The Authority did not uphold a complaint under the good taste and decency standard about the use of the phrase ‘child pornography’ in a Newshub item reporting on the arrest of Sir Ron Brierley. The complaint was that the item should have instead referred to child sexual exploitation, as ‘pornography’ infers consent and normalises a terrible practice. The Authority acknowledged the complainant’s concerns about the use of appropriate terminology with regard to very serious criminal conduct against children, and noted that what is appropriate terminology is contested internationally among authorities and global agencies. The Authority also consulted the Digital Safety Team at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), which deals with issues including countering child sexual exploitation. DIA advised that it does not use the phrase ‘child pornography’ and considers the term ‘child sexual abuse material’ most accurately describes the illegal material involving children. Taking into account the wider context of the news broadcast, including the high public interest in the item, the Authority found that the single use of the phrase complained about did not breach broadcasting standards or justify regulatory intervention. However the Authority encouraged broadcasters to note the issues highlighted in this decision and exercise judgement when selecting appropriate terminology to refer to this type of serious criminal conduct.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a Newshub item reporting on changes to Reserve Bank rules requiring commercial banks to hold more capital in reserve was unbalanced. The item focussed on the potential effects of new capital requirements on the public, particularly borrowers. The Authority recognised that the item discussed a controversial issue of public importance and was satisfied that the item featured significant viewpoints on the particular issue discussed. The Authority also noted that the issue had been widely covered in other news media and viewers could be expected to receive a broad understanding of the main perspectives on the issue within the period of current interest.
Not Upheld: Balance
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a Newshub report regarding government employees accessing pornographic sites while at work breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. The Newshub report included images of web addresses for the sites accessed. The Authority noted the public interest in the prevalence of, and harm caused by, pornography and considered that the content was within audience expectations for the news. In the context, the item was unlikely to cause widespread offence or undermine community standards and unlikely to adversely affect child viewers.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
The Authority has not upheld a privacy complaint about items on Newshub and The AM Show, which reported on a Police raid of a gang house and featured footage of the complainant’s property, with the house number blurred. The Authority found that the privacy standard did not apply in this case, as the complainant was not identifiable in the broadcast and no private information or material was disclosed about them. As the house was only filmed to the extent visible from the street, the broadcaster did not intrude upon the complainant’s interest in solitude or seclusion in a way that was highly offensive. The Authority recognised the public interest in the broadcast and found that the harm alleged to have been caused by the complainant did not outweigh the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Privacy
A complaint regarding two broadcasts, relating to threats to public officials over the Government’s use of 1080 (including footage of an anti-1080 protest featuring the complainant), was not upheld. The Authority found the use of the footage, in segments on Newshub and The AM Show, did not result in any unfairness to the complainant. The Authority considered these broadcasts did not link the complainant, or the majority of anti-1080 protestors, to the threats, as both broadcasts stated that the threatening behaviour was from the fringes of the movement. The Authority determined that the audience was therefore unlikely to be misled or misinformed. The Authority also found a comment made by host Duncan Garner during The AM Show segment, implying Willie Apiata should be sent to harm the people who made the threats, did not breach broadcasting standards. The Authority noted that the comment was flippant, and when weighed against the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression, it did not reach a point that justified the limitation of that right.
Not Upheld: Programme Information, Violence, Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy, Fairness
A panel discussion following the Newshub Leaders Debate featured comments from political commentator, Matthew Hooton, regarding Labour’s tax policies, including that Jacinda Ardern was ‘not telling the truth about her plans for tax’ and that she was ‘refusing to tell’ New Zealanders about the party’s tax plan. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that these comments were unfounded and biased, and that Ms Ardern should have been given a right of reply. The Authority found that, in the interests of balance, Ms Ardern was given a reasonable opportunity throughout the debate and during questioning from panel members, to explain Labour’s proposed approach to a review of the tax system and to address the perception that New Zealanders would not have the opportunity to view Labour’s full policy before voting. In relation to the fairness standard, the Authority found that it is an important function of the media to comment critically on party policy and this type of speech has high value in terms of the right to freedom of expression, particularly during at election time. Party leaders should expect to be subject to robust criticism and the Authority was satisfied Mr Hooton’s comments, while critical, did not go beyond what can be expected during the election period, nor did they result in Ms Ardern being treated unfairly.
Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness