New Zealand Media Law Update
It has been a typically busy period for New Zealand media law in the year or so under review. In defamation, the High Court decision which appeared to extend the constitutional qualified privilege defence with little explanation as to why has been settled by the media, and the judgment survives, leaving some uncertainty as to developments in the future. The Supreme Court delivered a long-awaited privacy decision, which unfortunately added little clarity to the state of the developing tort, or to privacy law generally. However, the Court also delivered an important Bill of Rights judgment which media lawyers should familiarise themselves with, as constitutionalisation of both statute and common law continues a pace. Further, the Supreme Court applied this case in a further decision where it discussed both freedom of expression and privacy in relation to the right to protest, finding that the former trumped the latter in a close decision. The Broadcasting Standards Authority struggled with matters of good taste and decency, but continued to be protective of privacy. The Press Council appears to still have a low uphold rate, but made strong decisions against the use of misleading headlines, and inaccuracy and discriminatory content. However, it also made contrastingly weak decisions and its effectiveness remains questionable.