BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Panckhurst and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-036 (22 August 2016)

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Paula Rose
Dated
Complainant
  • Ron Panckhurst
Number
2016-036
Programme
ONE News
Channel/Station
TV ONE

Summary

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

An item on ONE News discussed further charges laid against a man accused of a double shooting in South Auckland. During the item, images of the crime scene were shown, including footage of blood on a pavement. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that the footage of blood breached the privacy of those involved (ie, the surviving victim and the victims’ relatives or friends), and that the footage would have disturbed young viewers. No individuals were identified during the broadcast, including the surviving victim or either of the victims’ relatives or friends. In addition, the image of blood was brief and was not graphic or explicit, and viewers could reasonably expect that a news broadcast reporting on a double shooting might contain some footage relating to the crime.

Not Upheld: Privacy, Good Taste and Decency


Introduction

[1]  An item on ONE News discussed further charges laid against a man accused of a double shooting in South Auckland. During the item, images of the crime scene were shown, including brief footage of blood on a pavement.

[2]  Ron Panckhurst complained that the footage of blood breached the privacy of those involved (ie, the victims, as well as the victims’ relatives or friends), saying, ‘Personally I would feel deeply disturbed if it was my relative or friend who was shot’. Mr Panckhurst also considered the footage would have disturbed young viewers.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the privacy and good taste and decency standards, as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.1

[4]  The item was broadcast during the 6pm news on TV ONE on 14 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.

Did the broadcast breach the privacy of the victims and their relatives or friends? 

[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]  The privacy standard may only be considered in relation to identifiable individuals.2 ‘Individual’ is defined as a natural person, other than a deceased person. This means that, although the deceased victim’s name and photo were disclosed during the broadcast, the privacy standard does not apply to him as an individual. 

[7]  We therefore turn to consider the privacy complaint in relation to the surviving victim, and the victims’ relatives and friends. TVNZ maintained that none of these people were identifiable in the broadcast. It said that while it understood Mr Panckhurst’s concerns for the families and friends of the victims, the footage of the crime scene ‘simply represent[ed] the images which were available to the public at the time of the crime. The footage was not intended to be disrespectful to the victims and their families.’

[8]  We recognise that the item as a whole may have been challenging for any viewers who were close with the victims. However, we agree with the broadcaster that neither the surviving victim, nor the relatives or friends of either victim, were identifiable in the broadcast. The only information revealed about the surviving victim was that he was hospitalised with an arm injury. No other identifying features were revealed which could have enabled viewers to identify the victim or the relatives or friends of the victims.

[9]  We therefore do not uphold the remainder of the privacy complaint.

Did the broadcast threaten current norms of good taste and decency?

[10]  The purpose of the good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is to protect audience members from viewing broadcasts that are likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress, or undermine widely shared community standards. In a television context, this standard is usually considered in relation to offensive language, sexual material, nudity and violence, but may also apply to other material presented in a way that is likely to cause offence or distress.

[11]  Mr Panckhurst urged the broadcaster to ‘[s]pare a thought for young viewers’ and asked for a ‘return to some decency and respect in these matters’.

[12]  TVNZ argued that ONE News is aimed at an adult audience and it did not agree that the footage was intended to be disrespectful of the families. It argued that the images ‘served to convey the magnitude of what had occurred’. Further, TVNZ argued that the images were brief, were not graphic or explicit and did not dominate the item.

[13]  When we consider the good taste and decency standard we take into account relevant contextual factors, which here include:

  • the time of broadcast commencing at 6pm on a weekday
  • ONE News is targeted at an adult audience
  • the nature of news programmes, which on occasion feature violent or disturbing content relating to current events, including serious crime
  • the subject matter of the item, which was signposted in the item’s introduction, enabling viewers to exercise discretion in relation to their children’s viewing
  • audience expectations of news programming generally.

[14]  This Authority has consistently recognised that children are unlikely to watch news programmes unsupervised due to their distinct nature, and the fact they are unclassified.3

[15]  In any event, we do not think the footage would have unduly alarmed or distressed any younger viewers who were watching. The image of blood on the pavement shown during the broadcast was brief, shown from a distance and was not gratuitous or graphic. It was simply shown as background footage to the reporter’s narration, depicting the crime scene and the police presence in the area.

[16]  While we appreciate that it may have been challenging for those who were related to, or friends of, the victims to view the footage, we agree with the broadcaster that the footage conveyed the significance of the crime and its consequences for the accused, and was not intended to upset or be disrespectful to those connected to the victims. This was a tragic event that carried public interest and that was acceptable to report on.

[17]  In these circumstances, we do not consider the item threatened current standards of good taste and decency. We therefore do not uphold the complaint under Standard 1.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

 

Peter Radich
Chair
22 August 2016


Appendix

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

1     Ron Panckhurst ’s formal complaint – 4 April 2016
2     TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 3 May 2016
3     Mr Panckhurst ’s referral to the Authority – 9 May 2016
4     TVNZ’s confirmation of no further comment – 12 July 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 See section 2 of the Broadcasting Act 1989 and section 2(1) of the Privacy Act 1993.

3 See, for example, Bracey and Ee and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2013-084