BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Spence and TVWorks Ltd - 2012-032

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Erin Spence
Campbell Live
TVWorks Ltd
TV3 # 3

Complaint under section 8(1A) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Campbell Live – reporter went in search of the famous actor Michael Crawford in Kerikeri – locals were informed that he lived in the area – part of Mr Crawford’s gate was shown – allegedly in breach of privacy

Standard 3 (privacy) – Mr Crawford was identifiable – item did not disclose any private facts about Mr Crawford – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


[1]  During an item on Campbell Live, broadcast on TV3 on 15 March 2012, a reporter travelled to the small Northland town of Kerikeri in search of British actor Michael Crawford at his “South Pacific hideaway”. A number of locals were shown footage of Mr Crawford in his various roles and were informed that he lived in the area. The reporter managed to find Mr Crawford’s house and was filmed outside his gate speaking on an intercom with a woman who advised that he was not home.

[2]  Erin Spence made a direct referral to the Authority, alleging that the item breached Mr Crawford’s privacy and amounted to “gutter journalism”.

[3]  The issue is whether the item breached Standard 3 (privacy) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  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 item breach Mr Crawford’s privacy?

[5]  Standard 3 states that broadcasters must maintain standards consistent with the privacy of the individual. The privacy standard exists to protect individuals from undesired informational and observational access to themselves and their affairs, in order to maintain their dignity, choice, mental wellbeing and reputation, and their ability to develop relationships, opinions and creativity away from the glare of publicity.


[6]  When we consider a privacy complaint, we must first determine whether the person whose privacy has allegedly been interfered with was identifiable in the broadcast.

[7]  As the item disclosed Mr Crawford’s name and contained footage of him in commonly viewed scenes of Phantom of the Opera and Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, we consider that he was clearly identifiable.

Privacy principle 1 (public disclosure of private facts)

[8]  Privacy principle 1 of the Authority’s privacy principles is the most relevant on this occasion. This states that 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.

[9]  The broadcast disclosed the following information:

  • Mr Crawford owned a holiday home in Kerikeri
  • he had been residing at his holiday home for the past five years
  • the general location of his holiday home
  • footage of part of his gate and intercom.

[10]  This information did not amount to private facts about which Mr Crawford had a reasonable expectation of privacy. As a consequence of his career, Mr Crawford is a well known figure. It has been observed by the New Zealand Court of Appeal that:1

The right to privacy is not automatically lost when a person is a public figure, but his or her reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to many areas of life will be correspondingly reduced as public status increases.

[11]  We agree with TVWorks that the item merely disclosed the general location of Mr Crawford’s holiday home, which had been published in other media including a New Zealand Herald article which contained detailed shots of his gate. It did not reveal any details of Mr Crawford’s address.

[12]  Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint that Mr Crawford’s privacy was breached.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
8 June 2012


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

1                  Erin Spence’s direct referral to the Authority – 16 March 2012

2                 TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 5 April 2012

1Hosking v Runting PDF317.33 KB [2005] 1 NZLR 1 (CA) per Gault P and Blanchard J at paragraph [121]