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Marshall and TVWorks Ltd - 2012-110

Members

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

Complainant

  • Hereni Marshall of Auckland

Dated

29th January 2013

Number

2012-110

Programme

Campbell Live

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

TVWorks Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1A) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Campbell Live – item looked at “cheap lunches for kids” as part of series on child poverty – reporter interviewed children on their way to school and asked them what they had for breakfast and lunch – children were obscured by traffic, and had their faces and in some cases their clothing pixellated – footage allegedly in breach of children’s privacy

Findings
Standard 3 (privacy) – children were not identifiable and so footage did not breach their privacy – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Introduction

[1]  An item on Campbell Live was introduced as follows:

Amongst the thousands of responses we have had to our series on child poverty, perhaps the question most often asked is, “What are the parents doing?”… Now, we are not for a moment suggesting every child at a decile one school is arriving with an empty tummy and an empty lunchbox. Many parents are managing heroically on low incomes. But we do believe there are far too many children in this country getting by on too little. Tonight [we look at] good cheap lunches for kids. But first, without identifying any of them, [our reporter] meets some of the kids on their way to school. [our emphasis]

[2]  The reporter was shown speaking to children outside a dairy, asking them about what they had for breakfast and lunch. The footage was filmed from across the road so that the children were regularly obscured by traffic. They had their faces, and in some cases, their bodies, pixellated. The reporter stated, “We’re in east Auckland on a road with two decile one schools – a road with a bakery and dairy close by.” The item was broadcast on TV3 on 20 September 2012.

[3]  Hereni Marshall made a direct privacy complaint to the Authority, alleging that the broadcast breached the children’s privacy. She said that the story “was hinting at child abuse and neglect through not providing food”, and in her view, the wellbeing of the children and their parents “could be seriously compromised”.

[4]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached Standard 3 (privacy) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[5]  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 children’s privacy?

[6]  Standard 3 (privacy) states that broadcasters should maintain standards consistent with the privacy of the individual. The privacy standard exists to protect individuals from undesired access to, and disclosure of, information about 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.

[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. The Authority has previously stated that in order for an individual’s privacy to be breached, that person must be “identifiable beyond family and close friends who would reasonably be expected to know about the matter dealt with in the broadcast.1

[8]  Ms Marshall considered that the children were identifiable through their distinctive school uniforms and backpacks, their voices, “environmental signs”, and the reporter’s statement that the location was “east Auckland on a road with two decile one schools – a road with a bakery and dairy close by.”

[9]  TVWorks disagreed that the children were identifiable to anyone beyond their family and close friends. It noted that the footage was filmed from a distance from the opposite side of the road so that the traffic regularly obscured the reporter and the children.

[10]  In our view, the children were not identifiable, due to steps taken by the broadcaster to conceal their identities (this was explicitly referred to in the item’s introduction). Not only did the children have their faces, clothing and backpacks pixellated, but filming from across the road in peak traffic meant the children were only briefly shown, and it was highly unlikely that anyone other than family and close friends would have been able to identify them. While the reporter commented on the location by reference to east Auckland and landmarks relevant to the story, this was insufficient to enable identification of the individual children. The shop signage was blurred, and the location was not distinctive or clear from the commentary. Even if viewers recognised the school uniforms, and therefore could link them to a particular school, we do not consider that this in itself would have enabled identification of a particular child.

[11]  Having concluded that the children were not identifiable, we do not need to proceed to consider whether information was revealed about them in breach of their privacy, and we therefore decline to uphold the complaint.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
29 January 2013

Appendix

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

1           Hereni Marshall’s direct privacy complaint – 21 September 2012

2          TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 24 October 2012


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