The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
An item on Checkpoint reported that the Sky World building, a multi-storey entertainment complex in central Auckland, had not been issued with a warrant of fitness in 435 days, and that the building remained open throughout that time, with the knowledge of Auckland Council, despite critical fire safety compliance issues. The item (which was broadcast on free-to-air television as well as on radio) included footage of the reporter attempting to contact the owner of the complex, ‘A’, visiting his home and offices, where he spoke to two employees, ‘X’ and ‘Y’. JNJ Management made a direct privacy complaint to the Authority, submitting that these segments breached the privacy of A and his employees. The Authority did not uphold the complaint, finding that A’s home was filmed only to the extent visible to the public and he was filmed in a public place at Sky World so he did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy there. No private information or material was disclosed about the employees during the programme, and they did not have an interest in solitude or seclusion, given the workplace was accessible to members of the public to seek an appointment. Further, the employees were informed of the reporter’s identity and the purpose of the reporter’s interview, and therefore had an opportunity to object to filming at that time.
Not Upheld: Privacy
During The AM Show, host Duncan Garner and then Newshub political editor Patrick Gower discussed various policies the new Labour Government was considering implementing, as well as legislation it planned to change or repeal. Discussing the ‘three strikes’ law, Mr Gower referred to one of the complainants, Mr Garrett, who was involved in introducing the law, and stated, ‘turned out that he had been stealing dead babies’ identities himself before he came into Parliament’. Mr Garner later clarified that it was ‘one dead baby’. The Authority upheld three complaints that the segment was inaccurate and unfair to Mr Garrett. While the broadcaster acknowledged the statement was inaccurate, the Authority found Mr Garner’s correction was dismissive and perfunctory, and insufficient to correct the error. The Authority also considered that the manner and tone in which Mr Garrett was brought up in the discussion, despite the passage of time since his offence, was unfair. The Authority did not make any order, finding publication of its decision was sufficient to publicly notify the breach of standards, and help to repair any harm caused to Mr Garrett.
Upheld: Accuracy (Action Taken), Fairness. Not Upheld: Balance, Discrimination and Denigration
On 18 March 2017, RNZ reported on allegations made by the Board of Trustees at Salisbury School, a Nelson school for girls with complex learning needs, that the Ministry of Education (Ministry) had actively discouraged parents from enrolling children at the school so that it could be closed. On 31 March and 6 April 2017, RNZ broadcast a series of items about an alleged lack of funding, resources and support for Northland teachers struggling to cope with violent and disruptive children. The Authority upheld aspects of a complaint from the Ministry that RNZ’s coverage of these issues was unfair and unbalanced. While the Authority acknowledged the high public interest in these stories, and the important role of broadcast media in holding our government entities to account, it found that it was equally important in this case to ensure listeners were fully informed about the issues reported on, and this included being made aware of the Ministry’s views in response. This required the broadcaster to ensure that the Ministry was provided with a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment on the items, prior to broadcast.
Upheld: Balance, Fairness
During Morning Talk with Mark Sainsbury a caller to the programme discussed her experience with divorce legal proceedings in the Family Court and subsequent appeals. A complaint was made that, by allowing the caller to disclose details of the proceedings, the broadcaster breached the law and order standard. The Authority expressed serious concerns with the way in which the call was allowed to progress, as private information was disclosed by the caller which had been suppressed in the Family Court. The Authority found the broadcaster needs to be more alert to the issues surrounding Family Court matters and similar proceedings as issues of contempt, as well as fairness and privacy, may arise. However, the Authority did not consider the broadcaster could reasonably be said to have actively encouraged listeners to break the law by allowing the caller on air, in the manner envisaged by the law and order standard.
Not Upheld: Law and Order
The first two episodes of a British dating game show, Naked Attraction, were broadcast on TVNZ 2 at 9.45pm on Friday 27 October 2017, and 9.30pm on Friday 3 November 2017. The essence of the programme is that a clothed individual selects a date from six naked individuals, who are gradually revealed in stages from the feet up, with no blurring or pixelation of nudity. Thirteen complainants referred their complaints about these episodes of Naked Attraction to the Authority, complaining that the programme contained a high level of full frontal nudity and sexual discussion, which was offensive and contrary to standards of good taste and decency. The complainants also submitted the programme was broadcast at a time on a weekend night when children were likely to be watching. The Authority did not agree with the complainants that this programme ought not to have been broadcast at all. It observed that, while the programme may not have been to everybody’s taste, it contained many body-positive messages and those involved in the programme spoke positively of their experiences. However, the Authority upheld the good taste and decency complaints on one aspect, finding the pre-broadcast warning did not adequately signpost the extent of nudity and sexual references in the programme for viewers, meaning viewers did not have all the information they needed to decide whether to watch or continue watching.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency. Not Upheld: Children’s Interests. No Order.