The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
An item on Nine to Noon featured an interview with RNZ’s US Correspondent regarding recent political events in the United States, including a brief discussion of the controversy surrounding the Democratic National Party and the release of American political strategist and campaign manager Donna Brazile’s book, Hacks. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this discussion was unbalanced and misleading. The Authority noted the purpose of the item was to hear the views and analysis of RNZ’s US Correspondent on recent political events and news in the US, a small part of which referred to Ms Brazile’s book. The segment did not purport to be an in-depth examination of Ms Brazile’s book or the controversy surrounding the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Primary Election. In this context, the Authority found listeners would not have been misled or left uninformed by the omission of further details from the book and about the DNC, which the complainant wished to be included in the item.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
An item broadcast during RNZ News reported on cycling campaigner Peter Walker’s new book, following an interview between RNZ and Mr Walker earlier that day. The item reported that helmets ‘do little to improve safety’ and are ‘stopping people from taking up cycling’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the omission of any reference to Mr Walker’s position on mandatory helmet legislation was misleading as Mr Walker is not ‘against helmets’ but rather against mandatory helmet laws. The Authority found that, while the short news item truncated a sophisticated topic and did not refer to Mr Walker’s views on mandatory helmet legislation, the ideas communicated in the news item were not materially different to the key themes communicated by Mr Walker during his earlier interview broadcast on RNZ. The Authority therefore considered that upholding the complaint would amount to an unreasonable limitation on the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
An item on Morning Report featured an interview with a Social Policy Advisor at the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), who discussed CAB’s experience assisting the public with income support applications to Work & Income New Zealand (WINZ). The Authority did not uphold a complaint from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) that this interview was unbalanced, unfair and inaccurate. The Authority found that because of the nature of the item – which comprised a brief interview with one individual, who approached a widely reported issue from a clearly identified perspective – audiences would not have expected to hear MSD’s response to the comments made. While the interviewee’s comments were critical, MSD could expect to be subject to scrutiny, and listeners were likely to be broadly aware of MSD’s position in relation to this issue. In this context, and given the nature of the item, listeners would not have been left with an unfairly negative impression of MSD, and the broadcaster was not required to seek comment in response. Finally, it was clear that the interviewee’s comments represented her own opinion, based on the experiences of CAB clients, which were not subject to the requirements of the accuracy standard.
Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness, Accuracy
During a segment broadcast on The Edge, the radio hosts made several references to the names ‘Mark Hunt’ and ‘Mike Hunt’, with the apparent intention to imply the phrase, ‘my c***’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this conversation breached the good taste and decency standard. The Authority found that, while the conversation was gratuitous and immature, the hosts did not explicitly use the phrase, and the segment as a whole was not so extreme or offensive that it went beyond audience expectations of The Edge radio station. The Authority also declined to uphold the complaint under the children’s interests standard, finding children were unlikely to understand the conversation, mitigating the broadcast’s potential harm.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
An item on RNZ’s Midday Report bulletin reported on increases in the price of butter and dairy products, and the impact of this on small food businesses in particular. The item included the statement: ‘The demand for butter has soared worldwide since scientists debunked research linking animal fats with heart disease.’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this statement breached the balance and accuracy standards. The Authority found that, as the statement was peripheral to the focus of the item, the broadcaster was not required in the interests of balance to present alternate viewpoints on the statement, and the statement was unlikely to significantly affect the audience’s understanding of the item as a whole.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy