The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
An item on 1 News discussed former MP Steven Joyce’s valedictory speech in Parliament. The item focused on Mr Joyce recounting in his speech an incident where he had a sex toy thrown at him at Waitangi several years earlier. Footage was shown of Mr Joyce recounting this story during his speech, and of the incident at Waitangi. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this broadcast and in particular showing the footage of the sex toy breached the good taste and decency standard. Given the incident was newsworthy and attracted widespread coverage at the time, as well as the light-hearted nature of Mr Joyce’s speech, and the broadcast’s target audience, the Authority found the broadcast was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress. The Authority also found the broadcast was not unfair to Mr Joyce as he personally raised and joked about the incident in his speech. The broadcaster’s choice to highlight this aspect of the speech was an editorial decision open to the broadcaster.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Fairness
During an episode of Shortland Street, one of the characters, Harper, used the exclamation ‘Oh, Jesus…’ to express her shock and disgust at a flood of sewage in her new home. A promo for this episode, broadcast during the weather report on 1 News, also included Harper using this expression. The Authority received a complaint that this language was blasphemous and offensive, and in the case of the promo, inappropriate for broadcast during 1 News at 6pm when children might be watching. The Authority acknowledged that the complainant, and others in the community, might find this type of language offensive. However, the Authority has consistently found that these type of expressions are commonly used as exclamations in our society. This was reflected in recent research undertaken by the Authority, which found that the level of unacceptability for some blasphemies was decreasing among the members of the public who were surveyed. Overall, the Authority considered the broadcast of this language did not cause harm to an extent which justified limiting the right to freedom of expression, and did not uphold the complaint.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Discrimination and Denigration
An episode of The AM Show featured an interview with Hon. Kelvin Davis regarding the Government’s scheduled series of nationwide Hui with Māori. The programme also discussed legal action taken by prisoners against the Department of Corrections over strip searches, and a short clip of comments by host Duncan Garner on this issue was included in a promo for The AM Show broadcast that evening. A complaint was made that Mr Garner’s comments in relation to the first topic amounted to racist ‘slurs’ against Māori and were dismissive of the Crown’s efforts to fulfil its Treaty obligations, and that the discussion of the second topic trivialised prisoners’ ‘serious abusive treatment’. The Authority did not uphold either aspect of the complaint. The Authority found that, while some of the comments made by Mr Garner could be considered controversial and provocative, this was robust political discourse which carried public interest, and did not go beyond audience expectations. Comments were also made by the other hosts and panel guests which gave a countering view. In this context upholding the complaint would unreasonably restrict the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy, Balance
An item on The Project discussed the building of a new gambling venue in Tokoroa set to contain 30 gambling machines (‘pokies’). The segment was critical of the South Waikato District Council’s (SWDC) role in the authorisation of this new venue, and also one of the Councillors’ roles as both a Councillor and manager of one of the clubs involved in the creation of the proposed new venue. The following evening one of the programme hosts issued an on-air apology to the Councillor, clarifying inaccurate statements made about their involvement in the decision-making process. The Authority upheld SWDC’s complaint that the action taken by MediaWorks did not sufficiently remedy the harm caused by the breaches. The Authority found that the statement the following night did not remedy the harm caused to SWDC by the broadcast, only the Councillor. The Authority also upheld the complaint that the host’s statement that the SWDC ‘get a cut of the profits’ from the gambling machines was inaccurate, as the SWDC do not directly receive any percentage of the profits.
Upheld: Balance (Action Taken), Fairness (Action Taken), Accuracy. Order: Section 13(1)(a) broadcast statement.
An item on Newshub explored concerns of members of the public and the Christchurch City Council regarding potential water contamination from a bore drilled by Cloud Ocean Water and pending judicial review action taken against Environment Canterbury (ECan) over their resource consent processes. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast was inaccurate and unfair to Cloud Ocean Water. The Authority found that Cloud Ocean Water’s responses to questions from Newshub prior to the broadcast were fairly reflected in the item, and that viewers were unlikely to be misled regarding the nature of Cloud Ocean Water’s involvement in the resource consent process or the judicial review.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness