The Authority has not upheld a complaint that the use of the term ‘booted out’, in reference to the Speaker of the House, Hon Trevor Mallard, ejecting the Leader of the Opposition, Hon Simon Bridges, from the House, was inaccurate. The Authority found there was no reason to suggest the broadcaster did not make reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of the broadcasts complained about. The Authority found that the use of terms such as ‘booted out’ and ‘kicked out’, in reference to Members of Parliament who have been ordered by the Speaker of the House to leave the House, is common in New Zealand and therefore its use was unlikely to mislead or misinform listeners.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
A complaint that a segment on Checkpoint that discussed vaccinations was inaccurate was not upheld by the Authority. WAVESnz complained that several statements made by Professor John Fraser during the segment regarding the safety of vaccinations and the contents of vaccines were inaccurate and misleading. The Authority noted that it was not its role to determine the scientific accuracy of Professor Fraser’s statements. It found, however, that RNZ made reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of the broadcast, taking into account a number of factors including Professor Fraser’s reputation and the lack of any reason to question the accuracy of the views expressed by Professor Fraser. The Authority did not identify any real or potential harm and therefore found any restriction on RNZ’s right to freedom of expression on this occasion would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an interview between Checkpoint’s John Campbell and former United States television personality, Matt Lauer, who at the time was involved in controversy regarding public access to his New Zealand property. The complainant alleged that Mr Campbell unfairly emphasised the New Zealand Overseas Investment Office’s (OIO) reassessment of Mr Lauer under its ‘good character test’, and later made false allegations about who had initially raised this topic. The Authority found that the circumstances of the OIO’s assessment were directly relevant to the discussion and that this was raised again later in the interview by Mr Lauer himself. Mr Lauer was given ample opportunity during the interview to present his perspective on his treatment by New Zealand media and the issue of foreign land ownership and public access.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Balance, Good Taste and Decency
An item on Checkpoint reported that the Sky World building, a multi-storey entertainment complex in central Auckland, had not been issued with a warrant of fitness in 435 days, and that the building remained open throughout that time, with the knowledge of Auckland Council, despite critical fire safety compliance issues. The item (which was broadcast on free-to-air television as well as on radio) included footage of the reporter attempting to contact the owner of the complex, ‘A’, visiting his home and offices, where he spoke to two employees, ‘X’ and ‘Y’. JNJ Management made a direct privacy complaint to the Authority, submitting that these segments breached the privacy of A and his employees. The Authority did not uphold the complaint, finding that A’s home was filmed only to the extent visible to the public and he was filmed in a public place at Sky World so he did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy there. No private information or material was disclosed about the employees during the programme, and they did not have an interest in solitude or seclusion, given the workplace was accessible to members of the public to seek an appointment. Further, the employees were informed of the reporter’s identity and the purpose of the reporter’s interview, and therefore had an opportunity to object to filming at that time.
Not Upheld: Privacy
A segment on Checkpoint featured an interview with former Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei. The interview occurred just after Ms Turei had announced her resignation as Co-Leader. John Campbell questioned Ms Turei about the recent allegations of benefit fraud which had recently arisen, the effect these allegations had on her and whether they ultimately led to her resignation. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the interview was unbalanced. While the subject matter amounted to a controversial issue of public importance, the Authority found alternate views were put forward through the use of ‘devil’s advocate’ questioning, and noted there was also considerable media coverage of the allegations, meaning there was a wide range of information available on the issue. The interview’s focus was Ms Turei’s response to the allegations, and as a whole would not have left the audience misinformed regarding the nature of the allegations and Ms Turei’s position.
Not Upheld: Balance
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
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
An item on Checkpoint was introduced by the newsreader saying, ‘The Māori Education Trust has had to sell its only assets – its farms – putting at risk the grants it is required to make to Māori students’. The item went on to discuss the financial history of the Trust. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the introduction was inaccurate in that the sale of the farms had actually improved the financial position of the Trust. The financial ‘risk’ alleged by the broadcast is not a fact able to be objectively determined, and the Trust was able to put forward its position in the item, so listeners would not have been misled.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
An item on Checkpoint reported on tensions between the Horowhenua Rowing Club and certain local Māori residents over the future of the club’s use of the building next to Lake Horowhenua. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item was inaccurate, unbalanced and unfair. The item carefully conveyed a complex issue, was not factually inaccurate and would not have misled viewers in any material respect. While the conflict surrounding the rowing club’s presence at Lake Horowhenua is a controversial issue of public importance, the item included the viewpoints of both parties and was sufficiently balanced. The item did not treat the nominated individuals unfairly, as they were not criticised and had a reasonable opportunity to give their views.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Controversial Issues, Fairness
The Authority declined to determine a complaint that it was inappropriate for RNZ to use Forsyth Barr and First NZ Capital as business advisors and suppliers of business news for its ‘Market Update’ segment on Checkpoint. RNZ’s choice of business advisors is a matter of editorial discretion rather than broadcasting standards. The complainant has previously made similar complaints and been warned that further similar complaints would be unlikely to be determined in future. Accordingly the Authority declined to determine the present complaint on the basis it was frivolous and vexatious.
Declined to Determine: Law and Order, Fairness, Responsible Programming
An item on Checkpoint reported on the Lombard Finance case, focusing on a former investor and her reaction to the revised sentences handed out to the Lombard directors. The item included a quote which was incorrectly attributed to the directors. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the misattributed quote was misleading. The quote was from the High Court judge who had summarised what he considered to be the directors’ position, so listeners’ impression of the directors from the item would not have been materially different.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
Five items reporting on an episode of escalating violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Gaza Strip were broadcast on Radio New Zealand National. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that they breached the balance standard because they were biased towards the Palestinian position. The broadcaster had clearly made reasonable efforts to present significant viewpoints, including the Israeli perspective, across more than 250 news bulletins and programmes within the period of current interest.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues
An item on Checkpoint reported that an Anglican Minister had been suspended for removing children from a youth camp to protect them from a man he believed was a sexual predator. The Authority upheld the complaint that the church and the Bishop had been treated unfairly: the broadcaster did not have a sufficient foundation for broadcasting such serious allegations and did not provide any corroborating evidence, and though the church was provided with a fair opportunity to comment, the item failed to adequately present their response. The Authority did not agree that the item breached the controversial issues and accuracy standards: it did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance and the Authority was not in a position to determine whether the impression of the alleged offending was misleading. The Authority made no order.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues, Accuracy
In a radio interview with the founder of the World Anti-Doping Agency, the host of Checkpoint made three references critical of Jamaica. The Authority declined to determine the complaint that this breached standards relating to good taste and decency, controversial issues, accuracy, fairness, discrimination and denigration, and responsible programming: the complainant's concerns were matters of personal preference and editorial discretion.
Declined to Determine: Good Taste and Decency, Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
Two items on Checkpoint, broadcast on Radio New Zealand National, discussed the results of a recent “clamp down” on drug-taking truck drivers in New Zealand and Australia. The items included interviews with the CEO of the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency and with a representative of First Union, the union for road transport workers. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the items breached the controversial issues standard: consideration of whether drug-taking by truck drivers is a widespread problem in New Zealand, and the implications for road safety, did not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue of public importance – at this stage it is not an issue that has been widely discussed or debated publicly – but the broadcaster nevertheless provided some balance in the items.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues
A news item on Checkpoint allegedly contained certain comments from Radio New Zealand’s economics reporter. The Authority declined to determine the complaint that these comments breached the accuracy, fairness and responsible programming standards: the comments identified by the complainant did not match the broadcast time and date specified and the Authority was therefore unable to assess broadcasting standards against those comments.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy, Fairness, Responsible Programming
In an interview on Radio New Zealand National’s Checkpoint the Executive Director of the Rape Prevention Education Group stated, “I think our focus has to be on the safety of our children, and we know that approximately one in four girls and one in eight boys are likely to experience some form of sexual violence before the age of 16”. RNZ News later reported, “The group’s executive director, Kim McGregor, claims . . .” and repeated the figures. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the statement breached the accuracy standard: the Director’s comment was not a statement of fact but reflected her views and experiences, and was presented from an advocacy perspective, the figures were approximates and, while contentious, were supported by some independent research.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
Checkpoint. Interview with Napier resident watching police trying to deal with an armed man barricaded in a house. Law and order. Not upheld.
Checkpoint. Queenstown energy crisis report. Balance, fairness, accuracy, social responsibility. Not upheld.
Checkpoint. Interview with MP who abstained from voting on the Prostitution Reform Bill referred to his Muslim background. Not upheld (balance, fairness).