The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
A segment on RNZ National’s programme This Way Up, titled ‘Why Women Live Longer’, featured an interview with a science journalist about her latest book. In the introduction to the segment, the programme presenter referred to the average life expectancy of men and women in New Zealand born in 2016. Mr Golden complained to the broadcaster under the accuracy standard that the references to life expectancy did not take into account quality of life. The Authority declined to determine the complaint on the basis that it was frivolous and trivial, and concerned matters of personal preference rather than matters of broadcasting standards that can be addressed under the Radio Code.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy
During a talkback segment on Overnight Talk, a caller rang up to discuss Metiria Turei’s resignation as Co-Leader of the Green Party in the wake of benefit and electoral fraud allegations. The caller made the remark that, ‘[i]t’s almost a situation where, the Green Party are in a room and Metiria dropped a big, fat, juicy, smelly fart.’ A complaint was made that the caller’s comments were demeaning and derogatory towards Ms Turei, and breached the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority did not uphold the complaint, noting that the discrimination and denigration standard applies only to sections of the community, and it does not apply to individuals. Even had the standard applied, the Authority was satisfied that, while some may find the choice of language distasteful, the comments did not reach the high threshold necessary to find a breach.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
A segment on Morning Report discussed a press release by a named investment banking firm. The Authority declined jurisdiction to accept and consider a complaint that the programme ought to have disclosed certain alleged conduct by that firm. The Authority found the broadcaster was correct to not accept this as a valid formal complaint, as the complaint was based on the complainant’s own opinion of the firm rather than raising issues of broadcasting standards within the broadcast.
A National Party campaign advertisement (an election programme for the purposes of the Election Programmes Code) parodied Labour’s campaign motto, ‘Let’s do this’ with an advertisement with the tagline, ‘Let’s tax this’. The advertisement suggested that a Labour government would impose a number of new taxes (a capital gains tax, land tax, regional fuel tax, income tax, water tax and a ‘fart tax’). A voiceover at the conclusion of the advertisement said: ‘There’s still only one way to stop Labour’s taxes. Party vote National’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the election programme was inaccurate and misleading by implying a number of ‘bad’ taxes would be introduced or raised by Labour, which was not the case. The Authority considered it would be clear to viewers that the election programme was a campaign advertisement for the National Party, which clearly advocated the National Party’s own views. As such, the advertisement reflected the National Party’s opinion and analysis of Labour’s policies and viewers would not have been misled. The Authority also emphasised the importance of political speech and concluded that, in the robust political environment leading up to the election, the high threshold for finding a breach of broadcasting standards was not met.
Not Upheld: Distinguishing Factual Information from Opinion or Advocacy
An item on The Project interviewed Muslims in New Zealand about their views on Islamic extremism. The item featured a short excerpt of a phone interview with the complainant, who considers himself an ex-Muslim. The presenter said that the ‘stigma of Islamic extremism’ was ‘enough for him [the complainant] to turn on his own religion’. In the sound clip played the complainant said: ‘I changed my first name from Mohammad to Cyrus. I just don’t want to be related to Islam anymore’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint from Mr Basham that this excerpt was misleading, by misrepresenting his reasons for leaving Islam. Taking the item as a whole, of which Mr Basham’s comment formed only a very brief part, the Authority found that audiences would not have been misled or materially misinformed at a level that warranted finding a breach of the standard. However, the Authority acknowledged that the complaint raised issues more appropriately considered under the fairness standard, and noted the importance of ensuring those featured in broadcasts are quoted correctly and that their words are not taken out of context.
Not Upheld: Accuracy