountability, and its alleged mismanagement of public funds. The Authority did not uphold the complaint from the trust board that the story was inaccurate, unfair and unbalanced. The story had very high public interest and was a legitimate investigation of the financial activities of the trust and its subsidiary, Te Pātaka Ōhanga. The story was largely framed as being from the perspective of the interviewees, and the trust was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to respond to the claims made.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Controversial Issues, Fairness
Toi Whakaari. Haka action. Children's interests. Not upheld.