AB and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2004-049, 2040-050
- Joanne Morris (Chair)
- Diane Musgrave
- Tapu Misa
- Paul France
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
Complaints under s.8(1)(a) and s.8(1)(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News – item on alleged police pack rape of Louise Nicholas – footage shown of former police house where rapes allegedly occurred – current house owner alleged item breached privacy and was unfair
Standard 3 (privacy) – no identification of current owner of house – not upheld
Standard 6 (fairness) – current owner not referred to in item – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 An item which reported developments following an accusation of rape by Louise Nicholas against three policemen was broadcast on One News on 31 January at 6.00pm. The item included shots of the former police house where the rapes were alleged to have occurred.
 The current owner of the house complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the broadcast was unfair and breached her privacy.
 TVNZ assessed the complaints under Standards 3 and 6 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provide:
Standard 3 Privacy
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards consistent with the privacy of the individual.
Standard 6 Fairness
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are required to deal justly and fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to.
Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant
 TVNZ did not uphold the complaints, although it apologised to the complainant for the distress caused by the item.
 In relation to the privacy complaint, it wrote:
- Information about the house was restricted. No street name or number was revealed.
- The house was filmed from a public place.
- The current owners were not identified by the broadcast.
- No private facts were disclosed about the current owners.
- There was no link made between the current owners and past allegations.
- The rape claims were of considerable public interest and the fact that the alleged rapes were said to have occurred at a police house was central to the claims made. TVNZ stated:
The present day atmosphere of a quiet suburban home was presented as a contrast to the alleged events that are said to have taken place there.
 TVNZ also considered that Standard 6 (fairness) did not apply as the current owners of the house were not referred to in the news item.
Referral to the Authority
 In her referral to the Authority, the complainant reiterated her concerns that the item was unfair and breached her privacy. In response to TVNZ’s decision, she wrote:
Although TVNZ did not identify the street or house number, the pictures they presented in their news report made the house identifiable, especially in a city like Rotorua.
Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority
 TVNZ stated in its response that the shots of the house:
… provided the “where” of this story without linking anyone other than the principals in the news story to the house being depicted.
Complainant’s Final Comment
 In her final comment, the complainant said she considered that TVNZ had intentionally interfered with her interest in solitude and seclusion, and referred to the “extreme stress” she had felt since the broadcast. She added:
It is my opinion that I am an unwilling contributor to the news report as images of the house that I own have contributed to the story.
 The members of the Authority have viewed a tape of the item complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines this complaint without a formal hearing.
 The Authority expresses considerable sympathy for the complainant’s position, and understands her distress about the broadcast of the pictures of her house in connection with pack rape allegations. However, it does not consider that there is any basis upon which it can uphold these complaints.
 The Broadcasting Act protects the privacy of the individual. Accordingly, an individual must be identified by a broadcast, before an item can be said to have breached the privacy standard. The current owners were not, in the Authority’s view, identified by the item complained about. Information about the precise locality of the house was restricted. The house number and street name were not identified. Even if the house was identifiable to residents in Rotorua, the item did not mention or identify the complainant, or refer to her in any way.
 In addition, the Authority notes a previous decision (Decision No 2002-095, dated 25 July 2002), in which it found that the broadcast of pictures of a house where a crime had taken place many years earlier, did not breach the privacy of the current owners, who were not identified by the item.
 The Authority finds that Standard 3 (privacy) was not breached.
 Standard 6 (fairness) requires that a person referred to in an item is treated justly and fairly. For the standard to be breached, the item must be unfair to an identifiable person. As the current house owners were not referred to in the item, the Authority finds Standard 6 was not breached.
For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaints.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
6 May 2004
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
- AB’s Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 2 February 2004
- TVNZ’s Response to the Formal Complaint – 19 February 2004
- AB’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 25 February 2004
- TVNZ’s Response to the Authority – 22 March 2004
- AB’s Final Comment – 30 March 2004