A number of complaints were referred to the Broadcasting Standards Authority concerning a 20/20 item entitled "Sex, Lies and Videotape" broadcast on TV3 on 28 June 1998 and a related news item broadcast on 3 News on 29 June 1998.
There has been extensive correspondence between the complainants, the broadcaster and the Authority in the intervening months. On 24 March 1999, the Authority received advice from the solicitors acting for TV3 in which they noted that four of the principal complainants had alluded to the possibility of taking defamation proceedings against TV3.
TV3 argued that the Authority would be severely prejudiced if the complaints were allowed to proceed under these circumstances. It expressed concerns about the publicity generated from any decision of the Authority and noted it was precisely that reason that the High Court had granted an injunction to prevent the Authority from continuing its investigations in TV3 Network Services Ltd v Broadcasting Standards Authority  2 NZLR 724 PDF (1.11MB). In that case, the complainant had initiated proceedings against the broadcaster.
Consequently, TV3 sought an assurance from the Authority that it would cease taking any further action on the complaints until either the complainants had advised that they did not intend to pursue remedies in defamation, or a decision had been made by the High Court.
The Authority has raised the matter with the four complainants and the Diocese, and has been advised that none has commenced proceedings at this stage. They reserve their rights concerning any defamation proceedings.
This distinguishes the complaints from the High Court decision cited above.
The Authority therefore intends to proceed with determining the complaints as planned, as it is not satisfied there is any reason to postpone the process.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
8 April 1999