The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
A complaint about the use of the term ‘holiday highway’ during a 1 News item, to refer to the road between Puhoi and Warkworth, was not upheld. The complainant submitted the term ‘holiday highway’ was ‘Labour Party propaganda’, and that its use minimises the seriousness of the road toll in that area and denigrates people who live in North Auckland or Northland. The Authority noted the term has been widely used in the media for a number of years to refer to the road, including prior to the recent General Election, and found it was not used with the malice or condemnation required to constitute a breach of the discrimination and denigration standard.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a 1 News item, reporting on a national hikoi against the use of 1080, was unbalanced. The item focused on claims from the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Forest & Bird that the increased protest activity was resulting in a rise in threats to staff. The Authority recognised that the item addressed a controversial issue of public importance and found that it pointed to significant viewpoints on this issue, with comment sought from the hikoi organiser, as well as representatives from DOC, Forest & Bird and the Minister of Conservation. The issue was also widely reported in other news media, during the period of current interest, with viewers therefore likely to be aware of the main perspectives on this narrow issue associated with the 1080 debate. In these circumstances, the Authority found that upholding the complaint would represent an unreasonable and unjustified limit on the broadcasters’ right to editorial discretion and freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Balance
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on 1 News, which reported on the Government’s intention to remove a benefit reduction sanction that can apply to sole beneficiary parents who do not name the remaining parent. The complainant alleged the item was unbalanced and misleading, as the report omitted details about the exemptions that can apply to the sanction, including that a parent will not have to name the other parent where the child or sole parent could be at risk of violence. The Authority found that the focus of this item was the Government’s desire to remove the sanction. The omission of details about the exemptions was therefore not material to the overall focus of the item, and did not mislead viewers. The Authority also found that the balance standard did not apply, as the item was a brief, straightforward news report on the possible legislative change, and did not purport to be an in-depth discussion of the detail and merits of the existing law and proposed change.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness
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