Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News – report on Paris Hilton going to jail – presenter made comments about Ms Hilton and threw a box of tissues over her shoulder – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency, law and order, balance, fairness, children’s interests and violence
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – presenter acted in a light-heated and off-the-cuff manner – not upheld
Standard 2 (law and order) – item did not encourage viewers to break the law – not upheld
Standard 4 (balance) – item did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance – not upheld
Standard 6 (fairness) – presenter expressed her own opinion in a light-hearted way – not upheld
Standard 9 (children’s interests) – item would not have disturbed child viewers – not upheld
Standard 10 (violence) – item did not contain any violence – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 An item on One News, broadcast on TV One at 6pm on 9 June 2007, reported on the jailing of the American celebrity Paris Hilton. At the end of the item before crossing over to the sports news, the presenter Bernadine Oliver-Kirby said “poor Paris” while pretending to wipe her eyes with a tissue. The presenter then threw the box of tissues over her shoulder and stated:
No, I don’t really care about Paris. What’s with the woman? She broke the law, she was sent to jail. Boo hoo, boo hoo.
 Clair Bancilhon complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the presenter’s actions were inappropriate and had breached standards of good taste and decency.
 The complainant argued that throwing a box of tissues was an act of violence and had breached the law and order standard.
 Mr Bancilhon maintained that the presenter had “treated the whole incident with contempt and did not show impartiality”. He argued that the presenter had acted unprofessionally and that this had led to a lack of balance in the item.
 The complainant believed that the presenter had treated Paris Hilton unfairly by making fun of her situation.
 Mr Bancilhon argued that child viewers would have seen the presenter throwing the box of tissues and that this would have encouraged them to throw objects. He maintained that by broadcasting the presenter’s actions, TVNZ had breached children’s interest’s standards.
 The complainant believed that the broadcaster had breached Standard10 because it was a violent act for the presenter to throw the box of tissues.
 TVNZ assessed Mr Bancilhon’s complaint under Standards 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 10 of the Free to Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. These provide:
Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.
Standard 2 Law and Order
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the maintenance of law and order.
Standard 4 Balance
In the preparation and presentation of news, current affairs and factual programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards consistent with the principle that when controversial issues of public importance are discussed, reasonable efforts are made, or reasonable opportunities are given, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.
Standard 6 Fairness
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are required to deal justly and fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to.
Standard 9 Children’s Interests
During children’s normally accepted viewing times, broadcasters are required, in the preparation and presentation of programmes, to consider the interests of child viewers.
Standard 10 Violence
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are required to exercise care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence.
 TVNZ maintained that the presenter had acted in a light-hearted way and that most viewers would not have found the presenter’s comments or her throwing the tissue box over her shoulders unacceptable in context. As a result, it declined to uphold the good taste and decency complaint.
 The broadcaster maintained that the broadcast did not “actively promote disrespect for the law” and that nothing illegal had taken place during the item, and it declined to uphold a breach of Standard 2.
 TVNZ believed that the topic of Paris Hilton being sent to jail was not a controversial issue of public importance and therefore the balance standard did not apply.
 In terms of fairness, the broadcaster argued that the presenter’s comments were off-the-cuff remarks and that “they served as a reminder …that Paris had driven drunk while disqualified and she must therefore do the sentence”. TVNZ did not consider that the presenter had treated Paris unfairly and accordingly, it found no breach of the fairness standard.
 TVNZ maintained that the item would not have disturbed child viewers as no violence was shown. It stated that while the presenter had thrown a box of tissues, she did not throw them at anyone. Accordingly, TVNZ declined to uphold the children’s interests complaint.
 The broadcaster argued that a person throwing a box of tissues over their shoulder was not a violent act, and it declined to uphold a breach of Standard 10.
 Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s decision, Mr Bancilhon referred his complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He reiterated the arguments made in his original complaint.
 The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.
 The Authority considers that TVNZ appropriately addressed the complainant’s concerns with respect to alleged breaches of Standards 1 (good taste and decency), 2 (law and order), 4 (balance), 9 (children’s interests) and 10 (violence). The Authority agrees with the broadcaster’s conclusions that none of these standards were breached. Therefore it declines to uphold those aspects of the complaint.
 The fairness standard requires that broadcasters deal justly and fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to in a programme. It is the Authority’s view that Ms Hilton was treated fairly for the reasons outlined below.
 Regular watchers of One News would be familiar with the banter that occurs between the One News presenters before the sports news. The Authority considers that because Ms Hilton is a public figure, she exposes herself to public comment and parody. In the Authority’s view, the news presenter expressed her own opinion in a light-hearted manner about Ms Hilton having to go back to jail after being convicted of driving offences. In these circumstances, the Authority finds that Standard 6 was not breached.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
29 October 2007
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1. Clair Bancilhon’s formal complaint – 22 June 2007
2. TVNZ’s decision on the formal complaint – 31 July 2007
3. Mr Bancilhon’s referral to the Authority – 15 August 2007
4. TVNZ’s response to the referral – 18 September 2007