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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

Decisions
Moselen and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-058 (16 December 2020)
2020-058

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an episode of comedy gameshow, Have You Been Paying Attention?, which depicted the President of the United States Donald Trump wearing a capirote (a pointed hood as worn by members of the Ku Klux Klan). The Authority found such confronting symbolism pushed the boundaries of acceptable satire. However, it did not breach the good taste and decency standard, given the importance of freedom of expression and satire as a legitimate form of expression. Mr Trump’s public profile was also a factor. The complainant had not identified any affected section of the community to which the discrimination and denigration standard applied. Nor did the accuracy standard apply as the programme was not news, current affairs or factual programming.

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

Decisions
Collier and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-107 (9 December 2020)
2020-107

The Authority did not uphold a complaint regarding inclusion of a comment, ‘The party is reeling’, in the context of a news bulletin regarding the resignation of National Party Members. The complainant submitted this was unnecessary editorial comment which should not have been in a news bulletin. The Authority found the comment was distinguishable as analysis or opinion, a matter of editorial discretion and unlikely to mislead listeners.

Not Upheld: Accuracy

Decisions
Pascoe and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-090 (9 December 2020)
2020-090

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a segment of Q+A discussing the lack of diversity among the National Party’s then top-12 Members of Parliament. In the segment, panellist Laila Harre commented, ‘the whole front kind of line-up looks like they’ve had a bit of an accident with the bleach’. The complaint was that this comment was inappropriate, unprofessional and racist. The Authority found the comment did not threaten community standards of taste and decency, or encourage discrimination or denigration of any section of the community, in the context of a political discussion in the public interest. The remaining standards complained about either did not apply or were not breached.

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

Decisions
Croft and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-078 (24 November 2020)
2020-078

The Authority has not upheld a complaint under the balance and accuracy standards about a series of Radio New Zealand broadcasts on 26 June 2020. The items concerned the Government’s management of COVID-19 at the international border, and referred to a series of events including the failure to test 55 individuals for COVID-19 before release from quarantine as ‘border blunders’, ‘bungling at the border’, and ‘COVID botch ups’. The Authority considered the statements were not of fact but of opinion, to which the accuracy standard did not apply, and the broadcasts were unlikely to mislead listeners. The Authority considered the assessment of the Government’s management of COVID-19 at the international border to be a controversial issue of public importance, but found alternative viewpoints were included to enable listeners to arrive at an informed opinion.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy

Decisions
Davidge and Mediaworks TV Ltd -2020-068 (24 November 2020)
2020-068

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a segment on The Project, in which host (and comedian) Jeremy Corbett compared the time then National Party Leader Todd Muller and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent thinking before responding to a question about whether US President Donald Trump is racist. The complaint was that the segment breached broadcasting standards by implying Mr Muller ‘failed’ by answering the question too soon and by comparing Mr Trudeau with Mr Muller rather than Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The segment was clearly intended to be comical rather than a serious political commentary. In that context it would not have misled viewers and did not trigger the requirements of the balance standard. Nor was the item unfair to Mr Muller who, as then Leader of the Opposition, could reasonably expect to be the subject of media coverage and commentary, including satirical commentary.

Not Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy, Balance

Decisions
Purchase and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-064 (24 November 2020)
2020-064

The Authority did not uphold a complaint about the second part of a two-part documentary, Leaving Neverland, concerning sexual abuse allegations made by two men against Michael Jackson. The Authority took into account the nature of the programme, which was clearly presented from the perspectives of the two men featured and included responses to these and similar allegations, from Michael Jackson and his lawyers. In this context, the Authority found: the broadcast would not have caused widespread undue offence or distress as contemplated under the good taste and decency standard; the balance standard did not apply as the broadcast did not address a ‘controversial issue of public importance’ for New Zealand viewers; the programme was unlikely to mislead viewers and did not breach the accuracy standard; and the fairness and discrimination and denigration standards did not apply.

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

Decisions
Spring and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-072 (24 November 2020)
2020-072

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an RNZ News item covering anti-racism protests in Washington and London. The item reported that after ‘a largely peaceful day’, some of the British protesters threw bottles at police, mounted officers charged at the protesters, and an officer ‘required hospital treatment after falling from her horse’. The complaint was that this characterisation of the events breached broadcasting standards as the protest was not ‘peaceful’ and other reports noted the horse bolted after a firework or similar was thrown from the crowd. The Authority found the item was materially accurate, and that the remaining standards raised were not applicable to the complainant’s concerns.

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

Decisions
Christoforou and Al Jazeera Media Network - 2020-054 (16 November 2020)
2020-054

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about documentary Western Thrace, Contested Space, which examined the lives of ethnic Turks living in the Western Thrace region of Greece. It found that there were no material inaccuracies in the documentary as alleged by the complainant. The documentary was about discrimination felt by the Turkish community as a whole and was exploring their experiences. Some inaccuracies alleged by the complainant were broadly immaterial to the thrust of the documentary, while others were expressions of opinion, comment and analysis, to which the accuracy standard does not apply. It found the balance standard did not apply as it did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance in New Zealand. The remaining standards raised also did not apply.

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

Decisions
Grieve and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-041 (16 November 2020)
2020-041

The Authority has upheld a complaint that a 1 News item reporting on then Leader of the Opposition and National Party leader Hon Simon Bridges travelling from Tauranga to Wellington during COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown breached the accuracy standard. The Authority found that the item, which was focussed on MPs breaking lockdown rules, was misleading in putting Mr Bridges in that category.  The Authority acknowledged that, during the time of the broadcast, there was confusion surrounding the scope of the rules, particularly as to what constituted an essential service. However, the broadcaster had access to information suggesting Mr Bridges was engaged in an ‘essential service’ and, given the level of harm potentially caused by portraying a senior Member of Parliament as breaking lockdown rules, had not made reasonable efforts to ensure that this particular item did not mislead the public.

Upheld: Accuracy

No Order

Decisions
Māori Television Service and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-077 (16 November 2020)
2020-077

The Authority has not upheld a complaint from Māori Television Service (MTS) about an item on 1 News concerning the MTS online COVID-19 programme Tapatahi. MTS argued the piece inaccurately reported it had received nearly $300,000 of Government funding for the programme, and that the Government was calling for a review as Tapatahi was presented by MTS’s Chief Executive. The Authority found the item was materially accurate and MTS was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to respond.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness

Decisions
KG and Māori Television Service - 2020-082 (16 November 2020)
2020-082

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

Decisions
Tinsley and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-067 (28 October 2020)
2020-067

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about three RNZ broadcasts regarding political commentator Matthew Hooton. Two items on 21 and 22 May 2020 comprised interviews with Mr Hooton about the National Party leadership contest at that time, following which an item on 24 May 2020 discussed the emergence of Mr Hooton’s conflict of interest in this regard. The complaint was the 21 and 22 May items failed to disclose the conflict and the 24 May item failed to address it adequately. The Authority did not consider the broadcasts breached the accuracy standard, noting Mr Hooton disclosed his friendship with Todd Muller (National Party) in the 21 May item and accepted he had ‘nailed his colours’ to the Muller mast in the 22 May item. The conflict of interest generated by his subsequent engagement by Todd Muller did not arise until after these broadcasts. The nature and disclosure of his conflict was then discussed at length in the 24 May item once the details had emerged. Regarding balance, the Authority was satisfied significant points of view were adequately presented. Overall, the Authority did not find actual or potential harm at a level that justified regulatory intervention or restricting freedom of expression.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Anderson and Māori Television Service - 2020-134 (15 October 2020)
2020-134

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

Decisions
Ekalgadda and Radio Virsa - 2020-047 (14 October 2020)
2020-047

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an episode of the talkback programme Dasam Granth Da Sach breached the accuracy standard. The host, while engaged in discussion with a caller, had made statements that the complainant alleged were unsubstantiated comments about a historical event that had the potential for disrupting harmony between the Sikh and the Hindu communities. The Authority found that the accuracy standard did not apply in this instance as the programme was not a news, current affairs or factual programme and the relevant statements were clearly distinguishable as analysis, comment or opinion, rather than statements of fact.

Not Upheld: Accuracy

Decisions
Honour the Maunga and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-049 (14 October 2020)
2020-049

The Authority has not upheld a complaint under the fairness, balance, and accuracy standards from environmental protest group Honour the Maunga, about a series of Radio New Zealand broadcasts on 15-19 April 2020. The items concerned the removal of the group’s unoccupied camp from Ōwairaka (Mt Albert) for allegedly breaching lockdown rules. Overall, the Authority found that the series of broadcasts was unlikely to cause undue harm to the reputation of Honour the Maunga, and was unlikely to mislead listeners. This was a series of short news items covering a developing story, which, importantly, included the complainant’s response to the key points in the reports, namely that the group had not breached lockdown rules and was otherwise entitled under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act to occupy the site. In the context of the evolving story, the suggestion the group had breached lockdown rules was distinguishable as opinion, meaning the accuracy standard did not apply, and in any event, the inclusion of Honour the Maunga’s response mitigated any potential harm.

Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance, Accuracy

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