[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
An item on Newshub reported on the conviction and sentencing of a New Zealand woman, A, for the murder of her 20-year-old severely autistic and intellectually disabled daughter, B. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item ‘sympathised with the murderer over the victim’ and ‘morally absolved [A]’. The broadcast was a factual news item which reported on the outcome of criminal proceedings involving A, and largely reflected the Judge’s statements at sentencing. It was focused on the circumstances of A’s particular case and did not contain a discussion of the wider issues of violence against disabled people or family violence, and therefore did not require balancing perspectives on these issues. While the item could be seen to report A’s sentence with some sympathy, it was based on the Judge’s findings and did not promote or condone harm against disabled people. In the context of a factual news report about the outcome of A’s case, the item also did not reach the threshold for encouraging discrimination against, or the denigration of, people with disabilities. Notwithstanding its findings, the Authority acknowledged the complainant’s concerns about important societal issues, such as the status of disabled people in our community and the proper understanding of disabilities.
Not Upheld: Balance, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration
 An item on Newshub reported on the conviction of a New Zealand woman, A, for the murder of her 20-year-old severely autistic and intellectually disabled daughter, B. The item focused on the Judge’s sentencing of A to four years in prison and his description that this was a ‘once-in-a-generation’ case.
 Nicola Sage Wray complained that the item ‘sympathised with the murderer over the victim’. She considered that ‘the cumulative effect of the [broadcasting standards] breaches identified was to put disabled people at greater risk of discrimination that can be as serious as murder, as well as to prevent disabled people from being able to feel safe in a community that morally absolves people such as [A]’.
 The issues raised in Ms Wray’s complaint are whether the broadcast breached the balance, law and order, and discrimination and denigration standards as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.
 The item was broadcast on 3 February 2017 on TV3. The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
 The item and the complaint raise important societal issues, namely the status of disabled people in our community and the proper understanding of disabilities. We recognise the value of advocacy for the disabled community. While we have ultimately found that the item did not breach broadcasting standards for the reasons expressed below, we do not intend this outcome to dismiss the validity and importance of these issues, nor the value of this complaint as a reminder of the importance of these issues.
 The balance standard (Standard 8) 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 viewpoints about significant issues are presented to enable the audience to arrive at an informed and reasoned opinion.
The parties’ submissions
 Ms Wray submitted:
 MediaWorks submitted:
 A number of criteria must be satisfied before the requirement to present significant alternative viewpoints is triggered.1 The standard applies only to news, current affairs and factual programmes which discuss a controversial issue of public importance. The subject matter must be an issue ‘of public importance’, it must be ‘controversial’, and it must be ‘discussed’.2
 The Authority has previously found that programmes that are focused on individual stories typically do not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue of public importance.3 The Authority has also concluded that news items that simply report information about what may be controversial issues, for example where there has been a newsworthy development, are not discussions which require balancing perspectives.4
 The item in question was a news report focused on the circumstances of A’s particular case – her conviction and sentence for murdering B, and her personal experiences caring for her daughter. A large portion of the item comprised a straightforward account of the Judge’s findings and remarks during A’s sentencing, which viewers would have understood as representing his views and reasons for the sentence awarded. Given the circumstances of A’s case, the Judge’s statements briefly touched on the wider issues of violence against disabled people and family violence. However the item was presented as being narrowly focused on the story of A and B, and did not in our view amount to a discussion of those wider issues.
 We therefore find the requirements of the balance standard were not triggered and we do not uphold this part of the complaint.
 The purpose of the law and order standard (Standard 5) is to prevent broadcasts that encourage audiences to break the law, or otherwise promote criminal or serious antisocial activity.5 The standard is concerned with broadcasts that actively undermine, or promote disrespect for, the law or legal processes.
The parties’ submissions
 Ms Wray submitted:
 MediaWorks’ submissions in response were as follows:
 We acknowledge the complainant’s view that the item may be seen to have portrayed A, and her conviction for murder, with some sympathy. However, a sympathetic portrayal of someone convicted of criminal activity does not necessarily equate to active promotion of that criminal activity. In order to breach the law and order standard, a broadcast must actively undermine, or promote disrespect for, the law or legal processes.6 For example, direct incitement to break the law is likely to breach the standard, if there is a real likelihood that the audience will act on it.7
 We are satisfied that the item did not promote or condone murder or the murder of disabled people. The item clearly referred to the events as ‘murder’, and to the prison sentence which followed. The consequences of A’s actions were outlined for viewers, and we do not think the murder of her daughter was glamorised or positively reported.
 As we have said in relation to the balance standard, the content of the item largely reflected the Judge’s statements at sentencing. The Judge commented at length on the highly unique circumstances of the case, including the relationship between A and B and the reasons why A took the course of action that she did. These comments served to explain why the Judge took the unusual step of departing from the mandatory minimum sentence for murder.
 For these reasons we do not uphold the complaint under Standard 5.
 The objective of the discrimination and denigration standard (Standard 6) is to protect sections of the community from verbal and other attacks. The standard protects against broadcasts that encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, any section of the community on account of sex, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, occupational status, or as a consequence of legitimate expression of religion, culture or political belief.
 ‘Discrimination’ is defined as encouraging the different treatment of the members of a particular section of the community, to their detriment. ‘Denigration’ is defined as devaluing the reputation of a particular section of the community.8
 Guideline 6c to the discrimination and denigration standard states that this standard is not intended to prevent the broadcast of material that is:
The parties’ submissions
 Ms Wray submitted:
 MediaWorks submitted:
 We consider the news item fell within the scope of guideline 6c, as factual material. The item reported on A’s conviction and sentencing for the murder of her daughter. A significant portion of the item featured footage of the Judge’s statements at sentencing, and the reporter’s comments drew from the Judge’s conclusions about the case. In particular, the item emphasised the Judge’s finding that this was a ‘once-in-a-generation’ case.
 This court footage was interspersed with footage from a 2002 current affairs item featuring A and B. This footage was also factual, and was used to give background detail to what was an unusual murder case (in terms of the resulting sentence). This footage emphasised the ‘human’ aspect of this case and was valuable in depicting A and B together.
 As we have said above in paragraph , we acknowledge that issues around the treatment of disabled people in our community – including instances of discrimination – are important and valid. However, we are satisfied that this item, which was factual in nature and reported on A’s conviction and sentencing, did not contain any material which encouraged the different treatment of, or devalued the reputation of, people with disabilities.
 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
15 May 2017
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Nicola Sage Wray’s formal complaint – 3 February 2017
2 MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 3 March 2017
3 Ms Wray’s referral to the Authority – 6 March 2017
4 MediaWorks’ response to the Authority – 23 March 2017
5 Ms Wray’s final comments – 3 April 2017
1 These criteria are legislative and are set out in Section 4(1)(d) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
2 For further discussion of these concepts see Practice Note: Controversial Issues – Viewpoints (Balance) as a Broadcasting Standard in Television (Broadcasting Standards Authority, June 2010) and Practice Note: Controversial Issues – Viewpoints (Balance) as a Broadcasting Standard in Radio (Broadcasting Standards Authority, June 2009)
3 For example, one man’s advocacy for voluntary euthanasia (Right to Life NZ and MediaWorks TV Ltd, Decision No. 2015-003); one woman’s experience with adopting battery hens (Egg Producers Federation of New Zealand Inc and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2009-053) and one man’s experience with the public health system (Young and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2009-001).
4 As above n 2
5 See, for example, Keane and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-082
6 Commentary: Standard 5 – Law and Order, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 15
7 As above
8 Guideline 6a