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Decisions
Francis and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2021-045 (6 September 2021)
2021-045

The Authority did not uphold a complaint under the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards about an item on 1 News reporting live from Wellington amid protests against increasing rates of sexual violence, which showed a protest sign in the background reading ‘Don’t fuckin’ touch me’. Although some viewers may have been surprised by this, the Authority found overall the potential harm did not outweigh freedom of expression. The Authority took into account: the high public interest in the item; the sign was partially obscured for half of the item; the word complained about was not spoken; and the broadcaster had limited editorial control over the public’s actions during a live cross to the reporter.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests

Decisions
Hall and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-051 (6 September 2021)
2021-051

The Authority did not uphold a complaint about a segment on 7 Days which made a joke referring to a picture of Prince Philip, shortly after his death. The Authority found the segment did not contain any material outside of what viewers could reasonably expect from the programme (as a long-running comedy show based on finding comedic elements in the news of the week, audiences are well-familiar with its format and style of content and humour), and did not cause any harm justifying the restriction of freedom of expression.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency

Decisions
Harter and Discovery NZ Limited - 2021-049 (6 September 2021)
2021-049

The Authority declined to determine a complaint about a promo of The Project as the complainant is responsible for identifying the programme the subject of his complaint1 and his complaint did not appear to relate to the identified broadcast content.

Declined to determine: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Spring and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-072 (6 September 2021)
2021-072

The Authority has declined to determine a complaint regarding a news item which included a quote from Liz Cheney calling Donald Trump’s claims that he had won the 2020 US Election ‘dangerous lies’. The complainant was concerned about RNZ referring to some politicians as liars but not others. The Authority found the content of the complaint did not relate to the substance of the broadcast, and was not capable of being properly determined by a complaints procedure.

Declined to Determine: Programme Information, Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Accuracy, Fairness (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989)

Decisions
Stewart and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-062 (6 September 2021)
2021-062

The Authority has declined to determine a complaint about the introduction to a news item on New Zealand Rugby which used the terms ‘blasted’ and ‘bombshell’ immediately after an item reporting on violence in Gaza. The Authority considered that the complaint raised issues which were editorial decisions not properly addressed by broadcasting standards, so should not be determined by the Authority.

Declined to Determine: Good Taste and Decency (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act)

Decisions
East and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2021-059 (24 August 2021)
2021-059

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a ‘Carpool Kōrero’ segment in an episode of Popstars during which a celebrity guest talked to each of the contestants while apparently driving a car. The complainant alleged a young person may have been unable to discern the guest was not in fact driving, and therefore the broadcast breached the law and order standard. The Authority found reasonably attentive viewers would have likely understood the segment took place in a simulated environment and in any case the broadcast was unlikely to encourage audiences to break the law.

Not Upheld: Law and Order

Decisions
Evans and Campus Radio bFM Limited - 2021-039 (24 August 2021)
2021-039

Warning: This decision contains language that some readers may find offensive

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a segment on 95bFM breached the good taste and decency standard. The segment included a broadcaster publicity notice, about the broadcasting standards complaints process, followed by a list of swear words, ‘fuck-knuckles, cock and piss, balls’. The complainant acknowledged this was intended to be ‘irreverently humorous’, but said it ‘conjured unpleasant images of a sexual nature’ in breach of the good taste and decency standard. The Authority found, in the context, and particularly in light of 95bFM’s target and intended audience and its expectations of the radio station, the segment was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress or undermine widely shared community standards.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency

Decisions
Grammer and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-070 (24 August 2021)
2021-070

The Authority has not upheld a complaint under the accuracy and balance standards about an item discussing the impact of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (the HSNO Act) on medical research, particularly in the context of COVID-19 vaccines. The item contained opinions from three scientists, which were not subject to the factual accuracy requirement and were presented accurately. The item was not required to include detail about how the HSNO Act regulated outdoor use of genetic modification compared to medical or laboratory use, as this was not material to the broadcast. The item also contained differing views, so balance was achieved within the programme.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance

Decisions
Harris and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-057 (24 August 2021)
2021-057

The Authority did not uphold a complaint about questions asked of a New Zealander stranded in India following the Government’s suspension of travel. The complaint alleged the questions breached the law and order standard as they suggested numerous ways the interviewee could avoid the travel ban and illegally return home. The Authority found the questions did not actively encourage illegal activity nor actively undermine law and order, and there was a high public interest in the broadcast.  

Not Upheld: Law and Order

Decisions
Hehir and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2021-058 (24 August 2021)
2021-058

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on 1 News including criticism of Easter trading restrictions and of the councils imposing them, in the wake of COVID-19 and its impact on retailers. The complainant alleged the item was unbalanced on the basis it failed to include the views of the councils being criticised, and of others who supported current restrictions, such as unions and churches. The Authority found, in the context of an item discussing criticism of the status quo, and where debate about Easter trading restrictions and coverage of such debate is ongoing, viewers were unlikely to be left misinformed by the broadcast.

Not Upheld: Balance

Decisions
Millar and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-064 (24 August 2021)
2021-064

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a comment referring to a sex act during an episode of New Zealand Today, which the host and interviewee both laughed at. The programme was classified 16-LSC, preceded by a full-screen warning and screened at 9pm. Given audience expectations for the programme, the classification, the warning and the scheduling, the Authority found the comment would not cause widespread undue offence and audiences were able to make their own viewing choices. The remaining standards either did not apply or were not breached.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence, Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Van Peursem & Fox and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-056 (24 August 2021)
2021-056

The Authority has not upheld two complaints about an item on The Project. A presenter commented ‘I think happily we don’t have many Americans in New Zealand so we probably won’t end up in that situation’, in response to a question from another presenter, about whether New Zealanders would start demanding a right to bear arms as in the United States, in light of a recent knife attack. The complainants alleged these comments were discriminatory against Americans, and breached the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority acknowledged the comments had the potential to cause offence, but found they did not meet the high threshold required to breach the standard and justify restricting the right to freedom of expression.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Connolly and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-037 (11 August 2021)
2021-037

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a comment made by the Hon. Debbie Ngarewa-Packer about the BMI test being ‘crafted by white supremacists’ breached the discrimination and denigration standard. Ms Ngarewa-Packer’s comment was a genuine expression of her opinion on a matter of public interest – possible discrimination in access to public funding for IVF treatment. The standard, which has a high threshold, was not intended to prevent the broadcast of such opinions, the Authority found.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Armstrong and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-027 (11 August 2021)
2021-027

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on The Detail that discussed Auckland Council efforts to monitor and improve the water quality and swimmability of Auckland beaches. The complaint was that the item failed to present alternative views, or test or challenge the views presented by Auckland Council representatives. The Authority noted the balance standard allows for significant viewpoints to be presented over time, and does not require every programme to canvass all significant views on a particular topic. It found there was extensive coverage around the time of the broadcast that provided a range of information on the water quality and swimmability of Auckland beaches, and the broadcast approached the issue from a particular perspective, not purporting to be a balanced examination of the adequacy of Auckland Council efforts. The fairness standard did not apply.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Preston and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-011 (11 August 2021)
2021-011

Warning: This decision contains language that some readers may find offensive

The Authority has upheld a complaint about the classification and scheduling of an episode of SAS Australia which was classified ‘M’ and screened at 7.30pm. The episode featured aggression, potentially distressing psychological elements and frequent coarse language (more than 35 instances or variations of ‘fuck’). The Authority found this content warranted a higher classification of ‘16’ rather than ‘M’, a stronger warning for frequent language and a later time of broadcast outside of children’s normally accepted viewing times (after 8.30pm). It therefore upheld the complaint under the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards, as viewers were not given sufficient reliable information to make an informed viewing choice or exercise discretion.

Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests

Not Upheld: Violence

No order

Decisions
Foster and RDU 98.5FM Limited - 2021-035 (11 August 2021)
2021-035

The Authority has declined to determine a complaint that a hip hop song contained racial slurs (including the n-word). The Authority noted the broadcaster apologised to the complainant for the offence caused and removed the song from its playlist. The Authority considered this action was sufficient and, in all the circumstances, it was not necessary to determine the complaint.

Declined to Determine (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, in all the circumstances): Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Children’s Interests, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Privacy

Decisions
McAulay and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2021-015 (11 August 2021)
2021-015

While filling in on Magic Talk’s Magic Mornings, John Banks discussed former CEO Grainne Moss’s departure from Oranga Tamariki. One talkback caller made comments which were endorsed by Mr Banks. MediaWorks found these were denigrating towards Māori and breached the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards. The Authority upheld a complaint that the action taken by MediaWorks did not sufficiently remedy the harm caused by the breaches. It found the comments were foreseeable in the broadcast environment MediaWorks had created.

Upheld: Good Taste and Decency (Action Taken), Discrimination and Denigration (Action Taken)

Orders: Section 13(1)(a) – broadcast statement; Section 16(4) – $3,000 costs to the Crown

Decisions
Media Matters in NZ and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2021-043 (11 August 2021)
2021-043

In an item about road rage on Seven Sharp, the presenters were discussing slow drivers when Jeremy Wells made the comments ‘grandpa’ and ‘always a grandpa’. Media Matters in NZ complained the comment breached the discrimination and denigration and accuracy standards. The Authority declined to determine the complaint on the basis it was trivial or frivolous.

Declined to determine: Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy

Decisions
United Fire Brigades’ Association and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2021-038 (11 August 2021)
2021-038

The Authority did not uphold a complaint about an item on Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan that featured interviews with National Secretary of the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union, Wattie Watson, and previous board member of the United Fire Brigades' Association (UFBA), Judith Stanley, about the handling of complaints by UFBA, and an investigation into its chief executive, Bill Butzbach, citing allegations made against him, and the board’s chair, Richie Smith. The complaint was that the item breached the balance, accuracy, privacy and fairness standards on the basis it gave undue prominence to the ‘ill-informed’ views of those with a vested interest in discrediting the UFBA, and did not present the views of the UFBA and facts provided by it until the very end. The Authority found the item achieved balance and fairness by giving the UFBA a reasonable opportunity to respond, and including its statement. The Authority also found the item was not materially inaccurate, and did not disclose facts to which a reasonable expectation of privacy attached.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Privacy, Fairness

Decisions
Vette and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2021-042 (11 August 2021)
2021-042

The majority of the Authority has not upheld a complaint an episode of the programme Renters breached the privacy of the tenants of the properties featured. The majority of the Authority did not find any of the tenants were identifiable. As the privacy standard only applies to identifiable individuals, the standard did not apply. The minority view was that the information disclosed was adequate to enable viewers, beyond family and close friends who would reasonably be expected to know about the matters disclosed, to identify one individual and the information had the quality of private information such that the disclosure breached the privacy standard.

Not Upheld by Majority: Privacy

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