The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
During an episode of Shortland Street, characters Lincoln and Jack took Nicole out for drinks to take her mind off her attacker. Lincoln, who was previously in a relationship with a man, was shown taking an illegal drug which he gave to Nicole. Later in the episode, Lincoln and Nicole were shown in bed together. In the episode broadcast the following evening, Jack asked Lincoln about being gay and sleeping with Nicole. Lincoln replied that he did not have to ‘put a label on it’, saying, ‘I’m just me’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the programme’s portrayal of Lincoln’s sexuality, by a straight actor, could have damaging effects on young viewers or those struggling with their sexuality. The character explained that he preferred not to use labels and there was no suggestion that Lincoln’s sexual orientation changed under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or that his sexual orientation was ‘a phase’. While the Authority acknowledged that ensuring diversity in casting was an important issue, the casting of straight actors to play gay or queer characters was a decision for the broadcaster. The actor’s portrayal of Lincoln was part of the programme’s fictional narrative, which in context was not in breach of standards. The Authority therefore did not identify any grounds which would justify restricting the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression or dramatic license in this case.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Alcohol, Balance, Accuracy, Fairness
A complaint about a promo for Children Who Kill, broadcast at 5:30pm on a weekday during an episode of The Chase, has not been upheld by the Authority. The promo featured footage of a young boy and girl, with a voiceover explaining that the young boy murdered the girl and asking ‘should children who commit murder die behind bars?’ The Authority did not uphold this complaint under the children’s interests or violence standards. The Authority found the promo did not go beyond the expectations of The Chase or TVNZ 1’s mature target audience. The Authority further noted that while murder and death are adult themes, the promo itself did not contain any unduly disturbing or graphic images or detail that required the restriction of the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests, Violence
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a promo for Body Fixers, which included a brief shot of a woman exposing her hairy lower stomach area to a team of beauty therapists. The complainant initially complained to the broadcaster that the promo showed a man exposing his pubic hair. The Authority viewed the promo broadcast at the date and time identified by the complainant, and was satisfied that the promo showed a woman lifting her shirt to expose her lower stomach area, rather than a man pulling down his pants to show his pubic hair. The Authority nevertheless went on to consider the promo against the good taste and decency standard, finding that, in the context of a programme about beauty therapy, the fleeting shot of lower stomach body hair was unlikely to cause undue or widespread offence and distress. Upholding the complaint would therefore represent an unjustified and unreasonable limit on the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
A complaint about a Newshub item in which the presenter commented, ‘And I thought the only reason we watch Aussie Rules [AFL] was for the short shorts’, has not been upheld by the Authority. The Authority found that the comment, while inappropriate, did not reach the threshold to be considered a serious violation of community norms of good taste and decency. The Authority acknowledged the importance of contextual factors in considering whether the standards have been breached, including the nature of Newshub as an unclassified news programme and audience expectations of the broadcast. The Authority recognised that the statement was not made with malice or nastiness and found the comment did not breach the discrimination and denigration, balance or fairness standards.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Fairness
The Authority has declined to determine a complaint that an interviewee’s reference to ‘the Queen of England’, during an episode of Waka Huia, was inaccurate and discriminatory towards those in the United Kingdom who were not English. The complainant has previously referred a number of complaints about this issue to the Authority, which were either not upheld, with comprehensive reasons given for the Authority’s decision, or which the Authority declined to determine. The complainant’s appeal of a previous decision to the High Court on a similar issue was also dismissed. The Authority therefore declined to determine the complaint under section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, on the grounds that it was trivial and vexatious.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration