BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

QW and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2007-089

  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
  • QW

Chair Joanne Morris declared a conflict and did not take part in the determination of this complaint.

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
 – item reported on the use of anti-depressants – excerpts from a radio talkback show were used in the item – two excerpts involved the complainant discussing her use of anti-depressant drugs – allegedly in breach of privacy

The Authority’s Decision
Standard 3 (privacy) – complainant not identifiable in the item – item did not disclose any private facts – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]   An item on the 20/20 programme, broadcast on TV2 at 9.30pm on 30 August 2007, examined the use of the anti-depressant drug Aropax and the difficulty some people had experienced when trying to stop using it. The item included excerpts from a radio talkback discussion concerning the use of anti-depressants. These included the following statements:

Caller:       I had depression and I got put on anti-depressants.

Host:         How old are you [caller’s first name]?

Caller:       16.


[2]   Standard 3 and guideline 3a of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, and Principles 1 and 4 of the Authority’s Privacy Principles are relevant to the determination of this complaint. These provide:

Standard 3 Privacy

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

Guideline 3a

Broadcasters must comply with the privacy principles developed by the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

Privacy Principles

1.    It is inconsistent with an individual’s privacy to allow the public disclosure of private facts, where the disclosure is highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.

4.    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 individual, in circumstances where the disclosure is highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.

Referral to the Authority

[3]  QW referred her complaint directly to the Authority under section 8(1)(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, alleging the item had breached her privacy.

[4]  The complainant pointed out that the programme had used excerpts of her talking to a talkback host about anti-depressant use in New Zealand and that people would have been able to identify her.

[5]  QW maintained that the programme had taken the excerpts out of context. She said that she had called the talkback show to discuss how anti-depressants had helped her, and that this was not made clear in the 20/20 item, which mainly focused on the negative effects of anti-depressant use. She believed that the item had put her in a difficult situation because people would have been left with the impression that she held negative views about anti-depressants, when in fact she supported their use.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[6]  TVNZ argued that while the complainant’s first name and age were given in the item, it did not believe that a "reasonable viewer, who did not know QW intimately, would recognise it was her from the brief snippets". It maintained that QW was not identifiable in the broadcast.

[7]  The broadcaster pointed out that excerpts used in the item were part of an extended piece that was broadcast nationally on the radio and that it had been given permission to film the talkback show by the station and the host. TVNZ argued that the complainant had disclosed far more detailed information about herself on the radio, including details about her use of anti-depressants and where she lived. It believed that the item did not disclose any private facts about the complainant, as the information was already in the public realm.

[8]  TVNZ maintained that the facts revealed in the 20/20 item would not be highly offensive to an objective reasonable person, because the complainant had freely disclosed the information in a national forum.

[9]  The broadcaster argued that the excerpts were not taken out of context because they were part of a group of sound bites that were positive about the use of anti-depressants. TVNZ declined to uphold the privacy complaint.

Authority's Determination

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

Standard 3 (privacy)

[11]  When the Authority considers a complaint that alleges a breach of privacy it must first consider whether the person concerned was identifiable in the item. On this occasion, the Authority is of the view that the complainant would not have been identifiable to anyone other than her family and close friends. The Authority agrees with TVNZ that a viewer who did not know QW would not have been able to identify her from the audio contained in the item.

[12]  The Authority notes that even if the complainant was identifiable in the item, the segments did not reveal any private facts about her. It notes that QW had already disclosed the fact that she had used anti-depressants during a radio talkback item that was broadcast nationally. In these circumstances, the Authority finds that the complainant had placed this information in the public arena. It therefore declines to uphold the privacy complaint.

Name Supression

[13]  Given the age of the complainant and the subject matter discussed in the broadcast, the Authority is of the view that it is appropriate to suppress the complainant’s name on this occasion.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Tapu Misa
4 December 2007


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

1.            QW’s referral to the Authority – 31 August 2007
2.           TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 24 September 2007