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Mayne and TVWorks Ltd - 2012-026

Members

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Mary Anne Shanahan

Complainant

  • Paula Mayne of Kawerau

Dated

8th June 2012

Number

2012-026

Programme

Campbell Live

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

TVWorks Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1A) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Campbell Live – item reported on disabled boy who was left alone on a school bus for four-and-a-half hours – included interview with manager of the bus company responsible – allegedly in breach of privacy

Findings
Standard 3 (privacy) – complainant was identifiable but item did not disclose any private facts about the complainant in a manner that would be considered highly offensive – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


Introduction

[1]  An item on Campbell Live, broadcast on TV3 on 8 March 2012, reported on a disabled boy who was left alone on a school bus for four-and-a-half hours. The item included interview footage of the manager of Kawerau Coaches, the bus company responsible. The manager was not named and her face was pixellated. 

[2]  Paula Mayne, the manager interviewed, made a direct referral to the Authority, alleging that the item breached her privacy. She requested an apology from TVWorks and an explanation as to why it did not adhere to her request not to be identified. 

[3]  The issue is whether the item, and specifically the footage of the complainant, breached Standard 3 (privacy) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the item breach the complainant’s privacy?

[5]  Standard 3 states that broadcasters must maintain standards consistent with the privacy of the individual. The privacy standard exists to protect individuals from undesired informational and observational access to themselves and their affairs, in order to maintain their dignity, choice, mental wellbeing and reputation, and their ability to develop relationships, opinions and creativity away from the glare of publicity.

[6]  Ms Mayne said that, following the interview, she became concerned that showing her image on television would have a detrimental impact on her children, and she therefore emailed Campbell Live to request that her name and image not be used in the broadcast. In addition, she provided a written statement consisting of the same information given in her verbal statement on camera, asking that it be attributed to “a representative of the company”.

Identification

[7]  When we consider a privacy complaint, we must first determine whether the person whose privacy has allegedly been interfered with was identifiable in the broadcast.

[8]  TVWorks argued that the complainant was not identified as her face was pixellated and she was not named in the item (as per the complainant’s email request). While it acknowledged that the item revealed that Ms Mayne was the manager at Kawerau Coaches, it considered that viewers would have to be aware of her position at the company in order to identify her.

[9]  While measures were taken to conceal the complainant’s identity, in our view, these were insufficient to prevent identification “beyond family and close friends who would reasonably be expected to know about the matter dealt with in the broadcast”.1 The complainant was shown speaking on camera for approximately 10 seconds, during which time her voice was clearly audible and the top half of her body was visible, as was her hair colour and skin tone. In addition to the disclosure of the complainant’s position at Kawerau Coaches, these factors when taken together, in our view, meant that she could have been identified, especially as Kawerau is a small community.

Privacy principle 1 (public disclosure of private facts)

[10]  Privacy principle 1 of the Authority’s privacy principles is the most relevant on this occasion. This states that it is inconsistent with an individual’s privacy to allow the public disclosure of private facts, where the disclosure is highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.

[11]  The item disclosed the following information:

  • the details of what happened to the disabled boy and his family’s reaction
  • the complainant was the manager of Kawerau Coaches
  • the complainant did not want to be named or identified
  • the company was working with the Ministry of Education and there was an ongoing investigation into the incident.

[12]  This information did not amount to private facts about which the complainant had a reasonable expectation of privacy. Rather, it related to the professional decisions and actions of Kawerau Coaches in regard to the incident. The information was freely divulged by the complainant as a spokesperson for the company, and she adequately put forward the company’s position. The item related to serious and significant issues of public concern which were rightfully the subject of a public response from the complainant as a representative of the bus company involved.

[13]  We do not consider that the complainant’s image (see paragraph [6] above) amounted to a private fact, or that her image linked her to the incident any more than did her position at Kawerau Coaches – the fact she was the manager of that company was not a private fact, and easily accessible information.

[14]  In any event, we do not consider that the disclosure of the information would be considered highly offensive to an objective reasonable person. The complainant came across well in the interview and it was not in any way suggested that she was personally responsible for the actions of the bus driver involved, particularly as the item informed viewers that the driver no longer worked for the company following the incident.

[15]  Having found that the item did not disclose any private facts about the complainant, we decline to uphold the Standard 3 complaint.

 

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
8 June 2012

Appendix

The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1                  Paula Mayne’s direct privacy complaint to the Authority – 8 March 2012

2                 TVWorks response to the Authority – 5 April 2012


1See Moore and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2009-036