[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
An episode of 3D investigated alleged bullying within the New Zealand Fire Service, particularly within volunteer brigades. The episode relied in part on testimony from particular individuals who alleged they had been victims of bullying, and in part on a report, which purported to identify bullying as a significant problem within NZFS. NZFS challenged the credibility of the report and argued that the programme breached the accuracy, fairness and balance standards. The Authority did not uphold the complaint. It found that the programme clearly stated there were questions about the status of the report – which in any event only formed part of the basis of the story – so viewers would not have been misled. NZFS’s response to the allegations was presented at length throughout the programme, including during an extensive interview with the then acting Chief Executive/National Commander of NZFS, which satisfied the requirements of the fairness and balance standards.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Controversial Issues, Fairness
 An episode of 3D investigated alleged bullying within the New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS), particularly within volunteer brigades. The episode relied in part on testimony from individuals who alleged they had been victims of bullying, and in part on a document called the Mahitahi Report, which purported to show that bullying was a significant problem within NZFS. The programme was broadcast on TV3 on 2 November 2015.
 NZFS complained that the programme was inaccurate, unbalanced and unfair, in particular because it relied on the Mahitahi Report, which it considered was fabricated and lacked credibility.
 The issue is whether the broadcast breached the accuracy, controversial issues and fairness standards as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.1
 The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
 Freedom of expression, including the broadcaster’s right to impart ideas and information and the public’s right to receive that information, is the starting point in our consideration of complaints. We may only interfere and uphold complaints where the limitation on the right would be reasonable and justified in a democratic society.2
 3D, also known as 3D Investigates, was an investigative journalism programme. It ceased broadcasting in December 2015.
 The programme subject to complaint dealt with allegations of bullying within NZFS. It was introduced as follows:
This story started with a trickle which then turned into a flood – firefighters around the country talking about bullying and harassment at work. Many were frightened to go public. Some used false email addresses or even disposable cell phones to slip information to 3D Investigates. And then [reporter] was leaked sections of a report. It was written by an academic hired by [NZFS] that seemed to show bullying was serious and entrenched. But that was only the start of what’s been a most unusual investigation.
 The programme included interviews with former volunteer firefighters and NZFS staff members and the then acting Chief Executive and National Commander of NZFS, Paul McGill. It detailed evidence and material it had obtained in the course of its investigation, including the Mahitahi Report, which purported to show bullying was a significant problem within NZFS. We have outlined relevant segments of the programme in our analysis of each standard below.
 The public interest value of this broadcast was in our view relatively high. The Authority has previously recognised that investigative journalism programmes, such as 3D, are a vital part of the media.3 These programmes can serve to draw attention to, and inform the public about, legitimate issues.4 The programme in question dealt with serious allegations about staff and volunteers in an important public service organisation, and raised issues which had potential relevance to the performance of that organisation.
 Our task is to weigh the value of the programme against the level of harm alleged to have been caused by the broadcast, in terms of the underlying objectives of the relevant broadcasting standards. NZFS has argued that harm was caused to the organisation’s reputation by inaccurate, unbalanced and unfair reporting of allegations of bullying within NZFS. We must only intervene and limit the right to free expression, and the broadcaster’s right to present the piece in the way it did, if there is sufficient justification to do so. With that in mind, we proceed to consider the substance of the complaint.
 In its referral submissions, NZFS asked this Authority to exercise its powers under section 12 of the Broadcasting Act 1989 to require MediaWorks to provide all the information, evidence and material upon which the programme was based and upon which it relied in coming to its conclusion that the purported Mahitahi Report was not fabricated. It also requested an explanation identifying the specific reasons why the broadcaster came to that conclusion, including in particular:
 NZFS argued that only after the Authority had completed this exercise would it be in a position to determine whether standards had been breached.
 MediaWorks in response said it had provided as much detail as it could in response to NZFS’s concerns about the report and about the information it relied on for the broadcast. However, it would not reveal the identity of sources that had been guaranteed confidentiality. MediaWorks stated, ‘protection of anonymity in circumstances where such protection has been assured is a fundament of investigative journalism. To reveal a source’s identity would be a serious abuse of trust and breach of journalistic ethics’. It noted that this right is recognised in section 68 of the Evidence Act 2006 (subject to certain qualifications).
 The Authority convened a teleconference with the parties to consider the application by NZFS to require MediaWorks to disclose further information regarding the Mahitahi Report.
 After considering the submissions made by the parties at the teleconference, we reached the view that we had sufficient information before us to enable us to assess whether broadcasting standards were breached by this programme. In considering the complaint, our focus is on the broadcast as a whole. In other words, our assessment of whether standards have been maintained is broader than simply determining whether the report was fabricated or not. We therefore did not consider that any additional information was required to enable us to make a determination.
 Accordingly, we have proceeded to determine the complaint on the basis of the information the parties provided to us in their submissions.
 For completeness, we briefly address the issue of anonymity of sources. We have previously recognised that the freedom of the media to protect the identity of sources who wish to remain anonymous is an important principle in a democratic society, and one that is well-recognised and often protected by courts.6 There is considerable public interest in allowing the media to broadcast information from anonymous sources, meaning that the public interest in ordering the disclosure of that information would need to be correspondingly high. In this case, we were not satisfied that there was a basis to order disclosure of the identity of the broadcaster’s sources. We have been provided with adequate information and material to determine whether or not the programme breached standards, which renders any disclosure of the sources’ identities unnecessary.
 The accuracy standard (Standard 5) states that 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 does not mislead. The objective of this standard is to protect audiences from receiving misinformation and thereby being misled.7
The complainant’s submissions
 NZFS submitted that the Mahitahi Report upon which the programme was based was fabricated and was not an authentic NZFS document, and therefore the programme was inaccurate and misleading. It maintained that the report was not written by anyone employed by or on behalf of NZFS. NZFS stated the report was not circulated within NZFS, there was no record of it on any NZFS computer system (NZFS offered to undertake an independent IT audit to verify this), and the report had an incomplete file pathway. In particular, it identified several aspects of the report, which formed part of the item, that it considered were inaccurate, including:
 NZFS also submitted that MediaWorks’ unidentified sources were unreliable and not credible, and MediaWorks failed to carry out appropriate checks. It considered that during the course of the 3D investigation, NZFS was provided with ‘wildly varying accounts’ of both the Mahitahi Report itself, and the history of its presentation to management, by 3D.
 NZFS also argued the item gave an inaccurate and misleading impression of three specified volunteer brigades in the following ways:
The broadcaster’s response
 MediaWorks was satisfied that 3D made extensive efforts to research and investigate the status of the Mahitahi Report, including seeking advice from lawyers and academics, and concluded that there was considerable evidence to suggest that the report was not fabricated and there were grounds to broadcast the item. It felt that NZFS mischaracterised its position, as it ‘had not asserted that we believe the report to be “absolutely authentic”, nor did the broadcast take that stance’, as the item clearly described the report as ‘purported’.
 MediaWorks explained that multiple sources told 3D that NZFS employees had seen copies of sections of the report and that preliminary findings from Project Mahitahi had been presented to NZFS management. It submitted that there was no reason to suggest that all of its sources, as well as the firefighters surveyed, were motivated to fabricate the report.
 In response to NZFS’s arguments about particular aspects of the report, MediaWorks argued:
 MediaWorks rejected the inference that its sources were unreliable, as through discussions with 3D staff as well as evaluation of documentation provided by 3D, it was satisfied the sources were credible.
 In response to NZFS’s concerns about specific volunteer fire brigades, MediaWorks argued:
 It is not the role of this Authority to determine whether or not bullying is a significant problem within NZFS. Nor are we required to determine the status of the Mahitahi Report or whether or not specific claims made in the report are correct or incorrect. In determining the complaint under the accuracy standard, we are concerned only with whether the broadcaster has demonstrated that it made reasonable efforts to ensure, overall, what was reported by the 3D programme was accurate (and fair and balanced).
 It is clear to us that there are facts in dispute between the parties regarding the Mahitahi Report and whether or not the broadcaster was entitled to rely on it. However, the programme itself highlighted repeatedly that there were questions about the report’s status. It was described as ‘purported’, and NZFS’s objections to the report and its view that it was not an authentic NZFS document were clearly presented. For example, the reporter said:
 Further, the report did not form the sole basis for the investigation into alleged bullying within NZFS. The investigation also relied on individual testimony from former volunteers and NZFS staff about their personal experiences in the organisation. Many of these individuals were interviewed during the programme and their views expressed. Given this substantial body of testimony, we consider that, even in the absence of any reliance on the Mahitahi Report, there was a reasonable basis for the broadcast of allegations of bullying within NZFS.
 Regarding the reporting of allegations about specific volunteer fire brigades, our findings are as follows:
 The programme was framed from the outset as being from a particular perspective – that there were questions about alleged bullying within NZFS which deserved to be investigated – and advanced that perspective. This was legitimate so long as standards were maintained. For the above reasons we are satisfied that the broadcaster had sufficient grounds for advancing that perspective. The complainant’s position was clearly presented throughout the programme in response to each key element. Therefore we do not consider that the programme was inaccurate or that viewers would have been misled, and we do not uphold the complaint under Standard 5.
 The balance standard (Standard 4) states that when controversial issues of public importance are discussed in news, current affairs and factual programmes, broadcasters should make reasonable efforts, or give reasonable opportunities, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest. The standard exists to ensure that competing arguments are presented to enable a viewer to arrive at an informed and reasoned opinion.9
The parties’ submissions
 NZFS considered that although reference was made in the programme to its belief that the purported report was fabricated, the reasons for that belief were not addressed in the programme itself.
 MediaWorks was satisfied that reasonable efforts were made by 3D to obtain and present NZFS’s perspective on the Mahitahi Report, and that the programme gave viewers a clear understanding that different viewpoints existed in regard to the report. It maintained that NZFS’s views were made ‘abundantly clear’ in the broadcast and represented with satisfactory prominence.
 We accept that allegations of bullying within NZFS amounted to a controversial issue of public importance which was discussed during the programme. NZFS is a national organisation which is important to the public, as it has a significant role to play in ensuring the safety of our communities. There was also clearly debate about the extent to which allegations of bullying within NZFS were legitimate, therefore any discussion of this issue required balanced treatment.
 We consider that balance was achieved during the programme for the following reasons, which we expand on below:
 NZFS’s perspective was presented throughout the programme in relation to each element of the story. For example:
 Furthermore, during his interview Mr McGill persuasively and comprehensively presented NZFS’s position. Specific allegations about the disputed Mahitahi Report were put to Mr McGill during his interview, and he clearly and repeatedly responded that he and NZFS considered the information 3D had been provided with regarding the report and its circulation within the organisation was incorrect. He also detailed the action NZFS was taking in response to any allegations of bullying, and made the point that in an organisation the size of NZFS, it is inevitable that there may be some issues between particular individuals. For example, Mr McGill said:
 As we have said in our discussion of the accuracy standard at paragraph , the programme was clearly designed to advance a particular perspective – that allegations of bullying within NZFS deserved investigation. The Authority has recognised that an assessment of whether a reasonable range of perspectives on an issue were presented includes consideration of whether the programme was clearly signalled as approaching a topic from a particular perspective, such as advocacy programmes or authorial documentaries.10 While this does not remove the requirement for balance, when viewers understand that a programme is clearly advancing a specific point of view, there may be a lesser requirement to present opposing viewpoints. This is because of the expectation viewers have about the type of discussion they are receiving.
 In this case, it was clear that 3D took the view that the allegations of bullying within NZFS had some basis and deserved investigation. It considered there were issues within the organisation that needed to be discussed and addressed. It was entitled to take that view, as long as the requirements of the relevant standards were met. We consider they were in this instance. 3D acknowledged that it ‘did not have all the answers’ and that it was ‘impossible to know the exact extent of bullying in [NZFS]’. Substantial content advancing NZFS’s perspective was included. The result was a measured and balanced programme.
 Accordingly, we do not uphold the complaint under Standard 4.
 The fairness standard (Standard 6) states that broadcasters should deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to in a programme. One of the purposes of the fairness standard is to protect individuals and organisations from broadcasts which provide an unfairly negative representation of their character or conduct. Programme participants and people referred to in broadcasts have the right to expect that broadcasters will deal with them justly and fairly, so that unwarranted harm is not caused to their reputation and dignity.11
The complainant's submissions
 NZFS argued that the inevitable impression the public would form as a result of the broadcast was that it was lying, as its views on the Mahitahi Report were not clearly given during the programme. NZFS maintained it had been the subject of serious public criticism based on ‘a fabricated report which MediaWorks knew or ought to have known was fabricated at the time of broadcast’.
 NZFS said that despite repeated requests, 3D failed to provide detail about what would be covered in the interview with Mr McGill, including the allegations of bullying within specific brigades. It considered this meant he could not prepare for the interview and respond to the questions in a meaningful and informed way, which reflected negatively on him.
 NZFS explained there was a delay of two months until it received an email from 3D advising that the programme would be broadcast in just over two working days’ time, and requesting information about new matters (the specific incidences of bullying). It believed the timeframe for responding to the new matters was unfair, but nevertheless provided a response to 3D before the programme was broadcast. A statement was provided which NZFS confirmed it wanted to be read in full during the programme and published on TV3’s website (which did not occur). NZFS wrote to 3D again after the programme was broadcast expressing its concerns, after which part of its lawyer’s advice was published on TV3’s website. It considered this was without sufficient prominence to provide any balance to the serious allegations and criticisms made about NZFS in the programme broadcast a week earlier.
The broadcaster’s response
 MediaWorks considered NZFS was dealt with fairly and its views of the report were made clear in the broadcast. It was satisfied that 3D met the obligation of informed consent and the nature of NZFS’s participation in the programme was clearly explained. It stated that 3D did not typically ‘brief’ interviewees beyond a general indication of the planned line of questioning, however in this instance NZFS was given a relatively specific indication as to the line of questioning that would be taken in the interview. It noted that 3D did not receive the Mahitahi Report until the day before the interview with Mr McGill, at which point sections of the report were forwarded to NZFS. MediaWorks maintained that NZFS expressed its opinion about the report in correspondence with 3D which followed the interview, and that opinion was duly presented in the programme. It further argued that the allegations regarding specific brigades were not put to Mr McGill before his interview because 3D had not explored this aspect of the story at that point, but in any event, it asked NZFS to comment in later correspondence.
 MediaWorks noted that preparation of current affairs programmes typically continues until the programme is close to broadcast, and that despite the alleged tight timeframe, NZFS responded to 3D’s requests. It considered NZFS was a ‘public body with experience in dealing with the media’ and ‘was well-equipped and had the means to collate a meaningful response to at least some of the issues’, therefore the two-working-day timeframe was ‘ample time’ to respond.12 MediaWorks also noted 3D took care to include NZFS’s perspective on the report in the broadcast.
 MediaWorks considered it was unreasonable to expect NZFS’s entire statement to be read during the programme as its side of the story was given regardless, and said it did not publish the full statement on the website as it referred to matters not raised in the programme. MediaWorks explained that when a revised version of the statement was provided by NZFS, MediaWorks published it that same day.
 We acknowledge that allegations of bullying within NZFS are serious accusations, and had the potential to reflect negatively on the organisation. However, we do not consider the way in which the programme was presented resulted in unfairness to NZFS and/or Mr McGill.
 Importantly, the allegations of bullying were put to NZFS for comment and the organisation was given an opportunity to respond to the allegations. Its response was then fairly presented in the programme. When NZFS could be perceived as being criticised during the programme, comment from the organisation was included, for example:
 In our view Mr McGill came across impressively in his interview and clearly articulated NZFS’s position, for example that it acknowledged there may be instances of bullying and this could be expected within an organisation of 10,000 people. He also emphasised NZFS’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach to bullying and said, ‘I expect people to call me personally if they feel that their bullying complaint isn’t being addressed’. Mr McGill’s interview, in conjunction with the reporter’s frequent acknowledgment of NZFS’s response to specific allegations, ensured that viewers understood that NZFS took the issue of bullying within its organisation seriously and was attempting to address the problem.
 We consider in the context of an investigative journalism piece that MediaWorks adequately informed NZFS of the nature of its participation in the programme and gave it a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment. We have been provided with a large volume of material in relation to this complaint, which includes relatively extensive correspondence between the parties. This material makes it evident that this investigation went on for some time (approximately six months) and NZFS was sufficiently notified that the investigation was taking place. During an investigation of this nature, lines of inquiry change and adapt, and it seems to us that the broadcaster put each allegation to NZFS as it arose in a reasonable and timely way.
 Therefore, although the two-working-day timeframe for NZFS to respond before the broadcast was not lengthy, this would not have necessarily come as a surprise to NZFS given the substantial length of the preceding investigation. Further, MediaWorks was aware from previous dealings that NZFS had the resources to deal with such media enquiries.
 We also do not consider it was unfair for 3D not to include the full statement provided by NZFS within the programme itself, as NZFS’s view was presented throughout the item and the statement covered matters not addressed in the broadcast. In any event, once a revised version of the statement was received it was published on TV3’s website a week after the broadcast, which we consider ensured NZFS was treated fairly.
 Accordingly we do not uphold this aspect of the complaint.
For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
18 November 2016
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 New Zealand Fire Service’s formal complaint – 26 November 2015
2 MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 16 February 2016
3 New Zealand Fire Service’s referral to the Authority – 16 March 2016
4 MediaWorks’ response to the Authority – 19 April 2016
5 New Zealand Fire Service’s final comments – 10 May 2016
6 MediaWorks’ final comments – 25 May 2016
7 MediaWorks’ further submissions regarding NZFS’s request for additional information – 22 July 2016
8 MediaWorks’ confirmation of no further submissions regarding Authority’s provisional decision – 6 October 2016
9 New Zealand Fire Service’s submissions on Authority’s provisional decision – 21 October 2016
1 This complaint was determined under the previous Free-to-Air Television Code, which applied up until 31 March 2016. The new Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook took effect on 1 April 2016 and applies to any programmes broadcast on or after that date: http://bsa.govt.nz/standards/overview
2 See sections 5 and 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990
3 See, for example, Cave and MediaWorks TV Ltd, Decision No. 2015-026
4 See, for example, Knight and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2016-028
5 Section 12 gives the Authority the powers set out in sections 4B, 4C, 4D, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 in the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908, including the ability to require the production of material and to summon witnesses.
6 For example, see Benson-Pope and Radio New Zealand Ltd, ID 2005-083 at 
7 Bush and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-036
8 Guideline 5a to the accuracy standard states that it does not apply to statements that are clearly distinguishable as analysis, comment or opinion.
9 Commerce Commission and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2008-014
10 This is incorporated in Guideline 8c in the current Free-to-Air Television Code.
11 Commerce Commission and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2008-014
12 In support of this argument MediaWorks relied on the Authority’s finding in South Taranaki District Council and MediaWorks TV Ltd, Decision No. 2014-149 at paragraph .