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.
Note! To see results, scroll down below the search fields.
An item on 1 News reported on the trial of Colin Mitchell, who was found guilty of the kidnapping and sexually motivated attack of a young woman. During the item, the reporter stated: ‘DNA evidence from [Mr Mitchell’s] toothbrush matched that found on and inside the pair of gloves left at the quarry; 800,000 million times more likely to have come from Mitchell than anyone else’ [our emphasis]. The Authority declined to determine a complaint that the reporter’s statement was inaccurate because it did not take into account the possibility that Mr Mitchell had an identical twin, or that DNA evidence could have been falsified or planted. The Authority found the complaint was frivolous and trivial.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on 1 News reporting on the separation of migrant families in the United States. The complaint was that references to President Donald Trump’s ‘immigration crackdown’ and ‘Trump’s policy’ of separating children from their parents were misleading, unbalanced and unfair as the relevant law pre-dated Trump’s presidency. The Authority concluded the broadcast did not breach the accuracy, balance or fairness standards, as the references reasonably reflected the Trump administration’s position regarding the enforcement of criminal prosecutions for illegal immigrants. The Authority emphasised the high level of public and political interest in the story and found that any limitation on the right to freedom of expression on this occasion would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Fairness
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about the action taken by a broadcaster in response to a complaint it received about incorrect reporting of casualties in an event in Gaza. Three news bulletins on 1 News and 1 News Midday reported inconsistent numbers of Palestinians killed and injured following protests in Gaza. The broadcaster upheld a complaint that two of the bulletins were inaccurate, however the complainant was dissatisfied with the action taken by the broadcaster in response to these breaches and referred the complaint to the Authority on this basis. The Authority found that TVNZ took sufficient action, noting the broadcaster apologised in its decision to the complainant and circulated a reminder to all newsroom staff about the importance of reporting this type of information correctly.
Not Upheld: Accuracy (Action Taken)
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a newsreader’s use of the term ‘rogue state’ in the introduction to a news item, referring to North Korea. The item reported on the resumption of peace talks between the leaders of the United States and North Korea, and segued into an investigation about the effects of economic sanctions on the people of North Korea. The complaint was that using the term was biased and lacked balance, and the term was better suited to describe the United States. In its decision the Authority noted that the term complained about was used only once, fleetingly, in the newsreader’s introduction and would not have affected viewers’ understanding of the item as a whole. The Authority concluded the use of the term did not trigger the requirements of the balance standard, and neither the programme information standard, nor the fairness standard, was applicable.
Not Upheld: Balance, Programme Information, Fairness
An item on 1 News discussed former MP Steven Joyce’s valedictory speech in Parliament. The item focused on Mr Joyce recounting in his speech an incident where he had a sex toy thrown at him at Waitangi several years earlier. Footage was shown of Mr Joyce recounting this story during his speech, and of the incident at Waitangi. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this broadcast and in particular showing the footage of the sex toy breached the good taste and decency standard. Given the incident was newsworthy and attracted widespread coverage at the time, as well as the light-hearted nature of Mr Joyce’s speech, and the broadcast’s target audience, the Authority found the broadcast was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress. The Authority also found the broadcast was not unfair to Mr Joyce as he personally raised and joked about the incident in his speech. The broadcaster’s choice to highlight this aspect of the speech was an editorial decision open to the broadcaster.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Fairness
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
The Authority upheld a complaint under the accuracy standard about an item on 1 News, which discussed the Auckland Council’s vote on the draft proposal for the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax (the Tax). The Authority found the segment, through the omission of key information about the ongoing consultation and the presenter’s use of the terms ‘green light’ and ‘done deal’, was likely to mislead viewers into thinking the proposal voted on by the Council was final and that there was no further period of public consultation. The importance of keeping audiences informed on issues of public and political significance was emphasised by the Authority. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the balance standard, finding the item achieved balance through the presentation of a wide range of views from politicians and members of the public who were for and against the implementation of the Tax.
Upheld: Accuracy. Not Upheld: Balance
During Breakfast, host Hayley Holt had a conversation with the 1 News US Correspondent about recent school protests in America seeking gun reform. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that Ms Holt’s statement that ‘[w]e, I – here in New Zealand, we think they should ban all guns of course’ was unbalanced and likely to mislead viewers. The Authority found that Ms Holt’s statement was one of generalised opinion and analysis, not a statement of fact. The Authority also noted that this segment solely focused on gun control issues in the USA, not New Zealand, and in this context Ms Holt’s brief comment did not trigger the requirements of the balance standard.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance
A 1 News item discussed corruption charges being laid against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Brief footage from US President Donald Trump’s meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in May 2017 was shown at the end of the item. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of this footage created an unduly negative impression of President Trump and implied he was involved in the corruption, which was unfair. The Authority found the use of the footage in no way implicated President Trump in the alleged corruption. The footage was brief and President Trump was not referred to verbally.
Not Upheld: Fairness
A brief item on 1 News discussed a protest in Christchurch against Vero Insurance (Vero) regarding outstanding insurance claims. The item contained footage of the protestors and the newsreader stated that ‘[One of the protestors] says Vero has kept them locked in a virtual prison for seven years.’ The broadcaster upheld a complaint from Vero under the balance and fairness standards, as Vero ought to have been given an opportunity to comment. Vero referred the complaint to the Authority on the basis it was dissatisfied with the action taken by the broadcaster in response to its original complaint, and it also maintained that the accuracy standard was breached. The Authority did not uphold the complaint, finding the statement complained about was a statement of opinion and therefore the accuracy standard did not apply. The Authority considered that a broadcast statement on this occasion would have been disproportionate to the breach, and therefore it did not uphold the complaint that the action taken by the broadcaster was insufficient.
Not Upheld: Balance (Action Taken), Fairness (Action Taken), Accuracy
Two items on 1 News reported on extreme weather events in New Zealand, with an item on 8 January 2018 focused on the release of NIWA’s 2017 Annual Report and a 12 January 2018 item reporting on clean-up efforts on the West Coast, following torrential rain and flooding. Brief references were made during these items to the impacts of climate change in New Zealand and particularly on extreme weather events. The Authority did not uphold complaints that these items were inaccurate and unbalanced because climate change was not occurring in New Zealand and the number and intensity of extreme weather events was also not increasing. Given the focus of the items, which was not climate change but the release of the NIWA Report and flooding, the Authority found that the brief references to climate change were not material for the purposes of the accuracy standard, and as such would not have affected viewers’ understanding of the items as a whole. The items reported on newsworthy developments in the general area of New Zealand’s weather and climate and did not ‘discuss’ the issue of climate change, so they did not trigger the requirements of the balance standard. The Authority found that the harm alleged to have been caused in this case, namely a misinformed public, therefore did not outweigh the right to freedom of expression and any limitation on that right was unjustified.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance
An item on 1 News reported on an alleged ‘mistake’ by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), which the reporter, Andrea Vance, said ‘cost the taxpayer a quarter of a million dollars’. The item referred to MFAT’s action in waiving the diplomatic immunity of an MFAT employee – the complainant – to allow child custody and matrimonial proceedings to be heard in an overseas court. According to Ms Vance, MFAT’s actions were disputed by the complainant’s ex-partner, resulting in MFAT issuing an apology and payment of ‘legal bills’ to both the complainant and the complainant’s ex-partner. The Authority upheld aspects of a complaint from the MFAT employee that the item was inaccurate, unbalanced and unfair. It was important, in the interests of ensuring viewers were properly informed and were not misled, for the broadcaster to have provided alternative perspectives on the issue of legal costs, namely that MFAT denied payment of the complainant’s costs. Further, it should have been made clear to viewers that a legal expert featured in the item did not have specific knowledge of the complainant’s case and was commenting only generally on the applicable law. The Authority noted the public interest in this item and the efforts made by the broadcaster to protect the identities of those involved, and did not uphold the complaint under the remaining standards.
Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Balance.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Children’s Interests, Programme Information.
During a 1 News Coming Up teaser, presenter Simon Dallow referred to an upcoming item on 1 News, saying: ‘Plus a warning for mums to be; research showing C-section babies face long-term health issues.’ The full item reported on research findings from the University of Edinburgh that babies born through caesarean section were ‘far more likely to suffer from obesity and asthma’, but went on to explain that it was not the caesarean section which caused the health problems, as these could be due to the mother’s health, and further research is needed. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the teaser was sensationalist and misleading, in breach of the accuracy standard. Due to the short duration of the teaser, which was designed to pique viewers’ interest and attract viewers to the later news bulletin, it was necessary for Mr Dallow to briefly summarise the main point of the research, and was not reasonable, at this point, to provide a full explanation of the research and its implications. Viewers understand the nature of news teasers, and were able to watch the full item to get the full story, so they were unlikely to be materially misled by the short teaser.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information
An item on 1 News reported on the Government’s response to protests about seismic surveying, or ‘blasting’, in New Zealand waters. The item featured an interview with a representative of Greenpeace, who said that the Government could act now to stop seismic blasting, as the practice was harmful and could ‘interfere with [whales’ and dolphins’] communication and breeding… deafen them… and separate calves from their mothers’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this item was inaccurate and unbalanced because it presented Greenpeace’s views as fact. The item was focused on the Government’s response to the practice of seismic surveying, and not on the alleged harm to marine life, and it was clear throughout where the reporter was referring to Greenpeace’s views (which, as the expression of comment or opinion, were not subject to the requirements of the accuracy standard). The item was therefore unlikely to mislead viewers, or significantly affect their understanding of the item as a whole. Balancing comment on this issue was therefore not required to be presented in the interests of ensuring viewers were fully informed, and views contrary to Greenpeace were available in surrounding media coverage.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance
Over two evenings on 6 and 7 November 2017, 1 News explored issues of climate change in the lead up to the 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23), presided over by Fiji. During the 6 November 2017 broadcast, a segment titled ‘Rising Sea Levels’ focused on the relocation of Vunidogoloa in Fiji two kilometres inland. The ‘threat’ of ‘rising sea levels’ was revisited during an item on 7 November 2017, which focused on Kiribati purchasing higher ground in Fiji. The Authority did not uphold complaints from two complainants that these broadcasts were inaccurate and unbalanced on the basis there had been little or no rise in sea levels in Fiji or Kiribati. These items focused on Fiji’s position that it was particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels. These items sought to provide a ‘human face’ to those issues, providing the personal perspectives of those affected. Balancing the right to freedom of expression with the harm alleged to have been caused, and given the nature of the items and their narrow focus on personal stories, the Authority found that the statements complained about would not have affected viewers’ understanding of the items as a whole and did not amount to discussion of a controversial issue of public importance, and therefore did not trigger the requirements of the balance standard.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance
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 1 News, broadcast on Christmas Eve in 2017, reported on fatal road crashes that had occurred during the holiday road toll period, including a crash involving the complainant’s husband. The item featured footage of the crashed vehicle, emergency services working, and a shot (from a considerable distance) of people as they watched. The Authority did not uphold the complaint, finding that the standard could not apply to the complainant’s deceased husband, and in addition, he and the complainant’s whanau were not identifiable in the footage, which is required under the privacy standard. While the Authority found that this item was framed in a respectful way and carried an important public safety message, it expressed its sympathy for the complainant and reiterated the need for sensitivity and care to be taken in reporting of this kind, to avoid any unintended harm being caused to those bereaved or grieving.
Not Upheld: Privacy
An item on 1 News explored issues of climate change in the lead up to the 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Bonn, Germany. During the introduction to the item, presenter Simon Dallow stated that ‘New Zealand emits a tiny fraction of the world’s greenhouse gases’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that Mr Dallow’s statement was unbalanced, as no information was provided to viewers about New Zealand’s high per capita greenhouse gas emissions. The precise levels of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions were not ‘discussed’ during this item, which is required in order for the balance standard to apply. The introductory segment covered a wide range of topics related to climate change and the item as a whole primarily focused on the impact of climate change on low-lying nations such as Fiji. While Mr Dallow referred to New Zealand’s commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement and the new Government’s response to climate change issues, his reference to greenhouse gas emissions was brief. In this context, viewers would not have expected the item to cover New Zealand’s precise levels of greenhouse gas emissions in-depth.
Not Upheld: Balance
During the 1 News Vote 17 Leaders Debate, moderator Mike Hosking questioned Bill English about a damaged fuel pipeline in Auckland that caused disruption to flight services, using the phrase ‘for God’s sake’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that Mr Hosking’s use of this phrase was blasphemous and offensive. The Authority has consistently found that variations of ‘God’, ‘Christ’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ are commonly used as exclamations and in this case, Mr Hosking used the phrase to express his own, and voters’, frustration at the Government’s management of the fuel crisis. In these circumstances, the Authority found that the alleged harm did not outweigh the important right to freedom of expression, particularly in the lead up to a general election.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
An item on 1 News reported on the outbreak of a cattle disease on a farm in South Canterbury. The item featured an interview with a farmer who used the expression ‘for Christ’s sake’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this expression was offensive and unacceptable to broadcast during children’s normally accepted viewing times. The Authority found there was public interest and high value in hearing an authentic voice from a New Zealand farmer as part of the news report. The Authority also noted it has consistently found that variations of ‘Christ’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ are commonly used as exclamations, and in this case, the interviewed farmer used the phrase to express his frustration and strong support of the affected farm owner. The content of the interview did not go beyond audience expectations of the news, therefore it was not necessary to broadcast an audience advisory. In these circumstances, the Authority found that the alleged harm did not outweigh the right to freedom of expression, both of the farmer to express himself in his own words, and of the broadcaster to broadcast the item, including the farmer’s views.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
An item on 1 News reported on an influx of refugees and migrants crossing the border from the United States of America (US) into Canada to claim refugee status. The reporter said that this influx was due to uncertainty after the election of Donald Trump as President, and a ‘loophole’ in the law which meant that ‘if a person can make it onto Canadian soil, they’re able to claim asylum’. The Authority found that the term ‘loophole’ was a reasonable description of a gap in the 2004 Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement, in which refugee claimants seeking entry into Canada by crossing the border illegally would not be turned back to the US (as the first safe country), but rather arrested and allowed to claim refugee status in Canada. The reporter’s use of the term ‘loophole’ did not imply that those crossing the border were ‘taking advantage of a technicality’; rather it gave context to the decision of migrants and refugees to take drastic and dangerous measures to claim asylum.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
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
An item referred to during 1 News Coming Up reported on a meeting between the President of the United States of America, President Trump, and Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. During the update, the newsreader said, ‘So, what did Canada’s leader Justin Trudeau say about Trump’s Muslim ban?’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of the term ‘Muslim ban’ was inaccurate, in the context of the brief ‘coming up’ teaser which aimed to convey a lot of information in a short period of time. In this particular case it was acceptable shorthand referring to Executive Order 13769, and briefly highlighted a topic of discussion between the two leaders. The Authority did not consider that the use of the term – which was not used in the full news item – would have materially affected viewers’ understanding of the main thrust of the report.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
An item on 1 News reported on Prime Minister Bill English’s experience during Waitangi Day, including a phone call with the President of the United States of America, President Trump. During an introduction to the item, the newsreader referred to President Trump’s ‘anti-Muslim travel ban’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the newsreader’s statement was inaccurate and unbalanced. The focus of this item was not the precise terms of Executive Order 13679 or its implications, but rather Bill English’s experiences on his first Waitangi Day as Prime Minister, during which his phone discussion with President Trump took place. In this context, the newsreader’s shorthand description of the Order was acceptable. The Authority pointed out, however, that broadcasters should take care when adopting commonly used shorthand terms, as this may not always be sufficient to meet standards of accuracy. The Authority did not uphold the balance complaint, as the brief reference did not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue of public importance triggering the requirements of the balance standard.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance
An item on 1 News reported on John Key’s resignation and the legacy he would leave behind after his term as Prime Minister. The item covered a number of significant events during Mr Key’s time in office, including his involvement in deploying troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes, and the flag referendum (among others). The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this item was misleading and unfair in describing Mr Key’s legacy. The selection of events to include in, and the overall tone of, the item were matters of editorial discretion open to the broadcaster. In the context of a brief summary of highlights from Mr Key’s career, the audience would not have expected an in-depth discussion or analysis of the events discussed. The item, while at times critical, did not stray into personal abuse of Mr Key and the item was accurate in describing events that occurred during Mr Key’s term as Prime Minister.
Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness, Accuracy