A number of news bulletins on Morning Report reported findings from fact-checking group First Draft about political spending on Facebook advertising in the lead-up to the 2020 General Election and referendums. Two complaints alleged the bulletins inaccurately reported pro-cannabis group Make It Legal NZ had misleading ads removed from Facebook. The Authority did not uphold the complaints, finding although the morning bulletins were misleading and the broadcaster did not make reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of those reports, a later news bulletin during Midday Report was sufficient to clarify and correct the misleading impression created earlier. The Authority also found Make It Legal was not treated unfairly, as it is a lobby group that could reasonably expect a level of public scrutiny, and it was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to respond to the morning news items.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a segment of Punjabi talkback programme Dasam Granth Da Sach. During the programme the host made comments about a well-known female Sikh preacher, including that she should marry a Taksali (traditionally trained Sikh) rather than a Jāgaruka (enlightened Sikh), because she supports the ideology of the former, and because husbands ‘in our society’ resort to beating when offended by their wives. The host also used words that can carry sexual connotations but, in the specific context of the broadcast, were unlikely to do so. The Authority acknowledged the potentially offensive nature of the comments to some people, but found overall the potential harm arising was not at a level justifying regulatory intervention or restriction of the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression on this occasion.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Discrimination and Denigration, Violence, Privacy, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on Morning Report which briefly discussed soil contamination at, and the possible repurposing of, a chemical plant site in Paritutu, New Plymouth. The complainant, an interviewee on the broadcast, argued the item misrepresented likely contamination levels by citing test results from outside of the plant site, and through a comment that the site was cleaner than that at Mapua. The Authority found the statements complained about either were not materially inaccurate, or were clearly distinguishable as opinion, to which the requirement for factual accuracy does not apply. The broadcast was unlikely to mislead listeners. The balance and fairness standards either did not apply or were not breached.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a question during a social welfare debate on Morning Report suggesting an ACT Party policy ‘smacks of eugenics’. In the context it was not outside audience expectations for Morning Report and political debate. It would not have caused widespread offence. The complaint did not raise any issues under the balance standard. The question was comment and analysis, to which the accuracy standard does not apply. Ms McKee and the ACT Party were treated fairly in the context of the debate.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Balance, Accuracy, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a comment by Mark Richardson on The Project regarding the Green Party and its responsibility for the protection of native trees. The statement was an opinion not subject to the accuracy standard, and was not unfair to the Green Party. The programme information standard did not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Programme Information
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about comments by Sean Plunket on his talkback programme regarding Christians and Christianity. While Mr Plunket made highly critical comments and expressed scepticism, this was not beyond audience expectations for a robust, opinionated programme and was unlikely to cause widespread offence. Equally, the comments were unlikely to encourage the discrimination or denigration of Christians. The Authority found callers in to the programme were treated fairly by Mr Plunket, given they had willingly phoned in to provide views on a discussion in which Mr Plunket was criticising the Christian faith, and were given the opportunity to express their own views. The remaining standards did not apply.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness, Violence, Accuracy, Balance
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an interview between Magic Talk host Ryan Bridges and World Health Organisation Special Envoy Dr David Nabarro. The complainant argued the interview contained inaccurate information about Sweden’s approach to COVID-19 and mask wearing, and inaccurately suggested Dr Nabarro advocated New Zealand adopt Sweden’s approach. The Authority found the relevant statements were comment, analysis or opinion to which the accuracy standard does not apply. It also concluded they were not materially inaccurate or misleading in the context of the interview. The standards of good taste and decency, balance and fairness either did not apply or were not breached.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Good Taste and Decency, Balance, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an item on Fair Go dealing with the ‘flushability’ of nappy liners breached the accuracy, fairness, privacy and balance standards. The Authority found the programme was not inaccurate or misleading in suggesting the liners were not ‘flushable’. It found the complainant was not treated unfairly as a result of the broadcast of a recorded ‘cold call’ and the complainant’s views were fairly reflected in the programme. It also found there was no breach of privacy standards and the balance standard did not apply as the programme did not deal with a controversial issue of public importance.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Privacy, Balance
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that the leaders’ debate between Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Hon Judith Collins breached broadcasting standards. The programme carried a high level of public interest. Both debate participants were senior politicians who had a clear understanding of the nature of their participation in the debate and were given fair opportunity to respond to the questions raised.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and denigration, Balance, Fairness
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
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
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
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 breached the fairness standard because the broadcaster did not give Mr Peters notice of his proposed contribution regarding the various topics raised. The Authority found the wide-ranging and robust questioning was within the scope of what could be expected for a high profile and senior political figure like Mr Peters on matters of significant public interest in the lead up to a general election.
Not Upheld: Fairness
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an interview with Hon Paul Goldsmith on Morning Report breached the balance and fairness standards. As the complaint did not specify a particular ‘controversial issue of public importance’ the balance standard did not apply. The Authority highlighted the value of robust political discourse and the vital role of media in encouraging and engaging in such discourse. Considering the nature of the programme and contextual factors, including the significant public interest in the interview and Mr Goldsmith’s experience in dealing with the media, the Authority did not find Mr Dann’s interview approach to be unfair.
Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness
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
The Authority declined to determine a complaint about the use of te reo Māori across a number of TVNZ broadcasts. Te reo Māori is an official New Zealand language. Its use is a matter of editorial discretion appropriately determined by broadcasters. The Authority declined to determine the complaint because the use of te reo Māori does not raise any issue of broadcasting standards.
Declined to Determine (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, in all the circumstances): Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness
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
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
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
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