BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Duncan and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2014-127

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Roger Duncan
Number
2014-127
Programme
Campbell Live
Broadcaster
MediaWorks TV Ltd
Channel/Station
TV3 # 4

Summary [This summary does not form part of the decision.]

During an episode of Campbell Live, the reporter took viewers on a 'tour' of a beach house belonging to former Cabinet Minister Judith Collins. The Authority declined to uphold the complaint that Ms Collins' privacy was breached, as the broadcaster advised that Ms Collins had consented to the filming and broadcast of the footage.

Not Upheld: Privacy


Introduction

[1]  During an episode of Campbell Live, the reporter took viewers on a 'tour' of a beach house belonging to former Cabinet Minister Judith Collins. The item was introduced by the presenter as follows:

During the Dirty Politics saga which ended with her resignation as Minister as we know, we drove out [to the beach house] repeatedly trying to talk to Ms Collins – no luck. But now she's selling it and when we asked the real estate agent if we could take a look, much to our surprise the answer was 'yes'.

[2]  Roger Duncan complained that the actions of the camera crew and reporter, in filming inside the house, amounted to an intentional intrusion with Ms Collins' interest in solitude or seclusion in breach of her privacy.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the privacy standard, as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The programme was broadcast on 29 September 2014 on TV3. The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the broadcast breach Judith Collins' privacy?

[5]  The privacy standard (Standard 3) states that broadcasters should maintain standards consistent with the privacy of the individual. The standard exists to protect individuals from undesired access to, and disclosure of, information about themselves and their affairs. This is in order to maintain their dignity, choice, mental wellbeing and reputation, and their ability to develop relationships and opinions away from the glare of publicity.

[6]  Mr Duncan argued that it was 'totally unacceptable' and 'disgraceful' to broadcast footage of the 'private quarters of a high profile person, previously a high ranking cabinet minister'. He said that Mr Campbell and the reporter should be 'censured'.

[7]  The complainant raised privacy principle 3 of the Authority's privacy principles. This says that it is inconsistent with an individual's privacy to allow the public disclosure of material obtained by intentionally interfering, in the nature of prying, with that individual's interest in solitude or seclusion, where the intrusion would be highly offensive to an objective, reasonable person.

[8]  MediaWorks argued that Ms Collins did not have an expectation of solitude or seclusion at the property because it was on the market to be sold and therefore available for public viewing. It said that no private facts were disclosed about Ms Collins and it had permission from the real estate agent to film inside the house, as stated in the programme.

[9]  As a general principle, a person will be found to have an interest in seclusion in their home or private residential property.1 The underlying rationale is that an occupier is entitled to the quiet enjoyment and exclusive possession of his or her private property, and in some circumstances that right may continue even when the owner is not on the property.2

[10]  However, informed consent is a defence to a privacy complaint (privacy principle 5). As only the 'individual whose privacy is allegedly infringed' can consent to the intrusion,3 we asked the broadcaster whether Ms Collins' consent was obtained (rather than the real estate agents consenting on her behalf). In response, MediaWorks provided comment from the reporter who confirmed that Ms Collins had consented, saying, 'The directive was that she was unavailable to take us on a tour personally but was more than happy for us to film her property inside and out (no restrictions applied) so long as the real estate agents were present.'

[11]  Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint.

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

 

Peter Radich
Chair
5 February 2015


Appendix

The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1      Roger Duncan's privacy complaint – 29 September 2014
2      MediaWorks' response to the Authority – 28 October 2014
3      Further information from MediaWorks relating to consent – 17 December 2014

 

 


1 E.g. MA and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-084 

2 For example, Balfour and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2012-040

3 See, for example, TD and MediaWorks TV Ltd, Decision No. 2014-048 and CP and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2012-069