[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
Four items on Newshub featured stories related to the United Kingdom and/or the British Royal Family. The Authority did not uphold complaints that the Newshub items and the reporters’ comments were biased, unfair and derogatory towards the United Kingdom and/or members of the British Royal Family. The Authority found that the news reports did not contain any material which discriminated against or denigrated any section of the community, or which could be said to be unfair to members of the British Royal Family. The items also did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance which triggered the requirement for balancing perspectives to be given, and did not raise accuracy or programme information issues.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness, Balance, Accuracy, Programme Information
 Four items on Newshub featured stories related to the United Kingdom and/or the British Royal Family:
 Bronwyn Sheerin made four separate complaints about the above items, in essence arguing that the Newshub coverage and the reporters’ comments were biased, unfair and derogatory towards the United Kingdom and/or members of the British Royal Family. As Ms Sheerin’s complaints raise similar issues, we have addressed them together.
 The issues raised in Ms Sheerin’s complaints are whether the items breached the discrimination and denigration, fairness, balance, programme information and accuracy standards as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.
 The members of the Authority have viewed recordings of the broadcasts complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
 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 which 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.2
The parties’ submissions
 Ms Sheerin submitted:
 MediaWorks submitted:
 The discrimination and denigration standard applies only to recognised sections of the community, which are consistent with the grounds for discrimination set out in the Human Rights Act 1993.3 The standard does not apply to individuals, therefore we cannot consider it in relation to Ms Sheerin’s complaint about Item Four.
 In relation to Ms Sheerin’s complaints about the other three items, we do not consider the comments identified could be said to encourage the different treatment of, or devalue the reputation of, any section of the community such as New Zealanders or British people. It is well established that in light of the importance of freedom of expression, a high level of condemnation (often with an element of malice or nastiness) is required to breach this standard.4
 We acknowledge that use of proper titles for heads of state is important to some viewers, including the complainant. Nevertheless, we are satisfied that the three items were straightforward news reports that were free from any malice or ill will. In our view, the various comments subject to complaint were simply light-hearted remarks used as a segue into other matters, and could not be said to have encouraged discrimination or denigration as envisaged by this standard.
 For the above reasons, we do not uphold the complaints under Standard 6.
 The fairness standard (Standard 11) 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.5
The parties’ submissions
 Ms Sheerin submitted:
 MediaWorks submitted in response:
 The Authority has consistently found that the threshold for finding a breach of the fairness standard in relation to public figures is higher than for a layperson or someone unfamiliar with dealing with the media.6 Members of the British Royal Family are high profile public figures and are accustomed to a high level of media attention and scrutiny in relation to their public roles.
 In this context, we do not consider the statements identified in the complaints were unfair to the Queen or Prince Charles. We do not think an aside comment that the Queen ‘loves’ Commonwealth Day could be said to reflect negatively on her reputation (as the head of the Commonwealth). Nor do we think it reflected any commentary or criticism of the Queen’s reasons for enjoying the celebrations.
 Item Three simply included footage of what occurred at the unveiling of a war memorial. The toddler’s behaviour when presenting flowers to the Queen lent a light-hearted tone to the news item, but did not in our view humiliate the Queen or portray her unfavourably.
 Item Four was very brief, approximately 20 seconds in length, and did not in our view criticise or personally attack Prince Charles. While we acknowledge that some viewers may have found the newsreader’s reaction to Princess Diana’s letters unprofessional or unnecessary, we agree with the broadcaster that the auction of the letters was newsworthy, and did not result in any unfairness to Prince Charles.
 For these reasons, we do not uphold the fairness complaints.
 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 Sheerin submitted that:
 MediaWorks re-iterated that Item Two was not principally about Commonwealth Day, and noted that it was not obliged to ‘promote’ Commonwealth Day or any other day of celebration. It did not consider that Item Four amounted to a discussion of a controversial issue of public importance which triggered the requirements of the balance standard.
 A number of criteria must be satisfied before the requirement to present significant alternative viewpoints is triggered. 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’.7
 We do not consider either item discussed a controversial issue of public importance. Both were brief news reports that only touched on issues related to the British Royal Family or the Commonwealth, therefore did not trigger the requirement for balancing perspectives to be provided.
 Accordingly, we do not uphold the balance complaints.
 Ms Sheerin also complained under the programme information and accuracy standards. In summary, these standards were either not applicable or not breached because:
 We therefore do not uphold these aspects of the complaints.
For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaints.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
26 May 2017
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
Item One: Newshub (22 February 2017)
1 Ms Sheerin’s formal complaint – 26 February 2017
2 MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 16 March 2017
3 Ms Sheerin’s referral to the Authority – 16 March 2017
4 MediaWorks’ response to the Authority – 28 March 2017
Item Two: Newshub (14 March 2017)
5 Ms Sheerin’s formal complaint – 14 March 2017
6 MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 31 March 2017
7 Ms Sheerin’s referral to the Authority – 1 April 2017
8 MediaWorks’ response to the Authority – 11 April 2017
Item Three: Newshub (10 March 2017)
9 Ms Sheerin’s formal complaint – 10 March 2017
10 MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 3 April 2017
11 Ms Sheerin’s referral to the Authority – 4 April 2017
12 MediaWorks’ response to the Authority – 11 April 2017
Item Four: Newshub (20 March 2017)
13 Ms Sheerin’s formal complaint – 20 March 2017
14 MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 12 April 2017
15 Ms Sheerin’s referral to the Authority – 13 April 2017
16 MediaWorks’ confirmation of no further comment – 20 April 2017
1 In 2017, Commonwealth Day was celebrated on 13 March.
2 Guideline 6a.
3 Section 21.
4 Guideline 6b.
5 Commerce Commission and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2008-014
6 See, for example, Craig and SKY Network Television Ltd, Decision No. 2015-096 at .
7 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)