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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, ProgrammeStandards, Standards Breached – have links that call up other decisions with the same information.

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1404 Results

Gough and Television New Zealand Ltd - ID2012-079

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

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Wallis and Television New Zealand Ltd - ID2012-047

An episode of Piha Rescue was broadcast on 16 January 2012 on TV One. The complainant emailed TVNZ’s “Viewer Correspondence” email address expressing concerns about the episode. TVNZ’s email response went into the complainant’s spam email folder. He then referred his complaint to the Authority on the basis that he had not received a response from the broadcaster to his original complaint. The Authority determined that it does not have jurisdiction to accept the referral because the complainant’s original email was not a valid “formal complaint” and TVNZ responded appropriately to his email.

Declined to Accept Referral

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Wylie and Television New Zealand Ltd - ID2011-168

A “breaking news ticker” was broadcast during an advertisement break which stated, “Breaking News ... Container ship breaks apart ... Tugs racing to the scene ... More on One News at 4.30, 6pm and at tvnz.co.nz”. The information in the ticker was inaccurate. The Authority determined that the breaking news ticker was not a “programme” for the purposes of the Broadcasting Act 1989 because it consisted predominantly of alphanumeric text, which is excluded under the Act, and therefore the Authority had no jurisdiction to accept the complaint.

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Robinson and Television New Zealand Ltd - ID2005-082

Monster of Berhampore. Interlocutory application. Declined.

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Wakeman and Television New Zealand Ltd - ID2004-154

One News, Te Karere, Eye to Eye, Marae. By-election coverage. Law and order, balance, fairness, accuracy, programme information. Not upheld.

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Chief Ombudsman (Sir Brian Elwood) and Television New Zealand Limited - ID2001-002

One News. Interview with Chief Ombudsman about tax-payer funded sex-change operation where health bureaucracy acted unfairly. Order to supply tape to the Authority

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Chief Ombudsman (Sir Brian Elwood) and Television New Zealand Limited - ID2001-001

One News. Interview with Chief Ombudsman about tax-payer funded sex-change operation where health bureaucracy acted unfairly. Order made to supply field tape to Authority.

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Dorf and Television New Zealand Ltd - ID1992-002

Tonight. Complaint about presenter's comment about the Royal Family. The necessary Complaint Referral Form was twice sent to the complainant, followed by reminders, but there was no response. Declined to determine (good taste and decency).

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New Zealand Immigration Service (Yealsby) and Television New Zealand Ltd - ID1990-001

Holmes Show. Procedural issues, conflicting version of the facts. The Authority ordered the complaint by the New Zealand Immigration Service to be referred back to the broadcaster.

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Garrett and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-084 (10 February 2017)

A ONE News item reported on a protest organised by the Sensible Sentencing Trust, which carried a petition in the name of a deceased child, demanding changes to the rules around plea bargaining. The reporter stated, ‘the protestors chose disgraced ex-MP David Garrett to deliver that message to MPs… Garrett resigned from Parliament six years ago for stealing the identity of a dead infant…’ The Authority did not uphold Mr Garrett’s complaint that this statement was misleading, as it implied the incident being referred to occurred six years ago, as well as being unbalanced and unfair to him. The Authority found the comment was not misleading, but emphasised that Mr Garrett’s resignation occurred six years ago, which was correct. The Authority acknowledged that individuals ought to be entitled to move on with their lives without past indiscretions remaining the subject of media attention, but found that the reference to Mr Garrett’s history was an inevitable consequence of his decision to participate in a material way in this particular public protest. As Mr Garrett’s involvement in the protest was not the focus of the item, his view or other balancing material was not required.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Balance

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Hurley and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-083 (10 February 2017)

An episode of the documentary series, The Hard Stuff with Nigel Latta, titled ‘The New New Zealand’, focused on the topic of immigration. The episode looked at common perceptions of immigration in New Zealand and featured interviews with the Chief Executive of Immigration New Zealand, an immigration consultant, two academic consultants and the Chief Economist at Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL), as well as a number of immigrants to New Zealand from China, India and the UK. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that alternative points of view were omitted from the item. This episode of The Hard Stuff carried high public interest and had high value in terms of the exercise of freedom of expression. It was sufficient, in the context of a series presented as being from a particular host’s perspective, for the episode to raise and acknowledge alternative viewpoints, without providing extensive details of those views. The Authority found that the programme was sufficiently balanced for viewers to make up their own minds about the validity of the arguments offered in favour of, and against, immigration.

Not Upheld: Balance

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Baldwin and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-082 (15 December 2016)

An episode of The Hard Stuff with Nigel Latta focused on issues around retirement. At the beginning of the episode, Nigel Latta was transformed into an elderly man using special effects make-up. He reacted to his transformation with the exclamation, ‘Oh my God!’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this language was offensive and that presenters of current affairs or documentary programmes should be required to use a higher standard of language. The Authority followed its findings in previous decisions that expressions such as ‘Oh my God’ are often used as exclamations and are not intended to be offensive. It was satisfied that in the context it was used by the presenter, the expression would not generally be considered to threaten current norms of good taste and decency.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency

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Steel and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-079 (15 December 2016)

An item on 1 News discussed the New Zealand Government’s ‘open door policy’ on allowing foreign visitors in New Zealand to drive. The item featured an interview with a road safety campaigner, who said it was unfair that Chinese visitors were able to drive in New Zealand with international licences, while New Zealanders had to apply for a permit to drive in China. The item included numerous references to Chinese drivers in New Zealand, and featured footage of Chinese members of the public. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this item was discriminatory towards Chinese people. The item was framed around the campaigner’s opinion that there was not a ‘level playing field’ between China and New Zealand. While viewers may not have agreed with the campaigner’s views, his comments did not reach the high threshold required to encourage discrimination against, or denigration of, Chinese people. The comments that were critical of Chinese drivers were also balanced during the item with comments from a Government representative, and the reporter’s comments about accidents in New Zealand involving other nationalities.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration

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Barry and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-077 (15 December 2016)

A promo for an episode of the comedy-drama series Lucifer was broadcast during Sunday. In the promo, the main character, Lucifer, was shown impersonating a priest and hearing a woman’s confession. Lucifer said to the woman, ‘Your penance: ten Bloody Marys and a good shag’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the main character’s impersonation of a priest was inappropriate, offensive and denigrated Catholics and Christians. The Authority acknowledged that the promo would have been upsetting to some viewers who hold certain beliefs, but found in the context of the broadcast the promo did not reach the threshold for finding a breach of standards. The promo reflected the content of the fictional programme promoted, and was intended to be humorous and light-hearted. It contained only low-level sexual innuendo. The promo did not contain any material which could be said to encourage the discrimination of, or denigration against, all Catholics and/or Christians.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration

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Ball and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-074 (15 December 2016)

An episode of Cold Feet, a British comedy-drama series which followed the intertwining lives of three couples at different stages in their relationships, contained sex scenes. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the sex scenes breached the children’s interests and good taste and decency standards. Cold Feet was not targeted at child viewers, it was classified Adults Only and broadcast during an appropriate timeband, and was preceded by a specific warning for sex scenes. The level of sexual content was not overly explicit and was justified by the episode’s narrative context. Overall the broadcaster adequately ensured child viewers could be protected from adult content, and the episode would not have offended or surprised the general viewing audience.

Not Upheld: Children’s Interests, Good Taste and Decency

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Boswell and Television New Zealand - 2016-073 (19 January 2017)

Various items on Breakfast featured a weather reporter providing weather forecasts from Airbnb accommodation, as part of a competition for viewers to win Airbnb vouchers. During the items, the reporter interviewed three New Zealanders who rented out their accommodation through Airbnb, as well as an Airbnb representative, about the service. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that these items failed to cover key information about Airbnb, resulting in inaccurate and unbalanced broadcasts that were also in breach of the law and order standard. The items were in the nature of advertorials, being programme content that was not news, current affairs, or factual programming to which the accuracy and balance standards applied. In any event, the Authority considered that the level of information provided about Airbnb was appropriate to the series of segments as a whole, which encouraged viewers to enter the Airbnb competition by providing a light-hearted look at the type of accommodation available on Airbnb and how New Zealanders got involved. The items did not purport to be in-depth investigations of Airbnb and its repercussions on the economy, and did not promote illegal activity.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Law and Order

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Judge and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-068 (19 January 2017)

An item on Seven Sharp discussed a five-week, outdoor ‘life skills’ camp held for high school students on Great Barrier Island. Footage of a sheep being restrained to be killed for food, the sheep’s dead body and blood, and the gutting of the sheep was shown. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the killing of the sheep was ‘brutal’ and unacceptable for broadcast. While the footage was graphic and would not have appealed to all viewers, it was adequately signposted during the item, which enabled viewers to exercise discretion and decide whether to continue watching. The actual killing of the sheep was not shown, and the footage appeared to show standard, accepted practices of killing animals for food in New Zealand. In the context of an unclassified current affairs programme screened during PGR time and aimed at adults, the footage did not reach the threshold for finding a breach of standards.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Violence

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Robinson and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-066 (2 December 2016)

A documentary series Inconceivable followed the fertility struggles of eight New Zealand couples over the course of two years. During this episode, one of the couples went to the doctor for a blood test. Contact details on the test documentation were briefly shown, including the woman’s full name and her mobile number, and the couple’s home phone number and partial street address. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this breached the couple’s privacy. The broadcaster advised that the couple reviewed the episode prior to screening and gave their full and informed consent for it to be broadcast. The shot in question was very brief, such that many viewers would likely have overlooked the level of detail shown. The Authority also recognised that Inconceivable carried a high level of public interest, providing a platform for the participants to share their stories and to inform and educate the wider community about fertility issues.

Not Upheld: Privacy 

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Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-061 (14 October 2016)

A ONE News item reported on a local murder trial and included footage of a witness giving evidence in court. The witness was named but his face was not shown and his voice was disguised. The Authority did not uphold a complaint from a member of the public that the item breached the witness’s privacy. While he was identifiable in the item, no private information was disclosed about him. The footage of the witness was taken during open court and there was no name suppression order in place. The evidence the witness gave at trial had already been widely reported by other media outlets at the time of broadcast. Therefore, the witness had no reasonable expectation of privacy over the information disclosed about him, and his privacy was not breached.

Not Upheld: Privacy

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Sim and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-060 (14 October 2016)

An item on ONE News discussed the difficulties first-home buyers face in attaining a Government HomeStart financial grant. At the end of the item, the reporter discussed the increase in the number of overseas buyers in Auckland. During this segment, footage of three people walking into an open home from the road was shown. At the end of the item, this group and one other individual were shown getting into a car parked in the street, with the number plate clearly visible. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this footage breached the group’s privacy. While the individuals walking to the car were identifiable, none of their personal details were disclosed, and they had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the circumstances. Nothing was shown during the item which would not have also been visible to the public generally, as the individuals were in a public place.

Not Upheld: Privacy 


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Atkins and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-056 (2 December 2016)

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 

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Radisich and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-052 (2 December 2016)

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  

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Rees and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-051 (15 September 2016)

The sports presenter during a ONE News bulletin described the performance of the Blues rugby team as ‘schizophrenic’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of the term was unacceptable and contributed to the stigmatisation of people with mental illness. The Authority recognised that the use of the term ‘schizophrenic’ to describe a sports team may be seen as insensitive and inappropriate. However, in the context of this item the Authority found the comment did not reach the high threshold for encouraging discrimination against, or denigration of, those with mental illness. The term was used in a colloquial manner, and did not contain any malice towards people with mental illness.

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration 

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Andersson and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-043 (22 August 2016)

An item on Seven Sharp featured a young girl who was passionate about pig hunting. The item contained footage of the girl and her father on a pig hunt, including footage of the pig bailed up by dogs, as well as the young girl holding the pig’s heart after it had been gutted, and carrying the carcass. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. The subject matter of the item was clearly signposted by the hosts, who also provided a warning about the content. Viewers and caregivers were therefore given a reasonable opportunity to exercise discretion or make a different viewing choice. In any event, the footage shown during the item was not overly gory or gratuitous, and while some viewers may have found it unpleasant to watch, the broadcast of hunting footage is generally acceptable in New Zealand so long as standards are maintained.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests 

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PN and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2016-041 (15 September 2016)

An episode of Dog Squad featured footage taken at a named international airport in New Zealand, during which a Ministry for Primary Industries detector dog found an apple in a couple’s bag. PN, a Quarantine Officer, was shown questioning the couple about the apple and issuing them with a fine. The faces of PN and the couple, and PN’s identity tag, were blurred and PN was not named. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the segment breached PN’s privacy. While it found that, despite the blurring, PN was identifiable in the broadcast, it did not consider that any private information was disclosed during the segment. The segment was filmed in a busy airport, in view of passengers and staff, and the Authority therefore did not consider PN had a reasonable expectation of privacy over information concerning his role or his infringement of the couple. The Authority however recorded its concern that PN did not consent to the broadcast of the footage and had made a number of attempts to make his objection to being included in the programme known to the production company. It urged the broadcaster and the production company to collectively ensure PN’s wishes are given due consideration in the event of any repeat broadcast or similar filming circumstances in future.

Not Upheld: Privacy 

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