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IG and Radio Tarana - 2012-088

Members

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

Complainant

  • IG of Auckland

Dated

29th January 2013

Number

2012-088

Channel/Station

Radio Tarana

Broadcaster

Radio Tarana


Complaint under section 8(1A) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Tarana Drive Time Chit Chat Show – talkback programme contained discussion about “promiscuous characters” – host made comments about complainant’s Facebook messages – allegedly in breach of privacy standard

Findings
Standard 3 (privacy) – comments were general only and did not contain reference to sufficient identifying features for the purposes of the privacy standard – it was unlikely the complainant was identifiable beyond those who knew about her private Facebook messages, so the comments did not breach her privacy – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Introduction

[1]  Tarana Drive Time Chit Chat Show, a talkback programme broadcast in Hindi, contained a discussion about “promiscuous characters”, with the host inviting listeners to call in and give their views of, “Who is more flirty, girls or boys?” During a conversation with a caller, the host said he had carried out “research” on the topic and then referred to an unnamed “lady’s Facebook page”. He referred to her Facebook messages, and said she had been chatting to “a guy in Fiji”. The programme was broadcast on Radio Tarana on 25 July 2012.

[2]  IG, the woman referred to in the broadcast, made a direct privacy complaint to the Authority, alleging that the host had accessed her Facebook profile without permission and then read excerpts from her private messages on air, in breach of her privacy.

Jurisdictional Matters

[3]  In further comments on her complaint, IG mentioned another alleged broadcast on 27 July 2012, and at a late stage in the complaints process, sought to have that broadcast considered as part of her original privacy complaint. In our view, no valid formal complaint was made in regard to the second broadcast. That broadcast was referred to only peripherally, in the context of further comments relating to the Tarana Drive Time Chit Chat Show, and there was no explicit request to lodge an additional direct privacy complaint with the Authority about that broadcast. In addition, Radio Tarana maintained that no such broadcast took place. We have therefore limited our determination to the programme broadcast on 25 July.

[4]  In her final comment to the Authority, IG sought to add Standards 1 (good taste and decency) and 5 (accuracy) to her privacy complaint. However, because those standards were not raised in her original complaint, and cannot be directly referred to the Authority without first being considered by the broadcaster, we have no jurisdiction to consider them.

[5]  The issue therefore is limited to whether the comments made by the host during the Tarana Drive Time Chit Chat Show on 25 July breached Standard 3 (privacy) of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[6]  The members of the Authority have read transcripts (translated into English) of the broadcast on 25 July, and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the comments made by the host during the programme breach the complainant’s privacy?

[7]  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.

[8]  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

[9]  Here, we consider it unlikely that anyone beyond those who already knew the contents of the complainant’s private Facebook messages would have been able to identify her from the comments broadcast. The complainant was not named and the host simply referred to “a lady’s Facebook”, before alluding to her messages to “a guy in Fiji”. The information given about these two individuals was not sufficiently specific to enable identification of the complainant to a wider group or on a scale that would trigger application of the privacy standard.

[10]  We therefore decline to uphold the Standard 3 complaint.

Final comments

[11]  While we have not upheld the privacy complaint, we nevertheless wish to make some general comments about the behaviour of the host and his use of social media. The right to broadcast material publicly carries with it a degree of responsibility in terms of the selection of content for broadcast, the way information is obtained, and the manner in which content is then broadcast. This responsibility also requires reasonable consideration of anyone who might be affected by a broadcast. Here, the host accessed the complainant’s Facebook profile when she unintentionally left her page open on the host’s cellphone, meaning he was able to navigate through her profile and private messages, which otherwise would have required entering a username and password. The methods used by the host to obtain the information broadcast, and his subsequent decision to broadcast commentary on that information, were wrong. His commentary was prurient and unseemly and the material he referred to was of a personal nature. In our view, the broadcast raises serious issues of professionalism. When broadcasters disseminate material on public radio they must be conscious of audience expectations, and we think that broadcasting commentary on someone’s private affairs, in these circumstances, was inappropriate. We advise that in the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters take reasonable steps to ensure that professional standards are maintained. The fact that the complaint has not been upheld ought not to be taken as our approval of this broadcast.

Name Suppression

[12]  Although we have not upheld the complaint that IG’s privacy was breached, we consider that in all the circumstances, and in light of our comments above, it is appropriate for her details to be withheld from this decision.

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           IG’s direct privacy complaint to the Authority – 26 July 2012

2          Further comments from IG – 29 July and 17 October 2012

3          Radio Tarana’s transcript of translated comments – 22 November 2012

4          IG’s response to Radio Tarana (including transcript of translated comments) – 28 November 2012

5          Radio Tarana’s response to the Authority – 29 November 2012

6          IG’s final comment – 30 November 2012

7          Further comments from Radio Tarana – 5 December 2012

8          Further comments from IG – 6 December 2012


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