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 Story discussed the accountability of judges in New Zealand. The item referenced a number of high profile criminal judgments by a named District Court Judge that were overturned on appeal, and included a comparison between New Zealand, Switzerland and the United States on the appointment, term and removal of judges. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this item placed undue emphasis on the decisions of the featured Judge, failed to contrast New Zealand with comparable jurisdictions, failed to cover key information about the judicial complaints service and featured an offensive gesture. The media play an important role in raising issues, such as alleged poor performance of judges, which have an impact on our communities, and this item was in the public interest. The choice to compare New Zealand with judicial systems in the United States and Switzerland was an editorial one open to the broadcaster, and did not result in audiences being misled or misinformed. Finally, the gesture used by the presenter in this item was an innocuous thumb gesture, and not a throat-cutting gesture as alleged by the complainant.
Not Upheld: Balance, Fairness, Accuracy, Good Taste and Decency
An item on Story opened with the news that Air Chathams had recently launched a new flight route from Auckland to Whanganui, following Air New Zealand’s announcement that it would discontinue its flights to the city. The item featured a reporter who visited Whanganui and spoke with the Mayor, residents and business-owners about their experiences and the good and the bad side of living and working in Whanganui. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this item was unbalanced, inaccurate and unfairly portrayed Whanganui and its residents. The introduction to the item was a parody of a popular, long-running Lemon and Paeroa television advertisement, which most viewers would have recognised, and while some of the reporter’s comments were critical of Whanganui, these were balanced with many positive comments made by residents and the item’s presenters.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Balance, Accuracy
An item on Story explored the issue of unconscious bias. During the introduction, footage of members of the public walking down the street was shown. Each individual was zoomed in and highlighted with special effects. The Authority upheld a complaint from JW, one of the individuals shown, that she was unfairly ‘showcased’ during the segment. Rather than being a face in the crowd, the edited footage used filming techniques that singled out the complainant and drew her into the issue under discussion without her knowledge or consent. This unduly impacted on her dignity and was unfair. The Authority recognised that bias is a sensitive issue and has the potential to cause hurt and offence. It is also an important social issue. In this context, without undermining the value of the item as a whole, the Authority considered more care should have been taken in the way the footage was edited to avoid the singling out of individuals who were unaware they would be featured. The Authority did not consider that JW had a reasonable expectation of privacy when she was filmed on a busy public street. Nor did the item reach the high threshold necessary to encourage viewers to treat differently, or devalue the reputation of, any section of the community.
Upheld: Fairness; Not Upheld: Privacy, Discrimination and Denigration; No Order
An item on Story reported that Auckland purchasers of homes near areas of cultural significance for Māori may need to get consent from iwi before undertaking any structural building work, as part of the Auckland Unitary Plan. As an example of one of the areas of cultural significance, the presenter reported from an empty field, saying, ‘So this is what an area of cultural significance looks like. This is called a midden… it’s pretty much a rubbish dump. We looked it up – “midden” is an old Danish word for “domestic rubbish dump”’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that the item discriminated against and/or denigrated Māori and was unfair. While acknowledging the presenter’s tone could be seen to be culturally insensitive and dismissive, the Authority found this did not reach the high threshold necessary to encourage discrimination or denigration. Additionally, comment was included from the iwi named in the item, so they were not treated unfairly.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Fairness
An item on Story covered the ongoing story of presenter Heather du Plessis-Allan’s mail-order purchase of a firearm for an earlier item, and the subsequent police investigation and search of her house. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that the presenter’s reference to ‘legal loopholes’ within the mail-order firearm purchase system was inaccurate and unfair to the parties concerned because the firearm was procured illegally. The presenter used the term ‘loophole’ rather than ‘legal loophole’ and this was an accurate description of the mail-order system prior to police action. The item further did not unfairly represent the purchase process or otherwise result in unfairness to any individual or organisation referred to.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness
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
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
In an item on Story, an actor approached four different real estate agencies (Ray White, LJ Hooker, Barfoot & Thompson and Harcourts) and asked agents to sell him properties for investment prior to auction and at a lower price, which it was alleged would be in breach of the industry code. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that one of the Story presenters had a conflict of interest because of her family connections to Barfoot & Thompson, which resulted in a breach of standards. The Authority is not in a position to determine whether such a conflict existed, but in any case, the alleged conflict did not manifest as a breach of the broadcasting standards nominated.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Accuracy, Controversial Issues
An item on Story investigated an alleged issue within the Auckland property market. It was introduced: ‘Some real estate agents are helping investors and traders… get the houses first [before auction]’. An actor approached different real estate agencies and asked agents to sell him properties for investment prior to auction and at a lower price, which the presenter claimed would be in breach of the industry code. Amy Wildman, one of the agents approached, was filmed with a hidden camera apparently agreeing to sell a property prior to auction. The Authority upheld a complaint from Ms Wildman that she was treated unfairly. The broadcast was damaging to Ms Wildman and did not fairly represent her position, and the use of the hidden camera footage was, on balance, not justified by public interest considerations. The Authority did not uphold aspects of the complaint that the item was also in breach of Ms Wildman’s privacy and inaccurate.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Accuracy
Orders: Section 13(1)(a) – statement published online; section 16(1) – legal costs to the complainant $1,000
Coromandel FM news item broadcast more than once inaccurately reported that fire fighter was charged with drunk driving causing death. Complaint that the broadcast breached the fire fighter’s privacy by disclosing incorrect information about the offence he had been charged with. Not upheld (privacy: facts inaccurate, not private). Principle 8 relevant (the tapes not complete). Unsatisfactory complaints procedure: warning.