A complaint that a news item which included blurred clips of a politician in a strip club breached the children’s interests standard has not been upheld. The Authority found that the short news item contained brief and inexplicit clips from inside the strip club which were shown in the context of a news item about Australian politics. Generally audiences are aware of the need to exercise discretion during news programming to regulate their own and their children’s viewing. The Authority found that due to audience expectations of 1 News, which is an unclassified news and current affairs programme, the brevity of the clip and blurring applied, the public interest, and the focus of the item being on Pauline Hanson’s response to the resignation of a party candidate, the item would not cause undue harm to children.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that the song Why Won’t You Give Me Your Love breached broadcasting standards. The complaint was that the song lyrics described an ‘intention to stalk, kidnap, imprison and rape’ and the song was inappropriate to broadcast in the afternoon. The Authority determined that the song’s satirical nature and upbeat style reduced the potential for the darker tone of the lyrics to cause harm. The song was within audience expectations for the eclectic music selection of the host programme, Matinee Idle and, taking into account the context of the broadcast, the lyrics did not undermine widely shared community standards and would not have unduly harmed child listeners.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration
The Authority has upheld a complaint that a promo for The Shallows shown during Finding Dory breached the children’s interests standard. The Authority found that the promo, which featured sinister and scary shark related content, was inappropriate for a child audience which would likely have been disturbed or alarmed by it. The Authority noted the importance of scheduling and editing promos for AO programmes appropriately, taking into account the classification of the host programme, and also the time of broadcast, target and likely audience of the host programme, and audience expectations. In considering the contextual factors, the Authority also found that the promo did not meet the G classification of the host programme. The Authority made no orders, and determined that the publication of the decision was sufficient to publicly notify and remedy the breach and would provide appropriate guidance to the broadcaster and to broadcasters generally.
Upheld: Children’s Interests. No order.
Warning: This decision contains content that some readers may find distressing.
On 15 March 2019 a special 1 News broadcast covered the terrorist attacks on two Christchurch mosques. The broadcast featured footage of victims being taken into hospital, many of whom had visibly sustained gunshot injuries and/or were identifiable. The Authority did not uphold two complaints that the coverage breached the privacy standard. The Authority found that media coverage of this event had high public interest in light of the unprecedented nature of extreme violence that occurred. The media had an important role to play in informing the public of events as they unfolded, including the nature and scope of injuries suffered and the action of first responders, including medical personnel. The Authority acknowledged that the repeated use of footage of identifiable victims amounted to a breach of privacy but found that the public interest defence applied. The Authority also did not uphold a complaint that the good taste and decency, children’s interests and violence standards were breached. The Authority found that there was sufficient signposting by the broadcaster of the nature of the event being reported on to enable audiences to make informed choices as to whether they, or children in their care, should watch the coverage. The Authority held that the footage of the victims (which illustrated the gravity of the situation) was justified in the public interest.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a segment of Dom, Meg and Randell breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. The Authority found that, while comments made on the show may have been distasteful to some, the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression includes the right to broadcast such material provided this does not cause undue harm. The Authority found that, given the well-established nature of the programme, the station and their target audience, listeners and particularly those with children in their care had sufficient information to make an informed decision about what they listened to. The Authority noted that the standards do not prohibit inexplicit sexual references or sexual innuendo during children’s normally accepted listening times, and it was likely that many of the references during this segment would have gone over the heads of child listeners. In any event, The Edge is not targeted at children and this particular segment, while it may have been distasteful to some, did not meet the threshold to justify regulatory intervention.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
The Authority has not upheld four complaints about a segment on The AM Show, which featured host Duncan Garner criticising parents who do not vaccinate their children, using terms such as ‘murderers’ and ‘bloody idiots’, and stating they should be ‘stripped of their right to spread their message and their viruses’. The Authority found that, taking into account audience expectations of Mr Garner and The AM Show, alongside other contextual factors, Mr Garner’s comments did not breach broadcasting standards. With regard to the balance standard, the Authority found that, while the anti-vaccination movement was a controversial issue of public importance, Mr Garner’s comments did not amount to a ‘discussion’ for the purposes of the standard, but reflected his own personal views on the issue. The Authority acknowledged that Mr Garner’s comments may have caused offence to some viewers but overall the harm alleged did not reach the threshold requiring a limitation on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Children’s Interests, Violence, Law and Order
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that replacement programming broadcast on RNZ National instead of Children’s Storytime breached the children’s interests standard. On 17 March 2019, shortly after the 15 March 2019 attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, instead of the usual Children’s Storytime, RNZ played excerpts from the podcast Public Enemy, a four-part series from 2016/17 looking at growing up Muslim in the post September 11 world. The Authority found that while the replacement broadcast contained material that could be disturbing for children, and while there was a greater chance of children tuning in due to the usually scheduled programming at that time, the broadcaster took steps to adequately inform listeners of the nature of the programme. This would have enabled caregivers to decide whether the content was suitable for children in their care. Further, the replacement programme had significant public interest in the context of the recent 15 March attacks. The Authority therefore found any restriction on the right to freedom of expression would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an interviewee’s language, broadcast during an item on Morning Report on 10 December 2018, was violent and inappropriate. The item reported on the declining memberships of sports clubs in New Zealand and featured an interview with the Club Captain of a tennis club. The interviewee commented that the tennis courts were so empty ‘you could… fire a machine gun and hit no one.’ The Authority noted that the right to freedom of expression allows individuals to express themselves in their own words, provided this does not cause undue harm. In this case, the comment made by the interviewee was brief, was not overly graphic or targeted at a particular individual or group, and was not intended to be taken literally. Taking into account contextual factors, such as the adult target audience of Morning Report and RNZ National, the broadcast was unlikely to unduly distress or disturb listeners, or any children that might have been listening, and was not so graphic as to require an audience advisory for violent content.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Children’s Interests, Violence
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a Newshub item, which featured blurred footage of a child, was in breach of the children’s interests standard. The item reported on the conviction of a British tourist for stealing from a service station and featured blurred footage of the woman’s child as the pair exited a New Zealand court. The Authority noted that the children’s interests standard is designed to protect children when viewing and listening to broadcasts. Complaints about children featured in broadcasts are more appropriately dealt with under other standards. In any event, there was no material in this item that might have adversely affected child viewers. The child was fully blurred throughout the item, protecting their identity, and while the item contained footage of the child making an obscene gesture, the item as a whole was focused on the actions of the adult family members and the resulting convictions. There was no element of exploitation or humiliation of the child, and the Authority found the harm alleged did not reach the threshold required to find a breach of broadcasting standards.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests
The Authority has upheld a complaint about a broadcast of The DailyMail TV, finding that footage broadcast during the programme was inappropriate for the PGR classification and time of broadcast, and required an audience advisory for disturbing content. The programme was broadcast at 3.30pm on a weekday, and featured partially censored footage of an American stabbing victim in the moments before she died. While the woman’s injuries were blurred, her distressed facial expression and blood splatters on the floor were visible. A second story featured censored footage of two 19-year-old women who claimed they had been drugged, filmed inside a bar naked and allegedly performing sex acts. The Authority found that this content went beyond what could be expected from a PGR-classified programme broadcast during children’s normally accepted viewing times and that the programme should have been classified AO – Adults Only. Further, the sexual material and disturbing nature of these stories required an audience advisory.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
Order: Section 16(4) – $1,000 costs to the Crown
Two complaints about Heather du Plessis-Allan’s use of the term ‘leeches’ to describe the Pacific Islands during Wellington Mornings with Heather du Plessis-Allan were upheld, under both the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards. The Authority recognised the important role talkback radio plays in fostering open discourse and debate in society. However, the Authority found Ms du Plessis-Allan’s comments went beyond what is acceptable in a talkback environment, considering the use of language that was inflammatory, devalued the reputation of Pasifika people within New Zealand and had the potential to cause widespread offence and distress.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests, Law and Order, Balance, Accuracy, Fairness
Orders: Section 13(1)(a) broadcast statement; Section16(4) – $3,000 costs to the Crown
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 that it was inappropriate to broadcast the song ‘Talk Dirty’ by Jason Derulo at 4pm on The Edge. The Authority noted the language complained about was censored in the song, minimising any potential offence or harm caused. Taking into account relevant contextual factors, including audience expectations of The Edge and the popularity and longevity of the song (first released in 2013), the Authority found that children’s interests were adequately considered and the song was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence. Accordingly, any restriction of the right to freedom of expression on this occasion would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an episode of children’s cartoon Shimmer and Shine breached broadcasting standards by promoting gambling to children. The episode focused on the main character’s quest to win tickets in an arcade with the help of her genies so she could get the prize she wanted. The Authority acknowledged there are similarities between arcade games and casinos and acknowledged the complainant’s concerns about the episode in this respect. However the young target audience were unlikely to make that connection, reducing the likelihood of real harm being caused by the programme. The Authority therefore found any restriction on the right to freedom of expression would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests, Fairness
An item on 1 News reported on an alleged ‘mistake’ by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), which the reporter, Andrea Vance, said ‘cost the taxpayer a quarter of a million dollars’. The item referred to MFAT’s action in waiving the diplomatic immunity of an MFAT employee – the complainant – to allow child custody and matrimonial proceedings to be heard in an overseas court. According to Ms Vance, MFAT’s actions were disputed by the complainant’s ex-partner, resulting in MFAT issuing an apology and payment of ‘legal bills’ to both the complainant and the complainant’s ex-partner. The Authority upheld aspects of a complaint from the MFAT employee that the item was inaccurate, unbalanced and unfair. It was important, in the interests of ensuring viewers were properly informed and were not misled, for the broadcaster to have provided alternative perspectives on the issue of legal costs, namely that MFAT denied payment of the complainant’s costs. Further, it should have been made clear to viewers that a legal expert featured in the item did not have specific knowledge of the complainant’s case and was commenting only generally on the applicable law. The Authority noted the public interest in this item and the efforts made by the broadcaster to protect the identities of those involved, and did not uphold the complaint under the remaining standards.
Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Balance.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Children’s Interests, Programme Information.
The Authority has upheld one aspect of a complaint from three complainants about a segment of Punjabi talkback programme Panthic Vichar, broadcast on community radio station, Planet FM. During the programme, host Kuldip Singh made a number of allegations against the complainants, regarding use of grant money and cheating or ‘unjust’ behaviour at a kabaddi tournament. The Authority found that the host’s comments reflected negatively on the complainants and as such, they should have been given an opportunity to respond to the allegations. The Authority did not uphold the remaining aspects of the complaint. The Authority acknowledged the limited resources available to the broadcaster, but reminded it of its obligations under the Broadcasting Act 1989 to receive and consider formal complaints through a proper process, including where the broadcast subject to complaint is in a language other than English. The Authority did not make any orders.
Upheld: Fairness. Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Children’s Interests, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Accuracy, Privacy. No Order.
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
During Hauraki Breakfast, hosts Jeremy Wells and Matt Heath discussed smoking marijuana, in relation to several National Party MPs who had recently publicly stated they had never tried it. The hosts took calls from listeners who had also never tried marijuana and asked them why they had never tried it. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast promoted and encouraged the use of marijuana. The Authority found the broadcast amounted to a comedic discussion of smoking marijuana that did not go beyond established audience expectations of Radio Hauraki, Hauraki Breakfast or the hosts. The Authority noted that humour and satire are important aspects of free speech, and found that on this occasion, there was insufficient risk of harm to justify limiting the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Children’s Interests
Warning: This decision contains language and themes that some readers may find offensive.
National Treasure is a four-episode fictional mini-series telling the story of a famous comedian’s life falling into chaos following allegations against him of historical sexual abuse. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of the word ‘fuck’ in the first two episodes, or a conversation about oral sex in the first episode, breached the good taste and decency or children’s interests standards. The Authority acknowledged that some viewers may find this content challenging or offensive. However, taking into account relevant contextual factors including the nature of the programme, the pre-broadcast warning for coarse language and references to rape, the Adults Only classification, the time of broadcast and audience expectations, the Authority found the harm alleged to have been caused did not justify restricting the right to freedom of expression. The programme was not targeted at child viewers and was broadcast in the Adults Only timeband.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
Three episodes of a British dating game show, Naked Attraction, were broadcast on TVNZ 2 at 9.30pm on Friday 10, 17 and 24 November 2017. During each episode, a clothed individual selected a date from six naked individuals, who were gradually revealed in stages from the feet up, with no blurring or pixelation of nudity. Six complainants referred their complaints about these episodes of Naked Attraction to the Authority, complaining that the programme contained a high level of full frontal nudity and sexual discussion, which was offensive and contrary to standards of good taste and decency. The complainants also submitted that the programme denigrated, or was discriminatory towards, both participants and viewers, and was broadcast at a time on a weekend night when children were likely to be watching. The Authority did not agree with the complainants that this programme ought not to have been broadcast at all. It observed that, while the programme may not have been to everybody’s taste, it contained many body-positive messages and those involved in the programme spoke positively of their experiences. However, the Authority upheld the good taste and decency complaints on one aspect, finding the pre-broadcast warning did not adequately signpost the extent of nudity and sexual references in the programme for viewers.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency. Not Upheld: Children’s Interests; Discrimination and Denigration