The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
Warning: This decision contains language and themes that some readers may find offensive.
National Treasure is a four-episode fictional mini-series telling the story of a famous comedian’s life falling into chaos following allegations against him of historical sexual abuse. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of the word ‘fuck’ in the first two episodes, or a conversation about oral sex in the first episode, breached the good taste and decency or children’s interests standards. The Authority acknowledged that some viewers may find this content challenging or offensive. However, taking into account relevant contextual factors including the nature of the programme, the pre-broadcast warning for coarse language and references to rape, the Adults Only classification, the time of broadcast and audience expectations, the Authority found the harm alleged to have been caused did not justify restricting the right to freedom of expression. The programme was not targeted at child viewers and was broadcast in the Adults Only timeband.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
A segment on the George FM Saturday Drive Show featured an announcer making comments about the complainant regarding an incident in the past, where the announcer allegedly saw the complainant engaging in certain activities. The broadcaster upheld the complaint under the privacy and fairness standards and issued written apologies to the complainant. The complainant referred the complaint to the Authority on the basis the broadcast also breached the accuracy standard and the apologies did not address the alleged inaccuracies in the broadcast. The Authority did not uphold the accuracy complaint, finding that, due to the nature of the broadcast and audience expectations, the Saturday Drive Show did not amount to ‘news, current affairs or factual programming’ to which the accuracy standard applied. The Authority noted that while the broadcasting standard raised did not apply, there may be alternative avenues for the complainant to have the concerns expressed in the complaint considered.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
An episode of Shortland Street featured a character using the phrase (according to the accompanying closed captions), ‘You’ve got no freaking idea…’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this phrase breached the good taste and decency standard because in the complainant’s view, the character actually said ‘f***ing’. The Authority noted that if broadcasters wish to broadcast sanitised versions of unacceptable words, then it is their responsibility to make it clear that it is not the offensive word that is being uttered, but rather a word which is distinctly aurally different. Here, where there was some uncertainty about what was said, the Authority did not uphold the complaint. However the Authority urged broadcasters to be careful in future, on the basis that if there is some murkiness and it is open for viewers or listeners to think that an inappropriate word has been used, the Authority may find there has been a breach of broadcasting standards.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
Three episodes of a British dating game show, Naked Attraction, were broadcast on TVNZ 2 at 9.30pm on Friday 10, 17 and 24 November 2017. During each episode, a clothed individual selected a date from six naked individuals, who were gradually revealed in stages from the feet up, with no blurring or pixelation of nudity. Six 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 that the programme denigrated, or was discriminatory towards, both participants and viewers, and 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.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency. Not Upheld: Children’s Interests; Discrimination and Denigration
An item on 1 News reported on the Government’s response to protests about seismic surveying, or ‘blasting’, in New Zealand waters. The item featured an interview with a representative of Greenpeace, who said that the Government could act now to stop seismic blasting, as the practice was harmful and could ‘interfere with [whales’ and dolphins’] communication and breeding… deafen them… and separate calves from their mothers’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this item was inaccurate and unbalanced because it presented Greenpeace’s views as fact. The item was focused on the Government’s response to the practice of seismic surveying, and not on the alleged harm to marine life, and it was clear throughout where the reporter was referring to Greenpeace’s views (which, as the expression of comment or opinion, were not subject to the requirements of the accuracy standard). The item was therefore unlikely to mislead viewers, or significantly affect their understanding of the item as a whole. Balancing comment on this issue was therefore not required to be presented in the interests of ensuring viewers were fully informed, and views contrary to Greenpeace were available in surrounding media coverage.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance