BSA Finds Comments On COVID-19 Vaccine Safety And ‘anti-vaxxers’ Did Not Breach Standards

Press Release – Broadcasting Standards Authority

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has not upheld a complaint about an item on Seven Sharp in which co-host Hilary Barry made comments about the safety of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine and “anti-vaxxers”.

The comments included a suggestion those who do not want to be vaccinated could “jump on a ferry and go to the Auckland Islands for a few years…then when we’ve got rid of COVID…come back”.

The complaint alleged these comments breached the good taste and decency, discrimination and denigration, balance, accuracy and fairness standards, by suggesting the vaccine’s safety was almost without question, and denigrating those with a different view.

In its decision not to uphold the complaint, the BSA found the comments were unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress or undermine widely shared community standards.

It also found the broadcast did not address a controversial issue, so the balance standard did not apply.

“We note the safety of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine (the subject of the comments complained about) has been established by medicine safety authorities and health science authorities in New Zealand and around the world.

“In this light, we do not consider the safety of the Pfizer vaccine to be a controversial issue for the purposes of the balance standard, although some people may continue to hold different views about it,” the BSA said in its decision.

The fairness, discrimination and denigration and accuracy standards either did not apply or were not breached, the Authority found.

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