The Authority declined to determine a complaint about the use of te reo Māori across a number of TVNZ broadcasts. Te reo Māori is an official New Zealand language. Its use is a matter of editorial discretion appropriately determined by broadcasters. The Authority declined to determine the complaint because the use of te reo Māori does not raise any issue of broadcasting standards.
Declined to Determine (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, in all the circumstances): Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a good taste and decency complaint that the treatment of a clip showing a ‘devastating’ explosion in Lebanon was inappropriate in a segment rounding up ‘all the crazy, messed-up oddities’ of the week. The context and the importance of freedom of expression meant there was no harm justifying regulatory intervention in the circumstances.
Not Upheld: 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
The Authority has upheld a complaint that an episode of 20/20 aired on free-to-air television on a Sunday at 9am, detailing serial killer Ted Bundy’s crimes, motivations, and background, breached the children’s interests and programme information standards. The Authority noted that the broadcast presented in detail some potentially distressing and disturbing content, and themes including sexual violence and perversion, murder, and abduction, without any audience advisory or warning for this content. Additionally, the Authority considered the content and themes were suited for broadcast during the M timeband (suitable for a mature audience), rather than during PG time (which indicated the content was not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers under adult supervision). Viewers were not given sufficient information or signposting about the programme’s likely content to enable them to make informed choices about whether they, or children in their care, should view the broadcast. The Authority therefore found that the potential harm arising from the broadcast, particularly in relation to child viewers, outweighed the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression on this occasion.
Upheld: Children’s Interests, Programme Information.
Orders: Section 16(4) – $750 costs to the Crown
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an episode of New Zealand Hunter Adventures featuring two groups of duck shooters in New Zealand. The episode included footage of people, including young people, using firearms, shooting ducks, celebrating successful shots, holding and plucking dead ducks, and showcasing hunting gear and equipment. Taking into account the relevant contextual factors including the programme’s classification, target audience and audience expectations, the broadcast did not breach the good taste and decency, children’s interests or violence standard.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence
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 did not uphold a complaint that a Seven Sharp item referring to Wilson Parking breached the accuracy and fairness standards. The item covered a dispute between a carpark customer and Wilson Parking. A Fair Go consumer advocate also provided general advice to people about their rights in relation to parking fines. In the context of providing general information to viewers from a consumer advocacy perspective, the advice did not breach the accuracy standard. The Authority also found the broadcast did not breach the fairness standard. It noted that Wilson Parking had been given an opportunity to comment on the specific customer’s situation and, as a multinational company, could reasonably have been expected to be aware that the programme would use the specific situation to discuss the company’s wider operations. It could have expanded the statement provided to the broadcaster.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness
The Authority has upheld a complaint that an item on Fair Go was unfair to the fencing contractor investigated. The Authority found that the fencing contractor was not treated fairly, due to the way he was set-up to be interviewed (under the guise of calling him to a job) and because he was not given a fair and reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations made against him in the programme. The Authority also found that the inclusion of information about the contractor’s past which had a criminal element was unfair as it was not relevant to the issues being investigated in this item and contributed to an unfairly negative impression of him. The accuracy complaint was not upheld as the item did not mislead or present inaccurate information, and the balance standard did not apply as the item did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance.
Order: Section 16(4) - $750 costs to the Crown
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 not upheld a complaint about an episode of comedy gameshow, Have You Been Paying Attention?, which depicted the President of the United States Donald Trump wearing a capirote (a pointed hood as worn by members of the Ku Klux Klan). The Authority found such confronting symbolism pushed the boundaries of acceptable satire. However, it did not breach the good taste and decency standard, given the importance of freedom of expression and satire as a legitimate form of expression. Mr Trump’s public profile was also a factor. The complainant had not identified any affected section of the community to which the discrimination and denigration standard applied. Nor did the accuracy standard apply as the programme was not news, current affairs or factual programming.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy
Warning: This decision contains language that some readers may find offensive.
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that the language used in two episodes of The Hotel Inspector, breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. In this context, the language used would not have caused audiences undue offence or harm and it was not beyond what viewers would reasonably expect from the programme. The programme was adequately signposted to enable audiences to protect children.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency and Children’s Interests
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about the use of ‘Jesus’ as an exclamation in an episode of Shortland Street. The complaint was the use of ‘Jesus’ in this way disrespected New Zealanders who use that name only in prayer. The Authority acknowledged the complainant, and others in the community, find the language used offensive. However, as it has previously determined, the use of variations of ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christ’ as exclamations did not threaten community standards of good taste and decency.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
An item on Breakfast discussed Novak Djokovic, his recovery from COVID-19, his comments regarding efforts to contain the virus, and the others infected at a tennis tournament he organised. The Authority did not uphold a complaint the presenter’s description of Mr Djokovic as ‘a dick’ 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 a segment of Q+A discussing the lack of diversity among the National Party’s then top-12 Members of Parliament. In the segment, panellist Laila Harre commented, ‘the whole front kind of line-up looks like they’ve had a bit of an accident with the bleach’. The complaint was that this comment was inappropriate, unprofessional and racist. The Authority found the comment did not threaten community standards of taste and decency, or encourage discrimination or denigration of any section of the community, in the context of a political discussion in the public interest. The remaining standards complained about either did not apply or were not breached.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Accuracy, Fairness
An episode of Seven Sharp included an item about a tornado and thunderstorm that occurred in New Zealand and an eye witness account from a resident. Considering the contextual factors and the nature of the programme, the Authority did not uphold a complaint that the language used breached the good taste and decency standard.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
In an episode of Seven Sharp, journalist Laura Daniels presented regarding creating a European inspired holiday from within New Zealand, in the context of COVID-19 travel restrictions. It included a scene where she pretended to eat cigarettes from a plate. The Authority did not uphold a complaint the broadcast was inappropriate for children to watch and breached the children’s interests standard. Taking the contextual factors into account, in particular the audience expectations of Seven Sharp, the Authority found the segment was unlikely to adversely affect children.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests
The Authority did not uphold a complaint about the second part of a two-part documentary, Leaving Neverland, concerning sexual abuse allegations made by two men against Michael Jackson. The Authority took into account the nature of the programme, which was clearly presented from the perspectives of the two men featured and included responses to these and similar allegations, from Michael Jackson and his lawyers. In this context, the Authority found: the broadcast would not have caused widespread undue offence or distress as contemplated under the good taste and decency standard; the balance standard did not apply as the broadcast did not address a ‘controversial issue of public importance’ for New Zealand viewers; the programme was unlikely to mislead viewers and did not breach the accuracy standard; and the fairness and discrimination and denigration standards did not apply.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Balance, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration, 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 upheld a complaint that an item on Sunday, featuring a family who complained to the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) about allegedly inadequate maternity healthcare following the death of their baby, breached the fairness and privacy standards. The Authority found it was unfair to name the complainant, HV, as the consultant obstetrician on the case prior to the HDC completing its investigation or making any findings. Singling out HV in this way had the effect of predetermining an adverse conclusion about their responsibility (whether or not that was the broadcaster’s intention), and the complainant was not informed about the proposed broadcast or given an opportunity to respond or mitigate any reputational impact. On privacy, the Authority found the fact HV was subject to an HDC complaint was information about which the complainant had a reasonable expectation of privacy. This was because, although the woman who had made the HDC complaint could disclose this to others, and the HDC does not have the power to order name suppression, the HDC process is otherwise treated as a confidential process. The complainant could reasonably expect the complaint would not be disclosed to a national audience without any prior warning or a chance to respond. Removing the complainant’s name from the item would not have detracted from the public interest in the story overall.
Upheld: Fairness, Privacy. Order: Section 16(1) - $3,450 legal costs to complainant