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Misleading TV panel comments on COVID-19 and abortion breached standards

A panel discussion on APNA Television breached broadcasting standards with misleading comments about COVID-19 and the application of new abortion laws, the Broadcasting Standards Authority has found.

It has ordered the broadcaster to air a statement summarising the BSA’s decision and to pay $500 in costs to the Crown.

The BSA decision and order relate to a panel discussion in an episode of APNA Television’s Talanoa Sa’o programme, screened on 24 June 2021.

The BSA found the programme breached the accuracy standard by creating the incorrect impression that:

  • social housing will only be provided to people who are vaccinated against COVID-19
  • hydroxychloroquine is an effective COVID-19 treatment and the Government has deliberately prevented New Zealanders from accessing it
  • a baby was born after an attempted abortion and left to die as a result of recently amended abortion laws.

While parts of the programme were opinion, comment or analysis to which the accuracy standard does not apply, it did contain “incorrect statements of fact, false assertions and omissions of information which would materially mislead viewers – particularly through implication”, the Authority found.

It determined the broadcaster did not provide evidence of reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of the programme.

“It is evident that if the broadcaster had made reasonable efforts, such clear inaccuracies could have been avoided,” the BSA said in its decision.

The Authority said it had previously recognised that programme hosts and presenters have an important and influential role.

“This carries a level of responsibility with it, especially with regard to issues like COVID-19 when there are considerable impacts on the public when standards are not observed,” the Authority said in its decision.



The full decision is available here. The decision was made under the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice (2020 edition) which is available to view on our website:


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

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