Re-enactment footage in a news item about a current court case

Gareth Watkins made this Official Information request to Television New Zealand Limited

The request was partially successful.

From: Gareth Watkins

Dear Television New Zealand Limited,

On Friday 19 March 2021 at approximately 6:12pm, TVNZ One news ran a story from reporter Logan Church.

It was a story about the closing arguments in the case of an Auckland business man accused of indecent assault.

The story contained a number of sequences that appeared to be a re-enactment or stock footage (pouring an alcoholic beverage for a male and a candle-light dinner scenario).

As a general viewer I thought it odd to have re-enactment footage when the jury had yet to decide on guilt or innocence. I came away feeling the reporter was already implying a verdict, with footage possibly sourced from a longer story in-the-wings.

So I'd like to request all official information relating to the reenactment (or stock) footage in the story. For example, where was it sourced from, why was it created and the reasons it was included in the news item before the jury considered its verdict.

Yours faithfully,

Gareth Watkins

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From: Brent McAnulty
Television New Zealand Limited

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Dear Gareth


We have received your email of 19 March requesting information relating to
the re-enactment of an incident in a criminal case before the Court.


We will consider your request and respond in due course.





Brent McAnulty
General Counsel and Corporate Affairs Director

m. +64 27 226 4913


[1]tvnz-horizontal.jpg      [2]1-news.jpg




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From: Genevieve O'Halloran
Television New Zealand Limited

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Attachment Letter Watkins 16.4.2021.pdf
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Dear Mr Watkins,


Please find attached the TVNZ response to your Official Information Act
request of 19 March 2021.


Kind regards


Genevieve O’Halloran
Senior Counsel

m. +64 274 063 467







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From: Gareth Watkins

Kia ora Genevieve,

Thanks for your reply. I'll refer it to the Ombudsman.

Yours sincerely,

Gareth Watkins

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From: Brent McAnulty
Television New Zealand Limited

Attachment Fw Patron planning and re enactment Redacted.pdf
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Attachment L.Gareth Watkins.docx
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Dear Mr Watkins

Please find attached our further letter and attachment.


Brent McAnulty
General Counsel & Corporate Affairs Director

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From: Gareth Watkins

Dear Brent McAnulty,

Thank you for your letter. My response to the Ombudsman is below, copied to TVNZ for your records.

Kia ora Erin,

Thank you for asking if I would like to withdraw my complaint to the Ombudsman in light of TVNZ’s response to my original OIA request from last year.

As TVNZ has responded publicly to me ( I will also post this response publicly as well as forwarding it to the Ombudsman.

I would like to continue with my complaint against TVNZ.

I would also like to respond to some of the comments made by Brent McAnulty, General Counsel TVNZ, in his letter to me (7 March 2022) and copied to the Ombudsman.

Re: the small amount of email correspondence released. I simply do not believe that 13m30s of video footage is created solely on the basis of the following five non-specific lines in the released email exchange:

“let me know what you would like to do around filming some re-enactment footage”
“I can provide the mansion if you can provide the actors? Any night this week is fine for me”
“I have a younger guy but no older guy as of yet...will ask around!”
“Oh I though [X] was keen? Tell him there will be wine”
“I've flicked him an email! He would be great.”

Am I seriously to believe that the creator of the footage decided for themselves what was to be filmed, how it was it be filmed, the mood and aesthetic? Even if they did decide for themselves by way of a thought process, this is still official information that should be supplied.

As TVNZ will be aware, official information is not constrained to written content. My OIA request was “ALL official information relating to the reenactment (or stock) footage in the story.”

Mr McAnulty notes that 13m30s of footage is stored in TVNZ’s Digital Production Library. Again, my OIA request was for ALL official information. Where is the metadata for this footage? A shot list, tagging of content, keywords, descriptions, participants, release forms, location of filming, soundtrack? This is all official information.

Mr McAnulty asserts that “The purpose of the OIA Request was to obtain information to support the claim that 1 NEWS’ use of re-enactment footage was to mislead audiences whilst the trial was still ongoing.” I do not know Mr McAnulty and find it concerning that he would outright claim to know the purpose or intent of my OIA request. It is every New Zealanders right to submit an OIA request and have it dealt with fairly without the agency assuming the requestor’s intent.

Mr McAnulty notes the existence of “the” formal complaint to the TVNZ Complaints Committee about the footage. Mr McAnulty would be well aware that his reply to me (and subsequently copied to the Ombudsman) was to be instantly published online through the FYI website. I believe that by deliberately identifying me as a complainant in a different process outside of my OIA request, TVNZ has breached my privacy. I believe this type of action will have a chilling effect on others wanting to complain to TVNZ. Mr McAnulty could easily have responded in private to the Ombudsman regarding the subsequent formal complaint. In my opinion, this subsequent process was not even relevant to my OIA request.

Mr McAnulty asserts “The Re-enactment Footage was produced and filmed in a generic way in order for it to be re-used for other purposes outside of this specific story.” I believe this is in complete contradiction to the original response from TVNZ: “The footage was created specifically to provide visual context for TVNZ’s news coverage of the trail. [Genevieve O’Halloran, Senior Counsel]”. I would note that the footage appears to have been confirmed just two days into a multi-week trial which started on the 18 February 2021.

Mr McAnulty claims that providing the footage “would circumvent existing formal channels for the licensing of TVNZ-owned broadcast content.” I would suggest a low-resolution, watermarked copy would negate any commercial exploitation of the content.

PS: Mr McAnulty notes that phone numbers had been redacted from the released emails for privacy reasons. This is not the case. In one email, Logan Church’s mobile number is still present – I would suggest that this is a breach of his privacy.

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