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Decisions
Grieve and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-041 (16 November 2020)
2020-041

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.

Upheld: Accuracy

No Order

Decisions
HV and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-057 (16 November 2020)
2020-057

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

Decisions
Māori Television Service and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-077 (16 November 2020)
2020-077

The Authority has not upheld a complaint from Māori Television Service (MTS) about an item on 1 News concerning the MTS online COVID-19 programme Tapatahi. MTS argued the piece inaccurately reported it had received nearly $300,000 of Government funding for the programme, and that the Government was calling for a review as Tapatahi was presented by MTS’s Chief Executive. The Authority found the item was materially accurate and MTS was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to respond.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness

Decisions
Waxman and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-042 (16 November 2020)
2020-042

The Authority has upheld a complaint about a broadcast which referred to the owners of the road cycling team ‘Israel Start-up Nation’ as ‘Jewish billionaires’. The complainant submitted the broadcast was offensive and racist as it made an unnecessary connection between money and Jewish people. The Authority found the effect of the broadcast was to embed and reflect harmful stereotypes, albeit unintended. The harm in this instance outweighed the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression, and therefore the Authority upheld the complaint.

Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration

No order

Decisions
Newton and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-137 (16 October 2020)
2020-137

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an interview on Q+A broadcast on TVNZ 1, with the Rt Hon Winston Peters, which included questions about the Government’s COVID-19 response, leaking of information regarding the ‘Green School’ funding, New Zealand First Party funding, the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the New Zealand First Foundation and a tax-payer funded trip of Mr Peters’ two friends to Antarctica. The complainant argued the interview was biased and unfair, and breached the fairness and balance standards. The Authority found the robust questioning was within the scope of what could be expected of a high profile and senior political figure like Mr Peters on matters of significant public interest in the lead up to a general election. Regarding balance, the Authority did not consider controversial issues of public importance were ‘discussed’ for the purposes of this standard, with one exception in respect of which Mr Peters briefly presented his views. The Authority also noted Mr Peters had an opportunity to present his views on the other topics raised during the interview and the issues were otherwise widely covered in other broadcasts and media - meaning a range of viewpoints were publicly available.

Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance

Decisions
Palmer and Television New Zealand - 2020-043 (14 October 2020)
2020-043

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that comments during a documentary on New Zealand’s involvement in the World War I military campaign in Gallipoli breached the discrimination and denigration standard. In the broadcast, one of the presenters was shown a photograph of a woman behind bars, in the context of a conversation about prostitutes being available for troops stationed in Egypt. The presenter then made a derogatory comment about the appearance of the woman. The complainant submitted the comments made in the broadcast denigrated both women and sex workers. The Authority acknowledged that the comment regarding the woman’s appearance in particular, which also diminished the seriousness of some women’s experiences in World War I, was insensitive and unnecessary, and would be considered sexist and offensive to some viewers. However, in the context of the programme as a whole – a documentary depicting New Zealanders’ experiences in World War I, which carried public interest – the Authority found the comment did not reach the high threshold for finding the broadcast encouraged the denigration of, or discrimination against, women as a section of the community. The Authority noted that occupation is not a recognised ground for discrimination, so sex workers did not amount to a relevant section of the community for the purposes of the standard.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Sime and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-127 (30 September 2020)
2020-127

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an election advertisement for the Labour Party that included the statement, ‘Together we went hard and early to fight COVID...’ The complaint was that this statement breached broadcasting standards because it should have said the Labour Party ‘went hard and late’, on the basis it could have taken ‘some action at the border’ earlier than it did, to protect New Zealanders. The Authority found the statement was clearly opinion and advocacy promoting the Labour Party, rather than a statement of fact, and that viewers were unlikely to be misled. There was no actual or potential harm caused, to outweigh the importance of freedom of expression and free political speech in the lead up to the general election, or to justify regulatory intervention.

Not Upheld: Election Programmes Subject to Other Standards (Accuracy), Election Programme Advocacy – Distinguishing Factual Information from Opinion or Advocacy

Decisions
Francis and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-055 (28 September 2020)
2020-055

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

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that use of the word ‘fuck’ in an episode of My Life is Murder, broadcast after 8.35pm without an ‘L’ advisory for offensive language, breached the good taste and decency standard. In the context, including the programme’s nature, classification and intended audience, the Authority found the episode was unlikely to have caused widespread undue offence or distress.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency

Decisions
Harvey and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-023 (24 August 2020)
2020-023

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about the use of the term ‘bugger’ by weather presenter Dan Corbett during a broadcast of Seven Sharp. The Authority considered the term constituted low level coarse language which would not have offended a significant number of listeners in the context of the broadcast.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency

Decisions
Marshall and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-046 (24 August 2020)
2020-046

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

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that use of the word ‘cunt’ in the New Zealand crime drama series, One Lane Bridge, breached the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority observed that the standard is not intended to prevent the broadcast of legitimate drama and considered that the threshold for its intervention had not been reached. It determined that use of the word, in its context, did not contain the level of malice or nastiness required to find a breach of the discrimination and denigration standard and did not amount to hate speech or a sustained attack on women as a section of the community.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Judge and Television New Zealand - 2020-27 (21 July 2020)
2020-027

An item on Seven Sharp featured a community hunting event for children under the age of 16. The item included footage of children using firearms, children carrying dead animals, and animal carcasses hanging by their hind legs. Taking into account the relevant contextual factors including the programme’s target audience and audience expectations, the Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item breached the good taste and decency, children’s interests and violence standards. The Authority noted that the item did not depict animals dying or being killed, and the content was clearly signposted by the presenters.

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

Decisions
Judge and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-026 (21 July 2020)
2020-026

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an episode of Sunday concerning the increasing population of wallabies in New Zealand was inaccurate and unbalanced. The Authority found that the balance standard did not apply as the segment did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance. The Authority also found that the reference to wallabies as an ‘Aussie pest’ did not amount to a material inaccuracy as it was unlikely to significantly affect the audience’s understanding of the programme as a whole.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy

Decisions
Oliver and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-010 (21 July 2020)
2020-010

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about two items reporting on the Conservative Party electoral victory in the 2019 United Kingdom general election. The items were on consecutive broadcasts of 1 News.  The complainant submitted that a statement by the news presenter that Boris Johnson had won a 365 seat majority in the United Kingdom Parliament was inaccurate, as Mr Johnson’s party had won 365 seats of the total number of 650 seats in Parliament and had an overall majority of 80 seats over all other political parties. The Authority did not consider that this was a material inaccuracy or that viewers would be significantly misinformed by the use of the phrase ‘a 365 seat majority.’

Not Upheld: Accuracy

Decisions
Cave and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-013 (29 June 2020)
2020-013

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that news items on 1 News about New Year’s celebrations welcoming in 2020 were inaccurate when referencing the start of ‘the second decade’. The Authority found that the broadcast did not refer to ‘the second decade’, only ‘the new decade’. The reference to 2020 as the start of a new decade (when arguably the decade begins in 2021, as modern calendars began counting at 1) did not amount to a material inaccuracy for the purposes of the accuracy standard. The Authority also found that the broadcast’s references to ‘the new decade’ (and similar) were not inaccurate as the term has different meanings when used from calendrical and cultural perspectives.

Not Upheld: Accuracy

Decisions
McMurchy and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-014 (29 June 2020)
2020-014

The Authority did not uphold a complaint under the good taste and decency standard about the use of coarse language in the American action comedy film Beverly Hills Cop. Taking into account relevant contextual factors, including the AO classification, time of broadcast at 8.30pm during adult viewing time, clear warning for frequent use of coarse language, and audience expectations of the film and TVNZ DUKE, the Authority was satisfied the broadcaster gave viewers sufficient information to regulate their own, and their children’s, viewing. In the context, the broadcast did not threaten community standards of good taste and decency and the broadcaster adequately enabled child viewers to be protected from potentially unsuitable content.

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

Decisions
Conn and Television New Zealand - 2020-011 (16 June 2020)
2020-011

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the usage of the word ‘root’ in a Seven Sharp item breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. The Authority took into account the relevant contextual factors including the nature of the discussion, the nature of the programme and the audience expectations of the programme. The Authority did not consider that the use of the word threatened community norms of good taste and decency, or that any potential harm justified restricting the right to freedom of expression.

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

Decisions
Cooper and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2019-116 (16 June 2020)
2019-116

The Authority did not uphold a complaint under the discrimination and denigration standard about a personal anecdote told by Seven Sharp presenter Jeremy Wells, describing the moment ‘Angela D’Audney sat on my desk as a 20-year-old in a leopard-print mini-skirt’. Stumbling over his words, Mr Wells then said, ‘see, it’s got me excited even thinking about it’. The complaint was that Mr Wells: outlined sexually inappropriate conduct against a female coworker; undermined and demeaned his female coworkers; and by saying it on national television, normalised and condoned sexual discrimination in the workplace. The Authority acknowledged Mr Wells’ choice of anecdote was ill-advised and inappropriate and that it may have offended some people. However it emphasised that in itself is not sufficient to find a broadcast encouraged discrimination or denigration. There is a high threshold for finding a breach, in light of the important right to freedom of expression. In this case, the comments were clearly not intended to be malicious or nasty, but rather as a light-hearted personal anecdote following ‘The Friday Countdown’ segment which celebrated 50 years of the network news. In the context, the broadcast did not encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, women as a section of the community.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Eastman and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2019-111 (9 June 2020)
2019-111

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an episode of Yo-Kai Watch was in breach of the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. It found that, while the episode contained negative stereotypes that may not be appropriate for children, and which some parents or caregivers may not approve of, the adult themes and sexual innuendos within the episode were not likely to be understood by child viewers, and the potential harm did not reach the level justifying regulatory intervention.

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

Decisions
The University of Otago and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2019-082 (9 June 2020)
2019-082

The University of Otago (the University) complained that three broadcasts by TVNZ, about sexual assault allegations by former and current students of the University, breached the fairness, balance and accuracy standards of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. The complaint about Sunday was not upheld, but aspects of the complaint about Breakfast and 1 News were upheld. Overall, the Sunday programme was balanced, as it included comment from the University and was clearly signalled as coming from the perspective of the women interviewed. No material inaccuracies were identified, and the University was given a reasonable opportunity to respond. However, the Breakfast and 1 News items focussed more specifically on perceived shortcomings of the University and its decision not to be interviewed, resulting in unfairness to the University. The Authority also found that the Breakfast programme lacked balance. The Authority made no orders, and determined that the publication of the decision was sufficient to publicly notify the breach, to censure the broadcaster and to provide appropriate guidance to the broadcaster and broadcasters generally.

Sunday: Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance, Accuracy

Breakfast: Upheld: Fairness, Balance. Not Upheld: Accuracy (Action Taken)

1 News: Upheld: Fairness. Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy

No orders

Decisions
Matthew and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2019-114 (27 May 2020)
2019-114

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an interview on Breakfast with a public health researcher regarding the potentially carcinogenic properties of glyphosate, an ingredient in commonly available and widely used weed killers. The Authority found there was no breach of the balance standard as viewers would have been sufficiently aware of the existence of alternate views (both from the programme itself and from other reporting within the period of current interest) and that the accuracy standard did not apply as the relevant statements were analysis and opinion.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy

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