In this section of the website you can search all our decisions from 1989/90 to the present. The decisions appear in descending order.
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The Authority has upheld one aspect of a complaint from three complainants about a segment of Punjabi talkback programme Panthic Vichar, broadcast on community radio station, Planet FM. During the programme, host Kuldip Singh made a number of allegations against the complainants, regarding use of grant money and cheating or ‘unjust’ behaviour at a kabaddi tournament. The Authority found that the host’s comments reflected negatively on the complainants and as such, they should have been given an opportunity to respond to the allegations. The Authority did not uphold the remaining aspects of the complaint. The Authority acknowledged the limited resources available to the broadcaster, but reminded it of its obligations under the Broadcasting Act 1989 to receive and consider formal complaints through a proper process, including where the broadcast subject to complaint is in a language other than English. The Authority did not make any orders.
Upheld: Fairness. Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Children’s Interests, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Accuracy, Privacy. No Order.
During the talkback programme, Overnighter, host Garry McAlpine invited listeners to call in to discuss the issues facing New Zealand in 2018, one of which was the upcoming cannabis referendum. Mr McAlpine strongly expressed his view, throughout the programme, that cannabis should be decriminalised for medicinal and recreational use. A number of callers, including the complainant, expressed their views on the subject, with some supportive of, and others opposed to, Mr McAlpine’s views. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this programme was in breach of broadcasting standards. Talkback radio is known for robust discussion, and broadcasting standards recognise that it is an opinionated environment, with hosts granted some latitude to be provocative and edgy in the interests of generating robust debate. This programme in particular featured genuine discussion on an important issue in New Zealand. As such, the harm alleged to have been caused by the complainant did not outweigh the host’s, or callers’, right to express their opinions as part of a talkback discussion about New Zealand’s future, even if some listeners might have disagreed or found those views distasteful.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Law and Order, Good Taste and Decency, Fairness, Programme Information, Discrimination and Denigration
During a Gospel Hour programme on Radio Voqa Kei Viti Aotearoa, a Fijian language station, the announcer used the term ‘iTaukei’ in her greetings to listeners, which the broadcaster submitted referred to the indigenous Fijian population in New Zealand and elsewhere overseas. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the term ‘iTaukei’ meant ‘owner’ in English (and therefore referred to New Zealand Māori), and that use of this term caused division and unrest amongst the station’s Fijian listeners. The Authority found that, while the announcer’s use of the term may be seen by some as divisive and politically-charged, it was not offensive, incorrect or discriminatory to an extent that would justify the Authority intervening and finding a breach of broadcasting standards, and as a result limiting the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression. The Authority however reminded the broadcaster of its obligations under the Broadcasting Act 1989 to receive and consider formal complaints through a proper process, which did not occur in this case.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Programme Information, Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Accuracy, Privacy, Fairness
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
In June, October and November 2016, Sikh radio station Radio Virsa broadcast four programmes in Punjabi on 107FM. The programmes included host and talkback commentary about a wide range of issues. The Authority received a complaint that these broadcasts contained threatening and coarse language and themes, and offensive statements were made in relation to a number of named individuals in the Sikh community, including the complainant. The Authority found that aspects of these broadcasts were in breach of broadcasting standards. The Authority was particularly concerned that offensive comments were made about named individuals in the local community, which resulted in the individuals’ unfair treatment and, in one instance, a breach of privacy. The Authority also found aspects of the broadcasts, which contained comments about women, were unacceptable in New Zealand society and in breach of the good taste and decency standard. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the remaining broadcasting standards.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Privacy, Fairness
Not Upheld: Programme Information, Children’s Interests, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Alcohol, Balance, Accuracy
Orders: Section 13(1)(a) broadcast statement
The Rock Morning Rumble included a stunt featuring the Prime Minister, in which he was invited to enter a cage installed in the studio and ‘pick up the soap’. Upon the Prime Minister doing so, the host quoted a recognised rape scene from the film Deliverance, saying, ‘You’ve got a pretty little mouth Prime Minister’. The Authority upheld a complaint that the stunt amounted to a deliberate reference to prison rape that had the effect of trivialising sexual violence and specifically prison rape. While the segment was allegedly intended to be humorous, which is an important aspect of the exercise of free speech, the stunt overstepped the boundaries of legitimate humour and was offensive. The Authority found that listeners and members of the public would likely have found the segment offensive and unacceptable, and that involving the Prime Minister had the potential to attract a wider audience. For the same reasons the Authority found the segment was not socially responsible. The Authority did not, however, uphold the complaint under the law and order standard.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Responsible Programming
Not Upheld: Law and Order
Orders: Section 13(1)(a) broadcast statement; section 16(4) costs to the Crown $1,000
Worldwatch broadcast a three-part interview series with Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian legislator, described as ‘one of the most powerful women in the Middle East’ and ‘a forceful advocate for Palestinian self-determination and peace in the Middle East’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that the interviews amounted to support for terrorism, ‘[s]olely blame[d] Israel for all the Palestinian suffering’, and contained a number of inaccurate and misleading allegations about the Israel-Palestine conflict. The interviews did not contain several of the statements complained about, but were rather the complainant’s interpretation of what he considered Ms Ashrawi had implied. Other comments complained about were clearly Ms Ashwari’s opinion, to which the accuracy standard did not apply. The interview did not encourage the denigration of or discrimination against Israelis, but was rather a considered discussion about negotiations between Israel and Palestine that was not inaccurate, discriminatory, unfair or irresponsible.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness, Responsible Programming
In its Morning Report programme RNZ replaced the Pacific and Te Manu Korihi bulletins with ‘feature or lead stories’, including those with a Māori focus. The Authority declined to determine a complaint about this scheduling change, finding it raised matters of editorial discretion and personal preference rather than broadcasting standards.
Declined to Determine: Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
The featured speaker of the 2015 Reeves Memorial Lecture, broadcast by Radio New Zealand, was a prominent former New Zealand politician. The Authority declined to determine a complaint alleging that the choice of speaker was ‘improper’ because she was ‘very corrupt’, on the basis that it was vexatious. The complainant continues to refer complaints of a similar nature to the Authority which do not warrant determination.
Declined to Determine: Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness, Responsible Programming
Storytime featured a series of readings from the Margaret Mahy novel The Catalogue of the Universe. The Authority upheld a complaint that the young adult novel featured content unsuitable for younger listeners and should not have been broadcast during Storytime. The story featured teenage drinking and sexual activity which were not appropriate for child listeners and would not have been within audience expectations of this timeslot, which has long been understood to feature stories aimed at younger children.
Upheld: Responsible Programming
Two hosts on George FM Breakfast asked listeners to send in the names and profiles of female users of Instagram described as ‘do-nothing bitches’. The names of two women, A and B, were submitted. The hosts went on to comment extensively on A’s profile, making inappropriate and disparaging comments about her, and also contacted A and interviewed her on air. The Authority upheld a complaint that the action taken by MediaWorks having found breaches of the fairness and good taste and decency standards was insufficient, and also found that the broadcast breached the privacy of both women.
Upheld: Fairness (Action taken), Good Taste and Decency (Action taken), Privacy
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Law and Order, Responsible Programming, Controversial Issues, Accuracy
Orders: Section 13(1)(d) $4,000 compensation to A for breach of privacy; section 13(1)(d) $2,000 compensation to B for breach of privacy; section 16(4) $2,000 costs to the Crown
Roger Morris complained that an alleged discussion on Worldwatch about the ‘Ukraine coup d’etat’ failed to mention a number of key facts, primarily about the United States’ involvement in the conflict. The Authority declined to determine the complaint as the broadcast identified by the complainant in his complaint did not feature any content about Ukraine.
Declined to Determine: Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness, Responsible Programming
During Jeremy Wells’ ‘Like Mike’ skit on the Hauraki Breakfast show, in which he parodied radio and television presenter Mike Hosking, Mr Wells made various comments about Māori people and Stewart Islanders. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the comments were racist, offensive and degraded Māori and Stewart Islanders. The item was clearly satirical and intended to be humorous, and was consistent with audience expectations of the programme and the radio station. As satire, the item did not encourage discrimination against, or denigration of, Māori or Stewart Islanders and this form of speech is a legitimate and important exercise of the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
The hosts of the Jay-Jay, Mike and Dom show interviewed an eliminated contestant from The Bachelor about her experience on the show. At the end of the item, one of the hosts introduced the new ‘Bachelorette game show’ titled, ‘What’s your cucumber number?’ The premise was for contestants to put cucumbers into their mouths and bite down. Whichever contestant could bite down the farthest along the cucumber would be the winner. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this was demeaning to women and unsuitable for children. The broadcast was not outside audience expectations of the station and breakfast radio shows generally, and the innuendo would have gone over the heads of most children.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Responsible Programming
During a discussion on Radio Sport’s Crowd Goes Wild Breakfast show about the Black Caps’ recent win over Bangladesh, one of the hosts said that anyone who criticised cricketer Martin Guptill could ‘take your criticism and ram it up your arse’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this comment was irresponsible and inappropriate for broadcast at a time when children were likely to be listening. The language used would not have unduly surprised or offended regular listeners taking into account audience expectations of the hosts’ well-known style, and of Radio Sport. The segment was otherwise innocuous and was not targeted at children.
Not Upheld: Responsible Programming
An item on Morning Report discussed Mark Lundy’s retrial for the murder of his wife and daughter. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item incorrectly inferred that Mr Lundy had actively been seeking increased life insurance on the day the murders occurred, and that this was unfair. The item was a straightforward report of the latest evidence given at trial and the item as a whole clarified the meaning of its opening statements.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Law and Order, Responsible Programming
Mediawatch included an interview with a senior member of New Zealand’s media community. The Authority declined to determine the complaint that the interviewee was ‘corrupt’ and therefore the interview constituted inaccurate, unfair and irresponsible broadcasting. The complainant has previously made a number of similar complaints which did not raise matters of broadcasting standards, and has been warned that further similar complaints would be unlikely to be determined in the future. Accordingly the Authority considered the complaint to be vexatious.
Declined to Determine: Good Taste and Decency, Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
Nine to Noon broadcast an interview with Joan Withers, chair of Mighty River Power, about her career and the energy industry, among other things. The Authority declined to determine a complaint that Ms Withers was not suitable to interview. RNZ's decision to interview Ms Withers is a matter of editorial discretion rather than broadcasting standards. The complainant has previously made similar complaints about Ms Withers 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 vexatious.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy, Fairness, Responsible Programming
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
The hosts of Environment Matters discussed their views and opinions which were critical of conventional medicine and medical professionals. The Authority declined to uphold the complaint that the broadcast was unbalanced, irresponsible and denigrated medical professionals. Environment Matters was not a factual programme to which the balance standard applied and the hosts were clearly expressing their personal views so listeners would not have been unduly alarmed or distressed. Medical professionals are not a section of the community to which the discrimination and denigration standard applies.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues, Responsible Programming, Discrimination and Denigration
The song ‘Anaconda’ by Nicki Minaj was broadcast on Humm FM 106.2, a Hindi radio station, at 3.30pm on a weekday. The Authority upheld the complaint that the broadcast of the song, which contained swearing and sexually explicit language, at this time of day, on this station, would be unexpected and offensive to most listeners.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Responsible Programming
Radio Tarana reported on the Sanil Kumar Medical Fund, which had been set up for the treatment of a young Fijian-Indian man in New Zealand who had subsequently been deported to Fiji and died. There were allegations by the immediate family of Mr Kumar and others that the fund was being misused by its directors. The Authority declined to uphold a complaint that the broadcasts were unbalanced, inaccurate, unfair, denigrating and caused panic among the public. The broadcaster made reasonable efforts to provide balance and fairness, no inaccuracies could be identified, the discrimination and denigration standard was not applicable and the broadcasts were not presented irresponsibly.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues, Fairness, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
The Authority declined to uphold a complaint that Radio New Zealand’s Sunday Morning coverage of ‘Dirty Politics issues’, was unbalanced, irresponsible and unfair. The broadcast covered a range of topics including Dirty Politics, and as the book was one of the political ‘hot topics’ in the lead-up to the 2014 general election and widely reported on, listeners could reasonably be expected to be aware of other views.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues, Fairness, Responsible Programming
During The Edge Afternoons with Guy, Sharyn and Clint the hosts ran a segment called ‘Shaz Dog’s Love Shack’, where listeners could text and call in to ask for advice on love and relationships. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that ‘a discussion of sexual positions’ breached standards. The segment was consistent with the style of content and humour regularly broadcast on The Edge, and was unlikely to surprise or offend the target audience of 15- to 39-year-olds. Most of the content was in the nature of sexual innuendo and would have gone over the heads of younger listeners.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Responsible Programming, Controversial Issues
During Canterbury Mornings with Chris Lynch, the host expressed frustration with the length of time it had taken police to decide whether to proceed with criminal investigations in relation to the collapse of the CTV building in the Christchurch earthquake. He said, ‘for Christ’s sake, police, you can do better than this’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the use of the word ‘Christ’ breached standards. The use of ‘Christ’ as an exclamation to express surprise or dismay has become an accepted part of colloquial speech and would not have offended most listeners.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Responsible Programming