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Decisions
Singh and Television New Zealand Ltd - ID2019-050 (30 September 2019)
ID2019-050

The Authority received a complaint about a promo for a scheduled programme Seven Sharp which was viewed on TVNZ’s Facebook page. The Authority declined to determine the complaint under s11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. The Authority acknowledged that it raised complex issues of jurisdiction arising from the online environment, which had not yet been determined by the Authority. Taking into account its assessment of the substance of the complaint, which it considered was unlikely to result in a finding of a breach of standards, the Authority declined to determine the complaint.

Declined to determine: Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Mclaughlin and Radio New Zealand Ltd – 2019-032 (17 September 2019)

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an interview by Kim Hill with former nun and lesbian activist Monica Hingston breached broadcasting standards by including the suggestion that the Catholic Church, and by connection, all Catholics are corrupt. The Authority found that the interview did not contain a high level of condemnation, nor would it undermine community standards of good taste and decency, as it was a nuanced, considered conversation that was narrowly focused on Ms Hingston’s personal views and experiences with the Catholic Church. Taking into account public interest in the interview and the fact that the interview was clearly signalled as being from Ms Hingston’s perspective, the Authority also determined that it did not result in any unfairness to the Catholic Church.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Good Taste and Decency, Fairness

Decisions
Wratt and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2019-031 (17 September 2019)
2019-031

The Authority declined to determine a complaint regarding a news item covering animal welfare in rodeos. David Wratt complained that the item, which covered loss of animal life in rodeos, should focus on the deaths of babies as human life is more valuable than animal life. As this complaint relates to a matter of editorial discretion and personal preference, it is not capable of being determined by a complaints procedure. The Authority considered that, in all circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined by the Authority. 

Declined to Determine: Good Taste and Decency; Programme Information; Discrimination and Denigration; Balance; Fairness

Decisions
Wood and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-036 (17 September 2019)
2019-036

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

Decisions
Right To Life New Zealand and Mediaworks TV Ltd – 2019-041 (17 September 2019)
2019-041

A complaint that a segment on The Project which discussed the delay in abortion legislative reform and the current process for obtaining a legal abortion in New Zealand was discriminatory, unbalanced and misleading was not upheld. The Authority found that the item did not breach the discrimination and denigration standard as people who are opposed to this reform and ‘the unborn’ do not amount to recognised sections of the community for the purposes of the standard. The Authority also found the item clearly approached this topic from a particular perspective and that viewers could reasonably be expected to have a level of awareness of significant arguments in the debate.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Accuracy

Decisions
Muir and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2019-039 (23 August 2019)
2019-039

A complaint alleging that an interview on Breakfast with Professor Douglas Pratt, an expert in theological and religious studies, breached broadcasting standards has not been upheld. The interview was exploring Professor Pratt’s views on the possible motivation behind the attacks on 15 March 2019 on two mosques in Christchurch. The Authority found that the interview was not a discussion as contemplated under the balance standard, but rather Professor Pratt’s in-depth, expert opinion, and therefore the balance standard did not apply. The Authority also found that the broadcast did not contain a high level of condemnation towards the Christian community nor the level of malice or nastiness required to breach the discrimination and denigration standard.

Not Upheld: Balance, Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Marra and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2019-023 (18 July 2019)
2019-023

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that ACT leader David Seymour MP was bullied and treated unfairly on Magic Afternoons with Sean Plunket. Mr Seymour called the show to present his perspective on comments made by Mr Plunket moments earlier about Mr Seymour’s motivation for sponsoring the End of Life Choice Bill. The Authority found that, while Mr Plunket’s interviewing style was robust and challenging, Mr Seymour was not treated unfairly given the nature of the programme, the fact that Mr Seymour initiated the conversation and expressed his views, and Mr Seymour’s position and his experience with the media. The Authority also found that the broadcast did not breach the balance standard as it did not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue of public importance, which is required for the balance standard to apply. The merits of the End of Life Choice Bill is a controversial issue of public importance but the focus of this discussion was on the discrete topic of Mr Seymour’s political motivations and the alleged influence of ACT party donors. The Authority also found the discrimination and denigration standard did not apply as the standard does not apply to individuals or organisations.

Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance, Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Gray, Scott, Vickers and Vink and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2019-020 (18 July 2019)
2019-020

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

Decisions
Truijens and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-012 (7 May 2019)
2019-012

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an interview on The Weekend, which covered various aspects of racism in Canada, breached the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards. The Authority found that the interviewee’s use of ‘goddamn’ as an expletive was unlikely to undermine or violate widely shared community norms. Further, the interviewee’s reference to the colonial treatment of Canada’s indigenous people did not breach the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority found that the comments did not apply to a recognised section of the community consistent with the grounds for discrimination listed in the Human Rights Act 1993. The Authority therefore found any restriction on the right to freedom of expression would be unjustified.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Abel and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2019-004 (7 May 2019)
2019-004

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a news item on Newshub Live at 6pm was insensitive and encouraged the denigration of Christians. The item covered the controversy around an Australian advertisement, which featured two Roman soldiers asking Jesus on the cross to consent to organ donation via an app. The Authority found that while the advertisement made light of the crucifixion, the news item itself was a balanced discussion of the controversy that did not contain any statements encouraging the denigration of, or discrimination against, Christians. 

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Day & Moss and NZME Radio Ltd - 2018-090 (2 April 2019)
2018-090

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

Decisions
Kavanagh and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2019-001 (2 April 2019)
2019-001

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a segment on The AM Show, in which a booth designed to enable doctors to perform discrete testicle examinations was likened to a ‘confession booth’, breached the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards. The Authority found that, in the context of the segment, the comparison was unlikely to undermine or violate widely shared community norms. It also did not reach the level of malice or nastiness necessary to denigrate a section of the community. The public health message in the broadcast was an important one and overall the Authority found that any potential for harm did not justify a restriction on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
XD and Mediaworks TV Ltd - 2018-102C-D (13 March 2019)
2018-102C-D

A complaint regarding two broadcasts, relating to threats to public officials over the Government’s use of 1080 (including footage of an anti-1080 protest featuring the complainant), was not upheld. The Authority found the use of the footage, in segments on Newshub and The AM Show, did not result in any unfairness to the complainant. The Authority considered these broadcasts did not link the complainant, or the majority of anti-1080 protestors, to the threats, as both broadcasts stated that the threatening behaviour was from the fringes of the movement. The Authority determined that the audience was therefore unlikely to be misled or misinformed. The Authority also found a comment made by host Duncan Garner during The AM Show segment, implying Willie Apiata should be sent to harm the people who made the threats, did not breach broadcasting standards. The Authority noted that the comment was flippant, and when weighed against the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression, it did not reach a point that justified the limitation of that right.

Not Upheld: Programme Information, Violence, Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy, Fairness

Decisions
Bartlett and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2018-093 (4 February 2019)
2018-093

Warning: This decision contains language that some readers may find offensive

During an interview on Breakfast about a proposed cull of Himalayan tahr, the Minister of Conservation, Hon Eugenie Sage, appeared to use the word ‘cunters’ when referring to the educational effort undertaken by tahr hunters. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the Minister’s use of this word during this interview breached the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards. The use of the word was an accidental slip of the tongue and it was clear that the Minister intended to refer to ‘hunters’ during this section of the interview. The use of the word was not deliberate nor was it used with any malice or invective. The Minister herself acknowledged that she could have enunciated the word ‘hunters’ more clearly during the interview and apologised for any offence it caused. Overall, the Authority found that the use of this term, in the particular context, did not meet the threshold tests for breach of the relevant standards.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Avery and NZME Radio Ltd - 2018-076 (16 January 2019)
2018-076

Warning: This decision contains language that some readers may find offensive.

The Authority did not uphold a complaint about the broadcast of the song ‘Hurricane’ by Bob Dylan, which contained the words: ‘And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger’ [emphasis added], on Coast FM. The complainant found the use of the word in question to be ‘offensive, racist and unacceptable’. The Authority acknowledged the power of the word and that its use is highly contentious in New Zealand. The Authority acknowledged that its role is to reflect community standards and noted that its recent research, Language That May Offend in Broadcasting, showed a significant portion of the public find the use of this word in broadcasting to be unacceptable. However, the Authority also recognised the importance of context in determining whether a broadcast has breached broadcasting standards. In this case, it took into account well‑established audience expectations of Coast FM, the historical and social significance of the song and Bob Dylan as an artist, and the use of the word in the narrative of a 1970s political protest song. Taking these contextual factors into account, the Authority found that the broadcast of the word in this song was justified on this occasion.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Hendry and Mediaworks TV Ltd - 2018-084 (18 December 2018)
2018-084

A complaint about comments, made by contestants about a landscaper during an episode of The Block, was not upheld. During the episode, a new landscaper started work on the property of contestants, Chlo and Em. Em referred to the landscaper and said, ‘Who’s that new meat on The Block? Come over.’ Chlo then said ‘Some fresh meat for Em’. The complainant submitted the references to the landscaper as ‘meat’ were sexist, unacceptable and amounted to sexual harassment. The Authority highlighted the importance of context when considering whether comments of a sexual nature have breached broadcasting standards. The Authority noted that, in some contexts, these comments could be considered to be inappropriate. In this case, however, the comments did not go beyond audience expectations of The Block. They were not explicit or graphic, nor were the comments made with malice or nastiness. The Authority also did not uphold the complaint under the discrimination and denigration standard, finding the comments did not contain any malice or invective.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Paterson and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2018-086 (18 December 2018)
2018-086

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

Decisions
Sarah and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2018-079 (27 November 2018)
2018-079

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

Decisions
Hummelstad and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2018-077 (14 November 2018)
2018-077

A complaint about a Newshub item in which the presenter commented, ‘And I thought the only reason we watch Aussie Rules [AFL] was for the short shorts’, has not been upheld by the Authority. The Authority found that the comment, while inappropriate, did not reach the threshold to be considered a serious violation of community norms of good taste and decency. The Authority acknowledged the importance of contextual factors in considering whether the standards have been breached, including the nature of Newshub as an unclassified news programme and audience expectations of the broadcast. The Authority recognised that the statement was not made with malice or nastiness and found the comment did not breach the discrimination and denigration, balance or fairness standards.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Hyslop & McElroy and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2018-073 (14 November 2018)
2018-073

The Authority has not upheld two complaints about two episodes from the second season of British dating game show, Naked Attraction, broadcast on TVNZ 2 at 9.30pm on Friday 27 July 2018 and Friday 3 August 2018. 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. The complaints alleged these episodes of Naked Attraction 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 was degrading and breached the privacy of the participants. The Authority found that while the programme may not have been to everybody’s taste, it was preceded by a clear warning, contained many body-positive messages and those involved in the programme spoke positively of their experiences. Given the tone of the programme, there was no element of exploitation or humiliation of participants and it was clear that they had given their consent to appear on the programme. Overall, the Authority did not consider that the alleged harm caused by the broadcast outweighed the important right to freedom of expression, taking into account the above contextual factors and the protections available to viewers, including a detailed warning, to help them make an informed choice about whether to watch the programme.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration, Privacy

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