Edwards v Television New Zealand (15/008)

Content: “Horrific moment journalist and cameraman shot dead during live broadcast”

Publisher: Television New Zealand, Website

Complainant: J. Edwards

Outcome: Withdrawn

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Chairman’s Ruling: The Privacy Commissioner filed a complaint about an item on the Television New Zealand website relating to the shootings in Virginia of a reporter and camera man during a live interview, suggesting there had been breaches of the Code as to Fairness, Privacy and Responsible Content.

The Chairman requested an initial response from Television New Zealand. It correctly made the point that Standard 3 Fairness and Standard 4 Privacy are within Part B of the Code of Standards under which complaints can only be made by the person or organisation taking part or referred to in the publication or their representative/caregiver. That was not the situation here so the Authority had no jurisdiction.

Responsible Content is covered by Standard 5 and relevant Guidelines 5e and 5f have to be considered. Standard 5 provides:

Publishers should ensure news and current affairs content:

  • is responsible;
  • is not presented in such a way as to cause panic, or unwarranted alarm or undue distress; and
  • does not deceive.


5e. Violent content must be relevant and should be justified in the Public Interest and by the Context.

5f. Warnings and/or age restrictions should be used where appropriate to the Context.

After receipt of the Television New Zealand response which clarified what was actually included in the complained of video which Mr Edwards had not viewed, the Privacy Commissioner indicated that he did not wish to pursue the matter.

The complaint is accordingly treated as withdrawn.

Chairman’s Ruling: Withdrawn

Date of Ruling: 4 September 2015