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BSA finds TV2's Police programme breached privacy

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has upheld a complaint from a man that footage on TV2's Police of him being arrested and taken to the police station for 'detox' after solvent abuse breached privacy and fairness standards.

The BSA has ordered Television New Zealand to pay the complainant $1000 costs for breach of privacy and costs to the Crown of $1000.

The complainant said the footage of him being arrested was first broadcast in 2007 or 2008 without his consent and again in December 2010 on Police. He had complained about the 2008 broadcast but he had not lodged that complaint within the statutory timeframe. He said the filming had taken place in the mid to late 1990s and that he had since "gotten on with my life" and did not need to be told by loved ones and friends that they had seen him on television getting arrested in the 1990s. The programme used his first name and footage of police approaching his house.

Television New Zealand maintained that the complainant was not identifiable and that he no longer lives in the house where the filming took place.

The BSA found that although part of his face was blurred, the complainant's first name was used throughout the programme, and the footage of him included numerous full-length shots of his body shape and clothing, shots of his property and street, and recordings of his voice.

"In these circumstances, we consider that the complainant would have been identifiable beyond close family and friends who could reasonably be expected to know about the matters disclosed in the broadcast," the BSA decision stated.

The BSA said that the complainant's solvent abuse clearly amounted to a private fact and regardless of whether his neighbours and the police were aware of his behaviour at the time, as argued by TVNZ, people who were not aware of his solvent abuse more than a decade ago could have identified him.

The BSA considered that the fact the footage of the complainant was obtained more than 10 years before the December 2010 broadcast, and the fact that TVNZ was aware of his objections to the material due to his complaint about the 2008 broadcast, also resulted in him being treated unfairly.

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