29 Sep 2021

Police Ten 7 racism review advises bias training

6:21 pm on 29 September 2021

TVNZ staff will undertake training on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, bias, and racism following the release of an internal review on Police Ten 7 after it was called racist.

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Photo: Screenshot/TVNZ

The review commissioned by TVNZ and in partnership with producers Screentime NZ has found that in general, Māori and Pacific individuals who feature in the show were fairly portrayed but the show did little to discourage negative stereotypes.

The review was conducted by senior content consultant, Karen Bieleski and Auckland University of Technology Dean of Law Khylee Quince, from June to September 2021.

It assessed episodes across Police Ten 7's 19-year run and conducted interviews with stakeholders and commentators to establish whether Māori, Pasifika and all other ethnic groups were portrayed fairly on screen and if the programme's broadcast was consistent with contemporary societal values.

The review acknowledged the production's commitment to sensitive representation of issues and the success the show had achieved with audiences and as an effective policing tool.

It recognised the programme's steps towards modernisation over the years and identified further areas for improvement - from increased filming outside of Auckland, establishing a robust framework for the promotion of Police Ten 7, and embedding Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles into the production.

TVNZ and Screentime NZ are committed to using the findings and recommendations from the review as a launchpad to reimagine Police Ten 7 and develop a format for the future.

TVNZ director of content Cate Slater said the review "has provided us with a thorough assessment of the programme and recommendations for a way forward. We have an opportunity to go further than incremental change though and we are committed to reimagining Police Ten 7 so it serves viewers in the years to come".

"Our ambition is to continue to highlight the important work of the police, while better acknowledging the communities they assist."

Screentime NZ chief executive Philly de Lacey said they had "always endeavoured to progressively evolve Police Ten 7 and are now fortunate to have the invaluable insight from Khylee and Karen to inform our continued adaptation of the show and its coverage, to ensure it remains relevant, responsible and representative of New Zealand's population".

"While there is no disputing the positive impact the series has had in driving safety across the country, we are committed to ensuring in doing so, it is fair, authentic, accurate and inclusive. We look forward to partnering with TVNZ and the NZ Police to sensitively evolve the format for the next chapter," Lacey said.

There are eight specific recommendations in the review:

  • Formalise the programme's policy for cultural integrity and have TVNZ and Screentime NZ staff undertake relevant training in racism, bias and Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • Commission and/or review relevant research to contribute to the programme's reflection of societal values
  • Maintain contemporary values as laid out in BSA and Media Council decisions
  • Provide more regional and demographic coverage
  • Include planned events with police presence for better geographical representation
  • Have promo directors undergo specific training for producing promotional material for Police Ten 7
  • Ensure promo activity is overseen and signed off by the programme's commissioner
  • Utilise generic promos where episodic material could be misrepresented in a condensed advertising spot

TVNZ and Screentime NZ will announce their decision around the new series and the format it will take later this year.

The review can be found here.

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