The reality television series, Harnas Wildlife Rescue Camp, profiles various workers and volunteers and their day-to-day activities at the Harnas Wildlife Foundation (Harnas) in Namibia. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that Harnas was being misleadingly promoted through the programme as an ethical wildlife sanctuary, when in the complainant’s view, the facility and conditions were inhumane. The Authority found that the programme was presented as a slice-of-life, observational documentary, which did not shy away from presenting difficult material and the challenges facing Harnas. As such, viewers were shown the conditions at Harnas and were provided with sufficient information to make up their own minds about the welfare of the animals. On this occasion therefore, the harm alleged to have been caused did not outweigh the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
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
The Broadcasting Standards Authority has not upheld a complaint that a clip from Family Guy, featured in a promo montage for upcoming programmes on TVNZ, breached the good taste and decency standard. The clip showed Peter Griffin, a male cartoon character, sitting on a chair and opening his legs to show his genitals (which were pixelated). The Authority found that, given the time of the broadcast was after 9pm, the fact that Family Guy is a cartoon comedy and that the scene was brief, the promo was not outside audience expectations and did not undermine current norms of good taste and decency. The Authority therefore found any restriction on the right to freedom of expression would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a host’s comment during Nights, regarding the likelihood of the manned moon landings being fake, was inaccurate. The comment occurred during a talkback segment of the programme, with the host providing his response to an email received from the complainant. In this context, the statement by the host was not a material point of fact but a statement of comment or opinion, to which the requirements of the accuracy standard do not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that two answers provided during Mastermind New Zealand, about historical New Zealand events, were inaccurate and unbalanced. The Authority noted that both questions appeared to have been answered accurately by the contestant. Viewers were unlikely to be left misled or misinformed by the omission of further context around these answers, particularly given the well-known quiz format of the programme. The programme did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance, given historical events were raised only briefly in the form of quiz questions, and the requirements of the balance standard therefore did not apply.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance
The Authority did not uphold a complaint that an item on 1 News, which reported on the United States (US) government shutdown, breached the accuracy standard. The Authority found the statement: ‘The crisis began after Democrats refused to sign off on the President’s demands for eight and a half billion dollars to build a border wall with Mexico’, was unlikely to mislead or misinform viewers about the latest events in the US government shutdown, reported on during the item. The Authority noted that in the context of the item as a whole, the presenter’s comment was an acceptable shorthand introduction to the key issues reported on. Finally, in this case the Authority found that the broadcaster was not required, in the interests of accuracy, to specify that the amount sought for the border wall was reported in New Zealand dollars.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an interview broadcast on Newstalk ZB in December 2018, regarding a proposed Police seizure of military style semi-automatic weapons, was unbalanced and inaccurate. The Authority first found that a valid formal complaint had been lodged with the broadcaster (which was required before the complaint could be referred to the Authority), as sufficient information was provided by the complainant for the correct broadcast to be identified and for the broadcaster to respond to the issues raised. The Authority then determined the complaint, finding that balancing perspectives on the issue of Police seizure were presented during news items prior to and following the interview. While the Authority agreed that information conveyed during the introduction to the interview could have been made more clear by the presenter, the presenter’s statement did not amount to a material error of fact in the context of the interview as a whole. In these circumstances, the Authority found that the harm alleged did not outweigh the right to freedom of expression, and any intervention in upholding the complaint would be unreasonable and unjustified.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy
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
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
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a Newshub item, which featured blurred footage of a child, was in breach of the children’s interests standard. The item reported on the conviction of a British tourist for stealing from a service station and featured blurred footage of the woman’s child as the pair exited a New Zealand court. The Authority noted that the children’s interests standard is designed to protect children when viewing and listening to broadcasts. Complaints about children featured in broadcasts are more appropriately dealt with under other standards. In any event, there was no material in this item that might have adversely affected child viewers. The child was fully blurred throughout the item, protecting their identity, and while the item contained footage of the child making an obscene gesture, the item as a whole was focused on the actions of the adult family members and the resulting convictions. There was no element of exploitation or humiliation of the child, and the Authority found the harm alleged did not reach the threshold required to find a breach of broadcasting standards.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests
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
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that comments made by Duncan Garner on The AM Show regarding Don Brash’s visit to Te Tii Marae as a part of Waitangi Day celebrations breached broadcasting standards. During the broadcast, Mr Garner made comments about Dr Brash’s potential reception at Te Tii Marae including: ‘good luck Don, nice knowing you and yeah I think you need security’, ‘hope you return in one piece’ and ‘Rest in Peace’. The Authority found Mr Garner’s comments were unlikely to undermine widely shared community standards and did not amount to unduly disturbing violent content, considering the context of the broadcast and the flippant nature of the comments. The Authority also found the balance and fairness standards were not breached.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Violence, Balance, Fairness
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
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 a broadcast of Punjabi talkback programme, Dasam Granth Da Sach, in which the hosts identified the complainant and broadcast audio clips of him speaking about various religious topics. While the complainant was clearly identified, the Authority found no private information or material was disclosed during the broadcast over which the complainant had a reasonable expectation of privacy. The information disclosed during the broadcast was available in the public domain, and in these circumstances, the Authority found that its intervention in upholding the complaint would represent an unreasonable and unjustified limit on the right to freedom of expression. The Authority noted, however, that there were steps available to the broadcaster to mitigate the potential for harm, particularly in its use of social media content, and encouraged the broadcaster to consider the Authority’s guidance on these issues before broadcasting such content in the future.
Not Upheld: Privacy
The Authority has upheld a complaint about a broadcast of The DailyMail TV, finding that footage broadcast during the programme was inappropriate for the PGR classification and time of broadcast, and required an audience advisory for disturbing content. The programme was broadcast at 3.30pm on a weekday, and featured partially censored footage of an American stabbing victim in the moments before she died. While the woman’s injuries were blurred, her distressed facial expression and blood splatters on the floor were visible. A second story featured censored footage of two 19-year-old women who claimed they had been drugged, filmed inside a bar naked and allegedly performing sex acts. The Authority found that this content went beyond what could be expected from a PGR-classified programme broadcast during children’s normally accepted viewing times and that the programme should have been classified AO – Adults Only. Further, the sexual material and disturbing nature of these stories required an audience advisory.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
Order: Section 16(4) – $1,000 costs to the Crown
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
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
Warning: This decision contains coarse language that some readers may find offensive
The Broadcasting Standards Authority has not upheld a complaint that an episode of 7 Days, in which a panellist said an Australian Santa would say ‘G’day cunts’, breached the good taste and decency standard. The Authority acknowledged that the language was coarse and may have offended some viewers. However, taking into account relevant contextual factors including the nature of the programme, which is targeted at adults, audience expectations, the Adults Only classification, the warning for ‘bad’ language at the beginning of the programme, and the time of broadcast, 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
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