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 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
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
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
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
A complaint regarding a comment made by radio host Wendyl Nissen about US President Donald Trump has not been upheld. During the segment, which reviewed the book, ‘The President is Missing’, Ms Nissen commented, ‘Wouldn’t that be great if [US President Donald] Trump just went missing? Like we just never heard from him again because someone killed him and put him at the bottom of the ocean…?’ The Authority found the comment did not breach broadcasting standards. This was a flippant comment that was intended to be humorous and was in line with audience expectations for the programme, particularly considering the robust talkback radio environment. The Authority emphasised that humour is an important aspect of freedom of expression and found that limiting the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression on this occasion would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Violence, Law and Order
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.
An item on Newshub reported on the shooting of two Israeli police officers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem. The segment featured footage of officers being chased and shot at, followed by footage of a man being surrounded and shot at, a blurred shot of a dead body on the ground and a body bag on a stretcher. The Authority upheld a complaint that the item breached the good taste and decency, children’s interests and violence standards. The Authority recognised the public interest in the item and that it reported on important and newsworthy events. However, the Authority considered the item should have been preceded by a warning for the potentially disturbing violent content, to enable viewers to make an informed viewing decision, and allow an opportunity to exercise discretion.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence
Not Upheld: Law and Order
An episode of a weekly mixed martial arts championship highlights and commentary programme, MMA: One Championship Weekly, was broadcast on TVNZ DUKE at 8.30am on Saturday 15 April 2017. The primary focus of the episode was a build-up to an upcoming match between Eduard Foyalang and Ev Ting scheduled for 21 April 2017. The episode profiled each of the fighters with reference to their backgrounds and family life. It also included 5-6 minute clips of their previous fights against other opponents. Mr Dandy complained that the use of footage from MMA fights was offensive and inappropriate to broadcast at a time when children may be watching television unsupervised. The Authority found that, taking into account the context, including that MMA: One Championship Weekly is an unclassified sports highlights show, the target audience of both the channel and the programme, and signposting at the beginning of the programme about the martial arts content, the fight footage used did not breach broadcasting standards.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence
In June, October and November 2016, Sikh radio station Radio Virsa broadcast four programmes in Punjabi on 107FM. The programmes included host and talkback commentary about a wide range of issues. The Authority received a complaint that these broadcasts contained threatening and coarse language and themes, and offensive statements were made in relation to a number of named individuals in the Sikh community, including the complainant. The Authority found that aspects of these broadcasts were in breach of broadcasting standards. The Authority was particularly concerned that offensive comments were made about named individuals in the local community, which resulted in the individuals’ unfair treatment and, in one instance, a breach of privacy. The Authority also found aspects of the broadcasts, which contained comments about women, were unacceptable in New Zealand society and in breach of the good taste and decency standard. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the remaining broadcasting standards.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Privacy, Fairness
Not Upheld: Programme Information, Children’s Interests, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Alcohol, Balance, Accuracy
Orders: Section 13(1)(a) broadcast statement
An item on Newshub reported on the rescue of an American woman who had been held captive as a sex slave by a serial killer for two months in South Carolina. The item featured newly-released footage of the woman’s rescue, and showed her chained to the wall of a shipping container by her throat. The item also featured footage of the woman’s appearance on the American talk show, Dr Phil, during which she discussed her kidnapping. The item was preceded by the following verbal audience advisory: ‘A warning: some viewers may find our next story disturbing’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this audience advisory was inadequate given the nature of the footage, which was violent, inappropriate for children and further breached the featured woman’s privacy. The Authority found, taking into account contextual factors such as Newshub’s target audience and audience expectations of news programmes generally, that the audience advisory was adequate for the content shown. A level of maturity was required to understand the full implications of the footage, and therefore the item would not have unduly disturbed child viewers. Finally, the broadcast did not result in a breach of the woman’s privacy, given the information was available in the public domain at the time of broadcast and no private information was therefore disclosed.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence, Privacy
Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai (Say… You’re in Love), a Bollywood romantic thriller film, was broadcast on free-to-air television channel APNA TV between 3pm and 6pm. The film featured action scenes containing violence. The Authority upheld a complaint that the film breached a number of broadcasting standards. The film was broadcast unclassified and with an incorrect programme description, which meant audiences were unable to make an informed viewing choice and were unable to regulate their own, and their children’s, viewing behaviour. The film’s inclusion of violent imagery such as beatings, shoot-outs, murder and dead bodies, and the visual depiction of these acts occurring onscreen, warranted an AO classification and later time of broadcast on free-to-air television. The film’s content would have been outside audience expectations of the programme, and child viewers, who were likely to be watching at the time of broadcast, were unable to be protected from material that had the potential to adversely affect them. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the law and order standard.
Upheld: Programme Information, Children’s Interests, Good Taste and Decency, Violence; Not Upheld: Law and Order
Orders: Section 13(1)(a) broadcast statement; section 16(4) costs to the Crown $1,500
An item on Checkpoint reported on the final stages of a court case in Auckland, known as the ‘Dome Valley’ kidnapping, in which a young woman was kidnapped, beaten, sexually violated and left to die by a group of her former friends. The reporter outlined the events of the kidnapping and the item featured segments of the victim giving evidence (with her voice disguised) via audio-visual link from another room in the closed court. The reporter and the victim outlined her assault and injuries in some detail. No audience advisory was broadcast. The Authority found that, while this item had high value in terms of the right to freedom of expression, and was in the public interest, a brief audience advisory should have been broadcast to enable listeners to decide if they wished to listen to the detailed, violent content included in the item. While the Authority supported the broadcast of an item that gave voice to the victim, the segment contained descriptions and details that were disturbing in nature and potentially upsetting for listeners, particularly those who had suffered similarly and any children who may have been listening. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the law and order standard.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence
Not Upheld: Law and Order
A short news item during Breakfast reported that the body of a German hostage, who had been beheaded by militants in the Philippines, had been recovered. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that the item depicted a ‘severed head’, which was offensive and unacceptable to broadcast, especially during a time when children were likely to be watching television. In the context of a very brief news report, the item would not have exceeded audience expectations and would not have unduly offended or disturbed viewers. The content shown was not graphic or at a level which required a warning to be given, and the story carried public interest. While the news item was broadcast at a time when children were likely to be watching television, Breakfast is an unclassified morning news and current affairs programme, it is not targeted at child viewers and there is an expectation of adult supervision during this type of programming.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence
An item on Checkpoint discussed the return of a child after she went missing off the coast of New Zealand with her father. Extensive media coverage reported that the pair had sailed to Australia on a catamaran and that the family was involved in a custody dispute, with proceedings pending under the Care of Children Act 2004. The item aired after the child had been located and featured an interview with the child’s mother, who discussed her fears for her daughter’s safety, and their reunion. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this item breached the child’s privacy and treated her unfairly. The information discussed during the interview was in the public domain at the time of broadcast, and the topic was treated sensitively and respectfully by the interviewer. There was also an element of public interest in the child’s welfare and her being found safe. A number of other broadcasting standards raised by the complainant were not applicable or not breached in the context of the broadcast.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Fairness, Balance, Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Children’s Interests, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy
The music videos for ‘Starboy’ by The Weeknd and ‘Sexual’ by Neiked were screened between 9pm and 10pm on MTV’s Top 20 Hits. The introduction to the music video for ‘Starboy’ featured singer The Weeknd being suffocated to death with a plastic bag. The music video for ‘Sexual’ featured a variety of animated sexual imagery, including animals having sex and a girl lifting her shirt to expose her breasts. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that these videos were offensive and disturbing. It recognised that the content was challenging and understood the complainant’s concerns regarding the graphic content of such music videos and their impact on young audiences. However, the videos were classified 16C and broadcast between 9pm and 10pm on a Sunday evening, and the programme featured an audience advisory for content. Taking into account these contextual factors, the Authority found that the broadcaster took effective steps to inform viewers of the programme’s likely content, so they could make an informed viewing choice. Given the classification of the broadcast, the violent and sexual content would not be outside audience expectations for the music videos featured.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence
A promo for the latest season of 7 Days showed comedians featured on the programme preparing the show’s host for the ‘potentially hostile environment’, by heckling and pelting him with objects. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this promo trivialised the issue of bullying. The promo was a parody sketch of the type of heckling typically made by contestants during an episode of 7 Days, and common to live comedy programmes of this genre. It sought to recreate this live comedy environment in a humorous, satirical and highly exaggerated way, and in this context, the promo did not condone, encourage or trivialise bullying behaviour.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence, Discrimination and Denigration
An item on Seven Sharp discussed a five-week, outdoor ‘life skills’ camp held for high school students on Great Barrier Island. Footage of a sheep being restrained to be killed for food, the sheep’s dead body and blood, and the gutting of the sheep was shown. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the killing of the sheep was ‘brutal’ and unacceptable for broadcast. While the footage was graphic and would not have appealed to all viewers, it was adequately signposted during the item, which enabled viewers to exercise discretion and decide whether to continue watching. The actual killing of the sheep was not shown, and the footage appeared to show standard, accepted practices of killing animals for food in New Zealand. In the context of an unclassified current affairs programme screened during PGR time and aimed at adults, the footage did not reach the threshold for finding a breach of standards.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Violence
During an episode of The Block NZ: Girls Vs Boys, contestants ‘Dyls’ and ‘Dylz’ competed in an ongoing ‘Odd Jobs Challenge’, winning $10,000. However, the team was penalised $5,000 for using power tools after hours. When the show’s host, Mark Richardson, and its resident builder and site foreman, informed the team about the penalty, Dyls swore profusely (with swear words censored), knocked a hard hat off a table and knocked down a large piece of plywood. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this segment breached the violence standard. While Dyls lost his temper and acted childishly, his behaviour did not amount to ‘violence’ as envisaged by the standard. Any coarse language was censored and Dyls was not physically violent or threatening toward any member of the show during the incident.
Not Upheld: Violence
An episode of the British cartoon, Grizzly Tales, which was classified G (General), featured a young girl called Victoria Spew who threw tantrums until she vomited to get her way. At the end of the episode, Victoria was sucked into the vacuum cleaner her mother had bought to clean up after her. The cartoon showed Victoria’s teeth being pulled from her gums, and organs and body parts falling into the bag. The episode ended with Victoria’s body parts trapped in the vacuum cleaner. The Authority upheld a complaint that this episode of Grizzly Tales was unsuitable for young children. The programme was classified G and so was required to be suitable for all children under the age of 14. While this episode may have appealed to older children, the Authority did not consider it was appropriate for preschool children, who were likely to be watching unsupervised early in the morning. The Authority did not make an order.
Upheld: Children’s Interests, Violence, Good Taste and Decency