The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
A ONE News item reported on a protest organised by the Sensible Sentencing Trust, which carried a petition in the name of a deceased child, demanding changes to the rules around plea bargaining. The reporter stated, ‘the protestors chose disgraced ex-MP David Garrett to deliver that message to MPs… Garrett resigned from Parliament six years ago for stealing the identity of a dead infant…’ The Authority did not uphold Mr Garrett’s complaint that this statement was misleading, as it implied the incident being referred to occurred six years ago, as well as being unbalanced and unfair to him. The Authority found the comment was not misleading, but emphasised that Mr Garrett’s resignation occurred six years ago, which was correct. The Authority acknowledged that individuals ought to be entitled to move on with their lives without past indiscretions remaining the subject of media attention, but found that the reference to Mr Garrett’s history was an inevitable consequence of his decision to participate in a material way in this particular public protest. As Mr Garrett’s involvement in the protest was not the focus of the item, his view or other balancing material was not required.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Balance
An episode of the documentary series, The Hard Stuff with Nigel Latta, titled ‘The New New Zealand’, focused on the topic of immigration. The episode looked at common perceptions of immigration in New Zealand and featured interviews with the Chief Executive of Immigration New Zealand, an immigration consultant, two academic consultants and the Chief Economist at Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL), as well as a number of immigrants to New Zealand from China, India and the UK. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that alternative points of view were omitted from the item. This episode of The Hard Stuff carried high public interest and had high value in terms of the exercise of freedom of expression. It was sufficient, in the context of a series presented as being from a particular host’s perspective, for the episode to raise and acknowledge alternative viewpoints, without providing extensive details of those views. The Authority found that the programme was sufficiently balanced for viewers to make up their own minds about the validity of the arguments offered in favour of, and against, immigration.
Not Upheld: Balance
How to Make Money Selling Drugs, a documentary film about the United States’ drug industry, featured a mock ‘how to’ guide for being a successful drug dealer. The documentary then examined and critiqued the United States’ ‘War on Drugs’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the documentary provided ‘information and tips to… potential drug dealers’ and encouraged crime. How to Make Money Selling Drugs was a satirical documentary which used broadcasting devices to gain viewers’ attention and highlight a significant problem in our society. While the documentary may have initially appeared to present positive aspects of drug dealing, it went on to explore the negative consequences, such as incarceration and death. The documentary did not condone drug dealing, and offered alternative solutions to combatting drug use in society. In this context How to Make Money Selling Drugs could not be interpreted as seriously encouraging or instructing viewers to engage in drug dealing, and did not undermine law and order.
Not Upheld: Law and Order
Various items on Breakfast featured a weather reporter providing weather forecasts from Airbnb accommodation, as part of a competition for viewers to win Airbnb vouchers. During the items, the reporter interviewed three New Zealanders who rented out their accommodation through Airbnb, as well as an Airbnb representative, about the service. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that these items failed to cover key information about Airbnb, resulting in inaccurate and unbalanced broadcasts that were also in breach of the law and order standard. The items were in the nature of advertorials, being programme content that was not news, current affairs, or factual programming to which the accuracy and balance standards applied. In any event, the Authority considered that the level of information provided about Airbnb was appropriate to the series of segments as a whole, which encouraged viewers to enter the Airbnb competition by providing a light-hearted look at the type of accommodation available on Airbnb and how New Zealanders got involved. The items did not purport to be in-depth investigations of Airbnb and its repercussions on the economy, and did not promote illegal activity.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Law and Order
An item on Sunday Morning featured an interview with journalist Paula Penfold about the recently published book, Don’t Dream It’s Over: Reimagining Journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand. During the interview, Ms Penfold discussed the Stuff Circuit team’s investigation into the death of a teenage girl with Down Syndrome at the Gloriavale Christian community. Ms Penfold referred to the complainant’s documentary, Gloriavale: A Woman’s Place, saying, ‘And I know a little bit about how that works with Hopeful Christian, the leader at Gloriavale. You know, he will insist on editorial control’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that Ms Penfold’s statements were inaccurate. Ms Penfold’s statement represented her own analysis, comment or opinion, based on her experiences at Gloriavale, and so was not subject to the accuracy standard. While Ms Penfold spoke authoritatively, in the context of her full statement, and the item as a whole, the Authority did not consider that listeners would have interpreted her comments as fact.
Not Upheld: Accuracy