In this Bulletin: Note from the Chief Executive, Introducing Clare Helm, Latest Decisions, Media News  
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November 2015

Number 58
Note from the Chief Executive

Kia ora

While complaint numbers tend to vary, often for no clear reason, the number of formal complaints we’ve received so far this financial year is lower compared to the same period last year. We’ve received 45 new formal complaints so far in the 2015/16 financial year, compared with 69 this time last year.

Nevertheless, our workload is steady. We released 13 decisions at the beginning of this week, which are summarised below
Of these, the Authority upheld five complaints. We issued media releases about three decisions of note:
We hope you find this Bulletin useful. As always, let us know if you have any suggestions for improvement.
Nga mihi

Karen Scott-Howman 


Clare Helm

Chief Financial Officer 

Before joining NZ On Air and us at the BSA last week, Clare was an Audit Director at Audit New Zealand, involved in a variety of audits across the public sector. She is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and has a degree in archaeology. Clare and her team at NZ On Air manage the BSA’s finances. Clare has three children and spends her spare time supporting two of them who are keen swimmers and trying to keep fit herself.

Latest Decisions

Complaints about Free-to-Air TV Broadcasts
NS and SKY Network Television Ltd - 2015-032

A story on 60 Minutes featured tragic driveway accidents involving children. Part of the story focused on the death of an 18-month-old boy, and the subsequent struggles of his mother. The mother also discussed her other son, S, and photos and footage were shown of him. The Authority upheld a complaint from S's father that the programmes breached S's privacy. S was identifiable by name and image, he was linked with details of his mother's drug addiction and prostitution which constituted private facts and this disclosure was highly offensive. In the circumstances the broadcaster's primary concern ought to have been the best interests of the child, regardless of any consent obtained. The Authority recognised the value and public interest in the story but this was outweighed by the need to protect the child. 

Upheld: Privacy

Order: Section 13(1)(d) $1,500 compensation for breach of privacy

Read our media release about this decision here.

Right to Life New Zealand Inc and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-023

An item on Seven Sharp featured the story of a terminally ill woman who is a long-standing voluntary euthanasia campaigner. The item also discussed the history of attempts to legalise voluntary euthanasia in New Zealand and overseas. The Authority upheld a complaint that the item lacked balance. The item did not solely approach voluntary euthanasia from the personal perspective of the interviewee. It included a wider discussion of the voluntary euthanasia debate and law reform that triggered the requirement for presentation of alternative views, which were not presented within the programme or within the period of current interest.

Upheld: Controversial Issues

No Order

Read our media release about this decision
Cripps and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2015-043

A promo for NCIS and NCIS:LA showed scenes of guns being fired, photos of a dead body and someone getting punched in the face, among other things. The Authority upheld a complaint that the broadcast did not adequately consider children's interests. The content was not suitable for unsupervised child viewers, so the promo should have received a higher classification than G (for general audiences). On this basis the Authority found that the promo also breached the violence standard, as the broadcaster did not exercise adequate care and discretion when dealing with violent content.

Upheld: Children's Interests, Violence

Order: Section 16(4) – $500 costs to the Crown

Cochran and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2015-054

3 News reported on a gun attack on a Tunisian beach resort, and showed amateur video footage of the event. The footage contained images of people shouting and running around in confusion, and gunshots and bomb blasts could be heard. The footage also showed the gunman lying in the street after he had been shot dead by police. The Authority upheld a complaint that this footage was disturbing and should have been preceded by a warning. While recognizing the high public interest in the story and the footage, viewers were not given a reasonable opportunity to exercise discretion because they were not adequately warned of its nature. The Authority did not make any order.

Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Violence

No Order

Cave and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2015-026

An item on Campbell Live sought to investigate allegations of misconduct within Gloriavale Christian Community. A reporter and a cameraman visited Gloriavale and spoke to two senior members of the community. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast breached these men's privacy. While the circumstances of the filming may have amounted to 'prying', the broadcast did not disclose any private information about the men in a manner that was highly offensive.

Not Upheld: Privacy

Read our media release about this decision

AFFCO Holdings Ltd and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2015-050
Two items on 3 News reported on two cases of Talley's Group paying compensation to employees for work accidents at its freezing works. The items featured interviews with both workers and referred to their Employment Relations Authority (ERA) cases. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the items were inaccurate and unfair to AFFCO Holdings Ltd, the subsidiary of Talley's Group which owns the freezing works. The broadcaster was entitled to report key parts of the ERA judgments, and AFFCO was given a fair opportunity to comment.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness

Green and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2015-051

An item on 3 News discussed a leaked internal report which reviewed the Labour Party's election strategy. Towards the conclusion of the item the reporter briefly referred to the recent installation of security doors between the Labour and National Party offices at a cost of $30,000. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item lacked balance on this point. The brief reference to the installation of the doors did not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue of public importance in the context of this item, which focused on the leaked Labour Party report – so the requirement to present alternative views was not triggered.

Not Upheld: Controversial Issues

Complaints about Radio Broadcasts

Wong-Tung and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2015-048

Morning Report covered a story on kauri swamp logs that were allegedly being illegally exported to China. It reported that the company Oravida was one of the ‘kauri wholesalers’ involved. RNZ upheld a complaint from Oravida’s director that the broadcast was unfair as comment was not sought from Oravida. RNZ had removed the audio and written pieces that referred to Oravida and its director from its website, and two days later in a subsequent broadcast briefly reported Oravida’s position that it had never been involved in illegal trading. The Authority upheld the complaint that the action taken by RNZ in upholding the fairness complaint was insufficient and that the broadcast was also inaccurate. The Authority did not make any order noting that a full correction and apology was broadcast after the referral of the matter to this Authority.

Upheld: Fairness (Action Taken), Accuracy

No Order

Tawfik and New Zealand Media and Entertainment - 2015-067

During his talkback show, host Leighton Smith in a conversation with a caller about the impact of cultural and religious beliefs on others, asked, ‘How do you think the Muslims will fit into that?’ He then repeated the question as, ‘How do you think the beheaders will fit into that?’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this promoted anti-Islamic sentiment and was extremely offensive. While the comment was objectionable, it was relatively brief and not repeated, and did not reach the high threshold necessary to constitute hate speech or encourage discrimination or denigration. Mr Smith was also apparently questioned about the comment by the programme producer and he attempted to explain what he meant. 

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration

Patterson and New Zealand Media and Entertainment - 2015-065

During Jeremy Wells' 'Like Mike' skit on Hauraki Breakfast Regurgitated, in which he parodied radio and television presenter Mike Hosking, Mr Wells discussed the flag debate and his admiration for John Key. Imitating Mr Hosking's voice he said, 'I was pleasuring myself watching John Key on Parliament TV the other day, and, just when things were coming to a climax, they cut to [Labour leader Andrew] Little and I lost thickness immediately'. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the comment breached standards of good taste and decency. The item was clearly satirical and intended to be humorous, and was consistent with audience expectations of Mr Wells, Mr Hosking, the programme and the radio station. The comments were inexplicit and in the nature of innuendo, and would have gone over the heads of most children.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency

Dunstan and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2015-052

Saturday Morning featured an interview with a filmmaker about his recent documentary Going Clear about the Church of Scientology. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the interview was unbalanced, unfair and biased against the Church. The focus of the interview was the filmmaker's perspective and his experience making the film; it did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance which required a balancing viewpoint to be presented. The nature of the programme was such that the broadcaster was not required in the interests of fairness to inform the Church prior to broadcast or invite its comment in response. In any case the broadcaster did invite a Church spokesperson to appear on a future programme and the broadcast also referred listeners to the Church's website if they wished to get the Church's perspective on the film and the issues discussed.

Not Upheld: Controversial Issues, Fairness

Morris and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2015-059

Roger Morris complained that an alleged discussion on Worldwatch about the 'Ukraine coup d'etat' failed to mention a number of key facts, primarily about the United States' involvement in the conflict. The Authority declined to determine the complaint as the broadcast identified by the complainant in his complaint did not feature any content about Ukraine.

Declined to Determine: Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness, Responsible Programming

Supreme Sikh Council of New Zealand & Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand and Radio Virsa - ID2015-082

The Supreme Sikh Council, its individual members and the Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand submitted a complaint to Radio Virsa alleging that a range of broadcasts were offensive and defamatory, but were not able to give precise times, dates or comments. The complainants requested recordings of the broadcasts. The question for the Authority was whether this amounted to a valid formal complaint, and therefore whether the Authority had jurisdiction to order Radio Virsa to provide the recordings. The Authority found that a valid formal complaint had not been made due to lack of sufficient particulars, and therefore it did not have the power to order Radio Virsa to provide the recordings.

Declined Jurisdiction

Click here for all of the latest BSA decisions
Click here to search all BSA decisions

Media News

Each month we collect a few stories about media regulation and its environment, interesting research, media standards and comings and goings, both in New Zealand and in other jurisdictions. 

New Zealand 

RNZ's rebranding

Review of rules on advertising for children 

Opinion: MySKY's expansion 

Deaf Foundation calling for more captioning on TV 

Kathryn Ryan named International Radio Personality of the Year in London

Film and Literature Board of Review decision on 'Into the River' 

Advertising in disguise: 'Native marketing'



The watershed in the UK - is it still effective? 

Ofcom to regulate video on demand

Privacy damages paid to singer for images of his children taken in public challenged

Ofcom to investigate comment about transsexuals


M-rated programmes allowed during family time; PG programmes any time

Funding for the ABC


Did you know...?

The BSA shares its Reception and Financial Services (and kitchen) with NZ On Air.   
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