Jeremy Wells
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Complaint against Hauraki hosts upheld for broadcasting woman who believed she was not on air

Hauraki DJs Jeremy Wells and Matt Heath breached standards when they broadcast an interview with a woman after assuring her she was off air. Photo / File
Hauraki DJs Jeremy Wells and Matt Heath breached standards when they broadcast an interview with a woman after assuring her she was off air. Photo / File

NZME Radio has been ordered to pay a fine and compensation totalling $8000 for breaching broadcasting standards.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has ruled Hauraki Breakfast Show hosts Matt Heath and Jeremy Wells seriously breached standards when they intentionally broadcast live on air a caller who had asked to make a complaint off air.

The BSA has ordered NZME Radio to pay $4000 in privacy compensation to Deborah Stokes, $4000 in costs to the Crown and to broadcast a statement summarising the authority's findings.

Stokes, the mother of New Zealand-born English cricketer Ben Stokes, called the station to complain about comments the hosts made regarding her son, and to defend him. When she asked to speak to someone off air, host Matt Heath assured Stokes she was off air. The conversation was actually being broadcast live.

Stokes complained to NZME Radio that the broadcast was unfair and breached her privacy. NZME Radio upheld her complaint. The BSA found NZME Radio did not take sufficient action to adequately rectify the harm caused.

The authority found "the broadcast amounted to a serious breach of broadcasting standards and demonstrated a grave lack of understanding on the hosts' behalf of an individual's fundamental rights to privacy and fair treatment.

"This is a case of public deception, which is a substantial departure from the standards of broadcasting expected in New Zealand."

The authority also found that the hosts' behaviour after the broadcast, which appeared to ridicule the complainant, the hosts' lack of remorse and the inadequate remedial action taken by NZME Radio aggravated the initial breach of standards.

The authority also upheld another complaint from a member of the public that the broadcast breached Stokes' privacy.

Radio Hauraki chief content officer Mike McClung said the station fully accepted the BSA decision.

"While the Hauraki Breakfast Show pushes the boundaries, we recognise that the actions of Matt and Jeremy [Wells] overstepped the mark and we apologise unreservedly."

- NZ Herald

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