The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on The Project examining the history of violence and conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and ‘what’s different this time’. The complainant alleged the maps illustrating the dispossession of Palestinian land were inaccurate, minimised original Jewish land, minimised current Palestinian land, and perpetuated ‘lies that are used to delegitimise the State of Israel’. The Authority acknowledged that Israeli and Palestinian entitlement to land is a highly sensitive and contested issue. It found the maps contained some inaccuracies and the broadcaster had not made sufficient effort to ensure their accuracy. However, any inaccuracies were unlikely to significantly affect the audience’s understanding of the programme as a whole. In addition, the value in theexpression in the broadcast meant regulatory intervention was not justified in this instance. The Authority reminded broadcasters of the importance of accuracy and consistency when reporting on this issue.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint under the balance, accuracy and fairness standards. It noted the complainant had not identified any inaccuracies or particular issues of public importance requiring balance. It also found the two interviewees were treated fairly and the interviews represented what it expects of the media in performing its role of scrutinising and holding to account those in power.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness
The Authority did not uphold a complaint about an episode of New Zealand Today. The complaint was that an interviewee was treated unfairly, and the segment discriminated against and denigrated the elderly. Noting that comments concerning the interviewee were based on his individual actions and views (rather than his status as ‘elderly’) and that the discrimination and denigration standard is not intended to prevent the broadcast of genuine expressions of comment, legitimate humour or satire, the Authority found no breach of that standard. In the context, the Authority also found the interviewee was not treated unfairly.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has declined to determine a complaint about the use of the phrase ‘Jesus Christ’ by an English football fan expressing excitement during a news item covering England’s win against Denmark in the UEFA European Football Championship semi-finals. The Authority has found on numerous occasions the use of ‘Jesus Christ’ or similar terms as an exclamation does not amount to a breach of standards.
Declined to Determine: Good Taste and Decency (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989)
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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 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 a complaint about multiple images of needles and vaccinations being performed shown in two Newshub Live at 6pm items reporting on COVID-19. The Authority found the images were unlikely to cause widespread undue offence. There is a high public interest and value in news reporting about the vaccination programme. In the context of a news item, the images would not adversely affect child viewers. The balance standard did not apply.
Not Upheld: Good taste and decency, Children’s interests, Balance
The Authority has not upheld a complaint a news item about sex workers and escorts opening up about their work on social media breached the good taste and decency, children’s interests and programme information standards. The Authority noted the public interest in the broadcast and considered the content was within audience expectations for the news. In this context, the Authority found the item was unlikely to cause widespread offence or undermine community standards. The Authority also found the introduction to the item was sufficient 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.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Programme Information
The Authority has not upheld a privacy complaint about an episode of David Lomas Investigates, which covered the story of a woman who as a baby was found on the footpath wrapped in newspaper. In two segments, Mr Lomas visited the address at which the baby was reportedly found, and during the course of the programme disclosed the street, suburb and city. Two letterbox numbers at the bottom of an entrance path and steps were also shown ‘at the next property’, as an example of what the address may have looked like when the baby was found (before construction of the new building on the property). The complainant argued this breached her privacy as the programme disclosed her full address and filmed her property without notifying her or asking for permission. The Authority found the privacy standard did not apply, as the right to privacy attaches to identifiable individuals rather than to property, and the complainant was not identifiable in the broadcast.
Not Upheld: Privacy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a remark ‘there will probably be some racists tuning in’ in reference to the English greeting following ‘kia ora koutou katoa’ during a comedy skit shown on The AM Show. The complainant alleged this was ‘racist’ and the broadcaster should apologise to ‘all English-speaking people’. The Authority found ‘English-speaking people’ are not a section of society to whom the standard applies. In any event, the comment was not directed specifically at English speakers, it was satirical and it would not have met the threshold required for a breach of the standard.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority upheld a privacy complaint about a Newshub item showing footage of children being uplifted from their homes by Oranga Tamariki. The Authority considered there was adequate information in the clip to enable identification of the children. While the story carried high public interest, protecting children’s privacy interests, particularly where the children are clearly vulnerable, must be paramount in broadcasters’ editorial decision making. Insufficient steps were taken to protect the children’s identities, and given the highly sensitive and distressing circumstances, the Authority considered the disclosure of footage enabling their identification was highly offensive.
Orders: Section 16(4) – $1500 costs to the Crown