Five Campbell Live items featured the complainant, Margaret Harkema, a former director of the Valley Animal Research Centre, and investigated concerns that she was using TradeMe to rehome beagles that were bred or used for testing. The Authority upheld her complaints that the programmes were unfair, misleading and breached her privacy.
Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy, Privacy
Not Upheld: Law and Order
Orders: Section 13(1)(d) $2,000 compensation to the complainant for breach of privacy; Section 16(1) $12,000 legal costs to the complainant
An item on 3 News: Firstline reported on the Westminster Dog Show. In response to a question whether there was a Pit Bull division in the competition, one of the presenters commented, ‘I highly doubt it. Imagine what their owners would look like.’ The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the comment was highly offensive to, and denigrated, Pit Bull owners. Pit Bull owners are not a section of the community, and the comment was clearly an off-the-cuff, light-hearted joke delivered without invective.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
An item on Campbell Live included brief footage of a person starting a lawn mower without the rear grass flap on. The Authority declined to determine the complaint that this breached standards of law and order, on the basis it was frivolous and trivial. The footage was extremely brief and part of a light-hearted story in an unclassified current affairs programme targeted at adults, so it could not be said to have encouraged or condoned criminal activity.
Declined to Determine: Law and Order
During 3 News: Firstline, TV3’s political correspondent commented that Colin Craig was the ‘toilet paper’ of conservative politics and ‘he’s got the Christians [voting for him]’. The Authority did not uphold two complaints that these comments were unbalanced, inaccurate and unfair. The segment clearly comprised the correspondent’s own analysis and commentary rather than statements of fact, so viewers would not have been misled and the broadcaster was not required to present other views. As the leader of a political party, Mr Craig should expect criticism and scrutiny, so the comments were not unfair.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Controversial Issues, Fairness, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration
An item on 3 News which reported on a shooting massacre in a Kenyan Mall included footage of a man trying to hide, and then being shot at point blank range. The newsreader warned that the story contained ‘disturbing images’. The Authority upheld the complaint that this warning was inadequate to prepare viewers for witnessing a horrific execution. While recognising the very high public interest in the story and in the footage, viewers were not given a reasonable opportunity to exercise discretion or make a different viewing choice. The Authority did not make any order, as the decision provides sufficient guidance to broadcasters.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence
Two teams of comedians on 7 Days made comments about the complainant, a Christchurch City Council candidate who had been in the news for exposing people who visited an illegal brothel. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this was unfair. The complainant willingly put himself in the public eye, and it was reasonable to expect scrutiny. The comedy genre of the programme, and the tone of the comments, indicated this was not intended as a personal attack on the complainant, or to be informative, but was purely for the purpose of entertainment and humour, so potential harm to the complainant was minimal.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
An item on Campbell Live featured an interview with a voluntary euthanasia advocate. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item was unbalanced as it failed present other significant views on euthanasia. The item was clearly focused on one woman’s personal experience, so viewers would not have expected an even-handed analysis of all arguments for and against legalising euthanasia. Euthanasia is recognised as an ongoing, highly charged social and legal issue, and different viewpoints in the debate will be offered from time to time. In this context the broadcaster adequately acknowledged the existence of other perspectives.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues
An episode of Futurama, an animated cartoon series, contained sexual references and innuendo. The episode which was classified G (General) screened on FOUR at 6.30pm. The Authority considered that the sexual content was not suitable for unsupervised child viewers and that the episode was incorrectly classified G when it should have been classified PGR. The broadcaster did not adequately consider children’s interests when incorrectly classifying the episode and screening it in G time
Upheld: Responsible Programming, Children’s Interests
A 3 News item reported on newly released statistics showing a decline in the number of abortions performed in New Zealand. It included one possible reason why, put forward by the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the item was unbalanced because it did not also include the ‘pro-life’ perspective on why the rates were declining. While abortion is a controversial issue of public importance, the fact abortion rates have declined is not, and there has not been any significant debate about the reasons for the decrease. The broadcaster was not required to canvass perspectives for and against abortion given the item was a straightforward report on new statistics.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues
During Predators, a science fiction film about a group of humans hunted by aliens, a male character who was a convicted murderer, commented ‘I’m gonna rape me some fine bitches’ and made references to consuming cocaine. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the comments glamorised criminal activity and denigrated women. The comments were acceptable taking into account both the external context, including the time of broadcast, AO classification, and pre-broadcast warning for violence and language, as well as the narrative context, including that the film was highly unrealistic, and the development of that particular character who was obviously a ‘baddie’ and despised by the other characters.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration
An item on 3rd Degree reported on a Korean man X who was ousted from his local church community for his participation in a ‘mockumentary’ about North Korea. The programme included an interview with the editor of a local Korean newspaper (one of the complainants), and attempted to interview a priest from X’s church. The Authority did not uphold complaints that the story was unfair to the interviewees and breached the newspaper editor’s privacy. The programme made genuine attempts to obtain comment from the interviewees, and they were treated fairly. The newspaper editor agreed to an interview so the broadcast did not disclose any private facts about him. The story did not discuss a controversial issue which required the presentation of alternative views; it focused on one man’s personal experiences.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Controversial Issues, Fairness
An episode of Home and Away, which was classified G, included a storyline about the date rape of a teenage girl. The Authority agreed with the complainant that the theme of rape was unsuitable for unsupervised child viewers and that the programme was incorrectly classified. The Authority made no order, noting that the programme was now screened on another television network.
Upheld: Responsible Programming
Panellists on TV3's The Nation discussed the Labour Party's proposal for introducing gender equality rules to increase the number of female caucus members. The complainant argued that the programme was unbalanced because only one woman took part in a panel of nine guests. The Authority noted that two panellists expressed views in support of the proposal, the gender of the panellists was not relevant, and the spectrum of views meant sufficient balance was provided.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration
In the first episode of Harry, a fictional crime drama series set in South Auckland, a detective investigated a spate of robberies. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the programme breached standards relating to discrimination and denigration, law and order, good taste and decency, violence, and accuracy. The programme did not encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, South Pacific people as a section of the community; the depiction of criminal activity in a fictional drama did not encourage viewers to break the law or otherwise promote or condone criminal activity; the sexual content was brief and inexplicit and preceded by a warning for sexual material; the content complained about did not constitute violence, and in any event, the broadcaster exercised sufficient care and discretion by classifying the programme AO, screening it at 9.30pm, and using a specific pre-broadcast warning; and the accuracy standard does not apply to fictional programmes.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration, Violence
A 3 News item reported on the findings of an investigation into the actions of New Zealand’s intelligence agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau, and the Government’s proposed response to those findings. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that two statements about the governing legislation were inaccurate: the item focused on the key finding that the legislation was ambiguous, and the statements were not inaccurate or misleading when taken in this context.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
A 3 News bulletin reported on the granting of parole to a man jailed in relation to the so-called “Urewera anti-terror raids”. The newsreader said men were “jailed over military-style training camps” and the item showed a photograph of Tame Iti wearing a balaclava-type headpiece and holding a gun. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the report breached the accuracy, controversial issues and fairness standards: while the newsreader’s statement was technically inaccurate, the position was immediately clarified when the newsreader said the men were sentenced for firearms offences; and the photograph of Tame Iti was relevant to the subject matter. The newsreader’s introductory comment and the photograph did not create an unfair impression that the men were terrorists; and the item did not contain a discussion of a controversial issue of public importance requiring the presentation of alternative viewpoints.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness
A promo for The Graham Norton Show’s Christmas special showed a photograph of a couple dressed as Mary and Joseph holding a dog in swaddling clothes. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this breached the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards: the content was a light-hearted attempt at humour as opposed to a criticism of Christians and would not have offended most viewers in context. Further, the innocent lampooning of religious figures comes within the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration
A music video for the Lana Del Ray song "Born to Die" was broadcast on C4. It contained the lyrics "Let's go get high" and briefly showed the artist smoking what the complainant alleged was a marijuana cigarette. The Authority determined that this did not breach the law and order standard: the lyrics and footage did not glamorise drug use and did not encourage viewers to break the law or otherwise promote or condone criminal activity.
Not Upheld: Law and Order
An item on 3 News reported on a bullying incident at Ruawai College, told from the perspective of the victim’s mother. It contained repeated cell phone footage of the incident. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this breached standards relating to good taste and decency, privacy, accuracy and fairness: overall the school was portrayed positively, it was provided with a reasonable opportunity to comment and the Principal adequately presented the school’s position, the item was accurate in all material respects, and it did not breach anyone’s privacy.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Privacy, Accuracy, Fairness
A segment on 3 News: Firstline included an interview with a spokesperson from the Sensible Sentencing Trust regarding a proposed amendment to the Parole Act 2002. The spokesperson expressed her view that the amendment “did not go far enough” and that parole hearings should be abolished altogether. The Authority upheld the complaint that this breached the controversial issues standard: the item discussed a controversial issue of public importance, and while the presenter alluded to the existence of other points of view, this did not go far enough – the broadcaster accepted that it had not made reasonable efforts, or given reasonable opportunities, to present alternative viewpoints. The Authority did not find a breach of the accuracy and fairness standards: the statements amounted to comment and opinion and were therefore exempt from standards of accuracy, the item was not misleading, and parole board members, prisoners, and victims of crime were all treated fairly. The Authority made no order.
Upheld: Controversial Issues
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness