[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
A brief item on 1 News discussed a protest in Christchurch against Vero Insurance (Vero) regarding outstanding insurance claims. The item contained footage of the protestors and the newsreader stated that ‘[One of the protestors] says Vero has kept them locked in a virtual prison for seven years.’ The broadcaster upheld a complaint from Vero under the balance and fairness standards, as Vero ought to have been given an opportunity to comment. Vero referred the complaint to the Authority on the basis it was dissatisfied with the action taken by the broadcaster in response to its original complaint, and it also maintained that the accuracy standard was breached. The Authority did not uphold the complaint, finding the statement complained about was a statement of opinion and therefore the accuracy standard did not apply. The Authority considered that a broadcast statement on this occasion would have been disproportionate to the breach, and therefore it did not uphold the complaint that the action taken by the broadcaster was insufficient.
Not Upheld: Balance (Action Taken), Fairness (Action Taken), Accuracy
 A brief item on 1 News discussed a protest in Christchurch against Vero Insurance (Vero) regarding outstanding insurance claims. The item contained footage of the protestors in a Christchurch mall, accompanied by the newsreader saying:
A group of protestors dressed in mock prison clothing marched through a shopping mall in Christchurch today, over their outstanding insurance claims. Around 12 people joined Christchurch man [name] who was leading action against insurance company Vero. [Name] says Vero has kept them locked in a virtual prison for seven years.
 Vero complained that the item was unfair, unbalanced and inaccurate, submitting that it should have been asked for comment, as the item contained statements that were critical of Vero.
 TVNZ upheld Vero’s complaint under the fairness and balance standards, on the basis Vero should have been asked for comment, as critical comments were made about Vero in the item. TVNZ apologised to Vero and discussed the complaint and the issues raised with 1 News and the reporter who prepared the item. However it considered an on-air statement would be disproportionate to the breach. TVNZ did not uphold the complaint under the accuracy standard, finding the statement complained about was a statement of opinion, therefore the accuracy standard did not apply.
 Vero referred the complaint to this Authority on the basis it was dissatisfied with the action taken by TVNZ in response to the upheld aspects of the complaint. Vero argued that a broadcast statement or correction was required to remedy the harm caused by the breaches of broadcasting standards. Vero also maintained that the broadcast was inaccurate.
 The issues raised in Vero’s complaint are:
 The item was broadcast on TVNZ 1 on 3 December 2017. The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
 Vero submitted:
 TVNZ submitted:
 In this case, TVNZ has acknowledged that the broadcast contained critical comments about Vero, without seeking or broadcasting comment from them, which resulted in an unfair and unbalanced broadcast in breach of the standards. The question for us is whether the actions taken by TVNZ in response to the breach (outlined in its submissions above) were sufficient in the circumstances. In making this assessment we must consider the context of the item, the extent of actual or potential harm that may have arisen, and the action taken by the broadcaster.
 While we acknowledge that the item was critical of Vero, this was a brief, straightforward report focused on the views of the protestors about how certain claims have been handled. It was not a lengthy in-depth investigation of Vero and outstanding claims. In our view this reduced the potential for harm to be caused to Vero’s reputation.
 Additionally, we note the footage was included in a brief online article published the day after this item, which contained a short comment from Vero (that it had been trying to settle the named protestor’s claim ‘for more than a year’).1
 With respect to the action taken by the broadcaster, we have taken into account that Vero’s complaint and the issues it raised were discussed with 1 News staff and in particular the reporter. We are advised that the reporter has taken the advice on board and undertaken to avoid a similar situation in future.
 In our view, in the context of the item, and the subsequent online article, these steps were proportionate to the brevity and limited focus of the 1 News item on television. We agree with the broadcaster that in this instance a separate follow-up item or statement conveying Vero’s position would be disproportionate to the severity of the breaches and may also have the effect of drawing further attention to the protests.
 We therefore do not uphold Vero’s complaint in relation to action taken by the broadcaster.
 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 the standard is to protect audiences from being significantly misinformed.
 Technical or unimportant points unlikely to significantly affect the audience’s understanding of the item as a whole are not ‘material’.2 The requirement for accuracy also does not apply to statements which are clearly distinguishable as analysis, comment or opinion, rather than statements of fact.3
The parties’ submissions
 Vero submitted:
 TVNZ submitted:
 The first question is whether the statement complained about was a statement of fact, or an opinion. A fact is verifiable, while an opinion is someone’s view, and is contestable.4
 Whether the statement was attributed to someone is a relevant consideration.5 In this case the statement, ‘[Name] says Vero has kept them locked in a virtual prison for seven years’ was clearly attributed to the named protestor. It relayed his opinion regarding the difficulty and longevity of Vero’s process and his experience with the process in the time since the earthquakes. We are therefore satisfied that the statement was distinguishable as opinion and as such the accuracy standard did not apply. We also note the reference to ‘them’ also implied that the protestor was referring to the remaining claimants collectively, rather than only his claim.
 With regard to the footage of protestors, the newsreader did not state that all of the protestors were Vero claimants. The protestors were clearly expressing their disapproval with how Vero has handled certain claims, regardless of whether they were customers of Vero or supporters of other customers. We do not consider the use of this footage in the broadcast would have left viewers significantly misinformed about the nature of the protest.
 We therefore do not find any breach of the accuracy standard.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
18 June 2018
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Vero’s formal complaint – 5 December 2017
2 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 16 February 2018
3 Vero’s referral to the Authority – 16 March 2018
4 TVNZ’s response to the referral – 10 May 2018
5 Vero’s final comments – 17 May 2018
6 TVNZ’s final comments – 25 May 2018
2 Guideline 9b
3 Guideline 9a
4 Guidance: Accuracy – Distinguishing Fact and Analysis, Comment or Opinion, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 62
5 As above