An episode of Water Patrol, a reality TV series following the work of the Maritime Police, showed footage of the complainant, PG, in his boat in the Marlborough Sounds. The police vessel approached him from behind and asked him to stop his motor. The complainant was caught off-guard, apparently not wearing any pants. As he stood up to engage with the police, the fact he was wrapping a towel around his waist was highlighted and the police officer turned to the camera and commented, with a smile on his face, ‘very unusual’. The Authority upheld a complaint that the broadcast breached PG’s privacy because in the unique circumstances of this particular case: the filming amounted to an intentional intrusion, in the nature of prying, with the complainant’s interest in seclusion; the intrusion was highly offensive; and it was not justified by any overriding public interest factors.
Order: Section 13(1)(d) $1,000 compensation to the complainant for breach of privacy
APNA 990 broadcast a segment disclosing that a named company allegedly owed it money and asking for the director of that company to ‘contact us [as soon as possible] to sort out the account’. The Authority upheld the complaint that the broadcast breached the privacy of the company director because a debt is a private matter between the debtor and the person or company to whom the debt is owed. The disclosure was highly offensive as the complainant could reasonably expect the debt to remain private, and there was no public interest in disclosing it to the public at large.
Orders: Section 13(1)(d) $1,000 compensation to the complainant for breach of privacy; Section 16(4) $1,000 costs to the Crown
An item on 3rd Degree contained an interview with a man who was involved in a family feud over the provisions of his mother’s will. The man described the legal battle with his brothers, and the item showed two old photographs of the brothers, one of whom was WS. The Authority upheld the complaint that WS’ privacy was breached as he had not consented to having his image shown in the programme.
Order: Section 13(1)(d) $1,500 compensation to the complainant for breach of privacy
Five Campbell Live items featured the complainant, Margaret Harkema, a former director of the Valley Animal Research Centre, and investigated concerns that she was using TradeMe to rehome beagles that were bred or used for testing. The Authority upheld her complaints that the programmes were unfair, misleading and breached her privacy.
Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy, Privacy
Not Upheld: Law and Order
Orders: Section 13(1)(d) $2,000 compensation to the complainant for breach of privacy; Section 16(1) $12,000 legal costs to the complainant
Neighbours at War reported on a dispute between the complainant and his neighbour over who was entitled to the letterbox number ‘1’ on their street. The complainant did not take part in the programme, and his neighbour made a number of allegations against him, including that he had sex on his deck, mowed the lawn in his underwear, watched his neighbours in their spa bath, and disturbed them with loud music and security lights. The broadcaster upheld two aspects of his fairness and privacy complaints, but the Authority found that the action taken by the broadcaster to remedy the breaches was insufficient. The programme overall painted the complainant in a very unfavourable light and without his side of the story, which was unfair. The Authority considered publication of this decision was sufficient and did not make any order.
Upheld: Fairness (Action Taken), Privacy (Action Taken), Fairness
Not Upheld: Privacy, Accuracy, Controversial Issues, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming, Good Taste and Decency
An item on 3rd Degree reported on the ‘turf war’ between two business owners in New Zealand’s adult entertainment industry. The item included footage of the complainant working in a strip club, serving drinks and talking to customers. The Authority upheld her complaint that this breached her privacy, as she had not consented to appearing in the programme.
Order: Section 13(1)(d) $1,500 compensation to the complainant for breach of privacy
An episode of The Claim Game, a reality series about insurance claims, profiled a claim involving a house fire, where the tenant did not have contents insurance. The Authority upheld the complaint from the tenant that the programme breached her privacy and that she had been treated unfairly. The broadcaster could not demonstrate that the complainant had given consent to appear in the programme, and she had made her objections known to both the broadcaster and the production company before this third repeat broadcast, which occurred four years after the filming took place.
Upheld: Fairness, Privacy
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Children’s Interests
Order: Section 13(1)(d) – compensation to the complainant for breach of privacy $1,000
The opening title sequence of an episode of Neighbours at War showed a brief image of the complainant looking at the camera and giving the finger. The Authority upheld the complaint that this breached the complainant’s privacy. The footage of his private property had been filmed more than eight years earlier, and the complainant had made it clear he wanted no involvement in the programme. Despite repeated objections, his image continued to appear in the opening titles of series four of the programme.
Order: Section 13(1)(d) – costs to the complainant for breach of privacy $1,000
A Close Up item focused on a New Zealand doctor who was offering an experimental stem cell treatment to people with Multiple Sclerosis. Hidden camera footage was obtained by a patient, and parts of it were broadcast in the story. The Authority upheld the complaint from the doctor that he was treated unfairly and his privacy was breached. The doctor was not given a fair opportunity to comment for the programme, his privacy was invaded through the use of a hidden camera, and, as the raw footage from the consultation was unavailable, the broadcaster could not demonstrate that the level of public interest in the footage outweighed the breach of privacy.
Upheld: Fairness, Privacy
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues
Orders: Section 16(1) – legal costs to the complainant $5,500
Hosts and a guest on the Otago student radio station, Radio One, made comments about a well-known Dunedin resident, including that he had been in a psychiatric hospital, and that his parents locked him up as a child because he was slow and an embarrassment to them. The Authority upheld the complaint that this breached the man’s privacy. The information disclosed had the quality of private information whether or not it was true. It was sensitive in nature and attracted a reasonable expectation of privacy. The broadcaster accepted that the comments were unacceptable and in poor taste, so the Authority did not make any order, but encouraged Radio One to take remedial steps as it saw fit.
A re-broadcast of an episode of the reality TV series The Inspectors showed an Environmental Health Officer carrying out a routine spot check at a Dunedin fish and chip shop and making critical comments about the state of the premises, downgrading it from a ‘B’ to a ‘D’. The inspection took place in 2009 and the programme was first broadcast on TV One in 2010. The complaint was about the latest broadcast in January 2012. The Authority upheld the complaint that this broadcast breached the privacy and fairness standards: the shop owner was identifiable even though his face was pixellated; any consent given was not informed and did not extend to the broadcast of the footage three years after filming; there was a high level of public interest in the footage at the time of filming but not three years later; and it was fundamentally unfair to broadcast footage three years after filming – the disclaimer at the start of the programme was not sufficient to mitigate the unfairness in this respect.
The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the programme breached the accuracy standard as it did not contain any material inaccuracies. The Authority made no order.
Upheld: Privacy, Fairness
Not Upheld: Accuracy
An episode of Target featured hidden camera footage of employees from three different electrical companies working in the Target house. The companies were each given a score out of ten for their employees’ performance. The Authority upheld the complaint that the programme breached the privacy standard: the complainant was identifiable, he had an interest in seclusion in the Target house, the broadcast of the hidden camera footage was an offensive intrusion in the nature of prying, the complainant did not give his informed consent to the broadcast, and there was insufficient public interest in the footage to justify the breach of privacy. The Authority made no order.
Campbell Live reported on a woman who, after she miscarried, unsuccessfully sought a refund for baby items purchased from the complainant’s business. The reporter door-stepped the complainant and her co-owner, and footage of this was broadcast. The Authority upheld that the broadcast breached the fairness, accuracy and privacy standards. No previous attempts had been made to obtain comment before door-stepping the shop owners; covert filming and recording of the conversation meant that the owners were not properly informed of the nature of their participation; the owners specifically stated that they did not want to be filmed or recorded; and the tone of programme was negative towards the owners and their position was not adequately presented. The owners were identifiable, and the item disclosed private facts. The Authority ordered payment of $500 to the complainant for breach of privacy and payment of $750 legal costs to the complainant.
Upheld: Privacy, Fairness, Accuracy
Order: $500 compensation to complainant for breach of privacy, $750 legal costs to complainant
During an episode of the reality TV series Dog Squad, a dog handler carried out routine checks of vehicles as they entered prison grounds, including a car which had apparently taken a wrong turn near the prison. The occupants of the car (a couple) were questioned, and following the search the dog handler stated that “there was something in the car, or drugs had been used in the car” and “We are going to confiscate that, okay?” The Authority upheld the complaint that this breached the privacy standard: the complainant was identifiable and the footage disclosed private facts suggesting drug use, which was a highly offensive disclosure. The Authority ordered $750 compensation to the complainant for breach of privacy.
Order: $750 compensation to complainant
Police. Contained footage of complainant from 1990s being arrested and taken to police station to detox after solvent abuse. Upheld (privacy and fairness). Orders ($1,000 costs to complainant for breach of privacy, $1,000 costs to Crown).
Police Ten 7. Filmed execution of search warrant at complainant’s property. Upheld (privacy). Orders ($1,500 compensation for breach of privacy, $1,000 costs to Crown).
Apna Ne Bana Di Jodi. Broadcast of personal ads that included complainant’s age, gender and phone number. Upheld (privacy). Order ($500 costs to complainant).
One News. Footage of family grieving as rescuers failed to save drowned man. Upheld: majority (privacy). Not upheld (good taste and decency). No order.
60 Minutes. Item on girl gangs in Hawke’s Bay. Upheld (privacy, fairness). Not upheld (law and order, balance, accuracy). Subsumed (children’s interests). Orders (broadcast of statement, $3,560.12 costs to complainant, $2,500 costs to Crown).
The Edge. Broadcast of conversation with listener and her cellphone number. Privacy and fairness. Action taken. Upheld. Order ($1,500 to complainant for breach of privacy).