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
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
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
A 1 News presenter used the term ‘gypsy day’ when reporting on the annual relocation of sharemilkers. The Authority upheld a complaint that this breached the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority highlighted the importance of responding to societal change: terms that may have been acceptable in the past, may not necessarily be acceptable in the future. While not used to express malice or hatred, the phrase is derogatory and evokes prejudicial biases towards the Roma community. When used in this context, it is capable of embedding existing negative stereotypes.
Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
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
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.
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
The Authority has upheld a complaint about a broadcast which referred to the owners of the road cycling team ‘Israel Start-up Nation’ as ‘Jewish billionaires’. The complainant submitted the broadcast was offensive and racist as it made an unnecessary connection between money and Jewish people. The Authority found the effect of the broadcast was to embed and reflect harmful stereotypes, albeit unintended. The harm in this instance outweighed the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression, and therefore the Authority upheld the complaint.
Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about two items reporting on the Conservative Party electoral victory in the 2019 United Kingdom general election. The items were on consecutive broadcasts of 1 News. The complainant submitted that a statement by the news presenter that Boris Johnson had won a 365 seat majority in the United Kingdom Parliament was inaccurate, as Mr Johnson’s party had won 365 seats of the total number of 650 seats in Parliament and had an overall majority of 80 seats over all other political parties. The Authority did not consider that this was a material inaccuracy or that viewers would be significantly misinformed by the use of the phrase ‘a 365 seat majority.’
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that news items on 1 News about New Year’s celebrations welcoming in 2020 were inaccurate when referencing the start of ‘the second decade’. The Authority found that the broadcast did not refer to ‘the second decade’, only ‘the new decade’. The reference to 2020 as the start of a new decade (when arguably the decade begins in 2021, as modern calendars began counting at 1) did not amount to a material inaccuracy for the purposes of the accuracy standard. The Authority also found that the broadcast’s references to ‘the new decade’ (and similar) were not inaccurate as the term has different meanings when used from calendrical and cultural perspectives.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The University of Otago (the University) complained that three broadcasts by TVNZ, about sexual assault allegations by former and current students of the University, breached the fairness, balance and accuracy standards of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. The complaint about Sunday was not upheld, but aspects of the complaint about Breakfast and 1 News were upheld. Overall, the Sunday programme was balanced, as it included comment from the University and was clearly signalled as coming from the perspective of the women interviewed. No material inaccuracies were identified, and the University was given a reasonable opportunity to respond. However, the Breakfast and 1 News items focussed more specifically on perceived shortcomings of the University and its decision not to be interviewed, resulting in unfairness to the University. The Authority also found that the Breakfast programme lacked balance. The Authority made no orders, and determined that the publication of the decision was sufficient to publicly notify the breach, to censure the broadcaster and to provide appropriate guidance to the broadcaster and broadcasters generally.
Sunday: Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance, Accuracy
Breakfast: Upheld: Fairness, Balance. Not Upheld: Accuracy (Action Taken)
1 News: Upheld: Fairness. Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
In a 1 News report on the ruling of the UK Supreme Court that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful, a statement was made in the introduction of the item that Boris Johnson had ‘lied to the Queen’. TVNZ upheld the complaint that the statement was inaccurate, apologised to the complainant and held discussions with the news team to ensure that systems were put in place to reduce the risk of inaccurate reporting. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the action taken by TVNZ was insufficient, finding that the action was appropriate and proportionate to the breach identified.
Not Upheld: Accuracy (Action Taken)
A 1 News item reported on the confessions of a man identified as America’s most prolific serial killer, Samuel Little. The Authority did not uphold complaints that the inclusion of a statement by the man breached the good taste and decency, children’s interests and violence standards. The Authority determined that the content was justified by context and in the public interest. The Authority acknowledged the high value in news and current affairs reporting and noted that the introduction to the item (which included reference to a ‘chilling’ police interview) was adequate to inform viewers of the nature of the coverage enabling them to adequately protect themselves and their children from the content by choosing not to watch. However, the Authority noted that where broadcasters provide audience advisories about potentially challenging content through a programme host’s introduction, it is important that the introduction is factual and captures the nature of the content to come.
Not upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests and Violence
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a 1 News segment breached the discrimination and denigration and balance standards. The Authority found that people who hold the views represented in the segment do not amount to a ‘recognised section of the community’ for the purposes of the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority also found that, while the broadcast discussed a controversial issue of public importance, it was balanced by the inclusion of multiple points of view from several parties.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Balance
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of the term ‘synthetic cannabis’ in a 1 News segment that reported on these products and their likely link to a number of deaths breached the accuracy or programme information standards. The Authority cited a recent decision where it found that while these products do not contain actual cannabis, the term ‘synthetic cannabis’ is commonly used to describe them and is unlikely to mislead viewers. Therefore, the Authority did not consider it likely viewers would be significantly misinformed by its use in this broadcast. The Authority also did not identify any breaches of the programme information standard.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Programme Information
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an item on 1 News about the release of the Department of Corrections’ strategy ‘Hōkai Rangi’, aimed at reducing the disproportionately high number of Māori in prisons, was unbalanced. The Authority recognised that the item discussed a controversial issue of public importance to which the balance standard applied, but found that the broadcaster provided sufficient balance for viewers. The item included a number of significant viewpoints on the issue, including comment from: Corrections Minister, Hon Kelvin Davis; justice campaigner, Sir Kim Workman; Corrections Chief Executive, Christine Stevenson; and the National Party’s spokesperson for Corrections, David Bennett. Hōkai Rangi was also widely reported on in other news media during the period of current interest. While the complainant wished for different individuals to be interviewed and/or to be given more air time, the Authority found that did not result in the news item being unbalanced or prevent the audience from reaching an informed view on the issue.
Not Upheld: Balance
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a 1 News segment that discussed allegations and criticisms about the operations of the Tongan Health Society. The segment featured interviews with former employees and Board members who criticised the management of the Society, its CEO Dr Glenn Doherty, and called for an independent review of the Society. The Authority found that the requirements of the fairness and balance standards were met as TVNZ had taken reasonable steps to seek, and then adequately presented, the Society’s point of view on the issues raised in the programme. The Authority found the disclosure of the CEO’s request for a bonus and extracts from correspondence between the CEO and Board relating to this amounted to a breach of privacy, but determined that the defence of public interest applied on this occasion.
Not Upheld: Balance Fairness, Accuracy, Privacy
A complaint that a news item which included blurred clips of a politician in a strip club breached the children’s interests standard has not been upheld. The Authority found that the short news item contained brief and inexplicit clips from inside the strip club which were shown in the context of a news item about Australian politics. Generally audiences are aware of the need to exercise discretion during news programming to regulate their own and their children’s viewing. The Authority found that due to audience expectations of 1 News, which is an unclassified news and current affairs programme, the brevity of the clip and blurring applied, the public interest, and the focus of the item being on Pauline Hanson’s response to the resignation of a party candidate, the item would not cause undue harm to children.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests
Warning: This decision contains content that some readers may find distressing.
Following the 15 March 2019 attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, 1 News at 6pm twice broadcast an edited clip taken from the alleged attacker’s 17‑minute livestream video. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast was in breach of the good taste and decency and violence standards. The content of the clip, and the broadcast as a whole, was newsworthy and had a high level of public interest. The very brief clip was an edited segment of the livestream video which provided information to audiences, but which did not contain explicit graphic or violent content and did not promote or glorify the actions of the attacker. Specific warnings and extensive signposting ensured audiences were sufficiently informed about the disturbing nature of the content. Taking into account the unprecedented nature of these attacks in New Zealand, the Authority found that the alleged harm did not outweigh the important right to freedom of expression and the high level of public interest in the broadcast. The Authority’s intervention in upholding the complaint would therefore represent an unreasonable or unjustified limit on the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Violence