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Decisions
White and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-130 (9 March 2021)
2020-130

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on 1 News which reported on the shooting of Jacob Blake by police and the subsequent protests that occurred. The complainant argued the item included false statements, and omitted relevant background information about the incident and about Mr Blake. The Authority found the statements made were not materially inaccurate and were unlikely to mislead viewers in the context, given the wide coverage and commentary available at the time. The Authority also found the omitted background information was not material to the matters reported. The Authority found the balance and fairness standards did not apply.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness

Decisions
McInroe and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-128 (9 March 2021)
2020-128

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a news report covering the US Democratic Convention breached standards by referring to then US President Donald Trump as ‘Trump’ or ‘Donald Trump’ rather than with the title ‘President’. The broadcast was fair to Mr Trump, considering his position and profile as a politician and public figure. It was not misleading to refer to Mr Trump as ‘Donald Trump’ and the report was unlikely to cause widespread offence. The discrimination and denigration standard did not apply to Mr Trump as an individual.

Not Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy, Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Hoare and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2020-136 (9 March 2021)
2020-136

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on Newshub Live at 6pm, in which Prince Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall fund was described as ‘essentially his private slush fund’. The complaint was that this description was inaccurate and suggested illegal practices. In the context, given the public’s general understanding of ‘slush fund’, and the discretionary nature of the Duchy of Cornwall fund, the Authority found the use of the term was not inaccurate or misleading. The Authority also found this term did not undermine widely held community standards, and the balance standard did not apply.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Good Taste and Decency, Balance

Decisions
Garbutt and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-140 (9 March 2021)
2020-140

A complaint about an interview between Susie Ferguson and Hon Judith Collins regarding issues which arose in the preceding day’s Leaders’ Debate was not upheld. Given the level of public interest in the interview and Ms Collins’ position and experience with the media, the Authority also found Ms Ferguson’s interview style did not result in Ms Collins being treated unfairly. Given the framing and structure of the interview, there was no lack of balance. The question about Ms Collins’ motivations for praying (and her photograph being taken) in a chapel was not likely to encourage the different treatment, or devalue the reputation, of Christians. The accuracy standard did not apply as the relevant statements were comment, analysis or opinion.

Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance, Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy

Decisions
Downes, Penning, Maltby, Massie & Tang and NZME Radio Ltd - 2020-123 (24 February 2021)
2020-123

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

Decisions
The New Zealand Forest Owners Association Inc and Discovery TV Ltd - 2020-111 (24 February 2021)
2020-111

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

Decisions
JK and Māori Television Service -2020-088 (24 February 2021)
2020-088

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

Decisions
Hector and Discovery NZ LTD - 2020-120 (9 February 2021)
2020-120

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

Decisions
Walker and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-093 (28 January 2021)
2020-093

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

Decisions
Pearce and NZME Radio Ltd - 2020-109 (28 January 2021)
2020-109

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

Decisions
McDonald and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2020-131 (28 January 2021)
2020-131

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

Decisions
McDonald and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2020-115 (28 January 2021)
2020-115

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

Decisions
McDonald and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2020-084 (28 January 2021)
2020-084

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

Decisions
Bowkett and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2020-103 (21 December 2020)
2020-103

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

Decisions
Holswich and Discovery NZ Limited - 2020-113 (21 December 2020)
2020-113

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

Decisions
Wilson Parking New Zealand Ltd and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-162 (21 December 2020)
2020-162

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a Seven Sharp item referring to Wilson Parking breached the accuracy and fairness standards. The item covered a dispute between a carpark customer and Wilson Parking. A Fair Go consumer advocate also provided general advice to people about their rights in relation to parking fines. In the context of providing general information to viewers from a consumer advocacy perspective, the advice did not breach the accuracy standard. The Authority also found the broadcast did not breach the fairness standard. It noted that Wilson Parking had been given an opportunity to comment on the specific customer’s situation and, as a multinational company, could reasonably have been expected to be aware that the programme would use the specific situation to discuss the company’s wider operations. It could have expanded the statement provided to the broadcaster.  

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness

Decisions
Godinet & Kay and NZME Radio Limited - 2020-101 (16 December 2020)
2020-101

The Authority did not uphold complaints that an item on Kerre McIvor Mornings breached the accuracy standard. The content was likely to be interpreted as commentary and opinion, and not statements of fact to which the accuracy standard applied. In terms of the balance standard, it was clearly presented from the host’s perspective. Given the nature of the programme, listeners were unlikely to have been misled by the omission of other views. The Authority also found that, in its context, the segment was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or undermine widely shared community standards, did not actively promote serious antisocial or illegal activity and was not unfair to the Government or Prime Minister. Accordingly it did not breach the good taste and decency, law and order or fairness standards.    

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Good taste and decency, Law and order, Fairness

Decisions
Hilless and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-028 (16 December 2020)
2020-028

The Authority has upheld a complaint that an item on Fair Go was unfair to the fencing contractor investigated. The Authority found that the fencing contractor was not treated fairly, due to the way he was set-up to be interviewed (under the guise of calling him to a job) and because he was not given a fair and reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations made against him in the programme. The Authority also found that the inclusion of information about the contractor’s past which had a criminal element was unfair as it was not relevant to the issues being investigated in this item and contributed to an unfairly negative impression of him. The accuracy complaint was not upheld as the item did not mislead or present inaccurate information, and the balance standard did not apply as the item did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance.

Upheld: Fairness.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance.

Order: Section 16(4) - $750 costs to the Crown

Decisions
Hutchinson and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-073 (16 December 2020)
2020-073

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on 1 News covering police brutality in the United States of America and comments made by its President Donald Trump about deceased victim of police brutality, George Floyd. The item reported Mr Trump was ‘copping more flack’ for his comments and that, ‘celebrating better than expected employment numbers, he bizarrely called it a great day for George Floyd’. To the extent the broadcast may be considered inaccurate or misleading for suggesting an incorrect interpretation of Mr Trump’s comments, the Authority found it was not material. The Authority also considered Mr Trump is a high profile politician and public figure and could have reasonably expected to be subject to such scrutiny.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness

Decisions
Morgenster and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-069 (16 December 2020)
2020-069

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a Checkpoint report breached the accuracy and balance standards by stating attacks against 5G cell towers internationally were due to ‘widely debunked conspiracy theories, linking telecommunications technology to illness, including COVID-19’.  The Authority found the statement was unlikely to significantly affect listeners’ understanding of the segment and the balance standard did not apply, as the broadcast was not a discussion regarding the safety of 5G technology.  

Not Upheld: Accuracy and Balance

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