The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
During the talkback programme, Overnighter, host Garry McAlpine invited listeners to call in to discuss the issues facing New Zealand in 2018, one of which was the upcoming cannabis referendum. Mr McAlpine strongly expressed his view, throughout the programme, that cannabis should be decriminalised for medicinal and recreational use. A number of callers, including the complainant, expressed their views on the subject, with some supportive of, and others opposed to, Mr McAlpine’s views. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this programme was in breach of broadcasting standards. Talkback radio is known for robust discussion, and broadcasting standards recognise that it is an opinionated environment, with hosts granted some latitude to be provocative and edgy in the interests of generating robust debate. This programme in particular featured genuine discussion on an important issue in New Zealand. As such, the harm alleged to have been caused by the complainant did not outweigh the host’s, or callers’, right to express their opinions as part of a talkback discussion about New Zealand’s future, even if some listeners might have disagreed or found those views distasteful.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Law and Order, Good Taste and Decency, Fairness, Programme Information, Discrimination and Denigration
The first segment of The AM Show’s daily panel, featuring panel guests Dr Don Brash and Newshub reporter Wilhelmina Shrimpton, discussed Dr Brash’s views on the use of te reo Māori in New Zealand, specifically in RNZ broadcasting without translation. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this panel discussion lacked balance and was unfair to Dr Brash. The Authority found that, while the panel discussion was robust and Dr Brash’s opinion was tested by the panel, Dr Brash was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to present his point of view in the time allowed. Given the level of public interest in the issue discussed, Dr Brash’s position as a public figure and his experience with the media, the Authority found that the panel discussion did not result in Dr Brash being treated unfairly and viewers would not have been left misinformed as to his position on the issue.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance, Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration
An item on The Panel featured an interview with the Prime Minister’s partner and regular guest on the programme, Clarke Gayford. The interview focused on the Prime Minister’s recent pregnancy announcement and parenthood. At the beginning of the interview, Mr Gayford was introduced as the ‘Prime Minister’s partner’. The complainant submitted that the broadcast was inaccurate and misleading because Mr Gayford should have been introduced as the Prime Minister’s ‘publicist’. The Authority declined to determine the complaint on the basis it was frivolous and trivial and did not reach the threshold for being considered under the accuracy standard.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy
During a 1 News Coming Up teaser, presenter Simon Dallow referred to an upcoming item on 1 News, saying: ‘Plus a warning for mums to be; research showing C-section babies face long-term health issues.’ The full item reported on research findings from the University of Edinburgh that babies born through caesarean section were ‘far more likely to suffer from obesity and asthma’, but went on to explain that it was not the caesarean section which caused the health problems, as these could be due to the mother’s health, and further research is needed. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the teaser was sensationalist and misleading, in breach of the accuracy standard. Due to the short duration of the teaser, which was designed to pique viewers’ interest and attract viewers to the later news bulletin, it was necessary for Mr Dallow to briefly summarise the main point of the research, and was not reasonable, at this point, to provide a full explanation of the research and its implications. Viewers understand the nature of news teasers, and were able to watch the full item to get the full story, so they were unlikely to be materially misled by the short teaser.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information
An item on Nine to Noon featured a discussion of the appointment of former NZ Super Fund Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Adrian Orr, as Reserve Bank Governor. During the segment, an RNZ business commentator raised the subject of Mr Orr’s potential replacement as NZ Super Fund CEO, citing Matt Whineray, current acting NZ Super Fund CEO, as a logical replacement. The commentator stated that Mr Whineray had been NZ Super Fund Chief Investment Officer (CIO) for ‘nearly ten years’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this statement was inaccurate because Mr Whineray was appointed CIO in 2014. The Authority found that, as Mr Whineray’s professional experience was only raised briefly in the broadcast, the commentator’s incorrect statement was unlikely to significantly affect the audience’s understanding of the segment as a whole. The complainant also submitted that the broadcast omitted information, which contributed to its inaccuracy as a whole, however the Authority considered these were issues of editorial discretion and personal preference, and were outside the Authority’s jurisdiction.
Not Upheld: Accuracy