A ONE News item reported on a protest organised by the Sensible Sentencing Trust, which carried a petition in the name of a deceased child, demanding changes to the rules around plea bargaining. The reporter stated, ‘the protestors chose disgraced ex-MP David Garrett to deliver that message to MPs… Garrett resigned from Parliament six years ago for stealing the identity of a dead infant…’ The Authority did not uphold Mr Garrett’s complaint that this statement was misleading, as it implied the incident being referred to occurred six years ago, as well as being unbalanced and unfair to him. The Authority found the comment was not misleading, but emphasised that Mr Garrett’s resignation occurred six years ago, which was correct. The Authority acknowledged that individuals ought to be entitled to move on with their lives without past indiscretions remaining the subject of media attention, but found that the reference to Mr Garrett’s history was an inevitable consequence of his decision to participate in a material way in this particular public protest. As Mr Garrett’s involvement in the protest was not the focus of the item, his view or other balancing material was not required.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Balance
An item on 1 News discussed the New Zealand Government’s ‘open door policy’ on allowing foreign visitors in New Zealand to drive. The item featured an interview with a road safety campaigner, who said it was unfair that Chinese visitors were able to drive in New Zealand with international licences, while New Zealanders had to apply for a permit to drive in China. The item included numerous references to Chinese drivers in New Zealand, and featured footage of Chinese members of the public. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this item was discriminatory towards Chinese people. The item was framed around the campaigner’s opinion that there was not a ‘level playing field’ between China and New Zealand. While viewers may not have agreed with the campaigner’s views, his comments did not reach the high threshold required to encourage discrimination against, or denigration of, Chinese people. The comments that were critical of Chinese drivers were also balanced during the item with comments from a Government representative, and the reporter’s comments about accidents in New Zealand involving other nationalities.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
An item on ONE News discussed the difficulties first-home buyers face in attaining a Government HomeStart financial grant. At the end of the item, the reporter discussed the increase in the number of overseas buyers in Auckland. During this segment, footage of three people walking into an open home from the road was shown. At the end of the item, this group and one other individual were shown getting into a car parked in the street, with the number plate clearly visible. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this footage breached the group’s privacy. While the individuals walking to the car were identifiable, none of their personal details were disclosed, and they had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the circumstances. Nothing was shown during the item which would not have also been visible to the public generally, as the individuals were in a public place.
Not Upheld: Privacy
A ONE News item reported on a local murder trial and included footage of a witness giving evidence in court. The witness was named but his face was not shown and his voice was disguised. The Authority did not uphold a complaint from a member of the public that the item breached the witness’s privacy. While he was identifiable in the item, no private information was disclosed about him. The footage of the witness was taken during open court and there was no name suppression order in place. The evidence the witness gave at trial had already been widely reported by other media outlets at the time of broadcast. Therefore, the witness had no reasonable expectation of privacy over the information disclosed about him, and his privacy was not breached.
Not Upheld: Privacy
The sports presenter during a ONE News bulletin described the performance of the Blues rugby team as ‘schizophrenic’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of the term was unacceptable and contributed to the stigmatisation of people with mental illness. The Authority recognised that the use of the term ‘schizophrenic’ to describe a sports team may be seen as insensitive and inappropriate. However, in the context of this item the Authority found the comment did not reach the high threshold for encouraging discrimination against, or denigration of, those with mental illness. The term was used in a colloquial manner, and did not contain any malice towards people with mental illness.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
An item on ONE News Tonight reported on a pro-rail rally in Whangarei, which occurred in reaction to KiwiRail’s decision to discontinue part of the North Rail Link. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item was unbalanced, inaccurate and unfair. The item included a variety of significant viewpoints on KiwiRail’s decision, and it did not imply that the Government’s or KiwiRail’s views on the issue were more valid than other views. In the context of a brief news report, the pro-rail rally was accurately conveyed, and no individual or organisation was identified by the complainant as being treated unfairly.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness
An item on ONE News discussed further charges laid against a man accused of a double shooting in South Auckland. During the item, images of the crime scene were shown, including footage of blood on a pavement. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that the footage of blood breached the privacy of those involved (ie, the surviving victim and the victims’ relatives or friends), and that the footage would have disturbed young viewers. No individuals were identified during the broadcast, including the surviving victim or either of the victims’ relatives or friends. In addition, the image of blood was brief and was not graphic or explicit, and viewers could reasonably expect that a news broadcast reporting on a double shooting might contain some footage relating to the crime.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Good Taste and Decency
An item on ONE News reported that a recent avalanche in the Austrian Alps had killed five skiers. The presenter stated the avalanche was ‘reported to be two kilometres wide and five kilometres high’. A second item on ONE News discussed plans for a new dairy factory in Northland. The reporter said, ‘He’s [farmer interviewed] been in the dairy industry for two years and has record low pay-outs, the latest forecast at around four dollars’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the reference to the avalanche being ‘five kilometres high’ and the reference in the dairy item to a ‘Fonterra pay-out of $4 per annum’ were inaccurate and misleading. The precise size of the avalanche was not a material point of fact in the item and the statement referencing four dollars clearly referred to the interviewed farmer’s pay-out and not to the total annual pay-out made by Fonterra.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
A ONE News item discussed two changes proposed as part of a review of Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS): first, dealing with 17-year-old offenders within the youth justice system rather than the adult justice system; and second, lifting the age that people can remain in CYFS care. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that footage of young skateboarders and riders shown during the item implicitly associated them with youth crime, which was unfair. The skateboarders and riders did not take part and were not referred to during the item at a level that triggered the fairness standard. The footage simply associated them with typical activities for people their age and was in the nature of visual wallpaper. It did not associate young skateboarders and riders with youth crime.
Not Upheld: Fairness
ONE News reported on the recent death of a woman in Remuera and said her alleged attacker (who had name suppression) had appeared in the Auckland District Court that day. The reporter described the alleged attacker as a ‘24-year-old Pacific Island man’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the reference to the alleged attacker’s race was offensive and racist. The Authority acknowledged that the reporter’s commentary, which included racial identification, could be seen as unnecessary given that the ethnicity of the alleged attacker was no longer critical following his arrest. However, the reporter’s description of the man was factual, and the comments did not reach the high threshold for finding that the item encouraged discrimination against, or denigration of, Pacific Islanders as a section of the community.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
ONE News reported on the case of a Palmerston North schoolgirl who had been abducted earlier in the day, and subsequently located and reunited with her family. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item breached the privacy of the girl and her sisters. The item did not disclose any private information about the girl; the details given were in the public domain at the time of the broadcast and carried high public interest, as they may have assisted with the search for her abductor. The girl’s sisters were not identifiable in the item and therefore their privacy was not breached.
Not Upheld: Privacy
An item on ONE News reported on concerns around a government-funded survey of health professionals and their views on voluntary euthanasia. It said that the survey was run by researchers who support assisted dying, and that it was alleged that the research was biased and flawed. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that the item was unfair to the researchers involved and to the university through which the research was run, as well as inaccurate and unbalanced. Comment was sought from the university and the researchers, whose position was presented in the university’s response and fairly reported in the item. The statements alleged to be inaccurate either had a reasonable basis, were clearly statements of opinion or were matters of editorial discretion.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy, Controversial Issues
An item on ONE News reported on incidents of violence in Israel and Palestine. The newsreader said, ‘Road blocks are in place and thousands of police and soldiers are patrolling across Israel as it tries to stop a wave of violence’, and then crossed to a correspondent reporting from East Jerusalem. The item also went on to report on other incidents of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, including in Gaza. The Authority upheld a complaint that the item was inaccurate because East Jerusalem is internationally recognised as being part of Palestine, not Israel, and viewers would have been misled into thinking that much of the violence took place in Israel.
An item on ONE News covered the quarrying of a Dunedin landmark, Saddle Hill, and featured interviews with three people opposed to the quarrying. The reporter stated that quarry owner Calvin Fisher did not respond to his request for an interview, although an offer had been made to ‘replace the hill once the rock has been taken away’. TVNZ upheld Mr Fisher’s complaint, finding that insufficient attempts were made to contact Mr Fisher and the reporter unfairly represented that he was not willing to comment. TVNZ apologised in writing to Mr Fisher, removed the story from its website and discussed the upheld complaint with the reporter and management. However the Authority upheld Mr Fisher’s complaint that this action was insufficient to remedy the breach. The nature of the breach required further action from the broadcaster, such as a public acknowledgement or apology or a follow-up broadcast that included comment from Mr Fisher and/or an alternative perspective in support of the quarry.
Upheld: Action Taken (Fairness, Accuracy, Controversial Issues)
Order: Section 16(4) $750 costs to the Crown
An item on ONE News covered ‘the Foreign Minister’s controversial payment of $11.5 million towards businessman Hmood Al-Ali Al-Khalaf’s Saudi farm’. It reported that Minister Murray McCully had ‘struck the deal to avoid a $30 million legal threat’, but then denied that there had been a legal threat. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item was inaccurate and unfair to the Minister by failing to distinguish between Mr Al-Khalaf merely assessing his legal position and actually threatening legal action, and consequently misrepresenting the Minister’s position. The issue arose through the use of ambiguous language, both by the broadcaster and by the Minister, and did not justify the Authority upholding a breach of standards.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness
An item on ONE News reported that an increasing number of beneficiaries were being banned from Work and Income offices due to heightened security as a result of the fatal shootings at a WINZ office in 2014. The reporter interviewed a beneficiary who said that this was ‘no surprise’ because dealing with WINZ is ‘frustrating’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the comments from the beneficiary were irresponsible and encouraged violence. The focus of the item was on security at WINZ offices and the beneficiary was relating his personal experience; the item did not advocate violence.
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Violence, Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Responsible Programming
During ONE News at Midday, TVNZ’s sports presenter reported the New Zealand women’s hockey team’s loss in a World League semi-final match. She said, ‘The one consolation, though – Australia hasn’t progressed either’. The Authority declined to uphold a complaint that this comment was ‘nasty’ and ‘spiteful’. It is common for sports reporting to refer to the long-standing trans-Tasman rivalry and most viewers would not have been offended in this context.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Controversial Issues, Responsible Programming
A ONE News item reported on four investigations by British police into historical child sex abuse allegations against former UK Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath. The reporter said, ‘Information from these inquiries will be fed into a wider inspection that’s being run by New Zealander Justice Lowell Goddard’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that referring to Lowell Goddard as ‘Justice’ was inaccurate. The use of the title was not a material point of fact to which the accuracy standard applied.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
A ONE News bulletin reported on recent Islamic State activity and showed footage of identified supporters of ISIS and its training camps. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this promoted, encouraged and glamorised terrorism. The news bulletin carried high public interest and was a straightforward report of recent terrorist activity that in no way condoned or glorified this behaviour.
Not Upheld: Law and Order
ONE News reported that Cadbury chocolate bars were set to ‘shrink by 10 percent’, from 220 grams to 200 grams. The Authority declined to determine the complaint that the item was inaccurate because it was wrong to use the word ‘shrink’ to refer to a weight measurement and because the difference in grams was 9.1 percent, not 10 percent. The Authority found the complaint to be trivial as the complainant did not outline why the difference was material or why it would have impacted viewers’ understanding of the item as a whole.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy