The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
An item on Breakfast reported on a shoot-out during an anti-terror raid in Brussels. During the item, the Europe Correspondent stated, ‘We’ve now heard that one suspect has been neutralised’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that the term ‘neutralised’ was not accurate, appropriate or neutral language. The Authority found the choice of language was not a material point of fact in the item, which focused on an anti-terror raid linked to the Paris terror attacks. Further, the term ‘neutralised’ is at times used in the context of reporting on police or counter-terrorism action. The use of this term was not biased against, and did not imply fault on the part of, the Belgian Police.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Controversial Issues
During an editorial segment on KPMG Early Edition, host Rachel Smalley discussed the standing down of British Labour MP Naz Shah after accusations of anti-Semitism. Ms Smalley went on to question why criticism of Israel is often viewed as criticism of the Jewish faith, referring to comments she made during a broadcast in 2014 which were critical of Israel and the ‘abuse’ she received in response. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that Ms Smalley’s reference to her previous comments was misleading – partly because she did not refer to the Authority’s finding that one of her previous statements was inaccurate – and that the item was unbalanced. The Authority found that Ms Smalley conveyed the main message of her earlier comments without repeating the original inaccuracy, so it was not misleading for her to not mention the Authority’s previous finding. In relation to balance, the Authority considered the broadcaster was not required to present alternative views taking into account the nature of the item. Regular listeners would not have expected a balanced examination of the issue but would rather have recognised that this was an editorial piece from the particular perspective of the host.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance
An item on ONE News reported that a recent avalanche in the Austrian Alps had killed five skiers. The presenter stated the avalanche was ‘reported to be two kilometres wide and five kilometres high’. A second item on ONE News discussed plans for a new dairy factory in Northland. The reporter said, ‘He’s [farmer interviewed] been in the dairy industry for two years and has record low pay-outs, the latest forecast at around four dollars’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the reference to the avalanche being ‘five kilometres high’ and the reference in the dairy item to a ‘Fonterra pay-out of $4 per annum’ were inaccurate and misleading. The precise size of the avalanche was not a material point of fact in the item and the statement referencing four dollars clearly referred to the interviewed farmer’s pay-out and not to the total annual pay-out made by Fonterra.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
A ONE News item discussed two changes proposed as part of a review of Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS): first, dealing with 17-year-old offenders within the youth justice system rather than the adult justice system; and second, lifting the age that people can remain in CYFS care. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that footage of young skateboarders and riders shown during the item implicitly associated them with youth crime, which was unfair. The skateboarders and riders did not take part and were not referred to during the item at a level that triggered the fairness standard. The footage simply associated them with typical activities for people their age and was in the nature of visual wallpaper. It did not associate young skateboarders and riders with youth crime.
Not Upheld: Fairness
An item on 3 News reported that 2015 was the planet’s hottest year on record. The reporter stated that ‘the impacts of that record high are close to home’ and interviewed two New Zealand climate scientists about the finding. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that it was inaccurate and unbalanced for the reporter to imply that recent severe weather events in New Zealand were caused by global warming. The scientists who gave their views in the item were respected local experts, and the inclusion of comment from them localised the findings for viewers in terms of what they might mean for New Zealanders. In terms of the balance standard, global warming is an ongoing contentious issue which is widely discussed so viewers could reasonably be expected to be aware of the range of perspectives on global warming.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Controversial Issues