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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
Ong and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-086 (13 October 2021)
2021-086

An item on RNZ’s Midday Report covering reports of violence against protesters at Kennedy Point Marina included interviews with a protester, and the developer of the site. The Authority has not upheld a complaint the item breached the balance and fairness standards. The Authority found the item presented a reasonable range of perspectives and developer Kitt Littlejohn was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to present his point of view. Given the level of public interest in the item, Mr Littlejohn, in his position, could reasonably expect the media’s scrutiny and the programme was unlikely to leave listeners with an unduly negative impression of him.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Parvomai and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-111 (13 October 2021)
2021-111

The Authority has declined to determine a complaint, under the accuracy standard, about an episode of Our Changing World. The Authority considered the complaint, about the use of the word ‘English’ instead of ‘British’ trivial.

Declined to Determine: Accuracy (section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 – trivial)

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
Garrett and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-073 (22 September 2021)
2021-073

The Authority has not upheld a complaint alleging an item on Midday Report lacked balance. The item reported on findings from the Chief Ombudsman regarding ‘undignified and barren’ conditions in two prisons. It was clear the item was coming from a particular perspective. The continuing media coverage of prison conditions means the period of current interest is ongoing, and audiences would not have been misinformed by the broadcast.

Not Upheld: Balance

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
Te Ora Hou Ōtautahi Incorporated and Radio New Zealand Limited - 2021-082 (22 September 2021)
2021-082

The Authority has not upheld a complaint under the balance standard about an interview on Nine to Noon. The complaint was that the interview about the subject of the truancy service system in schools only canvassed a single perspective. Considering the interview was signalled as approaching the issue from a particular perspective, the perspectives presented were criticism of the status quo, and the period of current interest is still ongoing, it is unlikely listeners would be left misinformed by the broadcast or unaware there were other perspectives on the issues discussed.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Beaumont Bell and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-050 (15 September 2021)
2021-050

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about the introduction for a piece broadcast on RNZ Concert: ‘Being a coloured man wasn’t an advantage to 19th century English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. But he did, fortunately, have some influential supporters… so his music did get heard.’ The complaint was that the description of the composer as ‘coloured’ perpetuated racism. The Authority acknowledged the complainant’s concerns and the changing nature of language over time. In this case, it found the description of the composer, in the context of the broadcast, did not encourage discrimination or denigration and was unlikely to cause offence at a level justifying restriction of the right to freedom of expression.  

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Cochran and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-066 (15 September 2021)
2021-066

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a promo for Checkpoint, broadcast after the 8am news on 11 May 2021, which included soundbites, showcasing the previous day’s news, concerning a supermarket stabbing in Dunedin. The complaint alleged the promo sensationalised news that was no longer current, suggesting another stabbing had occurred, and unnecessarily repeated scenes of violence when affected families were still suffering and children were likely to be listening. In its context, the Authority found the promo content was not likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress and did not breach the children’s interests standard. The programme information, violence and balance standards either did not apply or were not breached.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Children’s Interests, Violence, Balance

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
Armstrong and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-027 (11 August 2021)
2021-027

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on The Detail that discussed Auckland Council efforts to monitor and improve the water quality and swimmability of Auckland beaches. The complaint was that the item failed to present alternative views, or test or challenge the views presented by Auckland Council representatives. The Authority noted the balance standard allows for significant viewpoints to be presented over time, and does not require every programme to canvass all significant views on a particular topic. It found there was extensive coverage around the time of the broadcast that provided a range of information on the water quality and swimmability of Auckland beaches, and the broadcast approached the issue from a particular perspective, not purporting to be a balanced examination of the adequacy of Auckland Council efforts. The fairness standard did not apply.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

Decisions
United Fire Brigades’ Association and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-038 (11 August 2021)
2021-038

The Authority did not uphold a complaint about an item on Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan that featured interviews with National Secretary of the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union, Wattie Watson, and previous board member of the United Fire Brigades' Association (UFBA), Judith Stanley, about the handling of complaints by UFBA, and an investigation into its chief executive, Bill Butzbach, citing allegations made against him, and the board’s chair, Richie Smith. The complaint was that the item breached the balance, accuracy, privacy and fairness standards on the basis it gave undue prominence to the ‘ill-informed’ views of those with a vested interest in discrediting the UFBA, and did not present the views of the UFBA and facts provided by it until the very end. The Authority found the item achieved balance and fairness by giving the UFBA a reasonable opportunity to respond, and including its statement. The Authority also found the item was not materially inaccurate, and did not disclose facts to which a reasonable expectation of privacy attached.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Privacy, Fairness

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
Grimwood and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-018 (21 July 2021)
2021-018

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about RNZ’s election night broadcast. During a discussion about the likely make-up of the incoming government based on preliminary election results, one guest commentator remarked that climate change was ‘not a “technical” portfolio, it’s an existential crisis’, to which the host said, ‘yeah okay, I’m not going to get into that now’. The complaint was that this breached the balance standard on the basis climate change was of fundamental relevance to, and should have been the focus of, a discussion about the future of politics and elected representatives. The Authority found this was a matter of editorial discretion and did not raise issues under the balance standard, in the context.

Not Upheld: Balance

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
New Zealand Defence Force and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-024 (15 July 2021)
2021-024

The Authority has not upheld a complaint from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) about an interview with Nicky Hager discussing the results of an Australian enquiry into its Defence Force and the implications for the NZDF. The Authority noted the high public interest in the broadcast and found that as it was clearly coming from Mr Hager’s perspective and other news bulletins signalled other views, the balance standard was not breached. The broadcast was not unfair to the NZDF. It is a government agency that can reasonably expect public scrutiny. In addition, comment from the Defence Minister was sought and included in later news bulletins.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Gates and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-014 (29 June 2021)
2021-014

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a Midday Report item regarding a boost in Kiwisaver funds breached the accuracy and fairness standards. The complainant argued the item was misleading, for not disclosing that the organisation which produced the relevant survey findings does not survey all Kiwisaver providers, and was unfair to Kiwisaver providers who were not surveyed. The Authority found the item would not have misled listeners and that the fairness standard did not apply.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness

Decisions
Parvomai and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-009 (22 June 2021)
2021-009

The Authority has declined to determine two complaints on the basis they were trivial – one about a teaser for a Nights interview that allegedly mispronounced ‘Rhondda’, and one about a Checkpoint item that referred to England instead of the United Kingdom during a discussion about educational achievement of countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Declined to Determine: Accuracy (section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 – trivial)

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