The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
The complainant referred to the Authority a formal complaint about the film Fifty Shades of Grey, which was broadcast on TV3 at 8.30pm on Sunday 22 January 2017. The broadcaster argued that the original complaint had been received prior to the broadcast of the film, and so did not constitute a valid formal complaint (and therefore could not be referred to the Authority). To support its position, the broadcaster referred to the time stamp on the automatic acknowledgement email, which is sent to both the complainant and the broadcaster at the time the complaint is lodged. This time stamp read ‘22 January 2017 at 20:25’ (being five minutes before the film was broadcast). The Authority found that the broadcaster was entitled to rely on this time stamp, and that a valid formal complaint was not lodged with the broadcaster (as it concerned a programme which had not yet been broadcast). The Authority therefore did not have jurisdiction to accept the complainant’s referral.
An item on Fair Go reported on a family who had purchased land in Papamoa only to find that the section had an actual size of 258m2, rather than the 296m2 shown on the property title and in their Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA). The item found that the surveyor was responsible for the incorrect description on the title. However, the item also discussed an extract from an email sent to the purchaser by the real estate agent involved, Wayne Skinner, asking for a notation on the SPA seeking verification of the land site to be removed. The Authority upheld a complaint that the item was unfair and misleading, finding that the reporting of the email extract gave the impression that Mr Skinner had chosen to intentionally remove the purchaser’s right to have the title checked, and did not reflect the other protections available to the purchaser in the SPA. The negative impression created by the item was disproportionate and unfair to Mr Skinner, and undue focus was given to him in the context of the item as a whole. The item did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance that triggered the balance standard.
Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy; Not Upheld: Balance
On 14 November 2016, in a 1 News special update, the newsreader updated viewers on events surrounding a 7.8 magnitude earthquake centred near Kaikoura that occurred just after midnight that day. The newsreader stated, ‘there has been another quake-related death at Mt Lyford; that is after someone suffered a heart attack’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint from the partner of the person who died at Mt Lyford that this statement was inaccurate given that his partner had died from earthquake-related injuries, but not a heart attack. The Authority acknowledged these were distressing circumstances for the complainant. It also emphasised, however, the high public interest in the broadcast and the role of the media in providing information to New Zealanders following a significant natural disaster. The Authority found the broadcaster made reasonable efforts in the circumstances to ensure the accuracy of the statement by relying on information provided to it by emergency services. While precise verification was not available at the time of this broadcast, TVNZ ceased referring to a heart attack as the cause of death once it became aware earlier information provided to it may not have been correct. The fairness standard was not applicable in the circumstances.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness (Action Taken)
A segment on Nine to Noon discussed raising the youth justice age. The presenter interviewed a human rights lawyer, a youth worker and the director of JustSpeak. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the segment was unbalanced. While the interviewees featured all supported raising the youth justice age, the presenter referred to the existence of alternative views on a number of occasions during the item. The issue was also canvassed in detail in other media coverage during the period of current interest, therefore audiences would be aware of a variety of perspectives beyond those put forward by the interviewees. It was not necessary, in the interests of balance, for the segment to feature a detailed examination of the opposition to raising the youth justice age, and listeners would not have been left uninformed on the issue as a result of the item.
Not Upheld: Balance
An interview was broadcast on Saturday Morning with the President of Catholics for Choice (CFC). He spoke about CFC’s position, and his own views, on contraception, marriage equality and abortion, contrasting these views with the Catholic Church’s stance on these topics. The Authority did not uphold a complaint made by Right to Life that a representative of the Catholic Church should have been given the opportunity to respond to the ‘allegations’ made by the CFC President. The item was introduced and presented from the narrow perspective of CFC, which did not represent the views of all Catholics or of the Church hierarchy, and this was made clear during the interview. The Authority considered that most listeners would have been broadly aware of the Catholic Church’s stance in relation to the topics discussed and a rebuttal was not required to balance the interview. The Authority also did not uphold the fairness complaint, as the connection between CFC, Family Planning and Planned Parenthood was clearly outlined at the beginning of the item, and the item did not result in unfairness to the Catholic Church.
Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness