Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Campbell Live – reported on Christchurch homeowners living in the government’s red zone with regard to their replacement insurance policies – interviewed Tower Insurance customer who had been advised that his replacement insurance would cover the cost of repairing his damaged house but not its full replacement value – visited Tower’s head office – allegedly inaccurate and unfair
Standard 6 (fairness) – Campbell Live exhausted all legitimate methods to obtain comment from Tower – Mr Campbell’s approach polite and non-confrontational – door-stepping used as a means of obtaining information and constructive comment – not unfair to Tower or the receptionist – reference to email a fair summary of its contents – overall Tower treated fairly – not upheld
Standard 5 (accuracy) – subsumed into consideration of Standard 6
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 An item on Campbell Live, broadcast on TV3 at 7pm on 27 June 2011, reported on Christchurch homeowners living in the government’s red zone with regard to their replacement insurance policies. The host, John Campbell, introduced the item as follows:
Tonight, the letter of the policy or the spirit of the policy. Yes we begin with insurance companies in Christchurch’s red zone... the red zone suburbs are effectively said to be wiped from the map... last week people inside the red zone were given two options – one was to be bought out by the government at RV rating valuation... but the other option, ideal for people with replacement policies, was the government bought your land, and you dealt directly with your insurers about your house... But when people with total replacement policies began to do just that – exercise the second choice – some got a hell of a shock. Their insurers told them that they won’t replace their homes, they will only repair their homes, even though they are in an area ear-marked for certain demolition.
 In a pre-recorded item, a reporter visited a Tower Insurance customer, who “Like many others... assumed that when the government announced last week that his suburb was in the red zone, his ‘total replacement policy’ would kick in. But his insurers told him they don’t have to build him a new house somewhere else. That if it’s possible to repair the cracks and crevices, they’ll do that instead”. The reporter asked the resident, “Do you think insurers will be tempted to call a lot of homes repair jobs?” and he responded, “Definitely”. The reporter commented, “Which is then going to force those people to fall back on the government offers.” The reporter explained that if the resident “takes the government offer to buy his house and land and he buys elsewhere in Christchurch, Tower has told him they won’t re-insure him”.
 Back in the studio, Mr Campbell stated:
What does Tower say about this? We should stress though, just one insurance company in Christchurch, but that was the one we were dealing with in that example. We called them and called them and emailed them too and when they didn’t reply I went down to Tower’s head office here in Auckland. There they decided to leave their receptionist to deal with it.
 The item cut to footage of Mr Campbell at Tower’s head office. He approached the receptionist and stated:
I am so sorry just to walk up to you like this, but we have tried tremendously hard to get somebody to talk to us about the situation in Christchurch with replacement polices in the red zone. Now, we know absolutely that that is not your job and your department. But we have been trying to get somebody to talk to us, no one returns calls. Is there anyone here that can deal with the media on that subject?
 The receptionist informed Mr Campbell that the CEO was in a meeting and asked him whether he would like to leave his card or for her to pass on a message. He replied, “Sorry, this is a terribly difficult situation for you... Would you mind passing on to them that we are utterly happy to wait for them, they look like comfortable seats, we are very happy to wait until they are available.” Mr Campbell was shown sitting in the reception area to the sound of background music. The camera focused on the receptionist speaking on the telephone before she informed him that the CEO would not be available to comment that day. Mr Campbell stated, “Could you just do me one favour, tell him that we would love to have them on the show this evening to come in, they are very welcome to come into the studio and we would be delighted to see them...”
 Footage of Mr Campbell in a lift was shown as the doors opened and he stated, “I want to show you something. I have just noticed this as we’re shooting down in the lift.” He stepped a few feet out of the lift and pointed to a statement of Tower’s core values printed and hanging on the wall in front of him. He read, “Open and Honest: At Tower we value and expect openness, honesty, respect, integrity and fairness”, and, “Empathy in all that we do: We walk in the shoes of our customer and strive to do the right thing both by our customers and ourselves”. Mr Campbell commented, “We would love to ask them if they think they are fulfilling this one – ‘Empathy in all that we do’. It’s a core value, are they living up to it?”
 Towards the end of the item, Mr Campbell stated:
Now, interestingly, it is becoming increasingly apparent that Tower are not alone here. AMI for example, who recently received the reassurance of the government bailout, and who are also the biggest insurer in Christchurch, told us late this afternoon that if the house can be repaired then its claim is limited to the repair cost, even in the red zone. This, despite the fact that if the home is repaired its presence in the red zone means it’s doomed. Anyway, we would really love someone to explain that to us.
 Mr Campbell advised that Tower had been added to the programme’s “Stone Wall” because it would not “front”. He noted however, that following his visit to the company’s office, Tower had sent Campbell Live an email which said that “they are working hard to ensure that claims are resolved fairly and efficiently... they say that concerns currently being expressed are based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the cover available under home insurance policies”. He commented, “Frankly, that statement raises at least as many questions as it answers. What does replacement mean...Tower, we urge you to front up and explain it all to us.”
 At the end of the item, Mr Campbell referred to viewer feedback which commented on insurance companies operating in the Christchurch red zone (including State Insurance), but which made no specific reference to Tower.
 Tower Insurance Ltd made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item breached Standards 5 (accuracy) and 6 (fairness).
 The complainant argued that the footage of Mr Campbell “waiting” in the reception area of its head office was edited (using music and visuals) to create an inaccurate impression that Tower was refusing to “front up” to the concerns of its customers.
 Tower asserted that the next scene showed footage of Mr Campbell on a secure access floor of its offices and argued that he and his film crew had gained unauthorised access by following a staff member out of the lift. It noted that Mr Campbell read out a statement of its core values and argued that he inaccurately suggested that Tower lacked empathy with its customers in Christchurch and was not conducting itself in accordance with its values.
 The complainant noted that after learning of Campbell Live’s visit, its CEO emailed Mr Campbell and other MediaWorks staff members at 5.40pm on 27 June before the item went to air, and “explained that there appeared to be some misunderstandings circulating about the nature of cover available under home insurance policies” (it enclosed a copy of the email with its complaint). It emphasised that the email also explained that:
 Tower argued that, despite receiving the email before the item aired, Campbell Live chose not to include this information, therefore creating the false and misleading impression for viewers that Tower was “taking ‘technical’ points to evade its obligations to customers”. It considered that Mr Campbell’s comment, “Frankly, that statement raises at least as many questions as it answers...” was an “extraordinary misrepresentation of [the] email [because] Mr Campbell extracted one sentence from the email to suggest that Tower had failed to offer any explanation when the following paragraphs did just that”. In the complainant’s view, this was a serious breach of the accuracy and fairness standards.
 The complainant stated that its principal receptionist was so distressed by the broadcast that she had to take leave of absence, and that its staff had received death threats requiring it to hire security guards as a result of adverse reactions generated by the misleading broadcast. It said that it was concerned about the effect of the inaccurate and misleading reporting on Christchurch residents who were facing difficult decisions with regard to their future, and considered that “Irresponsible reporting will needlessly add to their distress”.
 Tower sought a correction and apology to be broadcast on Campbell Live and asked that the item be removed from TV3’s website. In addition, it said that it would be seeking compensation for the extra security costs incurred as a result of the broadcast.
 Tower nominated Standards 5 and 6 of the Free-to-Air-Television Code of Broadcasting Practice in its complaint, which provide:
Standard 5 Accuracy
Broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure that news, current affairs and factual programming:
- is accurate in relation to all material points of fact; and/or
- does not mislead.
Standard 6 Fairness
Broadcasters should deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to.
 TVWorks asserted that the footage at tower’s office was placed in the context of a report about a family who had been advised by Tower that their insurance cover would only extend to the cost of repairs, despite their house being in the red zone and therefore condemned. It noted that a voiceover explained that the visit occurred in the absence of a response to earlier attempts to make contact.
 In the broadcaster’s view, Mr Campbell “politely and pleasantly” engaged with the receptionist, explained why he was there and asked permission to wait. It said that when asked to leave, Mr Campbell complied, having been told that the CEO would not be available to speak with him.
 TVWorks asserted that on leaving the building as requested, the film crew was “inadvertently given access to the floor as shown”. It emphasised that no confidential information was disclosed, nor was there any deliberate breach of security; it simply appeared to be a case of “opportunistic reporting”, it said. In terms of the content of the footage, it noted that Tower’s core values were available on its website. It argued that Mr Campbell’s comment, “We would love to ask them if they think they are fulfilling this one – ‘Empathy in all that we do’. It’s a core value, are they living up to it?”, was not inaccurate or unfair in the context of a report which indicated that some families felt “less than supported” by the insurer’s position with regard to the extent of cover.
 With regard to the CEO’s email, the broadcaster noted that this was received “late in the day” on 27 June and that it was referred to by Mr Campbell, when he stated:
We received an email from Tower saying that they are working hard to ensure that claims are resolved fairly and efficiently and that the concerns currently being expressed are based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the cover available under home insurance policies.
 In TVWorks view, this was not a false or misleading reflection of the “essence” of the email. It said that it was clear from the report and from information provided by the executive producer that “strenuous efforts” were made to obtain a direct response from Tower (it enclosed copies of email correspondence between the producer and Tower). In this respect, it considered that Mr Campbell’s subsequent comment, “Frankly, that statement raises at least as many questions as it answers. What does replacement cover mean...Tower, we urge you to front up and explain it all to us”, was not inaccurate or unfair as he was simply restating the desire to have a direct response to the questions raised and the concerns expressed by Tower’s customers.
 The broadcaster apologised for the fact that Tower’s receptionist found the situation stressful. However, it reiterated its view that Mr Campbell was polite and pleasant and asserted that there was nothing in his manner of dealing with her that would have caused her distress. There was no suggestion that she was in any way responsible for Tower’s refusal to comment directly, and was shown to be efficient, polite and capable and appeared to be in control of her environment despite the presence of cameras, it said. On this basis, the broadcaster did not consider that the use of the footage was unfair to the receptionist given the way she was presented within the context of the item.
 TVWorks did not consider that the item had the capacity to cause additional stress to Christchurch residents. It asserted that item reported on an issue that was important to many people and “made it clear that anyone in that situation was not alone given that the position apparently taken by Tower was also being taken by AMI (the biggest insurer in the Christchurch area)”.
 Overall, TVWorks found that the Campbell Live item was accurate and fair and it declined to uphold the complaint.
 Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Tower referred its complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
 The complainant reiterated its arguments with regard to the alleged inaccurate and unfair footage obtained at its office.
 Tower maintained that the CEO’s email explained the extent of cover provided by its home insurance policies and how those policies operated in the red zone and that this should have been included in the item. In terms of Mr Campbell’s comment, “Frankly, that statement raises at least as many questions as it answers. What does replacement cover mean...”, it asserted that the alleged “questions” raised by the email were in fact answered in the following paragraph but Mr Campbell “chose not to present any part of this explanation despite receiving it well before the broadcast”.
 The complainant rejected TVWorks’ contention that the essence of the email was conveyed to viewers and that the host simply restated a request for a direct response from Tower. It argued that Mr Campbell selectively quoted from the email in a way that incorrectly suggested that Tower had failed to offer any explanation. It reiterated its view that the item created a false and misleading impression for viewers that Tower was seeking to evade its obligations to its customers by taking “technical” points. It considered that this was a serious breach of Standards 5 and 6, and in particular guideline 6(b) which relates to unfair editing.
 Tower requested that the Authority order TVWorks to publish a statement correcting the false and misleading impression conveyed by the programme and apologising to Tower and its customers. In addition, it sought an award of costs under section 16 of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
 TVWorks provided comment from the programme producer and responded to Tower’s concerns about the item’s use of the CEO’s email. It maintained that the portion of the email referred to in the broadcast presented the essence of the email “which arrived late in the day despite strenuous efforts to obtain an earlier response”. The broadcaster maintained that the item was accurate and fair.
 The programme producer noted that Campbell Live contacted Tower by telephone at 10am on 27 June and was informed that the company did not have anyone to deal with media inquiries and was asked to fill out a media request form. However, she said that despite complying with the request, and specifically inviting Tower to appear on the programme in three phone calls on 27 June, the company did not respond. She also noted that Mr Campbell left an open invitation with Tower’s receptionist for a representative to appear on the programme that evening.
 The producer explained that on his way out of the building Mr Campbell saw Tower’s core values printed and hanging on the wall when a staff member exited the lift, at which point he took a couple of steps out of the lift but did not venture anywhere else on the floor. The staff member did not tell Mr Campbell that the area was restricted, nor were there any signs to that affect, and no one told him to leave, she said.
 In the producer’s view, the CEO’s email was a complaint about visiting a “secure area” at Tower’s office, as opposed to a formal response or statement. In any event, she considered that most of it was irrelevant to the story and did not answer the questions about replacement insurance. She contended that to read the entire email would have taken three minutes and thirty seconds.
 The producer said that she responded to the CEO’s email at 6.03pm on 27 June and invited him to appear on the programme that night and extended an open invitation for the rest of the week. She said that the next morning she followed this up with two phone calls to the CEO’s personal assistant (as this number was on the bottom of his email). In addition, she sent an email to the CEO that afternoon inviting a Tower representative to appear on the programme that evening and advising that representatives from other insurance companies would be appearing (TVWorks enclosed a copy of the email with its response).
 The producer noted that the CEO contacted her at about 5pm on 28 June to say that he would not be appearing on the programme as he believed that the interview would be an “attack on him”. However, she said that while she assured him that it would not be, and extended the invitation to appear later in the week, he did not respond. The producer emphasised that, all up, Tower was invited to appear on the programme 8 times by telephone and 5 times by email, but “chose” not to participate.
 Tower “strongly” disagreed with the broadcaster’s contention that the material included in the programme was “a suitably edited version of the essence of the email used in a manner that was both accurate and fair”. It contended that Mr Campbell paraphrased the contents of the email and ignored that part of the email which explained Tower’s position (see paragraph  above). With regard to the producer’s assertion that it would have taken three minutes and thirty seconds to read the entire email, the complainant said that it never suggested that this would have been necessary or appropriate, and that an accurate and fair summary of the “relevant passages” could have been given in well under 30 seconds.
 The complainant maintained that the paraphrasing of the email created the false impression for viewers that it had only gone so far as to say that the customer’s complaint was based on a misunderstanding of his policy. It considered that the programme’s presentation of its response was “seriously misleading”. The fact the email was received at 5.40pm did not excuse the broadcaster of a live news programme as it was well known that stories were put together and edited for broadcast right up to and throughout the broadcast, it said. It asserted that a broadcaster is not entitled to depart from standards of accuracy and fairness merely because an invitation for an interview is not accepted.
 Tower maintained that the item breached Standards 5 and 6.
 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 fairness standard requires broadcasters to deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to in a programme.
 Tower argued that the item was unfair in a number of respects. We proceed to deal with each allegation separately below.
Door-stepping and Fairness to Receptionist
 Tower argued that the footage taken at its head office was unfair. In particular, it considered that the footage of Mr Campbell waiting in the reception area to the sound of background music created the inaccurate impression that it was refusing to front up to the concerns of its customers. Tower said that its receptionist was so distressed by the broadcast that she had to take leave of absence.
 The Authority has previously stated that door-stepping will normally be found to be unfair unless every alternative legitimate way either to obtain the information sought, or to ensure that a person being investigated is given the opportunity to respond, has been exhausted (for example, Paper Reclaim and TVWorks Ltd1 and Katavich and TVWorks Ltd2). For the reasons outlined below, we find that the door-stepping was not unfair on this occasion.
 First, Tower was invited to appear on the programme a number of times, both before and after the item was broadcast. We note that the following efforts were made to obtain comment from Tower:
 Despite these efforts, Tower chose not to appear on the programme, or to provide a response apart from an email the CEO sent to Campbell Live shortly before the item went to air (discussed in more detail below at paragraphs  to ).
 Second, we do not consider that Tower or the receptionist was disadvantaged by the door-stepping. We consider that Mr Campbell’s manner was professional and non-confrontational; he politely explained to the receptionist that he was there to seek comment about the company’s replacement policies in the Christchurch red zone, having tried unsuccessfully to obtain comment that day. He explicitly recognised that it was not the receptionist’s role or responsibility to answer for Tower on the issue, and apologised to her twice for putting her on the spot.
 The receptionist appeared calm and composed and answered Mr Campbell’s questions in a helpful and professional manner. In our view, she came across as a worthy representative of the company, and we do not consider that the footage provided an unfairly negative representation of her character or conduct, or that viewers would have been left with an unfairly negative impression of her.
 In these circumstances, we are satisfied that Campbell Live had exhausted all legitimate methods to obtain comment from Tower, and that the door-stepping was used as a genuine means to obtain information and seek constructive comment, rather than for the expected visual impact of the confrontation.
 We also note that there was an element of public interest in obtaining comment from Tower as the item reported on an issue that was of legitimate concern to many Christchurch homeowners, and to the New Zealand public in general.
 In our view, Tower was provided with adequate opportunities to appear on the programme and defend its position. Accordingly, we find that the door-stepping was not unfair to Tower or its receptionist, and we decline to uphold this part of the complaint.
Background Music and Camera Angles
 Tower argued that the use of editing techniques such as background music and camera angles in the footage of Mr Campbell waiting at its office contributed to the impression that it was refusing to front up to its customers.
 In our view, these were legitimate editing techniques and are often used to make programmes more interesting and entertaining. Further, it was clear from the footage that Mr Campbell had made the choice to wait. We therefore do not consider that this aspect of the item was unfair.
Reference to Tower’s Core Values
 Tower argued that the footage of Mr Campbell on a secure access floor of its office, where he read a statement of its core values, inaccurately suggested that it lacked empathy and was not conducting itself in accordance with those values.
 We have no evidence to support the contention that the footage was taken on a secure access floor, nor is there any evidence to suggest that there was signage to that effect, or that Mr Campbell and the film crew were otherwise put on notice by being asked to leave or to stop filming. TVWorks informed us that Mr Campbell and the film crew were inadvertently given access to the floor when they were leaving the building, and in this respect, we agree that it was simply a case of opportunistic reporting.
 We note that Tower’s core values are available on its website, and that Mr Campbell’s purpose in reading them aloud was to draw attention to those values, in particular “Open and Honest” and “Empathy”, and to question whether Tower was living up to them. We note that Mr Campbell said, “We would love to ask them if they think they are fulfilling this one – ‘Empathy in all that we do.’ It’s a core value are they living up to it?” Taking into account the efforts made by Campbell Live to obtain comment from Tower (outlined above at paragraph ), and the nature of the issue being reported on, we do not consider that this was an unfair or unreasonable question in the circumstances.
 Accordingly, we decline to uphold this part of the complaint.
Email from Tower to Campbell Live
 Tower argued that the item should have contained a more comprehensive summary of the CEO’s email (see paragraph  above). It asserted that Mr Campbell’s reference to the email was a “serious misrepresentation” of its contents which created a misleading impression that Tower was using technicalities to evade its obligations to customers.
 We note that the email began by stating that Campbell Live had no justification for the alleged trespass at its office or the filming of staff without their agreement. The CEO said that he had already commented on the issue and that some of those comments were published in a New Zealand Herald article. He stated:
As I tried to make clear then, there is no justification whatsoever for the suggestion that we are failing to honour our obligations to our customers. On the contrary, we are working hard to ensure that claims are resolved fairly and efficiently.
The concerns expressed late last week are based on a misunderstanding of the nature of cover available under home insurance policies.
 Tower argued that the item should have summarised the subsequent paragraphs, which noted that its replacement insurance policies provided “top up” cover for damage caused by natural disasters over and above that provided by the Earthquake Commission, but did not cover damage to land or public infrastructure. It acknowledged the unfortunate position of residents living in the Christchurch red zone and said that they would receive their full entitlement under their policies based on the extent of damage to their houses and the other terms that applied to them.
 In our view, Mr Campbell’s reference to the email provided a fair summary of its contents. He said that:
...[Tower say] they are working hard to ensure that claims are resolved fairly and efficiently... they say that concerns currently being expressed are based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the cover available under home insurance policies.
 We note that Mr Campbell essentially quoted the first part of the email verbatim (see paragraph  above). In our view, while this provided only a very concise representation of Tower’s position, it was sufficient in the context of the programme, which sought to simplify a complicated legal matter for the average viewer.
 For these reasons, we find that the part of the email referred to and the omission of the rest of Tower’s email did not result in Tower being treated unfairly, and we decline to uphold this part of the complaint.
Fairness to Christchurch Residents
 Tower also submitted that the item had the potential to increase distress experienced by Christchurch residents. We disagree. In our view, the item gave those residents a voice, and was intended to be supportive and informative, as opposed to distressing. We do not consider that the item was unfair in this respect.
Overall Fairness to Tower
 In determining whether the broadcast overall was unfair to Tower, we note that Tower was not the sole focus of the item. In our view, the item was concerned with presenting the perspectives and experiences of the customers, and their own understanding of their insurance policies. Further, we emphasise that Mr Campbell made the following statements during the item, which made it clear that this issue was not exclusive to Tower Insurance:
 During the viewer feedback segment at the end of the programme, there was also a reference to State Insurance in terms of its replacement insurance policies in Christchurch. In this context, we consider that viewers would have understood that the insurance loophole affecting Christchurch residents was an issue involving a number of insurance providers, and was not unique to Tower.
 We also note that an item broadcast on Campbell Live the following evening interviewed a representative from AMI on the issue – an opportunity which Tower had turned down. As outlined above, we are satisfied that Tower was given ample opportunity to put forward its side of the story.
 Overall, we consider that Tower was treated fairly and we decline to uphold the complaint under Standard 6.
 In our view, the complainant’s concerns about accuracy have been adequately dealt with in our consideration of fairness above. We therefore subsume our consideration of Standard 5 into our consideration of Standard 6.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
22 November 2011
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Tower Insurance Ltd’s formal complaint (including a copy of CEO’s email) – 1 July 2011
2 TVWorks’ response to the complaint (including copies of email correspondence) –
27 July 2011
3 Tower’s referral to the Authority – 8 August 2011
4 TVWorks’ response to the Authority (including comment from programme producer) –
14 September 2011
5 Tower’s final comment – 30 September 2011
1Decision No. 2010-133
2Decision No. 2010-064