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Decisions
Hurley and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-043 (10 October 2019)
2019-043

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an item on Insight that investigated the history and current state of far-right, alt-right and nationalist ideologies breached broadcasting standards. The Authority found the broadcast was balanced as it contained a range of significant perspectives. The Authority also found people who hold these ideologies do not amount to an ‘organisation’ for the purposes of the fairness standard and therefore that the fairness standard does not apply.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Staples & Claims Resolution Service Ltd and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2019-038 (30 September 2019)
2019-038

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an episode of Sunday about legal proceedings brought against Claims Resolution Service Ltd breached the accuracy or fairness standards. The programme discussed the service provided by Bryan Staples and Claims Resolution Service Ltd to Christchurch home owners looking for help to resolve claims with their insurance companies and the Earthquake Commission after the Canterbury earthquakes. The Authority found that none of the statements made about the proceedings raised by the complainants were inaccurate or misleading. The Authority also found that the edited version of a phone call between Mr Staples and John Campbell that was broadcast fairly and accurately reflected the tenor of the views expressed by Mr Staples. Finally the Authority found that TVNZ gave Mr Staples a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment prior to the broadcast.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness

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
Stubbs and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-049 (17 September 2019)
2019-049

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an item on Morning Report discussing the possible boycott of the Tuia – Encounters 250 commemorations was unbalanced, inaccurate and unfair. The Authority found the item was balanced through the presentation of alternative perspectives and the existence of significant media coverage within the period of current interest. The Authority also found the broadcast did not contain any material inaccuracy with respect to Captain Cook’s first arrival in New Zealand. Finally, the Authority found the fairness standard did not apply as the complainant did not identify any person or organisation who took part in or was referred to in the broadcast who was treated unfairly.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Taimoori and 5TUNZ Communications Ltd - 2019-019 (23 August 2019)
2019-019

The Authority has upheld a complaint about two broadcasts on Humm FM, finding that the complainant was treated unfairly. The Authority found that comments made by the host during the broadcasts were likely to reflect negatively on the complainant and to impact on his personal and professional reputation. As the complainant was adversely affected, he should have been given an opportunity under the fairness standard to respond to the comments made about him. The Authority emphasised that the right to broadcast carries with it privileges and responsibilities, and in this case the host used his platform to air his personal grievances against the complainant without giving him an opportunity to comment, which was unfair. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the privacy standard, finding that while the complainant may have been identifiable to the Hindi community to which these broadcasts were targeted, no private information or material about him was disclosed. 

Upheld: Fairness. Not Upheld: Privacy  

Order: Section 16(4) – $750 in costs to the Crown

Decisions
UJ and SKY Network Television Ltd - 2019-030 (19 August 2019)
2019-030

Warning: This decision contains content that some readers may find distressing.

During coverage of the 15 March 2019 attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, SKY Network Television channel 085, Sky News New Zealand, included a number of edited clips taken from the alleged attacker’s 17‑minute livestream video. The Authority upheld a complaint that the broadcast was in breach of the violence and law and order standards. While the broadcast as a whole was newsworthy and had a high level of public interest, the clips themselves contained disturbing violent content, which had the potential to cause significant distress to members of the public, and particularly to the family and friends of victims and the wider Muslim community in New Zealand. In the context of the attacks, the content of these clips also risked glorifying the alleged attacker and promoting his messages. As such, the degree of potential harm that could be caused to audiences was greater than the level of public interest, and the Authority found overall that these clips, in the form broadcast, should not have been aired.

Upheld: Violence, Law and Order; Declined Jurisdiction: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness

Order: Section 16(4) – $4,000 in costs to the Crown

Decisions
Horowhenua District Council and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2018-105 (29 July 2019)
2018-105

A broadcast of The Long Lunch hosted by Wendyl Nissen included an interview with Horowhenua District Councillor (HDC) Ross Campbell, who talked about his decision to wear a body camera to Council meetings after what was described as incidents of bullying towards him. MediaWorks upheld the complaint under the fairness standard, finding that it should have sought comment from HDC prior to the broadcast, but did not take any remedial action. The Authority upheld HDC’s complaint that the action taken by MediaWorks following the finding of the breach of the fairness standard was insufficient. The Authority found that MediaWorks ought to have broadcast a follow-up item to remedy the breach. The Authority also upheld the complaint that the item was unbalanced as it did not include any comment from HDC or acknowledgement of an alternative viewpoint with respect to the allegations of bullying. Finally, the Authority found the broadcast was likely to mislead audiences by giving the impression that HDC had a systemic culture of bullying, through the absence of the presentation of alternative perspectives, and upheld the complaint under the accuracy standard.

Upheld: Fairness (Action Taken), Balance, Accuracy

Order: Section 13(1)(a) broadcast statement

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
Housing New Zealand Corporation and Māori Television Service - 2018-100 (24 June 2019)
2018-100

Māori Television Service (MTS) aired a story on Te Kāea about how hapū Te Parawhau felt they had been shut out of negotiations on the sale of a piece of land, known as Pūriri Park in Northland, to Housing New Zealand (HNZ). The Authority upheld HNZ’s complaint under the balance standard, finding the omission of HNZ’s point of view from the initial broadcast likely prevented audiences from arriving at an informed and reasoned opinion about the sale and HNZ’s involvement. The Authority also upheld HNZ’s complaint under the accuracy and fairness standards, finding that while MTS aired a follow-up broadcast featuring comment from Te Parawhau and HNZ, this broadcast did not remedy the harm caused to HNZ by the initial broadcast of inaccurate information about the land sold. As a result, HNZ was likely to be adversely affected by the broadcast and was not provided with a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment. The Authority emphasised that while public entities may be subject to greater scrutiny, they are still entitled to fair and accurate treatment in broadcasting.

Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness; No Order

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
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
Two Complainants and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2018-074 (26 February 2019)
2018-074

The Authority has not upheld complaints from two complainants, a Christian organisation and its director, about an episode of Sunday which investigated gay conversion therapy and whether this practice was happening in New Zealand. The director, ‘X’, was filmed covertly during the programme, appearing to offer gay conversion therapy to an undercover reporter, ‘Jay’, who posed as a young Christian ‘struggling with same sex attraction’. The Authority found that the broadcaster’s use of a hidden camera in this case represented a highly offensive intrusion upon X’s interest in seclusion and that, on its face, this broadcast breached their privacy. However, the Authority found that the high level of public interest, both in the programme as a whole and in the hidden camera footage, justified the broadcaster’s use of a hidden camera. Further, the broadcaster complied with its obligations under the fairness standard, providing the complainants with sufficient information about the nature of the broadcast and X’s participation, and a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment in response to the issues raised by the programme. Finally, the Authority found that the broadcast accurately and fairly portrayed the nature of the conversation between X and Jay, and the support and services being offered to him.

Not Upheld: Privacy, Fairness, Accuracy  

Decisions
Durie & Hall and Māori Television Service - 2018-066 (18 February 2019)
2018-066

An item on Te Kāea reported on a new public interest defence recognised by the Court of Appeal in the complainants’ defamation proceedings against the Māori Television Service (MTS). The Authority did not uphold a complaint from the appellants in the Court of Appeal case that this item was inaccurate and unfair. The Authority found that the item accurately reported the essence of the Court of Appeal’s judgment and that the omission of further information about the technical or legal aspects of the case would not have significantly affected viewers’ understanding of the item as a whole. The Authority did not consider that the broadcast created an unfairly negative impression of the complainants and, as they were unlikely to be adversely affected by the broadcast, their comment was therefore not required to be included in order for them to be treated fairly. Overall, the Authority did not consider the harm alleged by the complainants outweighed the right to freedom of expression, and its intervention in upholding the complaint would therefore be unreasonable and unjustified. 

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness

Decisions
Anderson and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2018-091 (4 February 2019)
2018-091

A complaint about an interview between Kim Hill and Rt Hon Winston Peters regarding the relationship between New Zealand First and the Labour Party was not upheld. The complainant submitted the interview was unbalanced because Kim Hill’s interviewing of Mr Peters was ‘biased, rude and condescending’. The Authority found that, while Ms Hill asked Mr Peters challenging and critical questions, Mr Peters had a reasonable opportunity to put forward his competing point of view. Given the level of public interest in the interview, Mr Peter’s position and his experience with the media, the Authority also found Ms Hill’s interview style did not result in Mr Peters being treated unfairly.

Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness

Decisions
Chapple, Grieve & Shierlaw and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2018-085 (28 January 2019)
2018-085

The Authority did not uphold three complaints about an episode of Sunday that discussed freedom of expression and hate speech and which featured edited excerpts of an interview with Canadian commentators, Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern. The Authority found the broadcast was balanced, containing a wide range of perspectives on a controversial issue of public importance, being the exercise of the right to freedom of expression in New Zealand. The Authority also found that the interview with Mr Molyneux and Ms Southern was used to illustrate points relevant to the wider topic but was not in itself the central focus of the item. The pending visit of Mr Molyneux and Ms Southern was therefore used to frame the issues in the item. The Authority further determined that, while an interview of Mr Molyneux was heavily edited, the extract was unlikely to mislead viewers or result in any undue harm to the reputations of Mr Molyneux or Ms Southern. Finally, the Authority emphasised the importance of public discussion and discourse about the issues of freedom of expression and harmful speech and the important role broadcasts like this play in that discussion.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness

Decisions
Friends of the Earth (NZ) and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2018-081 (28 January 2019)
2018-081

A complaint from environmental group Friends of the Earth (NZ) about an interview between Saturday Morning host Kim Hill and former Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman was not upheld. Ms Hill interviewed Sir Peter about his time as Chief Science Advisor and a wide range of issues, including how societies respond to scientific research, the role of science in government, activism within the scientific community and the criminal justice system. During the interview, Sir Peter made comments about the safety and history of genetic modification. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the comments were inaccurate or that the interview was unbalanced or unfair. The Authority found Sir Peter’s comments were not statements of fact, noting they were clearly established as being from Sir Peter’s perspective throughout the interview. The Authority also found that while genetic modification amounted to a controversial issue of public importance, it was not ‘discussed’ in the interview for the purposes of the balance standard. The Authority did not consider that Sir Peter’s comments were likely to mislead or misinform listeners.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness

Decisions
Marr & Robinson and NZME Radio Ltd - 2018-080 (16 January 2019)
2018-080

The Authority has not upheld two complaints that comments by Leighton Smith about climate change issues were unbalanced, inaccurate and unfair. Mr Smith provided his views in response to a news item, saying that climate change was not predominantly man made and was instead due to ‘normal variability’. The Authority noted that the balance and accuracy standards apply only to news, current affairs and factual programmes, and the requirements of the accuracy standard do not apply to statements of analysis, comment or opinion. In this case, the Authority considered it was clear that Mr Smith’s statements amounted to statements of opinion in a talkback context. In these circumstances, and taking into account the role and reputation of Mr Smith as a well-known climate change sceptic, listeners would not expect to hear a balanced or authoritative examination on the topic of climate change. Further, no individuals or organisations were treated unfairly in the broadcast. The Authority therefore found that the alleged harm did not outweigh the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression, and its intervention in upholding the complaint would be unjustified.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness

Decisions
Roberts and NZME Radio Ltd - 2018-082 (16 January 2019)
2018-082

During a segment on The Leighton Smith Show, host Leighton Smith quoted a listener’s views on news sources such as CNN, the BBC and Newshub. Mr Smith went on to say that consumers of similar sources lived in ‘blissful ignorance’ because they did not listen to the views of ‘the other side’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that Mr Smith’s comments were biased and dismissive towards reputable news sources. The Authority noted that, while talkback radio is not immune to broadcasting standards, the balance and accuracy standards in particular apply only to news, current affairs and factual programmes, and the accuracy standard does not apply to statements clearly distinguishable as analysis, comment or opinion. In this case, and taking into account wider contextual factors such as audience expectations of the programme (which is predominantly talkback) and the reputation of Mr Smith, the Authority agreed that Mr Smith’s comments were clearly distinguishable as opinion and listeners would not have been left misinformed or misled. This was an opinion open to Mr Smith to express, and was not unfair to the news organisations or their consumers. The Authority therefore found that its intervention, in upholding the complaint and limiting the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression, would be unjustified.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness

Decisions
Rose and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2018-078 (27 November 2018)
2018-078

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

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