Foggo and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-030 (25 July 2016)
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
- Paula Rose
- Bruce Foggo
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
A ONE News item discussed two changes proposed as part of a review of Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS): first, dealing with 17-year-old offenders within the youth justice system rather than the adult justice system; and second, lifting the age that people can remain in CYFS care. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that footage of young skateboarders and riders shown during the item implicitly associated them with youth crime, which was unfair. The skateboarders and riders did not take part and were not referred to during the item at a level that triggered the fairness standard. The footage simply associated them with typical activities for people their age and was in the nature of visual wallpaper. It did not associate young skateboarders and riders with youth crime.
Not Upheld: Fairness
 A ONE News item discussed two changes proposed as part of a review of Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS): first, dealing with 17-year-old offenders within the youth justice system rather than the adult justice system; and second, lifting the age that people can remain in CYFS care. Background footage of young skateboarders and riders was shown during the item.
 Bruce Foggo complained that the footage of young skateboarders and riders during the item implicitly associated them with youth crime, which was unfair.
 The issue is whether the broadcast breached the fairness standard as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.1
 The item was broadcast on TV ONE on 7 March 2016. The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
Was any individual or organisation taking part or referred to in the broadcast treated unfairly?
 The fairness standard (Standard 6) states that broadcasters should deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to in a programme. One of the purposes of the fairness standard is to protect individuals and organisations from broadcasts which provide an unfairly negative representation of their character or conduct. Programme participants and people referred to in broadcasts have the right to expect that broadcasters will deal with them justly and fairly, so that unwarranted harm is not caused to their reputation and dignity.2
 Mr Foggo argued that the item’s ‘constant background content’ of young skateboarders and riders at a skate park associated them with youth crime, which was unfair. He noted that there was no supporting evidence presented that skateboarders were in fact associated with youth crime. Mr Foggo considered the broadcaster could have chosen ‘better’ visual wallpaper and not linked the item to young people enjoying their recreation.
 TVNZ argued that the young skateboarders and riders were not identifiable in the footage and that the fairness standard could not be applied to them as they did not take part and were not referred to. It did not consider there was any inference in the item that these people were associated with youth crime. TVNZ maintained that the footage was ‘simply visual wallpaper’ to the item, which discussed proposed changes to CYFS, and was not unfair to those depicted.
 The fairness standard applies only to individuals ‘taking part or referred to’ in a broadcast. Here, the background footage of the skateboarders and riders was merely in the nature of visual wallpaper and did not feature the young persons’ faces, names or any other identifying features. Therefore we do not think the young skateboarders and riders could be categorised as individuals who participated or were referred to in the broadcast at a level that triggered the fairness standard.
 In any event, in our view the footage of the young skateboarders and riders in no way associated them with youth crime, as alleged. The footage formed short snippets of a three-minute news item which focused on proposed CYFS reforms and the effects these changes would have on young people. The footage from the skate park was simply a depiction of youth and activities synonymous with youth. For example, the footage of young skateboarders and riders was spliced with footage of young people playing basketball and doing other activities. By the time the reporter discussed youth crime and the youth justice system, the background footage was of the outside of a court building rather than the young skateboarders and riders. The choice of ‘visual wallpaper’ for this item was a matter of editorial discretion for the broadcaster rather than an issue of broadcasting standards.
 Accordingly, we do not uphold the complaint under Standard 6.
For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
25 July 2016
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Bruce Foggo’s formal complaint – 8 March 2016
2 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 7 April 2016
3 Bruce Foggo’s referral to the Authority – 11 April 2016
4 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 18 May 2016
1 This complaint was determined under the previous Free-to-Air Television Code, which applied up until 31 March 2016. The new Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook took effect on 1 April 2016 and applies to any programmes broadcast on or after that date: http://bsa.govt.nz/standards/overview
2 Commerce Commission and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2008-014