The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
An item on Seven Sharp reported the predictions of a climate scientist about the impacts of climate change on New Zealand by the year 2100, and included the opinion of a climate change health expert about the health risks associated with the predicted changes. The complainant argued that the item was misleading and unbalanced because the claims were presented as ‘fact’ and ‘inevitable’ rather than as ‘extreme projections’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the item was inaccurate, as it clearly consisted of opinion and predictions, and was not presented as fact. A majority of the Authority was satisfied that the item did not breach the balance standard, finding that the nature of the programme and the topic meant that viewers would have interpreted the predictions with some scepticism and would be aware of different positions in the debate about climate change. The minority felt, however, that the broadcaster made no effort to present significant alternative points of view in an item which discussed a highly controversial issue.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Responsible Programming
Not Upheld (by majority): Controversial Issues
The hosts of the Jase and Dave Drive Show on Classic Hits joked about a ‘sex drive-in’ in Switzerland and made humorous comparisons with a fast food drive-through. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the use of sexual innuendo was inappropriate for broadcast. No coarse language was used and inexplicit sexual innuendo is permissible during children’s listening times. The host also indicated the topic may be unsuitable for younger listeners, giving parents and caregivers an opportunity to exercise discretion.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Responsible Programming
The host of talkback programme Canterbury Mornings expressed the view that parking wardens in Christchurch were ‘scum’ for ticketing people in the central city, after everything they had been through with the earthquakes. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the host’s comments were unacceptable, irresponsible and denigrated parking wardens. The comments related to a legitimate issue and were well within the host’s right to free speech, especially given that talkback radio is recognised as a robust and opinionated environment. A caller also challenged the host, so listeners were given a countering perspective.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
During a late night talkback programme with a fill-in host, a caller expressed her attitude to the Royal family by reference to what she described as ‘Charles raping Diana’. The host challenged this and asked her what she meant. She spoke about how the Queen ‘devised the “three in the bed” scenario’ and how she felt sorry for Diana. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the reference to rape was unacceptable and the host should have terminated the call. It appeared the caller did not mean ‘rape’ in the literal sense, the conversation was not unduly offensive in the context of a late night talkback programme, and the host acted responsibly by asking the caller to clarify her point.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
A 3 News item reported on newly released statistics showing a decline in the number of abortions performed in New Zealand. It included one possible reason why, put forward by the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the item was unbalanced because it did not also include the ‘pro-life’ perspective on why the rates were declining. While abortion is a controversial issue of public importance, the fact abortion rates have declined is not, and there has not been any significant debate about the reasons for the decrease. The broadcaster was not required to canvass perspectives for and against abortion given the item was a straightforward report on new statistics.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues