The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
Four episodes of The Windsors, a British satirical comedy series, parodied the British Royal Family with reference to topical events. The episodes featured exaggerated characters based on members of the British Royal Family and contained offensive language and sexual material. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the episodes failed general standards of common taste and decency, and denigrated and ridiculed the Queen and her family. The Authority found that the episodes were clearly satirical and intended to be humorous. While this particular brand of humour may not be to everyone’s liking, the right to freedom of expression includes the right to satirise public figures, including heads of state. In the context of an AO-classified satirical comedy series, which was broadcast at 8.30pm and preceded by a warning for coarse language, viewers were sufficiently informed about the episodes’ likely content and were able to make a different viewing choice. The episodes did not contain any material which promoted illegal or antisocial activity, raised privacy issues, or triggered the discrimination and denigration standard.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Privacy
An item on 1 News reported on an upcoming boxing match between Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz for the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) heavyweight champion title. The presenter introduced the item by saying, ‘Well, the fight is set to make history whichever way it goes. There’s never been a New Zealand or Mexican world heavyweight champion’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the presenter’s statement was inaccurate because a New Zealander, Robert ‘Bob’ Fitzsimmons, was the first heavyweight champion in 1897. The complaint related to a technical interpretation of Fitzsimmons’ nationality, which was not a material point of fact that was likely to mislead viewers in the context of this news item. In any event, the Authority noted that Robert Fitzsimmons was born in the United Kingdom and had lived in a number of other countries, and it was therefore not unreasonable for the presenter to refer to Joseph Parker as the first potential New Zealand heavyweight champion.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The music videos for ‘Starboy’ by The Weeknd and ‘Sexual’ by Neiked were screened between 9pm and 10pm on MTV’s Top 20 Hits. The introduction to the music video for ‘Starboy’ featured singer The Weeknd being suffocated to death with a plastic bag. The music video for ‘Sexual’ featured a variety of animated sexual imagery, including animals having sex and a girl lifting her shirt to expose her breasts. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that these videos were offensive and disturbing. It recognised that the content was challenging and understood the complainant’s concerns regarding the graphic content of such music videos and their impact on young audiences. However, the videos were classified 16C and broadcast between 9pm and 10pm on a Sunday evening, and the programme featured an audience advisory for content. Taking into account these contextual factors, the Authority found that the broadcaster took effective steps to inform viewers of the programme’s likely content, so they could make an informed viewing choice. Given the classification of the broadcast, the violent and sexual content would not be outside audience expectations for the music videos featured.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence
Newshub broadcast a story about the outcome of a review by Michael Heron QC of Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) fisheries prosecution decisions. The reporter referred to the resignations of two senior MPI officials, implying that the resignations were connected to the outcome of the Heron review. The Authority upheld the complaint that the broadcast was unfair. The item reflected negatively on the two individuals’ professional reputations and had the potential to adversely affect them. In the interests of fairness, the broadcast should have given the individuals affected a fair and reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations, which did not occur. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the item breached the accuracy standard, as it found the broadcaster had made reasonable efforts to ensure accuracy by relying on sources which it satisfied itself were credible. The allegations were presented alongside MPI’s position that the resignations were not connected to the Heron review, so viewers would not have been misled.
Upheld: Fairness; Not Upheld: Accuracy
An interview was broadcast on Saturday Morning with a Swedish historian and author. During the interview, the presenter allegedly quoted former Finance Minister, Sir Roger Douglas. At the end of the item, the presenter also read out negative and critical comments from listeners about the interview. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the presenter’s statement, allegedly attributed to Sir Roger Douglas, was inaccurate, and that reading out the comments received was offensive. The statement was not a material point of fact in the context of the item and would not have affected listeners’ understanding of the item as a whole, which was focused on the views and work of the interviewee. Further, listeners were unlikely to have understood the statement to be a direct quote from the former Finance Minister, and would not have been misled. In the context of the item and the programme, the comments read out by the presenter, while critical and expressed in strong or provocative language, did not reach the threshold necessary to breach standards of good taste and decency.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Good Taste and Decency