In this section of the website you can search all our decisions from 1989/90 to the present. The decisions appear in descending order.
Decisions from 1994 appear in HTML. Decisions from 1989/90 to 1993 are attached as PDFs.
Four of the fields that appear at the top of individual decisions – Channel/Station, Programme, Standards, Standards Breached – have links that call up other decisions with the same information.
Please note that you will need to select specific standard/s, as well as a broadcasting code, to return decision results.
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Two complaints about a segment on The AM Show that reported on threats to public officials over the Government’s use of 1080 were not upheld. The Authority found that the portrayal of the anti-1080 campaign was not misleading or unfair, noting that the broadcast identified the threats as coming from the ‘fringes’ of the anti-1080 movement. The Authority also found that a comment made by host Duncan Garner during the broadcast, 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: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Accuracy, Privacy, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld two complaints about episodes of Shortland Street, which followed the ongoing storyline of a threesome between a married couple and their nanny. The Authority acknowledged that some viewers might find this storyline distasteful and that some scenes and references might have raised questions for children. However, the Authority found that various contextual factors, including audience expectations of the long-running television drama and a warning for sexual material, prepared audiences for the likely content and minimised the potential for undue harm. The sexual material and references contained in these episodes were relatively inexplicit, with no nudity or sexual activity beyond kissing shown. Finally, the fictional sexual activity took place between consenting adults and no illegal or seriously antisocial activity was portrayed during the programme. The Authority therefore found no grounds to justify restricting the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order
During a segment of The Project, the presenters discussed whether it was illegal to wear headphones while driving. One of the presenters, a well-known New Zealand comedian, said that he wore headphones while driving ‘because it drowns out the sound of the seatbelt warning’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the presenter’s comment trivialised an important road safety issue. The segment as a whole carried a positive road safety message, with the presenters sharing their surprise that wearing headphones while driving was not illegal in New Zealand (though distracted drivers could still be charged with careless driving). The comment was clearly intended to be humorous and the reactions of the other presenters balanced the comment and signalled to viewers that wearing your seatbelt was important. In this context, the presenter’s comment did not actively promote, encourage or glamorise illegal behaviour, and any limitation on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Law and Order
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
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an episode of Breakfast, in which the hosts and viewer feedback discussed people stealing at supermarket self-service checkouts by putting in the wrong code for items they are purchasing. The Authority found the programme did not actively encourage viewers to steal or break the law in breach of the law and order standard. Across the programme as a whole, the hosts and viewers offered a range of views on the ethics of stealing at self-checkouts, including strong views against such behaviour, and clearly acknowledged it was ‘theft’ and illegal. The tone of the discussion was consistent with audience expectations of Breakfast and its hosts, and would not have unduly offended or distressed viewers, so the good taste and decency standard was also not breached.
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Good Taste and Decency
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an item on 1 News, about claims from the Department of Conservation (DOC) that staff had been abused and attacked by anti-1080 protestors, breached broadcasting standards. The Authority found the item was unlikely to mislead or misinform audiences, as it contained comments from various parties including a DOC representative, an anti-1080 campaigner and a National Party MP. The Authority highlighted the importance of the reporting on issues of public importance in an accurate and balanced manner, finding that the broadcaster did so on this occasion.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Privacy, Fairness
An episode of The AM Show featured an interview with Hon. Kelvin Davis regarding the Government’s scheduled series of nationwide Hui with Māori. The programme also discussed legal action taken by prisoners against the Department of Corrections over strip searches, and a short clip of comments by host Duncan Garner on this issue was included in a promo for The AM Show broadcast that evening. A complaint was made that Mr Garner’s comments in relation to the first topic amounted to racist ‘slurs’ against Māori and were dismissive of the Crown’s efforts to fulfil its Treaty obligations, and that the discussion of the second topic trivialised prisoners’ ‘serious abusive treatment’. The Authority did not uphold either aspect of the complaint. The Authority found that, while some of the comments made by Mr Garner could be considered controversial and provocative, this was robust political discourse which carried public interest, and did not go beyond audience expectations. Comments were also made by the other hosts and panel guests which gave a countering view. In this context upholding the complaint would unreasonably restrict the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy, Balance
During Hauraki Breakfast, hosts Jeremy Wells and Matt Heath discussed smoking marijuana, in relation to several National Party MPs who had recently publicly stated they had never tried it. The hosts took calls from listeners who had also never tried marijuana and asked them why they had never tried it. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast promoted and encouraged the use of marijuana. The Authority found the broadcast amounted to a comedic discussion of smoking marijuana that did not go beyond established audience expectations of Radio Hauraki, Hauraki Breakfast or the hosts. The Authority noted that humour and satire are important aspects of free speech, and found that on this occasion, there was insufficient risk of harm to justify limiting the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Children’s Interests
A 1 News segment on 14 November 2017 discussed the effect of an expanding Chinese economy on global carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. In a pre-recorded item from the BBC, with reference to the release of CO2, a BBC Correspondent said that ‘the gas traps heat in the atmosphere’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item was inaccurate or unbalanced. The Authority found that the broadcaster was entitled to rely on internationally reputable sources to support the BBC Correspondent’s statement on the issues addressed in the segment. The Authority also found that the broadcaster’s reliance on this leading scientific theory to the exclusion of others in the broadcast was unlikely to leave viewers significantly misinformed. It noted that climate change is an ongoing and constantly discussed controversial issue of public importance and therefore audiences no longer have to be presented with all significant viewpoints in one broadcast.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Law and Order
An item on Newshub reported on ‘cash for job’ work scams in New Zealand. The reporter described the experiences of one worker, who alleged he had been exploited by his employer and told to pay $30,000 for his job as a technician at an internet café. GL, who was named and whose photo was shown during the item, was said to have ‘demanded’ $15,000 from the worker as part of the scam. GL complained that the item was inaccurate and unfair, because he did not demand or receive any payment from the worker and he was not given a fair opportunity to respond to the allegations made against him. The majority of the Authority did not uphold the complaint, finding that the broadcaster made reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of the broadcast and that the complainant was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations. The majority recognised the high public interest in the item, which reported on an important issue to New Zealanders, and the essential role of investigative journalism in exposing this type of conduct to the public. The minority view was that, while the issue of cash for job work scams was an important story to be told, there was insufficient evidence available to the reporter to identify GL as an example of a cash for job scam. These were serious allegations that had the potential to significantly damage the complainant’s reputation, and the story’s important message about the rise of such scams could have been conveyed without identifying him. The Authority was unanimous in its decision to not uphold the remaining aspects of the complaint.
Not Upheld by Majority: Fairness, Accuracy.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Balance, Law and 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 item on 1 News promoted the new single from New Zealand singer-songwriter, Lorde. It featured clips taken from the music video for Lorde’s single, ‘Green Light’. In the clips, the singer could be seen leaning out of a car window and later dancing on the car roof. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this item was in breach of the law and order standard by encouraging reckless driving. The music video, and the news item’s promotion of it, did not actively encourage audiences to break the law, or otherwise promote criminal or serious antisocial activity, taking into account the context. The Authority found that viewers would have understood the singer’s actions to have taken place in the ‘fantasy’ realm of the music video, which made sense within the fictional narrative of the song.
Not Upheld: Law and Order
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 Newshub reported on the conviction and sentencing of a New Zealand woman, A, for the murder of her 20-year-old severely autistic and intellectually disabled daughter, B. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item ‘sympathised with the murderer over the victim’ and ‘morally absolved [A]’. The broadcast was a factual news item which reported on the outcome of criminal proceedings involving A, and largely reflected the Judge’s statements at sentencing. It was focused on the circumstances of A’s particular case and did not contain a discussion of the wider issues of violence against disabled people or family violence, and therefore did not require balancing perspectives on these issues. While the item could be seen to report A’s sentence with some sympathy, it was based on the Judge’s findings and did not promote or condone harm against disabled people. In the context of a factual news report about the outcome of A’s case, the item also did not reach the threshold for encouraging discrimination against, or the denigration of, people with disabilities. Notwithstanding its findings, the Authority acknowledged the complainant’s concerns about important societal issues, such as the status of disabled people in our community and the proper understanding of disabilities.
Not Upheld: Balance, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration
Four episodes of The Windsors, a British satirical comedy series, parodied the British Royal Family with reference to topical events. The episodes featured exaggerated characters based on members of the British Royal Family and contained offensive language and sexual material. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the episodes failed general standards of common taste and decency, and denigrated and ridiculed the Queen and her family. The Authority found that the episodes were clearly satirical and intended to be humorous. While this particular brand of humour may not be to everyone’s liking, the right to freedom of expression includes the right to satirise public figures, including heads of state. In the context of an AO-classified satirical comedy series, which was broadcast at 8.30pm and preceded by a warning for coarse language, viewers were sufficiently informed about the episodes’ likely content and were able to make a different viewing choice. The episodes did not contain any material which promoted illegal or antisocial activity, raised privacy issues, or triggered the discrimination and denigration standard.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Privacy
How to Make Money Selling Drugs, a documentary film about the United States’ drug industry, featured a mock ‘how to’ guide for being a successful drug dealer. The documentary then examined and critiqued the United States’ ‘War on Drugs’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the documentary provided ‘information and tips to… potential drug dealers’ and encouraged crime. How to Make Money Selling Drugs was a satirical documentary which used broadcasting devices to gain viewers’ attention and highlight a significant problem in our society. While the documentary may have initially appeared to present positive aspects of drug dealing, it went on to explore the negative consequences, such as incarceration and death. The documentary did not condone drug dealing, and offered alternative solutions to combatting drug use in society. In this context How to Make Money Selling Drugs could not be interpreted as seriously encouraging or instructing viewers to engage in drug dealing, and did not undermine law and order.
Not Upheld: Law and Order
Various items on Breakfast featured a weather reporter providing weather forecasts from Airbnb accommodation, as part of a competition for viewers to win Airbnb vouchers. During the items, the reporter interviewed three New Zealanders who rented out their accommodation through Airbnb, as well as an Airbnb representative, about the service. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that these items failed to cover key information about Airbnb, resulting in inaccurate and unbalanced broadcasts that were also in breach of the law and order standard. The items were in the nature of advertorials, being programme content that was not news, current affairs, or factual programming to which the accuracy and balance standards applied. In any event, the Authority considered that the level of information provided about Airbnb was appropriate to the series of segments as a whole, which encouraged viewers to enter the Airbnb competition by providing a light-hearted look at the type of accommodation available on Airbnb and how New Zealanders got involved. The items did not purport to be in-depth investigations of Airbnb and its repercussions on the economy, and did not promote illegal activity.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Law and Order
An episode of Criminal Minds featured the murder of three restaurant workers during an armed robbery, prompting the FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit to re-open a similar cold case that occurred six years earlier. The episode contained violence and drug use. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the episode breached broadcasting standards relating to responsible programming, children’s interests and law and order. The Authority found that while the episode contained challenging content, it was classified AO and was preceded by an adequate warning. The programme’s classification, pre-broadcast warning and established reputation as a crime drama enabled viewers to make an informed viewing decision. The programme did not contain visual acts of violence, and the drug use was not portrayed in an instructional or encouraging manner and was part of the episode’s narrative context.
Not Upheld: Responsible Programming, Children’s Interests, Law and Order
In an episode of The Block NZ: Villa Wars, the complainant was portrayed as a ‘temperamental European tiler’ who allegedly wanted to be paid in advance and went ‘AWOL’ when he was not paid. The Authority upheld a complaint that the complainant was treated unfairly and that key facts about his professional conduct were misrepresented. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the broadcast also breached a number of additional standards.
Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy
Not Upheld: Privacy, Discrimination and Denigration, Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Controversial Issues, Responsible Programming
Order: Section 16(4) costs to the Crown $1,500
Two episodes of Story featured items about self-described ‘professional political campaigner’ Simon Lusk. In the first item, presenter Duncan Garner was shown hunting with Mr Lusk, and Mr Lusk apparently shot two deer. Excerpts of political figures being interviewed about their involvement with Mr Lusk, and of Mr Lusk discussing such involvement, were shown throughout the items. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that the items were in breach of multiple broadcasting standards for the way Mr Lusk’s involvement in politics was reported and for featuring footage of deer hunting. The footage of the deer hunting was not so graphic or gratuitous that it would have offended a significant number of viewers, including child viewers. Additionally, nothing in the items was unfair to any individuals, encouraged criminal activity, discussed a controversial issue of public importance, was inaccurate or discriminated against or denigrated any section of the community.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Fairness, Law and Order, Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration
An item on Story showed presenter Heather du Plessis-Allan purportedly exposing a loophole in New Zealand’s gun laws by falsifying a mail-order form and obtaining a firearm from a gun dealer without verifying that she held a gun licence. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that the broadcast encouraged viewers to break the law. The item carried public interest, it was clearly meant to discourage flouting of gun laws rather than encourage illegal activity and the Police Association commended Story for exposing the issue.
Not Upheld: Law and Order
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
An item on 3 News discussed New Zealand’s efforts to remove the veto power held by permanent member states on the United Nations Security Council. Both the presenter and reporter referred to a recent example of Russia exercising its veto in relation to a proposed tribunal to investigate the crash of flight MH17. The Authority declined to uphold a complaint that the item was misleading and unbalanced because Russia in fact was supportive of investigating the MH17 tragedy and holding those responsible to account, but was not in favour of setting up a tribunal on the matter. The item was materially accurate and the reference to Russia’s exercise of the veto power did not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue of public importance which triggered the need to present alternative views.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Controversial Issues, Law and Order, Fairness
3 News covered a story about Trunk Property Ltd, which allegedly was entering into unlawful subletting arrangements with tenants in Auckland. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast contained inaccurate, unfair and unbalanced information and breached the privacy of Trunk Property’s director. The item was materially accurate, was not unfair to Trunk Property or its director and did not breach the director’s privacy. Trunk Property was given a reasonable opportunity to comment on the story and its response was fairly presented in the item.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Privacy, Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Controversial Issues, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
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