Complaints against Close Up story not upheld

The New Zealand Herald/October 30, 2012

Complaints about an item on TVNZ's current affairs programme Close Up which profiled an ex-member of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God have not been upheld by the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

The item which aired in March this year featured a woman who said she had made substantial donations to the church, leaving her in a position of financial hardship.

The item included hidden camera footage of a church service.

The church and two individuals complained to the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) it was unfair to the church and its members, lacked balance, created inaccurate and misleading impressions and encouraged the denigration of church members.

But the BSA today ruled that the woman interviewed was a willing participant.

It also ruled that public interest in the disclosed information outweighed the privacy rights of the bishop and pastor, who were secretly filmed.

It found that the item contained the woman's opinion and included opinions from other members.

The terms "sect, cult and brainwashed" were all framed as questions and opinion.

Therefore, the complaints were not upheld.

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