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.
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The question for the Authority was whether a complaint had been submitted within the time allowed. The complainant submitted two formal complaints about two broadcasts on Fair Go, using the broadcaster’s online complaint form. The broadcaster declined to accept the second complaint on the basis that it was out of time. Under the Broadcasting Act 1989 formal complaints must be lodged in writing with the broadcaster within 20 working days after the programme has screened. The complainant submitted his online complaint shortly before midnight on 28 June, the 20th working day after the broadcast. The definition of “working day” in section 2 of the Act specifies days of the year that are to be excluded but not times of day. The Authority held that the ordinary meaning of a “day” runs from midnight to midnight and that the complaint should have been accepted by the broadcaster. The Authority made an order directing the complaint back to the broadcaster to be accepted and considered as a formal complaint.
Order: Broadcaster to accept and consider complaint as a formal complaint
An item on Fair Go reported on a family who had purchased land in Papamoa only to find that the section had an actual size of 258m2, rather than the 296m2 shown on the property title and in their Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA). The item found that the surveyor was responsible for the incorrect description on the title. However, the item also discussed an extract from an email sent to the purchaser by the real estate agent involved, Wayne Skinner, asking for a notation on the SPA seeking verification of the land site to be removed. The Authority upheld a complaint that the item was unfair and misleading, finding that the reporting of the email extract gave the impression that Mr Skinner had chosen to intentionally remove the purchaser’s right to have the title checked, and did not reflect the other protections available to the purchaser in the SPA. The negative impression created by the item was disproportionate and unfair to Mr Skinner, and undue focus was given to him in the context of the item as a whole. The item did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance that triggered the balance standard.
Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy; Not Upheld: Balance
An item on Fair Go reported on the stories of two families (A and B) and their experiences with The Welcome Home Foundation (now called the Home Funding Group) (together, HFG). Both families claimed that they lost money through their involvement with HFG, which provided financial support and the ability to hold money ‘on trust’ towards a deposit for a home. The Authority did not uphold a complaint from the director of HFG, Luke Atkins, that the broadcast breached the accuracy, fairness and balance standards. While one aspect of the item was found to be inaccurate by the broadcaster, the Authority found that the action taken in the circumstances was sufficient. Mr Atkins was provided with many opportunities to respond to Fair Go’s questions, and provided a press release setting out his point of view which was fairly summarised during the item and also made available online. The Authority found that, overall, viewers were given sufficient information to make up their own minds about HFG.
Not Upheld: Accuracy (Action Taken), Fairness, Balance
An item on Fair Go reported on complaints by two families about the allegedly unsatisfactory supply and installation of their swimming pools, purchased from The Spa and Pool Factory (SPF). During the item, the reporter also noted that the Auckland Council was investigating SPF regarding ‘potentially fraudulent documentation’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint from the director of SPF that the item was inaccurate, unfair and in breach of his privacy. The broadcaster made reasonable efforts to ensure that the programme was accurate and did not mislead viewers, going directly to Mr Radisich and to Auckland Council to seek their comments on the issues raised. In relation to the alleged breach of privacy, no information about which Mr Radisich had a reasonable expectation of privacy was disclosed during the item, and the way the information was presented would not be considered highly offensive to an objective reasonable person. Finally, Fair Go appropriately sought comment from Mr Radisich, the sole director of SPF, to ensure his perspective was captured and that he was treated fairly.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Privacy, Fairness
An item on Fair Go investigated a case of alleged elder financial abuse by a man, P against a 90-year-old woman, E. The programme also featured P’s ‘mentor’ (M), a spokesperson from E’s bank and comment from E and her grandson. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item was unfair, inaccurate and unbalanced. Both P and M were given a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment, the broadcaster made reasonable efforts to ensure the item was accurate and the item did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance which required the presentation of alternative views.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy, Controversial Issues
Fair Go reported on an elderly man who had difficulties with his dentures and explored his legal rights. The Authority declined to uphold a complaint from the dentist who made the dentures, finding that he was only identifiable to a very limited group of people, no private facts were disclosed about him and the disclosure was not highly offensive as he was not portrayed in an overly negative light.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Privacy, Controversial Issues, Responsible Programming
An item on Fair Go investigated a Christchurch roofer who had failed to complete a number of jobs for which he had already taken payment from customers. The roofer was interviewed on his doorstep, and explained he had mental health issues. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the item breached the man’s privacy because it revealed his mental health status. The roofer willingly discussed his mental health with the reporter, including on camera, as part of his explanation in response to the customers’ claims, so he could not reasonably expect that information would remain private.
Not Upheld: Privacy
A Fair Go item reported on the New Zealand Industrial Fuel Duty Agency (NZIFDA), a business set up to obtain refunds, on behalf of eligible customers, for excise duty placed on off-road fuel usage in some instances. A former employee of NZIFDA criticised the business and the person who ran it. The Authority did not uphold the complaint from the person who ran the business, that the item was inaccurate and misleading and used ‘loaded’ language to suggest wrongdoing. The item was clearly framed from the perspective of the former employee, her comments were clearly her personal opinion, the complainant was given a reasonable opportunity to give a response, and his response was fairly included in the programme.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness
An item on Fair Go reported on a couple's experience with the complainant, a mechanic, and included claims which he was disputing. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the item was inaccurate and unfair. Though it created a negative impression of the complainant, he was provided with a fair opportunity to comment and his response was fairly presented in the item. The claims were presented as the couple's interpretation and opinion of events, not as points of fact, so viewers would have understood that the claims were one side of the story only and were disputed by the complainant.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness
An item on Fair Go focused on a couple who received a verbal estimate for plumbing work that was significantly less than the final bill, and included interviews with the couple and the plumber. It advised viewers on how to avoid unanticipated costs by obtaining written quotes. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the item breached the fairness standard: the plumber was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment and his viewpoint was adequately reflected; the item did not create an unfairly negative representation of his character or conduct; and there is a high level of public interest in advice provided to tradespeople and consumers.
Not Upheld: Fairness
In an investigation spanning two separate broadcasts, Fair Go dealt with a complaint against The Battery Clinic and its manager, the complainant, relating to a system developed to extend the life of batteries in hybrid vehicles. Three experts expressed concerns about the safety of the system. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the programme breached the balance, accuracy and fairness standards: Fair Go had a sufficient basis for presenting the view that the system developed by the complainant was potentially dangerous, and the complainant was provided with a reasonable opportunity to respond to the claims and defend his invention; and there is a very high public interest in reporting on matters that have the potential to impact on public safety.
Not Upheld: Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness
Two items on Fair Go investigated claims about a wooden gate manufacturer. Customers were interviewed about their experiences with the company and its director, and the item contained footage, filmed from a public footpath, of the company director at his workshop. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the item breached standards relating to privacy, law and order, controversial issues, fairness, accuracy, discrimination and denigration, and responsible programming: no private facts were disclosed about the director, and footage taken on his property was not broadcast; the impression created about him and his company was based on the opinions of customers, which were exempt from standards of accuracy; the director was provided with a fair and adequate opportunity to respond and the item included comprehensive summaries of his statement; and the broadcast was accurate in all material respects and would not have misled viewers on the essential issues.
Not Upheld: Good taste and Decency, Law and Order, Privacy, Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
An item on Fair Go, broadcast on TV One, included an interview with a group of Christchurch women who wanted to cancel their gym contracts due to temporary closure or relocation of premises following the February 2011 earthquake. The item’s focus was on two gyms in Christchurch and whether they were within their rights to enforce the contracts or were being unreasonable. The Authority upheld the complaint that the item breached the fairness and accuracy standards: it contained comments from two women which suggested their issues related solely to relocation, that the complainant’s gym refused to refund them and that they would be significantly out of pocket, but it omitted important information about the women’s individual circumstances relating to the contracts, creating a misleading impression which was not mitigated by the opportunity given to the complainant to respond. The Authority made no order.
Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness
Two items on Fair Go investigated complaints against a medal conservator and dealer, Owen Gough. The Authority did not uphold complaints from Mr Gough that the people interviewed made false claims about him, that his response was not fairly presented, and that the programmes breached his privacy. The broadcasts carried a high level of public interest, the claims made by those interviewed were clearly framed as their personal opinions and experiences, and the Authority was satisfied that the broadcaster had sufficient basis for the story. Mr Gough was not treated unfairly.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Accuracy, Fairness
Fair Go carried out testing on imported and locally produced “extra virgin” olive oil, and reported that European imports had failed sensory and chemical tests. The story made references to the testing being “IOC accredited” (International Olive Oil Council). The Authority upheld the accuracy complaint as these references were not technically correct and gave greater status to the testing than was justified. Nevertheless, the complainant was given a reasonable opportunity to respond, and its response was adequately presented so the programme overall was not unfair. The Authority made no order.
During the Fair Go Ad Awards, two teams of advertisers were asked to design advertising campaigns within the programme, to “sell us Quade Cooper for New Zealand’s next Prime Minister”. The campaigns included comments such as “everyone hates Quade Cooper”. A complaint was made that the “Hate Quade” theme was unfair and encouraged “hatred of a person”. The Authority did not uphold the complaint: the piece was intended to be light-hearted and humorous and was presented in the spirit of good-natured ribbing and team rivalry, so was not unfair, and the discrimination and denigration standard only applies to sections of the community, not to individuals.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration
Fair Go. Item on saving fuel costs discussed hybrid vehicles, including one reference to Toyota Prius. Not upheld (accuracy, fairness, responsible programming, discrimination and denigration).
Fair Go. Investigated sales techniques employed by Wenatex and showed sales consultant stating colleague was “in front of a wheelchair” before purchasing a Wenatex bed. Upheld (fairness). Not upheld (privacy). Declined to determine (accuracy). Orders ($8,740 costs to complainants).