An item on ONE News discussed further charges laid against a man accused of a double shooting in South Auckland. During the item, images of the crime scene were shown, including footage of blood on a pavement. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that the footage of blood breached the privacy of those involved (ie, the surviving victim and the victims’ relatives or friends), and that the footage would have disturbed young viewers. No individuals were identified during the broadcast, including the surviving victim or either of the victims’ relatives or friends. In addition, the image of blood was brief and was not graphic or explicit, and viewers could reasonably expect that a news broadcast reporting on a double shooting might contain some footage relating to the crime.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Good Taste and Decency
An item on Sunday exposed the alleged mistreatment of bobby calves by some members of the dairy industry in the Waikato region. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item was an unbalanced and inaccurate depiction of dairy farming, and breached a number of other broadcasting standards. The Authority found the item was sufficiently balanced, as the perspective of the dairy industry was given both within the item and within the period of current interest. The item was not inaccurate or misleading in the ways alleged by the complainant; rather, it focused on instances of bad practice within the dairy industry and did not suggest these were commonplace. Furthermore, the item did not breach the privacy of a local farming family, as they were not identifiable or otherwise referred to in the footage. The broadcaster exercised adequate care and discretion when showing footage of cruelty against bobby calves.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Privacy, Violence, Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness
An episode of Neighbours at War featured a dispute between a group of neighbours over a right of way. Two sets of neighbours alleged that their neighbours, a couple (Mr and Mrs X), had been threatening and harassing them. The Authority upheld aspects of a complaint from Mr and Mrs X that the episode was unfair and breached their privacy. The Authority also determined that the broadcaster did not take sufficient action having upheld one aspect of the complainants’ original fairness complaint. The programme contained potentially damaging allegations against the complainants and did not present their side of the story. The programme also broadcast footage of incidents between Mr and Mrs X and their neighbours on the right of way obtained by one neighbour’s friend and a security camera belonging to another neighbour, which was a highly offensive intrusion into their interest in solitude and seclusion. The Authority did not uphold the remaining aspects of the fairness and privacy complaints, and did not find that the item was inaccurate or misleading.
Upheld: Fairness (Action Taken), Fairness, Privacy; Not Upheld: Accuracy
Order: Section 13(1)(d) – privacy compensation to the complainants $500
ONE News reported on the case of a Palmerston North schoolgirl who had been abducted earlier in the day, and subsequently located and reunited with her family. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item breached the privacy of the girl and her sisters. The item did not disclose any private information about the girl; the details given were in the public domain at the time of the broadcast and carried high public interest, as they may have assisted with the search for her abductor. The girl’s sisters were not identifiable in the item and therefore their privacy was not breached.
Not Upheld: Privacy
An item on Sunday exposed the alleged mistreatment of bobby calves by some members of New Zealand’s dairy industry. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that the item was unfair to the complainant and breached his and his employee’s privacy, and that the item was inaccurate and lacked balance. Neither RZ nor his employee was identifiable during the footage and they were not participants, or referred to, in the item. The item was also sufficiently balanced, as the perspective of the dairy industry was given both within the item and within the period of current interest. Comments in the item that the complainant alleged were inaccurate were clearly opinion and analysis and thus not subject to the accuracy standard, and the item was not otherwise misleading.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Fairness, Controversial Issues, Accuracy
Newshub reported on a Christchurch earthquake memorial service, which marked the five-year anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item breached the privacy of grieving families attending the memorial service. Families in attendance at the memorial generally cannot be considered under the privacy standard, which is concerned with identifiable individuals. In any case, the coverage was duly sensitive and respectful, was not overly intrusive and did not focus on any particular individuals at length.
Not Upheld: Privacy
An item on Story investigated an alleged issue within the Auckland property market. It was introduced: ‘Some real estate agents are helping investors and traders… get the houses first [before auction]’. An actor approached different real estate agencies and asked agents to sell him properties for investment prior to auction and at a lower price, which the presenter claimed would be in breach of the industry code. Amy Wildman, one of the agents approached, was filmed with a hidden camera apparently agreeing to sell a property prior to auction. The Authority upheld a complaint from Ms Wildman that she was treated unfairly. The broadcast was damaging to Ms Wildman and did not fairly represent her position, and the use of the hidden camera footage was, on balance, not justified by public interest considerations. The Authority did not uphold aspects of the complaint that the item was also in breach of Ms Wildman’s privacy and inaccurate.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Accuracy
Orders: Section 13(1)(a) – statement published online; section 16(1) – legal costs to the complainant $1,000
Two hosts on George FM Breakfast asked listeners to send in the names and profiles of female users of Instagram described as ‘do-nothing bitches’. The names of two women, A and B, were submitted. The hosts went on to comment extensively on A’s profile, making inappropriate and disparaging comments about her, and also contacted A and interviewed her on air. The Authority upheld a complaint that the action taken by MediaWorks having found breaches of the fairness and good taste and decency standards was insufficient, and also found that the broadcast breached the privacy of both women.
Upheld: Fairness (Action taken), Good Taste and Decency (Action taken), Privacy
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Law and Order, Responsible Programming, Controversial Issues, Accuracy
Orders: Section 13(1)(d) $4,000 compensation to A for breach of privacy; section 13(1)(d) $2,000 compensation to B for breach of privacy; section 16(4) $2,000 costs to the Crown
An episode of Dog Squad showed dog handlers with the Department of Corrections searching visitors to a prison. The episode showed two occasions of the complainant (SW) being searched; firstly, her bag was searched when she was driving onto prison premises, and secondly, a sniffer dog identified that she was carrying contraband (tobacco) inside the prison and she was shown surrendering this to Corrections staff. In both instances her face was blurred. The Authority upheld SW’s complaint that broadcasting the footage breached her privacy. She was identifiable despite her face being blurred (by clothing, body type, voice, etc), and the disclosure of private facts about her, including prescription drugs she was taking, among other things, was highly offensive. SW did not give informed consent to the broadcast and the public interest message about prison protocol could have been communicated without identifying SW.
Order: Section 13(1)(d) $1,000 compensation for breach of privacy
The introduction to a Neighbours at War story showed brief footage of a man, GR, on a street outside a bar. The Authority did not uphold a complaint from GR’s son that the broadcast breached GR’s privacy. The footage was very brief, was taken in a public place and would not be highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.
Not Upheld: Privacy
An item on Sunday discussed AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd’s alleged unsafe sex practices with escorts. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item breached Mr Rudd’s privacy. The information disclosed during the item was already in the public domain and widely broadcast, so did not constitute private facts. The item also did not disclose any personal details about Mr Rudd for the purposes of encouraging harassment.
Not Upheld: Privacy
A story on 60 Minutes featured tragic driveway accidents involving children. Part of the story focused on the death of an 18-month-old boy, and the subsequent struggles of his mother. The mother also discussed her other son, S, and photos and footage were shown of him. The Authority upheld a complaint from S’s father that the programmes breached S’s privacy. S was identifiable by name and image, he was linked with details of his mother’s drug addiction and prostitution which constituted private facts and this disclosure was highly offensive. In the circumstances the broadcaster’s primary concern ought to have been the best interests of the child, regardless of any consent obtained. The Authority recognised the value and public interest in the story but this was outweighed by the need to protect the child.
Order: Section 13(1)(d) $1,500 compensation for breach of privacy
An item on Campbell Live sought to investigate allegations of misconduct within Gloriavale Christian Community. A reporter and a cameraman visited Gloriavale and spoke to two senior members of the community. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast breached these men’s privacy. While the circumstances of the filming may have amounted to ‘prying’, the broadcast did not disclose any private information about the men in a manner that was highly offensive.
Not Upheld: Privacy
During the Port FM Breakfast Show the presenters allegedly mentioned ‘Jimmy from Omarama’. The Authority declined to determine a complaint from Jimmy Courtney that the broadcast breached his privacy, as the broadcaster was unable to provide a recording of the broadcast. The Authority however noted that on the basis of the information before it, it appeared unlikely the broadcast amounted to a breach of privacy. The Authority also recorded its expectation that broadcasters retain recordings of broadcasts for 35 days following the broadcast.
Declined to determine: Privacy
Sunday focused on an initiative by a road safety organisation which creates images of car crash victims as they would appear now. One of the families taking part in this initiative lost their seven-year-old boy, who was killed by drink-driving teenagers 17 years earlier. The incident was briefly recounted, showing footage of the driver of the car and of several passengers. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item breached the privacy of the young people involved in the crash. The crash was a sufficiently serious and well-known event that the facts about it and the individuals’ involvement had not become private again through the passage of time. The story carried high public interest and did not revisit the incident in a manner that would be considered highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.
Not Upheld: Privacy
3 News covered a story about Trunk Property Ltd, which allegedly was entering into unlawful subletting arrangements with tenants in Auckland. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast contained inaccurate, unfair and unbalanced information and breached the privacy of Trunk Property’s director. The item was materially accurate, was not unfair to Trunk Property or its director and did not breach the director’s privacy. Trunk Property was given a reasonable opportunity to comment on the story and its response was fairly presented in the item.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Privacy, Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Controversial Issues, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
Seven Sharp featured a brief segment about a Christchurch couple who had been recorded by members of the public having sex after hours at their workplace. The segment was presented as a humorous ‘lessons learned’ skit, featuring comments such as, ‘apparently you can see through glass’, and still photos of the incident were shown. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast breached the couple’s privacy as the information was already in the public domain at the time of broadcast.
Not Upheld: Privacy
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
An item on Campbell Live focused on a travel agency whose customers alleged that trips they had paid for had not been booked. During the item a brief exchange took place between the reporter and a ‘family friend’ of the owners of the travel agency, the complainant, outside the vacant agency. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast breached Mr Malakouti’s privacy. The footage was filmed in a public place and the item did not disclose any private facts about him. There was no suggestion Mr Malakouti was associated with the travel agency, so the broadcast of the footage was not highly offensive.
Not Upheld: 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