An item on TVNZ's current affairs news show, Seven Sharp, has been judged as misleading to viewers and found to have breached broadcasting accuracy standards.
However, the broadcaster did escape without any official reprimand after saying it intended to apologise to staff at a branch of the ANZ bank and would treat the incident as a training opportunity for its staff.
The decision was made by the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) following an item on Seven Sharp in which a host interviewed a former ANZ customer who, after a dispute with the bank, had entered a branch and pretended he had a bomb.
Seven Sharp's item misled viewers into thinking that this led the bank to resolve the dispute with a payout to the customer, which was not what had happened. While the two parties had resolved their differences it was prior to the customer's bomb stunt. The BSA ruled that Seven Sharp did not reflect this in their item.
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In a statement the BSA said that the misleading impression risked "potential harm caused by misleading viewers about ANZ's conduct and creating an impression that the customer's actions led to the resolution of the dispute, which was not the case.
"The item's light and comedic tone and light-hearted treatment of a very serious matter risked encouraging others to take similar illegal action in order to resolve their own bank disputes," the statement read. "In our view it was misguided to make a human interest story out of a serious event, which effectively allowed an unchallenged opportunity to the offender to present his perspective and justify his actions."
A further law and order complaint about the item was not upheld by the BSA, with the authority saying the presenters' comments around the piece "sent a message" that the customer's actions were not acceptable.
"While the presenters could have condemned the customer's actions more, their comments were adequate to acknowledge the customer's actions were unacceptable and saved the item from breaching the [law and order] standard."
The BSA also acknowledged the distressing impact that the stunt may have caused for the employees who worked at the ANZ branch.
"We recognise that the customer's actions at the ANZ bank branch were traumatic and upsetting for those involved, and we understand the complainant's concerns that this broadcast may have caused them further distress."