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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A complaint regarding a comment made by radio host Wendyl Nissen about US President Donald Trump has not been upheld. During the segment, which reviewed the book, ‘The President is Missing’, Ms Nissen commented, ‘Wouldn’t that be great if [US President Donald] Trump just went missing? Like we just never heard from him again because someone killed him and put him at the bottom of the ocean…?’ The Authority found the comment did not breach broadcasting standards. This was a flippant comment that was intended to be humorous and was in line with audience expectations for the programme, particularly considering the robust talkback radio environment. The Authority emphasised that humour is an important aspect of freedom of expression and found that limiting the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression on this occasion would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Violence, Law and Order
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 Morning Talk with Mark Sainsbury a caller to the programme discussed her experience with divorce legal proceedings in the Family Court and subsequent appeals. A complaint was made that, by allowing the caller to disclose details of the proceedings, the broadcaster breached the law and order standard. The Authority expressed serious concerns with the way in which the call was allowed to progress, as private information was disclosed by the caller which had been suppressed in the Family Court. The Authority found the broadcaster needs to be more alert to the issues surrounding Family Court matters and similar proceedings as issues of contempt, as well as fairness and privacy, may arise. However, the Authority did not consider the broadcaster could reasonably be said to have actively encouraged listeners to break the law by allowing the caller on air, in the manner envisaged by the law and order standard.
Not Upheld: Law and Order
An item on Morning Report featured an interview with the manager of teacher practice at the Education Council. The interview discussed the Council’s drug testing of teachers and its ‘zero tolerance’ approach to cannabis use, and referred to a recent finding of misconduct against a New Zealand teacher who refused to undergo a drug test. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item ‘pushed’ marijuana use by teachers. The item did not promote the use of illegal drugs or condone the behaviour of the teacher referred to. Rather, it offered a robust examination of the Council’s methods of drug testing teachers and its ‘zero tolerance’ approach to cannabis use. In this context the item did not encourage listeners to use illegal drugs or otherwise undermine law and order. The item also did not contain any material which had the potential to adversely affect any child listeners.
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Children’s Interests
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
A panel segment during Larry Williams Drive discussed a recent High Court action brought by Phillip Smith against the Department of Corrections (Corrections), in which Mr Smith argued that his freedom of expression had been breached by Corrections staff preventing him from wearing his toupee. At the conclusion of the panel discussion, Mr Williams stated: ‘I say Janet, solitary confinement 24/7, dark room, with his toupee, with a little bit of waterboarding just to make it interesting’. The other panellists laughed, with one commenting, ‘You’re a hard man, Larry’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint from Mr Smith that this comment suggested he be subjected to an act of torture, which was in poor taste, and that the comment was likely to incite violence against him. The comment was clearly framed as a hyperbolic exaggeration of Mr Williams’ views for effect, and not a deliberate suggestion that Mr Smith actually be waterboarded. In the context of the broadcast, the Authority considered audiences were unlikely to have taken the comment seriously, and it was unlikely to have encouraged or motivated prisoners to act violently towards Mr Smith.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order
An item on Checkpoint reported on the final stages of a court case in Auckland, known as the ‘Dome Valley’ kidnapping, in which a young woman was kidnapped, beaten, sexually violated and left to die by a group of her former friends. The reporter outlined the events of the kidnapping and the item featured segments of the victim giving evidence (with her voice disguised) via audio-visual link from another room in the closed court. The reporter and the victim outlined her assault and injuries in some detail. No audience advisory was broadcast. The Authority found that, while this item had high value in terms of the right to freedom of expression, and was in the public interest, a brief audience advisory should have been broadcast to enable listeners to decide if they wished to listen to the detailed, violent content included in the item. While the Authority supported the broadcast of an item that gave voice to the victim, the segment contained descriptions and details that were disturbing in nature and potentially upsetting for listeners, particularly those who had suffered similarly and any children who may have been listening. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the law and order standard.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence
Not Upheld: Law and Order
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
During Leighton Smith the host discussed Wicked Campers with a caller and commented, ‘Now I’m interested to know what your reaction is to my suggestion that if you see one of these, you know, if you’re offended by one of these vans, run a screwdriver down through the so-called artwork’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the comments were irresponsible and encouraged listeners to break the law. It did not consider Mr Smith was seriously advocating damaging the campervans or that listeners would have been incited to commit unlawful acts, taking into account the target audience and the nature of the programme.
Not Upheld: Law and Order
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
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
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
During a voice break on the radio music show Selectah, the presenter said, 'If you are a scooter rider, in the city, in Auckland, let me give you one piece of advice: Don't get your scooter fixed by Scootling, they charge way too much.' MediaWorks upheld a fairness complaint from the owner of Scootling and offered him a number of options for redress including an on-air apology and free advertising. The Authority disagreed with the complainant that this action was insufficient. It also declined to uphold his complaints that the broadcast otherwise breached standards relating to law and order and accuracy.
Not Upheld: Fairness (Action Taken), Law and Order, Accuracy
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
A participant on ‘The Panel’ during Afternoons with Jim Mora made comments about men wolf whistling at women, such as ‘bring back the wolf whistle’, ‘a whistle is not harassment’, ‘a lot of women are the ones that haven’t been whistled at, that have got a problem with it’ and ‘we are the peacocks, you guys are the ones that look at us’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast condoned and encouraged sexual harassment of women, as the panellist’s comments were clearly her own opinion and did not reach the level of offensiveness required to find a breach of the relevant standards.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order
During Talkback with Karyn Hay and Andrew Fagan, the host Mr Fagan made comments about a regular caller, the complainant, who went by the name of ‘Alex’. He said ‘back in 17-something… I’d meet him on the beach as the sun came up and I’d potentially kill him or let him kill me in a duel’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the host had made a ‘veiled death threat’ against the complainant. It was clear the host was not making a serious death threat, but was using provocative, metaphorical language to express his strong views about the complainant.
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration
The host of the Larry Williams Drive Show and a political editor discussed a protest that had taken place in response to the release of the Government’s budget. The host expressed his disapproval of the protestors and made comments about how he thought they should be dealt with, for example saying fire trucks should corner them from either end of the street. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that his comments breached standards. The host was clearly expressing his personal opinion, and the political editor countered the comments, noting people living in a democracy are entitled to protest.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
During MORE FM Breakfast the hosts discussed ‘age-appropriate’ movies and invited callers to phone in and tell them what movies they watched ‘before they should have’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the programme’s treatment of ‘underage viewing’ breached the law and order standard. Personal anecdotes were standard fare for breakfast radio shows, and reasonable listeners would not have taken the programme as a serious encouragement to break the law or to allow young children to watch unsuitable films.
Not Upheld: Law and Order
The George Selectah Show included audio from a YouTube parody of an advertisement for ‘Chaffers New Zealand Style Deck Sealant’, making fun of the way New Zealanders pronounce the word ‘deck’ to sound like ‘dick’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that comments such as ‘every kid in the neighbourhood has been on my dick’ were in bad taste and joked about paedophilia. This was clearly intended to be humorous and did not promote or endorse paedophilia. Most regular listeners of George FM would not have been offended, taking into account the station’s target audience, and that the content was broadcast during school time when children were unlikely to be listening.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Controversial Issues, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
During Afternoons with Jim Mora on Radio New Zealand National, the host and panellists discussed a coroner’s recommendation, with one panellist criticising the recommendation and stating, “for god’s sake, somebody drown that coroner”. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this breached standards relating to good taste and decency, law and order, accuracy, fairness, and discrimination and denigration: the panellist’s comment was flippant and not intended to be taken literally or as a serious encouragement to commit unlawful acts; and it was aimed at the coroner in his professional capacity, rather than being personally abusive.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration
In two interviews the host of Cruise FM made comments that were critical of, and threatening towards, local council members and a rival radio station. The Authority upheld the complaint that the comments were unfair. The comments were personally abusive and had the potential to be very damaging, and the host abused his position by using the airwaves to discredit council members and staff at a rival radio station. The Authority ordered the radio station to broadcast a statement and also to pay costs to the Crown of $2,500.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration
Orders: Broadcast of statement, $2,500 costs to Crown
During the ZM drive show Jay, Flynny and Jacqui, one of the hosts told a personal anecdote about a prank she committed in her youth, namely setting off a fire alarm, “resulting in all of Timaru’s fire engines turning up”. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the host’s comments breached the law and order standard: the anecdote was a light-hearted recollection of the host’s actions in her youth intended to entertain, but with an educational message – the host made comments condemning her own behaviour and noting the repercussions – and the story did not invite imitation or otherwise encourage listeners to break the law.
Not Upheld: Law and Order
When the hosts of the Willie and JT Show were discussing an industrial dispute at the Ports of Auckland, one host expressed his support for the striking workers by saying, for example, “I hope they get aggressive down there at the wharf”, “Go and bust your pickets over some of these scabs”, and, “I am into militant action.” The Authority did not uphold the complaint that these comments breached the law and order and responsible programming standards: the comments amounted to the host’s vehemently expressed opinion and listeners would not have taken them seriously; the broadcast did not encourage listeners to engage in unlawful activity, taking into account the host’s later retractions and other contextual factors; and upholding a complaint about high value protest speech like this would unjustifiably restrict freedom of expression. The complaint about responsible programming was subsumed into consideration of law and order.
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Responsible Programming