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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on Seven Sharp in which Hilary Barry made comments about the safety of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine and about ‘anti-vaxxers’, including suggesting those who do not want to be vaccinated could ‘jump on a ferry and go to the Auckland Islands for a few years, and then when we’ve got rid of COVID-19…come back’. The complaint alleged these comments breached the good taste and decency, discrimination and denigration, balance, accuracy and fairness standards, by suggesting the safety of the vaccine was almost without question, and denigrating those with a different view. The Authority found Ms Barry’s comments were unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress or undermine widely shared community standards. It found the broadcast did not address a controversial issue so the balance standard did not apply. The fairness, discrimination and denigration and accuracy standards also did not apply or were not breached.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Balance, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy
The Authority did not uphold a complaint about four items on Morning Report covering an open letter to Government calling for ‘a major overhaul of the drug laws’. The Authority found the items did not breach the balance standard, as, while they discussed a controversial issue of public importance to which the balance standard applied, a reasonable range of perspectives were included, particularly given they were reporting on the publication of the open letter. In the context of items covering a challenge to the status quo, and when debate around drug reform is an ongoing issue in New Zealand, it was unlikely that listeners would have been left uninformed or unaware there were other perspectives on this issue.
Not Upheld: Balance
Two complaints about a report on ‘explosive scenes at Parliament’ including a comment from Willow Jean Prime MP that statements from the National Party ‘really sound[ed] like “she asked for it, her skirt was too short. She was drunk”’ were not upheld. The Authority found the omission of Ms Prime’s subsequent withdrawal of the statement was not material to the story, and her specific comment was opinion to which the accuracy standard does not apply. The balance standard did not apply as the statement did not concern a controversial issue of public importance, and there was no unfairness to the National Party.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Balance
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on Morning Report including an interview between reporter Phil Pennington and Minister for the Environment Hon David Parker, regarding toxic waste contamination at Tiwai Point. During the interview Mr Parker described himself as being ‘blind’ on the state of contamination at Tiwai Point. In the introduction to the interview, presenter Susie Ferguson referred to this comment, and in the course of examining Mr Parker’s awareness of the issue Mr Pennington queried it twice. The complainant submitted the use of ‘blind’ in this way denigrated people who are blind as it equated blindness with ignorance. The Authority found the use of ‘blind’ in this context did not meet the high threshold required to find a breach of the discrimination and denigration standard.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on 1 News that discussed ‘growing calls’ for New Zealand’s right to silence laws to be urgently changed. The complaint was the item failed to present the views of the many authorities who support the status quo, or include relevant historical context, and used unduly emotive language to advance an unbalanced narrative. The Authority noted the balance standard allows for significant viewpoints to be presented over time, within the period of current interest, 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 views and information on the right to silence in cases of child abuse. It also found the broadcast approached this issue from a particular perspective and did not purport to be a balanced examination. In the context, the Authority found the broadcast did not breach the balance standard.
Not Upheld: Balance
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about coverage on The AM Show of proposed changes to safe zones around abortion clinics. The statements alleged to be inaccurate were comment, opinion or analysis, to which the accuracy standard does not apply. The balance standard did not apply as the separate news bulletins did not amount to a discussion; and in any event, differing perspectives from Abortion Rights Aotearoa and Voice for Life NZ were included. The fairness standard did not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a privacy complaint about an item covering ‘an early morning street brawl’. The complainant was briefly shown in the item speaking to police at the scene of the brawl. The Authority found that while the complainant was identifiable, the item did not disclose any private information over which she had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Not Upheld: Privacy
The Authority has not upheld two complaints about Mike Hosking’s statement on Mike Hosking Breakfast that the Duchess of Sussex was a ‘shallow, self-absorbed, attention-seeking, woke bandwagon-riding hussy’. The Authority found it was not likely to cause widespread, undue offence in the context. Although the discrimination and denigration standard applied, as the word ‘hussy’ may refer to and reflect upon women as a section of society, the comments did not meet the threshold justifying regulatory intervention.
Not upheld: Good taste and decency, discrimination and denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on 1 News that reported a third marine heatwave in four years in Auckland and Northland. It described the causes of the heatwave in terms of subtropical winds and global warming, and its consequences in terms of sea level rises and ocean acidification, and included comments from local experts. The complaint was that the broadcast misled viewers to believe the higher ocean temperatures in Northland and Auckland were due principally to climate change and the warming effects were global (when actually the heatwave was driven by a natural climate event, occurring locally). The Authority found the broadcaster made reasonable efforts to ensure accuracy, including reliance on authoritative experts, and the broadcast was unlikely to mislead viewers.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about RNZ’s election night broadcast. During a discussion about the likely make-up of the incoming government based on preliminary election results, one guest commentator remarked that climate change was ‘not a “technical” portfolio, it’s an existential crisis’, to which the host said, ‘yeah okay, I’m not going to get into that now’. The complaint was that this breached the balance standard on the basis climate change was of fundamental relevance to, and should have been the focus of, a discussion about the future of politics and elected representatives. The Authority found this was a matter of editorial discretion and did not raise issues under the balance standard, in the context.
Not Upheld: Balance
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that use of the phrase ‘how the hell’ in an item on Breakfast breached the good taste and decency standard. The Authority found the use of the word would not have caused widespread undue offence or distress or undermined widely shared community values.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about comments made by Jack Tame during his morning show including the statement ‘Māori don’t just deserve special treatment, but are contractually guaranteed a form of special treatment under the Treaty’. The Authority found, in context, the comment amounted to analysis to which the accuracy standard does not apply. The comment was not the focus of the discussion, and an opinion-based segment such as this is not required to provide alternate perspectives under the balance standard. The remaining standards did not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness