Tempero and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2019-011 (7 May 2019)
- Judge Bill Hastings (Chair)
- Paula Rose
- Wendy Palmer
- Susie Staley
- Catherine Tempero
BroadcasterMediaWorks TV Ltd
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a Newshub item, which featured blurred footage of a child, was in breach of the children’s interests standard. The item reported on the conviction of a British tourist for stealing from a service station and featured blurred footage of the woman’s child as the pair exited a New Zealand court. The Authority noted that the children’s interests standard is designed to protect children when viewing and listening to broadcasts. Complaints about children featured in broadcasts are more appropriately dealt with under other standards. In any event, there was no material in this item that might have adversely affected child viewers. The child was fully blurred throughout the item, protecting their identity, and while the item contained footage of the child making an obscene gesture, the item as a whole was focused on the actions of the adult family members and the resulting convictions. There was no element of exploitation or humiliation of the child, and the Authority found the harm alleged did not reach the threshold required to find a breach of broadcasting standards.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests
 An item on Newshub reported on the conviction of a British tourist for stealing from a service station and featured blurred footage of the woman’s child as the pair exited a New Zealand court.
 The child was shown making an obscene gesture at reporters gathered outside the court, and a member of the public was heard calling to the woman as she exited the court: ‘How’s your holiday? Having fun?’
 The item was broadcast on 16 January 2019 at 6pm on Three.
 Catherine Tempero complained that this broadcast breached the children’s interests standard of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, for the following reasons:
- No respect was shown for the child featured in the broadcast. The child was in a vulnerable position, being in an unfamiliar environment in a foreign country, and was exploited by the reporters filming outside the courtroom.
- It was therefore understandable that the child might act out or engage in challenging behaviour, and the lack of respect shown to the child by reporters sent the wrong message to audiences.
- The child was put into a dangerous situation when the family moved from the court to the road and into the pathway of an oncoming vehicle.
The broadcaster’s response
 MediaWorks responded:
- The children’s interests standard applies to child viewers of a broadcast, not children featured in a broadcast, and the broadcast observed the interests of child viewers.
- In any event, the complainant’s concerns were communicated to Newshub’s Head of Television News. It was relevant to note that the identity of the child featured in the report was comprehensively masked, and the individual who shouted ‘How’s your holiday?’ was a member of the public, and not a reporter.
 The children’s interests standard (Standard 3) states that broadcasters should ensure children can be protected from broadcasts which might adversely affect them.
 The purpose of the standard is to enable audiences to protect children from material that might unduly disturb them, is harmful, or is likely to impair their physical, mental or social development.1 The standard is therefore designed to protect children when viewing and listening to broadcasts. If a complaint relates to a child having been featured or referred to in a programme, this may raise matters of fairness or privacy and should be dealt with under those standards.2
 In New Zealand we value the right to freedom of expression. When we consider a complaint that a broadcast has breached broadcasting standards, we therefore weigh the value of the programme and the importance of the expression against the level of actual or potential harm that may be caused by the broadcast.
 In this case, the complainant is concerned that a child featured in a broadcast was in a vulnerable position and was exploited. They argue that the lack of respect shown to the child by reporters was harmful to the child and to child viewers who might have been watching.
 On viewing the broadcast, however, we were satisfied that the broadcaster in this case appropriately considered the interests of child viewers.
 There was no material in this item that might have adversely affected children. While the item contained footage of the child making an obscene gesture, the item as a whole was focused on the actions of the adult family members and the resulting convictions, rather than the child. In our view, there was no material contained in this news item that might have unduly disturbed or distressed child viewers, particularly given the item was broadcast during a news programme targeted at adults.
 While the children’s interests standard is intended to protect child viewers, rather than children featured in a broadcast, we nevertheless note that the child was fully blurred throughout this item, protecting their identity. We could see no element of exploitation or humiliation of the child during the item. It appeared to us that the question, ‘How’s your holiday?’, was called out by a member of the public and was directed to the mother of the child, rather than the child themselves.
 Finally, it did not appear to us that the child was put into a dangerous situation by the reporters or members of the public at the scene. Rather, the child was led from the court onto the road by the mother of the child, and observers called to the family to warn them of oncoming traffic.
 For these reasons, we have found that the harm alleged did not reach the threshold required to find a breach of broadcasting standards, and we do not uphold this complaint.
For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
Judge Bill Hastings
7 May 2019
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Catherine Tempero’s formal complaint – 16 January 2019
2 MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 4 March 2019
3 Ms Tempero’s referral to the Authority – 4 March 2019
4 MediaWorks’ further comments – 25 March 2019
5 Ms Tempero’s final comments – 28 March 2019
1 Commentary: Children’s Interests, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 13
2 As above