[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
An item on RNZ’s Midday Report bulletin reported on increases in the price of butter and dairy products, and the impact of this on small food businesses in particular. The item included the statement: ‘The demand for butter has soared worldwide since scientists debunked research linking animal fats with heart disease.’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this statement breached the balance and accuracy standards. The Authority found that, as the statement was peripheral to the focus of the item, the broadcaster was not required in the interests of balance to present alternate viewpoints on the statement, and the statement was unlikely to significantly affect the audience’s understanding of the item as a whole.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
 An item on RNZ’s Midday Report bulletin reported on increases in the price of butter and dairy products, and the impact of this on both the food price index, and small food businesses in particular. The item was introduced as follows:
The rising cost of butter and other dairy products is hitting bakeries and other small food businesses in the pocket. The food price index for August shows the cheapest 500gm block of butter was at a record high of $5.39, and on one supermarket chain’s website a number of different brands are at least six dollars. The demand for butter has soared worldwide since scientists debunked research linking animal fats with heart disease. [Our emphasis]
 Jim Crunkhorn complained that the above italicised statement was inaccurate and misleading, ‘as decades of research have firmly established a causative link between the consumption of saturated and trans fats from animal sources and heart disease’. Mr Crunkhorn submitted that the statement ‘may result in people damaging their health and shortening their lives by discarding medical advice after hearing this statement’.
 The issues raised in Mr Crunkhorn’s complaint are whether the broadcast breached the balance and accuracy standards of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.
 The item was broadcast on 12 October 2017 on RNZ National. The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
 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 arguments about significant issues are presented to enable the audience to arrive at an informed and reasoned opinion.
The parties’ submissions
 Mr Crunkhorn submitted:
 RNZ submitted:
 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’.1
 While the link between animal fats and heart disease may generally be regarded as a controversial issue of public importance, this topic was not ‘discussed’ in this news item, meaning the requirements of the balance standard were not triggered in relation to this particular topic.
 The statement complained about was only a brief, peripheral point in the context of the item as a whole. The item did not purport to examine the debate or research around whether or not there is a causative link between animal fats and heart disease. Rather, the focus of this news item was reporting on the rising price of butter and other dairy products, and the impact this increase was having on bakeries and other small food businesses. The item also went on to discuss the impact of the rising prices on the food price index.
 In this context, the broadcaster was not required, in the interests of balance, to present further research or information on the potential link between animal fats and heart disease.
 For these reasons, we do not uphold the balance complaint.
 The accuracy standard (Standard 9) 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 being significantly misinformed.
The parties’ submissions
 Mr Crunkhorn submitted:
 RNZ submitted:
 Having regard to the submissions received from Mr Crunkhorn and RNZ, we acknowledge that the link between animal fats and heart disease remains contentious
 However, the accuracy standard is concerned only with accuracy on points which are material to the programme as a whole. Technical or unimportant points unlikely to significantly affect the audience’s understanding of the programme are not material.3 The question then is whether the statement complained about amounted to a material point of fact in the context of the item.
 As we have said in relation to balance, the focus of this item was the rising cost of dairy products, and the impact of the rising prices. Beyond the single, brief statement complained about, the item did not explore the cause of the rising prices. The remainder of the 1.5-minute-long item discussed the resulting effects rather than the cause, including the implications for the food price index and the experiences of small food businesses. We therefore do not think the statement was material, or that it would have significantly affected listeners’ understanding of the item as a whole.
 Accordingly, we do not uphold the complaint under the accuracy standard.
For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
16 February 2018
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Commentary: Balance, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 18
2 See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20071648 (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2010) and http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/bjsports/51/15/1111.full.pdf (British Journal of Sports Medicine, 25 April 2017).
3 Guideline 9b