Seven Sharp co-host Hilary Barry isn’t shy of taking anti-vaxxers to task on air.
But her comments on the safety of the Covid vaccine on an episode of the show earlier this year led to a complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.
In the segment broadcast on February 16, 2021, Barry suggested that those who did not want the vaccine should “jump on a ferry and go to the Auckland Islands for a few years … the when we’ve got rid of Covid, come back”.
In a decision released today, the BSA has ruled that her comments on the safety of the Covid vaccine did not breach its standards.
Barry shared a screenshot of the statement on her Instagram stories, writing, “Anti vaxxers 0, Hilary 1”.
The BSA announced in a statement that it had not upheld the complaint about the news item, in which Barry made comments about the safety of the Pfizer vaccine and about “anti-vaxxers”.
The viewer’s complaint alleged that Barry’s 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”.
But the BSA found that the comments weren’t likely to cause widespread offence or undermine “widely shared community standards”.
Hilary Barry's Instagram response to the BSA decision.
The authority also found that the broadcast segment did not address a controversial issue, so the standard of balance did not apply in this case.
“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,” the statement continued.
“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 authority found that its fairness, discrimination and denigration and accuracy standards either did not apply or were not breached in this case.