Research Ngā Rangahau

Real Media, Real People: Privacy and Informed Consent in Broadcasting, 2004


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Real Media, Real People: Privacy and Informed Consent in Broadcasting PDF (8.14 MB)

Date published: July 2004

Authors/Research Company: Michael Stace, Wiebe Zwaga, Colmar Brunton


  • To inform the Authority’s decisions-making when it considers complaints involving matters of privacy and informed consent in the context of the public interest and the freedom of expression
  • To test the efficacy of the Authority’s privacy principles, with the option of developing a privacy code in the future in consultation with interested stakeholders
  • Assesses whether BSA should lead the development of ethical guidelines outlining procedures for obtaining informed consent


  • Reviews BSA decisions from July 1998 to December 2003
  • National survey
  • 1,195 New Zealanders interviewed face-to-face


Privacy decisions July 1998 – December 2003

  • Aspects which became clear:
    • facts of each complaint are critically important
    • meaning of a ‘public place’ determined by taking the particular facts into account
    • ‘the public interest’ is a legitimate defence
    • privacy complainants have their name suppressed where there is justification for doing so

Stakeholder consultation

  • Broadcasters accepted the Authority’s privacy principles and their applications
  • Separate code of broadcasting practice regarding privacy not required since privacy principles already part of the existing codes
  • Television broadcasters thought consent issues encapsulated in the fairness standard of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • Radio broadcasters did not believe informed consent was an issue in radio programmes
  • Independent producers saw the privacy principles as part of the overall broadcasting standards regime and believed that filming in a public place should not be subject to any privacy restrictions
  • Legal and academic experts said that BSA had developed credible jurisprudence on privacy in broadcasting
  • For Māori, privacy issues in broadcasting are frustrated by mainstream media not taking account of Māori tikanga such as marae protocol
  • Māori concern focused on need for broadcasters and programme makers to consult with Māori communities with the understanding that the consultation needed to go beyond the individual to include whanau, hapu and iwi
  • Community advocates generally placed a much lower threshold on what they perceived to be invasions of privacy than currently provided by the BSA’s privacy principles

National survey findings

  • The findings revealed no broad consensus in opinion on privacy-related issues
  • Significant numbers were satisfied that the status quo afforded enough legal protection
  • Varied public opinion for informed consent
  • Māori were more protective in issues of informed consent as compared to New Zealand Europeans
  • Men were generally more accepting than women of many of the broadcast scenarios tested and lower expectation in regard to informed consent
  • Younger respondents tended to hold more accepting views than older respondents both in terms of privacy issues and the necessary steps required for informed consent
  • Level of media consumption played a role in respondents’ attitudes towards privacy and informed consent