BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Hills and CanWest TVWorks Ltd - 2004-160

Members
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
Dated
Complainant
  • Stephanie Hills
Number
2004-160
Broadcaster
CanWest TVWorks Ltd
Channel/Station
TV3 # 2


Chair Joanne Morris declared a conflict of interest and did not take part in the decision.


Complaint under section 8(1)(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
20/20 – “Ticking Time Bomb” – reported that Phillip Edwards, who had been charged with the murder of David McNee and convicted of manslaughter, had previously been implicated in an attack on another man – police did not prosecute – other man’s name disclosed – alleged breach of privacy

Findings
Standard 3 (privacy) – Privacy Principles iii), v), and vi) – no unjustified invasion of man’s privacy - man’s name disclosed as aspect of current affairs item – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] A 20/20 item, “Ticking Time Bomb”, revealed that Phillip Edwards, who was arrested for the murder of television celebrity David McNee, had earlier been implicated in an attack on another man. It was reported that the Police had decided not to prosecute. The item was broadcast on TV3 at 7.30pm on 15 August 2004.

Complaint

[2] Stephanie Hills complained directly to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 that the broadcast, by naming the other man, had breached his privacy.

[3] Noting that she did not know the other man, Ms Hills complained that the item, apparently without their consent, had named the man and shown him, his wife and their home. She commented that the item reported that the man had been traumatised by the assault and had not wanted to face his attacker in Court. However, she pointed out, he had been required to relive the experience on television.

[4] Ms Hills contended that the details disclosed were not necessary in the public interest, and that the story could have been told without disclosing the man’s identity. The details were, she wrote, “of purely voyeuristic interest”.

Standard

[5] Canwest TV Works Ltd, the broadcaster, assessed the complaint under the standard and privacy principles nominated by the complaint. Standard 3 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, and Privacy Principles (v) and (vi) provide:

Standard 3 Privacy
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards consistent with the privacy of the individual.

Privacy Principles
v) The protection of privacy includes the protection against the disclosure by the broadcaster, without consent, of the name and/or address and/or telephone number of an identifiable person. This principle does not apply to details which are public information, or to news and current affairs reporting, and is subject to the “public interest” defence in principle (vi).

vi) Discussing the matter in the “public interest”, defined as of legitimate concern or interest to the public, is a defence to an individual’s claim for privacy.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[6] Accepting that the man referred to in the item had been identified, TV3 argued that neither of the nominated privacy principles applied. They did not apply, it wrote, as the item involved news and current affairs reporting which was in the public interest.

[7] TV3 also advised that the man and his legal advisers were told of the nature of the material before the broadcast. Further, with reference to the importance of pictures to a visual medium, TV3 argued that the pictures of the man were not salacious and he had not complained about the use of his image.

[8] Accordingly, TV3 maintained that the programme had maintained standards consistent with the man’s privacy.

Complainant’s Final Comment

[9] Ms Hills accepted that the broadcast, as a current affairs item, was entitled to name Mr Edwards, but not his earlier victims. Their identities, she wrote, was not a legitimate concern to the public.

[10] Ms Hills said that she was pleased that the man was aware of the material before it was screened, and speculated that he had not complained in view of his naming later by a Member of Parliament. Repeating that she had no personal interest in the complaint, Ms Hills wrote:

I am concerned that this kind of unwelcome broadcasting of personal details could happen to any of us. I urge TV3 to take care to respect the privacy of individuals whilst disseminating information which they consider to be in the public interest.
Authority's Determination

[11] The members of the Authority have viewed a tape of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[12] The Authority considers that the broadcast of the item on 20/20 on 15 August 2004 did not breach the privacy standard when it named, and included footage of the man who had allegedly been the victim of Phillip Edwards’ earlier criminal activity.

[13] The item involved the disclosure of the name and image of an identifiable person and explained that the man was married to a judge. While disclosure of a person’s name may be contrary to Principle (v) in some circumstances, the Principle does not apply to news and current affairs reporting. Accordingly, the Authority accepts that the public interest in the current affairs item overrode any interest in privacy which the man might have had.

 

For the above reasons, the Authority does not uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Tapu Misa
Member
25 November 2004

Appendix

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

  1. Stephanie Hills’ formal complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 26 August 2004
  2. TV3’s response to the Authority – 8 October 2004
  3. Ms Hills’ final comment – 26 October 2004