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BSA finds comments on COVID-19 vaccine safety and ‘anti-vaxxers’ did not breach standards

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has not upheld a complaint about an item on Seven Sharp in which co-host Hilary Barry made comments about the safety of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine and “anti-vaxxers”.

The comments included a suggestion those who do not want to be vaccinated could “jump on a ferry and go to the Auckland Islands for a few years...then when we’ve got rid of COVID…come back”.

The complaint alleged these comments breached the good taste and decency, discrimination and denigration, balance, accuracy and fairness standards, by suggesting the vaccine’s safety was almost without question, and denigrating those with a different view.

In its decision not to uphold the complaint, the BSA found the comments were unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress or undermine widely shared community standards.

It also found the broadcast did not address a controversial issue, so the balance standard did not apply.

“We note the safety of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine (the subject of the comments complained about) has been established by medicine safety authorities and health science authorities in New Zealand and around the world.

“In this light, we do not consider the safety of the Pfizer vaccine to be a controversial issue for the purposes of the balance standard, although some people may continue to hold different views about it,” the BSA said in its decision.

The fairness, discrimination and denigration and accuracy standards either did not apply or were not breached, the Authority found.

ENDS  


For more information contact Pete Barnao on 021 623 794.


FURTHER INFORMATION

The programme was broadcast on 20 December 2020 at 8:30pm on TVNZ 2. The full decision is available at https://www.bsa.govt.nz/decisions/all-decisions/moir-and/. The decision was made under the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice (2020 edition) which is available to view on our website: https://bsa.govt.nz/broadcasting-standards/broadcasting-code-book/.


ABOUT THE BROADCASTING STANDARDS AUTHORITY

The BSA is an independent Crown entity that oversees the broadcasting standards regime in New Zealand. The BSA determines complaints that broadcasts have breached standards, undertakes research and oversees the development of broadcasting standards in consultation with broadcasters.

The Authority members are Judge Bill Hastings (Chair), Paula Rose QSO, Susie Staley MNZM and Leigh Pearson. The Chief Executive is Glen Scanlon.

 

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