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Decisions
McDonald and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2020-102 (28 January 2021)
2020-102

The Authority did not uphold a complaint about a Newshub item interviewing two ‘dare-devils’ who engage in ‘roof-topping’, an activity which the New Zealand Police issued a ‘stern’ warning about. The Authority found the item did not actively promote or glamorise illegal behaviour as it was made clear the activity was illegal and ill-advised. The remaining standards either did not apply or were not breached in the context.

Not Upheld: Law and Order, Children’s Interests, Good Taste and Decency, Alcohol, Balance

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
Cable and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-110 (21 December 2020)
2020-110

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a segment on 1 News in which reporter Maiki Sherman interviewed the Hon Nick Smith about the National Party blocking a proposal to enable Māori to switch more easily between the general electoral roll and Māori electoral roll. The complainant submitted Ms Sherman was aggressive and interrupted Mr Smith and her attitude was racist. The Authority found Mr Smith was not treated unfairly given, in particular, his experience as a politician and the public interest in the issue discussed. Regarding balance, Mr Smith had an opportunity to present his views on the issue and a range of perspectives were presented in the broadcast. The discrimination and denigration standard did not apply.

Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance, Discrimination and Denigration

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
Gould and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-070 (16 December 2020)
2020-070

The Authority has not upheld a complaint under the balance standard concerning an RNZ news item reporting on fires at cell phone towers in Auckland. The item noted in Britain dozens of cell towers have been set alight reportedly by people who believe 5G technology was spreading COVID-19. The complaint was that the item should also have pointed out the ‘existence of serious and responsible groups who peacefully oppose 5G’. The Authority found the item was a brief, straightforward news report which did not amount to a ‘discussion’, therefore the balance standard and the requirement to present alternative viewpoints did not apply.

Not Upheld: Balance

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
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
Kean and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-097 (9 December 2020)
2020-097

The Authority did not uphold a complaint regarding a comment made by radio panellist Catherine Robertson about ‘murderous fantasies’, concerning punishment of an individual who escaped COVID-19 managed isolation. It was a satirical comment intended to be humorous and in line with audience expectations for the programme. The Authority noted satire and humour are important aspects of freedom of expression. It found limiting the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression on this occasion was not justified.

Not Upheld: Violence, Law and Order, Balance

Decisions
Pascoe and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2020-085 (9 December 2020)
2020-085

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a segment of Newshub Nation which discussed the National Party’s top Members of Parliament (MPs) under then leader Todd Muller. In the segment, reporter Tova O’Brien asked ‘Why is it that all of these women do the mahi and then this dude gets the treat?’ The question referred to Mr Muller being rewarded as leader over his top three female MPs, Hon Nikki Kaye, Hon Amy Adams and Hon Judith Collins. The complaint was that reference to Mr Muller as ‘that dude’ was in bad taste, unbalanced, unfair and sexist. The Authority found the comment was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress as contemplated under the good taste and decency standard. The fairness standard was not breached as the comment would not have left the audience with an unduly negative impression of Mr Muller. The balance standard was not breached as Ms Kaye’s response to the comment was presented.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Fairness, Balance

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
Right To Life New Zealand and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2020-056 (24 November 2020)
2020-056

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an item on Checkpoint covering the Select Committee report on the Abortion Legislation Bill was unbalanced, unfair and discriminated against unborn children. The Authority found: ‘unborn children’ were not a recognised section of the community; the broadcaster made reasonable efforts to present significant viewpoints on the issue discussed; and the item did not result in unfairness to anyone taking part or referred to.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration

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
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
Newton and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-137 (16 October 2020)
2020-137

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an interview on Q+A broadcast on TVNZ 1, with the Rt Hon Winston Peters, which included questions about the Government’s COVID-19 response, leaking of information regarding the ‘Green School’ funding, New Zealand First Party funding, the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the New Zealand First Foundation and a tax-payer funded trip of Mr Peters’ two friends to Antarctica. The complainant argued the interview was biased and unfair, and breached the fairness and balance standards. The Authority found the robust questioning was within the scope of what could be expected of a high profile and senior political figure like Mr Peters on matters of significant public interest in the lead up to a general election. Regarding balance, the Authority did not consider controversial issues of public importance were ‘discussed’ for the purposes of this standard, with one exception in respect of which Mr Peters briefly presented his views. The Authority also noted Mr Peters had an opportunity to present his views on the other topics raised during the interview and the issues were otherwise widely covered in other broadcasts and media - meaning a range of viewpoints were publicly available.

Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance

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

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