Campbell Live has been criticised by the Broadcasting Standards Authority over its treatment of a small-town baby store asked to give a refund to a woman who miscarried her child.
On November 2 last year, the TV3 programme featured the story of a woman who had unsuccessfully sought a refund for baby items from Wanganui store Baby Solutions Ltd after she suffered a miscarriage.
Campbell Live aired covert footage of the owners of the store, which had been recorded and filmed without their permission and knowledge.
Baby Solutions co-owner Bev Hodson laid a complaint with the authority, saying the covert filming and recording breached privacy standards.
An investigation into the programme revealed Campbell Live had violated not only privacy standards, but also breached fairness and accuracy standards.
The BSA ruled the programme's filming, referred to as "door-stepping", was unjustified - especially as the programme had made no attempt to obtain comment from the owners of Baby Solutions before filming and recording them without their knowledge or permission.
"We consider that the reporter's approach in door-stepping the owners at their place of business was undertaken primarily for the anticipated visual impact of the confrontation, as opposed to being a genuine attempt to obtain a considered response to their decision no to refund the customer," said the authority.
It found the program had framed the small business, which was experiencing financial difficulties at the time of the report, in an unfair and biased manner and was misleading for viewers.
"The item did not adequately present the owners' position, and in particular it did not include a specific statement that they had no legal obligation to provide a refund."
The authority's investigation also revealed Campbell Live had intervened with a charitable organisation, Pregnancy, Baby and Infant Loss Support, also known as SANDS, which was storing the baby items.
The programme advised the organisation against returning the goods to Baby Solutions, which had made attempts to obtain the items because they could not provide a refund to the woman before selling them first.
Despite this, no mention of Campbell Live's interaction with SANDS or Baby Solutions' attempts to get the products back was made in its report.
"We find this aspect of the dealings between the reporter and the parties to the dispute [SANDS] to be curious.
"At the very least the [Campbell Live] report should have mentioned Baby Solutions' attempts to have the goods collected from SANDS so that they could be taken to the store and sold on the customer's behalf," said the BSA.
TV3's owner TVWorks was ordered to pay $500 to Ms Hodson for the breach of privacy, and $750 in legal costs.
- APNZBy Teuila Fuatai Email Teuila