The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
An item on 1 News, broadcast on Christmas Eve in 2017, reported on fatal road crashes that had occurred during the holiday road toll period, including a crash involving the complainant’s husband. The item featured footage of the crashed vehicle, emergency services working, and a shot (from a considerable distance) of people as they watched. The Authority did not uphold the complaint, finding that the standard could not apply to the complainant’s deceased husband, and in addition, he and the complainant’s whanau were not identifiable in the footage, which is required under the privacy standard. While the Authority found that this item was framed in a respectful way and carried an important public safety message, it expressed its sympathy for the complainant and reiterated the need for sensitivity and care to be taken in reporting of this kind, to avoid any unintended harm being caused to those bereaved or grieving.
Not Upheld: Privacy
An item on Morning Report reported on and discussed the introduction of ACT MP David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill 2017 to Parliament. The broadcast featured excerpts from speeches made during the first reading of the Bill, comments from RNZ’s political commentator and an interview with Mr Seymour. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that statements made by Mr Seymour that ‘[assisted dying is] becoming normal around the world’ were inaccurate. The Authority emphasised the importance of freedom of political expression and the high threshold required to justify limiting that expression. It found that the statement complained about was clearly distinguishable as Mr Seymour’s analysis and opinion, rather than a statement of fact to which the accuracy standard applied. Additionally, alternative viewpoints on the Bill were presented during the item so listeners would not have been misled.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
Saturday Morning featured a segment in which presenter Kim Hill interviewed former MP and spokesperson for lobby group Hobson’s Pledge, Dr Don Brash, about the use of te reo Māori in New Zealand, specifically in RNZ broadcasting, without translation. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the interview was unbalanced and unfair. The Authority found that, while Ms Hill asked Dr Brash challenging and critical questions, Dr Brash had a reasonable opportunity to put forward his competing point of view, and listeners would not have been left misinformed with regard to Dr Brash’s position. Given the level of public interest in the interview, Dr Brash’s position and his experience with the media, the Authority also found Ms Hill’s interview style did not result in Dr Brash being treated unfairly.
Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Good Taste and Decency
A segment on The Country featured the host interviewing The Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern not long after she began her term as Prime Minister. Towards the beginning of the interview the host asked the Prime Minister, ‘Do you wake up and say to yourself, “Holy shit! I’m Prime Minister!” and have to pinch yourself?’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the host’s comment breached community norms of good taste and decency and was discriminatory. Taking into account relevant contextual factors including low level of offensive language used, the light-hearted tone, and audience expectations, the broadcast did not threaten community norms of good taste and decency, or justify restricting freedom of expression. There was no malice or condemnation underlying the host’s comment, so it did not reach the threshold for encouraging discrimination against any section of the community.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency. Discrimination and Denigration
An item on Checkpoint reported that the Sky World building, a multi-storey entertainment complex in central Auckland, had not been issued with a warrant of fitness in 435 days, and that the building remained open throughout that time, with the knowledge of Auckland Council, despite critical fire safety compliance issues. The item (which was broadcast on free-to-air television as well as on radio) included footage of the reporter attempting to contact the owner of the complex, ‘A’, visiting his home and offices, where he spoke to two employees, ‘X’ and ‘Y’. JNJ Management made a direct privacy complaint to the Authority, submitting that these segments breached the privacy of A and his employees. The Authority did not uphold the complaint, finding that A’s home was filmed only to the extent visible to the public and he was filmed in a public place at Sky World so he did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy there. No private information or material was disclosed about the employees during the programme, and they did not have an interest in solitude or seclusion, given the workplace was accessible to members of the public to seek an appointment. Further, the employees were informed of the reporter’s identity and the purpose of the reporter’s interview, and therefore had an opportunity to object to filming at that time.
Not Upheld: Privacy