Fairfax Media has a ” new columnist for the Waikato Times” (see: Bill denies kids what they need). Narelle Hensen’s first piece appeared in the Waikato Times on 18 March, followed five days later by another piece, Dole queues long but bosses can’t get workers. (Note: Ms Hensen has previously written and worked under her maiden name; Narelle Suisted, for the Auckland publication, “Auckland Now“, and TV3′s “The Nation“.)
Her first column-piece was a thinly-disguised, homophobic lecturing against gays, lesbians, marriage equality, and their fitness (or lack thereof) as parents.
The second was a nasty little smear against the unemployed.
(This blogger is waiting for her next target. Solo-mums? Maori? There are plenty of minorities available.)
What Fairfax hasn’t disclosed is that Ms Hensen also worked as a Communications Officer for the right-wing think-tank, Maxim Institute (see: Wikipedia Maxim Institute). The Maxim Institute is virulently opposed to marriage equality, as outlined in their submission to Parliament on the Marriage Amendment Bill (see: Submission to the Marriage – Maxim Institute).
It appears that the right-wing in this country have a new voice in the msm (mainstream media).
In her first article, Bill denies kids what they need, Ms Hensen railed against marriage equality. She used children as her weapon-of-choice, and started of with this bizarre statement,
“Most of us, no doubt, would agree, and would find it difficult to decide which of our parents to give up for another mum or dad. But that is what the Marriage Amendment Bill will require of some kids in generations to come. That is why I don’t support the bill.”
Did I read that right? She condemns the Marriage Amendment Bill because a child “would find it difficult to decide which of our parents to give up for another mum or dad” ?!
Why would marriage equality demand that of children now? And in what way would that be different to divorce as it is presently?
As most of us are perfectly aware, it is the Family Courts that determine access to children – not the concept of marriage equality. I doubt if Ms Hensen could point to any aspect of the Marriage Amendment Bill that would demand that a child has to “decide which of our parents to give up for another mum or dad”.
She offers another justification to oppose marriage equality,
“That means some kids will be denied the right to either a mother or a father, while their peers, by luck of birth, will be allowed both.”
Really? And what about the thousands of children who already have only one parent? What about the thousands of heterosexual couples who have separated and their children are “denied the right to either a mother or a father”? Or one has died through illness or accident – that’s real bad luck!
And just why is it “luck” to have heterosexual parents as opposed to gay or lesbian parents? The implication being that having gay/lesbian parents is “bad luck”. Perhaps being born to a mixed-race couple is also “bad luck” for a child? Or born to parents, one of whom might have a disability?
Not to mention the bad luck of being born to right wing parents…
If a child is ‘lucky’, it is that they have a stable family, with love, attention, set boundaries, support, respect, nutritious food, warmth, good housing, access to education; healthcare, etc. The gender/orientation of parents and caregivers doesn’t really seem to factor as a life-giving necessity.
Indeed, Ms Hensen seemed eager to dismiss love as a trivial matter not worthy of consideration,
“Of course, a lot of people argue the Marriage Amendment Bill is about love, and equality. But love or equality for who? These terms sound great, and they capture our emotions, but taking a moment to think about them makes us realise that in practice, they demand compromise from someone – either gay couples who must compromise the right to raise children, or children, who must compromise the right to have both a mum and a dad.”
It is unclear why gay (or straight) couples need to “compromise” – except in Ms Hensen’s mind where, for some reason, having gay or lesbian parents is a lesser option than heterosexual parents. Is love a transaction that “demands a compromise”? She doesn’t explain what she basis that idea on.
What a strange world that Ms Hensen inhabits.
Ms Hensen referred to a particular group to justify her prejudices,
“That is why the group Homovox started in France. It consists of homosexual couples who disagree with same-sex marriage, and same-sex adoption. As one contributor says: “The law should seek what is best for a child, and that is to have a mother and a father“.”
It took only a few clicks and poking around on a Search Engine to find out a little more about “Homovox“.
For one thing, it is not a LGBT organisation at all. It’s a front group set up by the Catholic Church, as GAYNZ reported on their website,
When is an LGBT organisation not an LGBT organisation? When it has been established by an antigay French conservative Catholic to make it seem as if there is “French LGBT” opposition to marriage equality. Thus it is with France’s “Homovox”, allegedly a “French” gay organisation of “LGBT” marriage equality opponents. However, on his website, Joe. My. God’s commenters uncovered who was actually behind the website, which turned out to be someone from the French Catholic Right. To be more precise:
A google search of Maillard Jean-Baptiste turned up this:
He appears to be an anti-gay French Catholic.
Doing some more research on these guys–they are all Catholics, some are ex-gay, most are right-wingers, and some can’t be found online.
None of these men–an no women–give their full names, where they work, and the man who claims to be the mayor of a “village” doesn’t actually name his village.
Source: “Homovox” Exposed
It seems that the Catholic Church in France has copied the tactics of the Unification Church and Scientologists, who also employ front-organisations as smoke-screens to the parent-church.
Did Ms Hensen know this? If she didn’t, she’s not much of a journalist.
If she was aware of the true nature of “Homovox” – and chose not to disclose it – then she has an agenda of her own. And the presentation (or lack) of facts is not part of it.
Ms Hensen is not above claiming statistics to back up her prejudices,
“Of course, there are those who argue it is better to bring up a child in a loving homosexual relationship than it is for them to be raised in an antagonistic heterosexual relationship. But if we are going to make comparisons, they must be fair. And when you compare a loving, heterosexual marriage with a loving homosexual union, the statistics paint a very clear picture.”
- but tellingly, she refuses to disclose any such statistics for the reader. So much for her comment that “if we are going to make comparisons, they must be fair”.
We are, I guess, expected to take her word that such statistics exist? Perhaps they are held by her former employers at Maxim Institute – an organisation known for it’s hostility toward gays and lesbians having full equal rights.
The point of that last paragraph, I suggest to the reader, is to undermine any notion that having loving parents who care for children should not be judged on the basis of sexual orientation. Note her reference,
“And when you compare a loving, heterosexual marriage with a loving homosexual union…”
What about comparing a dysfunctional heterosexual household with a loving gay/lesbian household? God knows there are plenty of the former. Our newspapers are full of stories where children, infants, babies were mercilessly ill-treated until their fragile bodies could no longer cope with dad’s punches whilst mum looked on, or vice versa.
The parents of Delcelia Witika were good, solid, heterosexuals who engaged in Maxim Institute-approved, heterosexual, sex. Then they killed their little girl.
I submit to Ms Hensen, that at such a point in a brutalised child’s life, they are not really going to give a damn if the wearer of steel-capped boots kicking their heads to pieces, is heterosexual or not.
Ms Hensen’s says,
“It is often very difficult to decide whose rights win, which is why there are so many court cases, and indeed courts, all about human rights. But when it comes to adults’ rights conflicting with the rights of children, most of us would agree that children should come first.”
Except when good parents are gay or lesbian, right, Ms Hensen?
Ms Hensens next article on job seekers, was nothing less than a hate-fest on one of society’s minorities; the unemployed. (See: Dole queues long but bosses can’t get workers)
Her entire article was dedicated to a simple premise; that job seekers in this country are unemployable, with anti-social personalities and severe behavioural flaws consisting of;
Failing drug tests
Physicality when told to leave site
Not turning up for interview
Smoking throughout interview
Chewing gum throughout interview
No CV prepared
CVs full of basic spelling mistakes”
Her column mercilessly depicted the unemployed as unfit for employment. One of her commentators even questioned their right to be citizens.
She quoted anecdote after anecdote of unemployed people with allegedly poor personal habits and poor work ethics – though she gave few details what the jobs were or any other specifics.
Employers and Manufacturers Association Northern chief executive, Kim Campbell, referred to New Zealand’s unemployed as being “the dregs” - a theme typical of Ms Hensen’s piece.
Dave Connell, vice-president of the New Zealand Contractors Federation and managing director of Connell Construction, was somewhat more subdued in his criticisms,
“We have dealt with absenteeism, drunkenness, drugs . . . We are persevering for three to six weeks sometimes.”
As a damning propaganda piece, with the purpose of vilifying the unemployed, it was masterfully done.
Other than that, though, one has to ask the question; what the hell was the point of it? What possible purpose did it serve? Because it sure as hell didn’t shed much light on the subject.
I have an idea.
Up till now, the unemployed have been painted as lazy, boozing, and unwilling to go out and find work.
That myth has been well and truly dispelled with stories of thousands of unemployed queuing for a few jobs. Just recently, on 12 March, ‘Campbell Live’ did a series of stories of hundreds of workers lining up for just seven jobs at an Auckland factory (see: Sign of the times: hundreds queue for 7 jobs)
Or any of these stories of job seekers outnumbering vacancies,
Ms Hensen could not write a credible story desparaging the unemployed as “lazy”. In these times of high unemployment, the public no longer accepts that generalisation. In fact, most people probably know someone who has lost their job, or, fresh our of school or University, cannot land a job, and has been turned down application after application.
So, for Ms Hensen that avenue was closed off.
Instead, in the best tradition of right wingers who blame the victims of this country’s on-going recessionary fall-out, she attacked and desparaged the quality of job seekers.
Repeating anecdotal stories, without any supporting context to offer a deeper understanding, she wrote a piece that painted job seekers as poorly educated; drug addicts; inarticulate – even chewing gum!
As a hatchet job, it certainly perpetuated negative stereotypes about the unemployed. It also reinforced the unacknowledged class structure that has been developing in this country for the last 30 years; the unemployed are “riff raff, beneath our contempt; and not worthy of being treated as our equals”.
As a “dog whistle” it attracted 321 comments (as at the time of this blogpost being written) – many of which were little more than ill-informed, offensive, stereotyping.
Ms Hensen might care to reflect on the irrational hatred expressed by those who supported her story. Is that the readership she is pandering to?
It also showed of some of Ms Hensen’s sources as less than ideal unemployers, with barely concealed prejudices.
But even if Ms Hensen’s poisonous polemic was 100% accurate, reflecting an unvarnished reality – employers and government have only themselves to blame.
How many times have trade unionists, economists, and leftwing commentators warned employers and government that if New Zealand continued to drive down wages – as National has been doing with it’s labour law “reforms” – what did they think would happen?
On 1 April, the minimum wage will rise by 25 cents to $13.75 per hour. In Australia the rate is NZ$19.96 an hour, though wages are usually higher than that.
On 1 May, young people 16 to 19 will also have a new youth rate, that will be 80% of the minimum wage. That’s $11 per hour. How will young New Zealanders react to what is effectively a wage-cut?
And employers are whinging their heads off that the best and brightest are buggering off to Aussie?
The reality, though, is more prosaic. People want work. The unemployment benefiit ($204.96/wk/net) is not sufficient to live on. Many looking for work will be University graduates. Others will be poorly educated. But they all want a job.
Perhaps the real purpose of Ms Hensen’s article - dressed up as a “news story” - was designed to serve as propaganda in a prelude to relaxing immigration laws and allow immigrant workers to flood the country? By creating a new urban myth that unemployed New Zealanders are “dregs”, it gives National the excuse to bring in labour from overseas. Cheap labour. Workers who will not kick up a fuss about exploitation; lax safety practices; and abuse.
The abuse of workers on Foreign Charter Vessels fishing within our EEZ waters gives an idea what might be our future (see previous related blogpost: A Slave By Any Other Name).
I suspect Ms Hensen is not finished with excoriating minorities in this country. Her poison pen is poised. It’s only a matter of who is next in her sights. And what her agenda is.
What a waste of intellect.
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 March 2013.
Bill denies kids what they need (18 March 2013)
Dole queues long but bosses can’t get workers (23 March 2013)
The Jackal: National’s Campaign of Disinformation
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Continued from: Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session
On 27 march, Karl Du Fresne had a bit of a public melt-down over Radio NZ, complaining,
Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – RNZ’s bias needs to be tackled
He accused Radio NZ on being a left wing organisation;
But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists.
Kim Hill is the worst offender. This is a problem for whoever runs RNZ, because she’s also its biggest name.
Chris Laidlaw lists to the Left too, as does Jeremy Rose, a journalist who frequently crops up on Laidlaw’s Sunday morning show. Rose appears to be on a lifelong mission to convince people that there are humane alternatives to nasty, heartless capitalism.
Part of the problem is that National Ministers regularly refuse to front on Radio NZ to explain government policy. An example this morning was typical of National ministers ducking for cover whenever negative stories hit the media.
The Salvation Army will be closing services and making staff redundant, as government funding is cut for critical social services;
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Salvation Army warns of cuts to budgeting services
Cuts to services – such as provided by the Salvation Army – will hit the poorest; most down-trodden; people and their families, in our society. It would be like stealing coins from a blind beggar on the footpath.
All the while, National spends-up large on Tim Groser’s job-hunt at the WTO;
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – NZ First calls on Groser to refund travel costs
And National’s colossal spend-up on consultants and witch-hunts is now legendary;
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – ‘Consultancy culture’ cost $525m last year – Labour
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – PM defends money spent on MFAT leak
The above stories all reflect badly on National. But is it the fault of state-owned, Radio NZ? Is the broadcaster “left-leaning”, as Du Fresne charges?
Or, is the reason somewhat more prosaic?
So, Minister for Social Development, Paula Bennett, was invited to appear on Radio NZ’s “Checkpoint” this morning (29 April) to explain why funding for social services for organisations such as the Salvation Army, will be cut.
When Bennett was invited to front on “Checkpoint” – she refused. Instead she provided a written statement. (Well, wasn’t that ‘big’ of her?)
Hear: Radio NZ – Checkpoint – Labour speaks out against recession funding cuts
This is not the first (nor last) time that National Ministers have refused to front on Radio NZ. It happens with annoying regularity (with Dear Leader John Key being the worst offender).
On the other hand, Labour’s spokesperson on social issues, Jacinda Ardern, accepted an invitation to take part in the story.
If Ministers like Bennett, Ket, et al, – whose salaries are paid by taxpayers – do not have the courage of their convictions to appear on TV, radio, or other media to explain their policies – then they are not worthy of our electoral support nor attention. They are a waste of space.
And right wing munters like Karl Du Fresne should have nothing to whinge about.
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The latest anonymously-penned, propaganda-piece, for the National Party, by the establishment media,
OPINION: An unholy mess. There is no other way to describe the Government’s partial asset sales programme.
With just days to go before the public offering of shares in Mighty River Power closes, the float is shrouded in uncertainty. Is the country’s single biggest consumer of electricity about to shut its doors? Will Labour and the Green Party be part of the next government and, if so, will they make good on their promises to renationalise the electricity industry by stealth?
Potential investors have no way of knowing whether Rio Tinto is serious about closing the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter unless it can wring further concessions from the Government and Meridian Energy. Likewise, they have no way of knowing whether Labour and the Greens will be in a position to implement their policies after the next election.
But, amid all the uncertainty, there is one certainty: the price the Government and, ultimately the public, will receive for shares sold in Mighty River Power will be lower because of the uncertainty. Immediately after Labour and the Greens announced their plans to establish a new Crown entity to take over the running of the electricity industry, shares in publicly listed Contact Energy dropped almost 10 per cent in value. A similar drop in the value of Mighty River Power would reduce the amount the Government hopes to receive for the 49 per cent of the state generator it is putting up for sale by more than $150 million.
In similar circumstances, a prudent private-sector business owner could be expected to consider the wisdom of proceeding with the sale in such an uncertain environment.
Perhaps John Key and his ministers should do likewise. The Government has a mandate to sell, but it is not a mandate to sell regardless of the price. Suspending the process would be a bitter political pill for Mr Key to swallow. He has made the partial asset sales programme the centrepiece of his second term in government.
However, political considerations should not determine the fate of an asset worth billions of dollars that has been built up by generations of taxpayers. The Government’s overriding concerns should be ensuring that taxpayers get fair value for the business and that as many New Zealanders as possible take advantage of the opportunity to become shareholders in it.
Neither of those goals are likely to be achieved while there is a possibility of the country being flooded with cheap electricity and the next government telling generators how much they can charge for electricity and how they should operate their power stations.
Labour and the Greens’ Stalinist proposals are as unattractive as the free-market ideologies that have produced windfall profits for power companies and ever-rising prices for residential consumers.
But, delaying the sale till after the next election would at least allow voters to choose which of the two approaches offers the better prospect of sensible pricing and secure supply. It would also allow time for the future of Tiwai Point to be resolved.
Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media - Editorial: Key should consider MRP sale delay
“Labour and the Greens’ Stalinist proposals are as unattractive as the free-market ideologies that have produced windfall profits for power companies and ever-rising prices for residential consumers. “
WHOA!!! Back up there, fella!! There’s nothing “Stalinist” about this. It’s out for the public to determine and we get to vote on it. Having a single-buyer desk is as “Stalinist” as Zespri, Fonterra, Pharmac, etc.
Every time I hear abject fear-mongering like “stalinism”, I’m wondering what the writer’s secret agenda is? Have they no intellectual rigour in promoting a sensible, rational debate?
Is ‘McCarthyism’ the only knee-jerk response that the Right Wing has to Labour-Green’s policy on NZ Power?
This is a shabby way for a supposedly ‘respectable’ newspaper to behave. It is as “Stalinist” as the old totalitarian regimes it complains off.
I’ve put my name to a post on the messageboard immediatly after this so-called “editorial” . Will the author of this biased piece of dogma put his/her name to the editorial, I wonder?
The Dominion Post demands that all letter-writers to the paper provide their own name and address to anything submitted.
Funny how the same policy doesn’t apply to the authors of their editorials?
The “editorial” pretends to take a swipe at neo-liberal policies by stating,
Labour and the Greens’ Stalinist proposals are as unattractive as the free-market ideologies that have produced windfall profits for power companies and ever-rising prices for residential consumers.
However, pointedly it offers no constructive alternative solutions.
Because by condemning Labour-Green proposals for real reform, it undermines the prospect for meaningful change – whilst at the same time, allowing the status quo to remain intact. Every time a proposal to effect meaningful change is derided – but not offering alternatives – the neo-liberal ideologies remain unchallenged.
It is the same technique that the Right used in their campaign against MMP.
It’s a sneaky way to sow doubt in the public mind.
As for claiming,
“The Government has a mandate to sell, but it is not a mandate to sell regardless of the price.”
It has no such thing.
As has been pointed ad nauseum, more voters voted against the asset sales than for it. Whilst the National-ACT-Peter Dunne Coalition has 61 seats, and Labour, NZ First, Greens, Mana, and Maori Party have 60 seats – the number of Party votes cast tells a different story.
|National , ACT, United Future Party Votes||Labour, Greens, NZ First, Maori Party, Mana, and Conservative Party votes|
National – 1,058,636
Labour – 614,937
ACT – 23,889
Greens – 247,372
United Future – 13,443
NZ First – 147,544
Maori Party – 31,982
Mana – 24,168
Conservative Party* – 59,237
TOTAL – 1,095,968
Total – 1,125,240
* Note: Whilst the Conservative gained no seats in Parliament (because of the 5% threshold), their numbers are included because they gained over double the electoral-support for ACT.
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Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – RNZ’s bias needs to be tackled
The right wing, it would be fair to say, dislike the media. Or, most of the media. Fox News, religious programming, and Rantback Radio are acceptable.
But nothing that challenges us to think.
Kark Du Fresne’s recent outpouring of grievance in Fairfax Media’s ‘Manawatu Standard‘ made it plain and obvious to the reader that he has a problem with Radio NZ.
Du Fresne referred to RNZ as “left wing”. And then listed all those people whom he thinks are guilty of being “left”. People like,
Obviously, these people all need to be brought before Parliament’s House Committee for Un-New Zealand Activities. (Which, we don’t have – yet – but I’m sure one of Mr Du Fresne’s right wing colleagues such as Maggie Barry could easily organise one. More on Maggie Barry in a moment.) Then the H.C.U.N.Z.A. can ensure that Hill, Laidlaw, Rose, and Ryan never work in this town again.
Our American cuzzies did that in the 1950s, during what we now refer to as the “McCarthy Era“,
So what were Du Fresne’s allegations?
So what might the new RNZ chief executive do to enhance the organisation’s standing in a political climate that is less than favourable? One obvious step is to take a tougher line against the editorial bias that still permeates some RNZ programmes.
Which would be interesting to consider – except that Du Fresne doesn’t actually spell out where “the editorial bias that still permeates some RNZ programmes” actually lies.
He tells the reader that “the editorial bias” is there – but not where, precisely. It’s all rather… nebulous.
Du Fresne then claims that,
“Public broadcasting organisations, by their very nature, tend to be Left-leaning.”
Really? What “nature” is that, I wonder?
Perhaps Du Fresne is refering to Public broadcasting organisations challenging peoples’ thinking – whereas right-wing media tend to reinforce preconceptions and prejudices?
He goes on to say,
“It’s not hard to understand how this comes about. Journalists distrustful of capitalism naturally gravitate toward state-owned media organisations, seeing them as untainted by the profit motive.”
Now that is an intriguing claim to make.
Especially considering that Maggie Barry (who I referred to above), was the morning presenter on Radio NZ’s “Morning Report” in 1986, and hosted “Nine To Noon” show in 1990.
Later, in November 2011, Ms Barry stood as a political candidate in the general election, and won the seat of North Shore.
She stood as a National Party candidate. National being New Zealand’s main centre-right political party,
And then there’s Richard Griffin, Radio NZ’s one-time political editor, who worked for National Party ex-Prime Minister Jim Bolger, as his press secretary in the late 1990’s.
National, as I understand it, being New Zealand’s main centre-right political party.
Then there are the regular guests on Radio NZ – who are well noted for their National or ACT Party affiliations, or who simply express right-wing views;
- ex-National President, Michelle Boag;
- National & ACT supporter and anti-MMP campaigner, Jordan Williams
- rightwing blogger and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar;
- ex-ACT MP and Party President, Rodney Hide;
- ex-ACT and later, ex-National MP, Stephen Franks;
- former speech-writer and press secretary for National and right-wing commentator, Matthew Hooten;
- and former police officer and front-person for television’s “Police Ten 7“, Graham Bell (who holds right wing views on many issues).
There are probably others I’ve forgotten to list.
So what is the “... ideological mindset that permeates the entire organisation” that Du Fresne refers to?
We don’t know. Again, he doesn’t tell us.
But I wonder what Ms Boag; Mr Farrar; Ms Barry; Mr Williams; Mr Hide; Mr Franks; Mr Hooten; Mr Bell, and Mr Griffin might say about Du Fresne suggesting that,
“This becomes self-perpetuating, since the more Left-leaning an organisation becomes, the more it attracts other people of the same persuasion.”
Perhaps Radio NZ might not appear so “left-leaning” if National ministers – especially John Key – actually bothered to take up invitations to front for interviews?
On almost every occassion when government policy is under scrutiny, or when National is being heavily criticised, National ministers almost always refuse to be interviewed, to present their side of things.
The result is that National’s critics often accept invitations to be interviewed – thereby giving an impression of anti-National bias.
But it’s only an impression of bias because National Ministers refuse most invitations for interviews.
One then has to shake their head when Du Fresne then demands,
“But publicly funded broadcasters have an obligation to make programmes that reflect the views and interests of the entire community – not just those the broadcasters happen to favour.”
Bollicks. Anyone can read between the lines and understand what he is really saying. Let me “fix” the above statement so we clearly understand what Du Fresne is actually demanding of Radio NZ,
“But publicly funded broadcasters have an obligation to make programmes that reflect the views and interests that I’m comfortable with – not just those the broadcasters happen to favour for the rest of New Zealand who are a bunch of leftie, pinko, mung-bean eating, hippies.”
And this bit really takes the proverbial cake,
“This is explicitly stated in RNZ’s charter, which commits the organisation to impartial and balanced coverage of news and current affairs.”
Really, Mr Du Fresne?
Du Fresne’s demand that Radio NZ fulfill it’s Charter requirements (though he yet again omits to tell us how Radio NZ has been derelict in it’s duty) is in contrast with his views on TVNZ’s (now defunct) charter,
“The Clark government saw where things were going and tried to arrest the decline by imposing on TVNZ a public service charter, which was largely ignored. Today, the unremitting diet of banal, so-called reality shows and American crime dramas on the two publicly-owned channels is indistinguishable from the offerings on their privately-owned rivals, and disillusioned viewers have been driven into the welcoming arms of Sky TV. ” – 16 October 2010
Acknowledgement: The Spectator – Time to sell off TVNZ
“The notion of the public service broadcaster survives in the form of Radio New Zealand, but otherwise it’s in peril. TVNZ is in the process of being released from its obligations under the public service charter introduced under Labour. Its sole objective in future will be to return a dividend to the government (not that viewers will notice much difference, since the charter was largely ineffectual).” – 23 July 2011
Acknowledgement: Karl du Fresne – The changing TV landscape (sorry, media ecology)
No demand anywhere amongst his writings that TVNZ abide by it’s Charter. Just a resigned acceptance. And usually followed by none-to-subtle hints to privatise TVNZ.
Perhaps the most pertinent point of Du Fresne’s whinge-session is this remark,
“Overall, RNZ presents a more balanced range of perspectives than it used to. But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists.”
There we have it; “Overall, RNZ presents a more balanced range of perspectives than it used to”.
And then, “But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists”.
And then states that “Kim Hill is the worst offender“.
To put it bluntly – Du Fresne seems utterly confused in what he is demanding. On the one hand he states,
“But publicly funded broadcasters have an obligation to make programmes that reflect the views and interests of the entire community
This is explicitly stated in RNZ’s charter, which commits the organisation to impartial and balanced coverage of news and current affairs.”
But he also admits that,
“Overall, RNZ presents a more balanced range of perspectives than it used to…”
Whilst then stating,
“But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists.”
What Du Fresne has omitted to say is,
“But on OTHER programmes, a RIGHT WING bias IS PRESENTED.”
Because, my fellow New Zealanders, when people like Stephen Franks, Rodney Hide, Michelle Boag, or David Farrar are guesting on Radio NZ and expressing their right wing views – that is when Radio NZ is meeting it’s Charter obligations and presenting the Right Wing point of view.
For example, listen to Stephen Franks (if your stomach can bear it) on Jim Mora’s 4pm Panel on 8 April. Franks is ranting some right-wing rubbish, as usual, on people’s “reliance” on insurance,
I think we all know what is going on here. Du Fresne isn’t interested in “balance” at all. He is demanding unquestioning, Stalinist-style, fealty to the current National government.
He even let’s it slip, near the end of his diatribe against Radio NZ,
“The second, more pragmatic, reason is that the Left-wing bias apparent in some of RNZ’s programmes is hardly likely to endear the organisation to the politicians who control its fate.”
Why would a supposedly independent public broadcaster need to “endear” itself to the government-of-the-day?
And does that logically mean that when Labour is in power, that Radio NZ must “endear [itself] to the politicians who control its fate”?
Du Fresne does add this caveat, though,
“In saying this, I’m not suggesting for a moment that RNZ should become a tame government puppet. That would be far worse than the status quo.”
Bullshit. That is precisely what Du Fresne is calling for; becoming a tame government puppet.
Ironically, four years ago, Du Fresne had this to say about Radio NZ,
“Another commenter sneered at my statement that the news media functioned as a marketplace of ideas, claiming this was a meaningless slogan typical of “faded old neoliberal ideology”. Really? Perhaps I’m imagining all those lively and informed expressions of opinion and exchanges of ideas – exchanges that help shape public opinion on the issues of the day – that I see every day in newspaper stories, opinion pieces and letters to the editor, or hear on talkback programmes and interviews on Morning Report. Priggish leftists hate this stuff because it permits the dissemination of views they disapprove of.” – 30 May 2009
Acknowledgement: Karl du Fresne – Why leftist academics hate the media
So back in May 2009, Du Fresne was positively gushing with adoration at Radio NZ?!
So what’s changed?
In 2009, the msm* were in love with Dear Leader and the six month old National government could do no wrong. The Media-Key “honeymoon” was just beginning. Media reports critical of Key were minimal. Everyone loved Key and National.
Now, four years on, as the “honeymoon” has ended and a bitter “divorce” is in progress, the media is reporting one scandal after another. National policies are drawing heated criticism from all sectors of society. National poll ratings are gradually falling. And Dear Leader is no longer as popular as he once was.
That is the nub of the issue here. The Right are beginning to feel defensive and threatened. Like a cornered wild beast, they are lashing out at their critics – especially the media,
Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – John Key calls media ‘Knuckleheads‘
And people like Karl Du Fresne - an unrepentant Right Wing political commentator – is bitter. He’s not feeling the love anymore, folks.
On a final note; Du Fresne complains that Radio NZ is biased and left wing.
Perhaps we might take him more seriously if his own columns were less biased and right wing.
Wikipedia: Kim Hill
The Listener: Karl du Fresne
* msm = mainstream media(newspapers, radio, televison broadcasters – as opposed to “New Media” such as bloggers, websites, youtube, etc)
= fs =
The current mess surrounding the appointment of Ian Fletcher as the Government Communications Security Bureau’s (GCSB) Director should serve as a clear warning to any future Labour-Green government: Don’t Do It.
To be precise; don’t do what Key (and his ministerial cronies) has done. Circumventing the State Services Commission to “facilitate” appointments – even if done for decent motives – is simply;
(A) Not a good look
(B) Not worth the hassle when the media, bloggers, and Opposition get hold of it
(C) A slippery-slope toward cronyism and inevitable corruption.
The appointment of John Key’s Electorate Chairperson, Stephen McElrea (who is also the National Party’s Regional Deputy Chair, National Party Northern Region) to the Board of NZ On Air raised numerous charges of cronyism and an agenda of political interference in public funding for television programming. (See: Call for McElrea to resign from NZ On Air; See: PM has questions to answer over NZ on Air link )
Concerns over political appointees to highly sensitive positions, vulnerable to political interference, was quickly borne out when McElrea began to flex his “political muscles” even before being appointed to NZ on Air’s Board,
Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – National man eyes NZ On Air chair
Key’s background in deal-making; cutting corners to achieve set goals; and getting results fatally blinds him to the realities that politics and government is a whole different kettle of fish to ‘high finance’. (Which would be a good thing, considering the almighty crash of ‘high finance’ four years ago.)
The State Services Commission was set up precisely to keep politician’s greasy hands of appointments. At the beginning of out nascent civil service, ministerial cronyism was rampant,
The departments that grew up over the next few decades operated under the direct control of their Ministers, in arrangements that were practical in pioneering times. Ministers approved appointments, determined pay and conditions, and oversaw administration and financial management, with varying degrees of diligence.
Understandably, Ministers were inclined to see that the people appointed were sympathetic to their own political outlook and priorities – and inevitably, in a small population, these were sometimes friends or acquaintances. The Public Service was run on somewhat ad hoc ‘frontier’ lines, and seems not to have been much different from its parent institution, the British civil service. In their report on the British civil service Sir Stafford North and Sir Charles Trevelyan described a bureaucracy that was, in the 1850s, rife with patronage, fragmented and inefficient.
Accordingly, after 1912, reforms were enacted to clean up this unholy mess,
The Hunt Commission in due course recommended, as ‘the most important matter of all’, establishment of a Board of Management under Cabinet, to have ‘absolute and undisputed power’ in ‘all matters relating to the control and management of the Service – … appointments, salaries, promotion, suspensions, dismissals, and indeed everything affecting officers – ‘ It suggested the Board’s first duties should include blocking all ‘back doors’ of entrance to the Public Service, and arranging for all promotions be made from within the Service.
The outcome was the Public Service Act 1912 – based on Herdman’s Bill already before the house – which set up a non-political and unified career Public Service; non-political through powers of appointment, promotion and dismissal being entrusted to an independent body – the Public Service Commissioner.
It is abundantly clear that John Key doesn’t ‘get’ any of this, when he said,
“I didn’t do anything wrong whatsoever. Labour have done very similar things.”
Again, blaming Labour.
Is everything he says or does predicated on what the previous government did?
Does Key not have standards of his own? (Rhetorical question. Don’t answer.)
Because Key’s memory lapses cannot be blamed on anyone but himself. Especially when, on 3 April he openly contradicted himself as to who-phoned-who, as Andrea Vance reported,
…he appears to be confused about who first suggested Fletcher for the job.
Asked why he didn’t tell the full story last week, Key said: “I’d forgotten that at that particular time.”
In Porirua this afternoon, Key was grilled about the sequence of events that saw Fletcher appointed as director of the GCSB in September 2011.
At first Key said: “Iain Rennie, state services commissioner recommended him to me… I rang [Fletcher] and said ‘look, you know, you might be interested.”
Asked again who first brought up Fletcher’s name, Key replied: “Iain Rennie put it to me.”
Later on, he was asked again who first mentioned Fletcher. “I would have mentioned it to him, I’m sure.”
When pressed to clarify if he first suggested the name to Rennie, he said: “I’m sure I probably would have.”
Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Fletcher’s appointment defended by SSC boss
Key lied. He was caught out lying.
On 4 April, Scoop.co.nz wrote about the rationale behind Ian Fletcher’s appointmentr as GCSB director. Fletcher had no prior military of Intelligence experience. But he did have an extensive background in intellectual property, commerce and “free” trade (see: The CV of a Spy Boss ) .
Fletcher’s appointment was announced in September 2011, and was due to take up his new job in early 2012.
At the same time, police were planning their raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion, scheduled to take place on January 20 2012.
Suppose Dotcom’s arrest and extradition was the clincher in the deal that secured Warner Bros’ agreement to produce The Hobbit in New Zealand. But any link to John Key, who led the negotiations with Warner Bros, would tend to confirm Dotcom’s claim, supported by the strong connection between Hollywood and US vice-president Joe Biden, of political persecution. So the prime minister had to be protected by having total deniability, leading to the completely implausible claim of not knowing about the most prominent resident in his own electorate until the day before the raid.
Acknowledgement: Kim Dotcom Part Two
Remember that Key has had several top level meetings with Warner Bros executives,
Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – No decision yet in Hobbit talks – Key
Acknowledgement: Fairfax – PM’s ‘special’ movie studio meeting
Acknowledgement: TV3 – Key: Dotcom won’t be discussed during Hollywood visit
And those are only the meetings which we, The Masses, are aware of.
It’s interesting to note Chris Dodd, the CEO of the Motion Picture Assiciation of America (MPAA) referred to the Trans Pacific Partnership Aggreement (TPPA) in the 5 October NZ Herald article above.
The TPPA has more to do with intellectual property rights than with “free” trade. (See: “Global Research - The “Trans-Pacific Partnership”: Obama’s Secret Trade Deal; See: MFAT -Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations – Intellectual Property Stakeholder Update)
It’s also worthwhile noting that Ian Fletcher’s appointment coincided to the month with the raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion.
- Ian Fletcher appointed in January 2012. (See: GCSB – Mastery of Cyberspce for the security of New Zealand)
- Raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion: 20 January 2012.
And both men were involved in intellectual property rights – though from different angles,
- Kim Dotcom – the man who Hollywood executives wanted brought down because of alleged copyright violations on his ‘megaupload’ website. (see: The MPAA on Dotcom)
- Ian Fletcher – the man who had worked in the UK to protect oroporate interests in intellectual property rights. (see below)
When Ian Fletcher’s appointment was announced on 8 September 2011, Key himself proudly boasted of the new Director’s career,
Announcing the appointment Prime Minister John Key said he has ” policy and operational experience particularly in relation to international economic and trade matters.”
Acknowledgement: New Zealand’s new top spy boss revealed
Fletcher’s ” policy and operational experience particularly in relation to international economic and trade matters” seemed to matter for John Key for some reason?
Kim Dotcom was very high on the list of issues relating to “international economic and trade matters“; namely intellectual property rights. Indeed, in March 2007, Fletcher was appointed as Chief Executive of the UK Office of Intellectual Property.
On 20 March 2007, Ian Fletcher said,
“I am delighted to be joining the Patent Office. It already plays a vital role in the UK’s economic prosperity, its scientific excellence and its innovation system. As the Office moves on to tackle to challenges set out in Andrew Gowers’ review, the Office’s role will become even more central to the UK’s response to the challenges of globalisation.”
(Hat-tip; Karol, on The Standard)
It has been widely commented that Ian Fletcher has no background in the military, nor Intelligence – yet was considered the one candidate who was eminently suitable for the role of Director of the GCSB. Perhaps now we are starting to understand why Ian Fletcher’s appointment seemingly related to,
- the Crown’s case against Kim Dotcom
- Illegal downloads/Intellectual Property rights
- MPAA concerns
- Hollywood big business
- Trans Pacific Partnership
And as Key himself admitted, the issue of Kim Dotcom had been raised by Hollywood executive. Just what does our Prime Minister have to discuss with said executives? Who knows – it’s all done in secret, behind closed doors. We’re just expected to pay our taxes and shut up.
Conspiracy theories remain the subjects of idle parlour chit-chat and somewhat kooky websites… well, until charges are laid. Then a conspiracy theory becomes a conspiracy case in a Court of Law.
This affair should serve as a warning for the next in-coming Labour-Green government. National’s administration is a text-book case of how not to do things.
Every minister in the next Labour-Green government should be appointed a “minder” to ensure that they do things By The Book, and not to cut one single corner. Or at the very least, periodically re-read press reports and blogposts detailing every f**k-up by National over the last four years.
New Zealand is a small country. Secrets are notoriously difficult to keep. And even if the whole story behind the Fletcher-Dotcom-GCSB-TPPA thing has not been fully revealed – I think we’ve had a glimpse into the murky shadows of political perfidity to smell something rotten.
The issue has not only further dented Key’s credibility, but is starting to wear down his public persona of good natured, ‘blokeyness’,
Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – John Key calls media ‘Knuckleheads’
Abusing the media? Not a good look for Dear Leader. It appears that the stress of the job is getting to him. And he can’t handle it very well.
Key’s “blokeyness” morphes into bratty petulance when he further dictates the terms under which he will talk to the media and in Parliament,
Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – John Key changes tack over questioning
This is “seige mentality” stuff.
Key’s teflon coating wore away over a year ago. With no defensive cloak, the media recognise a government and it’s leader who are in dire trouble and on the defensive.
As Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury wrote on “The Daily Blog”,
“John Key’s extraordinary appointment of his school-hood chum to be the new Director of our spy network could well be his ‘speeding in the Prime Ministerial Limo’ moment.”
And as Bryce Edwards noted in the NZ Herald on 4 April,
“As a barometer of the political media, John Armstrong is always useful, and it appears that he too ‘smells blood’.”
Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Political round-up: John Key’s precarious credibility
There are more headlines to come out of Key and National. It’s only a matter of time.
Fairfax Media: New Zealand’s new top spy boss revealed (8 Sept 2011)
The Listener: Kim Dotcom and Megaupload: a timeline (20 March 2013)
Scoop: Kim Dotcom Illegal Surveillance And Response: Timeline (28 March 2013)
Fairfax Media: Fletcher’s appointment defended by SSC boss (3 April 2013)
Radio NZ: State Services boss ‘surprised’ at PM’s phone call (4 April 2013)
NZ Herald: PM paints himself into another corner (4 April 2013)
NBR: Honesty bigger issue than cronyism (4 April 2013)
NZ Herald: PM put mate’s case for job in 2009 (5 April 2013)
Radio NZ: PM has no regrets about calling Fletcher (5 April 2013)
Fairfax Media: John Key changes tack over questioning (5 April 2013)
Scoop: Kim Dotcom Part Two (4 April 2013)
NZ Herald: PM put mate’s case for job in 2009 (5 April 2013)
Radiolive: Former GCSB boss intrigued by Ian Fletcher appointment – Audio (5 April 2013)
NZ Herald: Ian Fletcher appointment a ‘totally ethical process’ (5 April 2013)
NZ Herald: John Key calls media ‘Knuckleheads’ (6 April 2013)
The Standard: The CV of a spy-boss
The Standard: Fletcher GCSB Change manager – and QLD
The Daily Blog: John Key’s ‘speeding in the Prime Ministerial Limo’ moment
= fs =
Continued from: Nothing quite sez Rich Man’s Conference than this event
I’ve always believed that the Left’s ability for in-fighting and self-mutilation is without peer. Our ability to attack each other – whilst the barbarian hordes of neo-liberals run rampant through our societies – is without peer, I’ve thought. (The self-destruction of the Alliance Party, in 2001, was a recent example of this.)
I was wrong.
There are times when the Right can be equally adept when it comes to bouts of masocistic self-harm.
The recent ACT conference at Alan Gibbs’ farm-estate at Kaukapakapa, about 50kms north of Auckland, was an eye-opener.
First of all, the choice of holding a Party conference at an isolated Rich White Man’s farm-estate, complete with bizarre multi-million dollar “art” and a private zoo…
Pray tell, ACT Party – precisely what message were you thinking of sending to the public of New Zealand?
That ACT chooses to be isolated from the rest of society, and stand apart from other New Zealanders?
That ACT is a Rich White Man’s Party?
That ACT surrounds itself with the trappings of an eccentric millionaire (who is absent from New Zealand most of the year), whilst unemployment, child poverty, and growing wealth-income divide worsens?
If those were the messages – consider them received and understood.
Secondly – who let the clowns out, ha, ha-ha, ha!
Rodney Hides “performance” on Saturday, 23 February was gob-smacking.
It’s pretty fair to say that I am no friend of ACT or the Right Wing in general. But even I was embarressed at Hide’s weird behaviour in front of media cameras, and felt truly sorry for all those ACT Party activists who work their butts off at elections.
But don’t take my word for it – see for yourself. The ‘action’ rolls from 0:40 to 1:30 on TV3′s video,
That kind of bizarre, blokey ‘humour’ might be fine amongst friends and colleagues, away from the public eye. But televised to the entire nation, the message it sends me is,
- Rodney Hide doesn’t give a sh*t anymore
- Rodney Hide just gave the metaphorical “fingers” to the whole country
- Arrogance and inappropriate ‘humour’ is a bad mix – especially in public.
By the way. It may escape folks attention, but Hide’s outburst against TV3 was the height of irony.
ACT is a Party that supports free enterprise and business.
Mediaworks (TV3′s parent body) is privately owned business.
ACT supports businesses because they are supposedly more efficient than the State.
TV3′s journalists are highly effective at their profession.
So what’s the problem between ACT and a business such as TV3?
If TV3′s journos are doing well at investigating and probing politicians and their Parties – then that’s free enterprise doing what it ought to; providing a service to consumers; selling advertising; and returning a profit to shareholders.
Anyone would think that ACT is hostile to free enterprise.
= fs =
The State of Media
With so much happening in this country over the last thirty years, one would think that this should be the Golden Age for investigative journaliasm and documentary-making.
Sadly, this is not the case.
On the contrary, our print and electronic journalism have been relegated and turned into ‘McMedia ‘; quickly produced; lacking in any substance of value; and just as quickly (with some exceptions) forgotten.
In terms of documentary-making, what really stands out (confirmed by a ten second survey conducted in my household) is Bryan Bruce’s insightful and provocative doco, ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ (see: Inside Child Poverty – A Special Report).
No other single, one-off documentary came to mind.
In terms of television current affairs, the only recent stories that came to us were stories to do with Novopay and the Bronwyn Pullar-ACC story which saw a government Minister and several ACC executives lose their jobs. ‘Campbell Live‘ and several ex-TVNZ7 documentaries such as ‘The Court Report’ featured in our household discussion of what stuck in our minds.
Other current affairs such as ‘Q+A’, ‘The Nation’, and vastly under-rated ‘Think Tank’, were consigned to ghetto-times of Sunday mornings. TVNZ’s ‘Sunday‘ programme – on at a more watchable time-slot of 7pm – was cut from an hour to thirty minutes (less, once you excise advertisements for unfeasibly fast cars, personal hygiene products, and the latest Briscoes “sale”).
The print media is still reasonably diverse, though Wellington’s “Dominion Post” is fast losing circulation and becoming thinner and thinner. (Don’t think we haven’t noticed Mr Williams and Mr Thompson.) Constant reductions in staffing levels has resulted in a predictable down-turn in news stories – especially relevant news stories, which put issues and events into context.
For example, prior to the ‘Evening Post’ and ‘Dominion‘ being amalgamated, the ‘Post‘ employed two journalists to cover Wellington City Council issues on a full-time basis, and a third journalist, part-time. Former journalist, Lidia Zatorski, wrote some of the most insightful pieces on Council-related issues. (The mayor couldn’t sneeze without Ms Zatorski noting time, place, and potential effects on the capital city.)
As a result, Wellingtonians were well-served with an on-going stream of local body reports that not only informed readers – but also put events into context. Events weren’t isolated – they were linked, giving us an overall impression what was taking place in our city.
These days, Fairfax media has one journalist, working part time, covering City Council issues. There could be a mass shoot-out between Councillors, disagreeing on what colour to paint park-benchs, and we’d probably not know until a week later.
With TVNZ, a state-owned, supposed “public broadcaster”, dumbing-down has plumbed new depths in a stagnant pool of irrelevancy with it’s much-criticised, ‘Seven Sharp‘.
The replacement to ‘Close-up‘ (which, in itself was a replacement to ‘Holmes‘), ‘Seven Sharp’ may have met “demographic targets” and “consumer needs” – but fewer and fewer people are watching it. In fact, it’s turning viewers away in droves.
TVNZ’s descent into ‘Idiocracy‘ – like many things in the last 30 years – began with the corporatisation of state-owned bodies. Turning a profit was to be the number one goal – and television was no exception.
In 2003, the Labour Government attempted to mitigate the worst effects of commercialisation by implementing a Charter for TVNZ to follow. The Charter would supposedly direct TVNZ to offer quality programmes for viewers,
- Having the presence of a significant Maori voice, including programmes promoting the Maori language and programmes addressing Maori history, culture and current issues;
- Include the tastes and interests not generally catered for by other national television broadcasters;
- Provide independent, comprehensive, impartial, and in-depth coverage and analysis of news and current affairs;
- Promote understanding of the diversity of cultures making up the New Zealand population;
- Feature New Zealand films, drama, comedy and documentary programmes;
- Provide for the informational, entertainment and educational needs of children and young people;
- Observe a code of ethics that addresses the level and nature of advertising to which children are exposed.
“The removal of the Charter will have little impact on what is shown on the screen. TVNZ will still screen content of relevance to a broad cross section of New Zealanders, and they will still screen high levels of New Zealand content.”
- was a mealy mouthed, empty promise.
In fact, almost 16 months earlier, Coleman had told the public what he really wanted for TV 1 and TV2,
“Everyone … could be a lot happier if they had that clear view where you go in TVNZ to find public broadcasting content and where you can expect to find frankly nakedly commercial stuff.”
Coleman also made this extraordinary at the same time, in March 2010,
“My view was if we could get that demarcation … once everyone has got access to digital television, which isn’t too many years away, if you know that if you go to 7 or maybe 6 and 7 you can get what most people could describe as quality broadcasting content.
“Then if you flick to One and Two you get whatever they serve up … it would bring some more honesty and clarity to the situation,” Coleman said.
“The 7 schedule pretty much already fits that definition broadly.”
His reference to “going to [TVNZ]7 or maybe [TVNZ]6 and 7 you can get what most people could describe as quality broadcasting content” was the same TVNZ7 that National canned in July year, despite strong public opposition. (And politicians wonder why we distrust them?)
Parts of TVNZ6 was later leased to SkyTV for pay-viewing only.
In July 2011, Coleman stated as bluntly as he could, that removing the Charter and rejecting non-commercial public-service content, would give TVNZ,
“…the flexibility it needs to effectively pursue commercial objectives”.
Under National, TVNZ programming was pre-ordained to be 100% commercialised and ratings-driven. Much like giving children ice cream on demand, the viewing public got what they (supposedly) wanted; entertainment ‘lollies’.
In return, National would “milk” it as a cash-cow (as with Genesis, Mighty River Power, Meridian, Air New Zealand, and until lately, Solid Energy).
‘Seven Sharp‘ – or ‘Seven Shite‘ as one Facebook commentator labelled it – was simply the natural end-result of this process.
This was made no more clearer than when TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick admitted to a Parliamentary Select Committee that the broadcaster was now,
“... entirely driven by consumer behaviour”, and Seven Sharp was “absolutely in the right territory…”
“… And now there are so many more opportunities and places you can access the news and as a result of them I think that consumers are looking for short, sharp soundbites; they’re looking for a punchy delivery.”
Well, if viewers are “looking for short, sharp soundbites; they’re looking for a punchy delivery” – they are showing it in a strange way by deserting TVNZ and switching on to ‘Campbell Live‘ instead,
The ratings head-to-head between Seven Sharp and Campbell Live reveals TVNZ’s new offering outperforming TV3 in total audience terms all but twice in its first two weeks.
But over the same period, the TVNZ show lost the key demographic both channels are chasing, those aged between 25 to 54, eight times.
Figures supplied by Nielsen TAM show that apart from the first big bang on February 4 where 508,500 tuned into Seven Sharp compared to 246,300 on TV3, there have been plenty of nights where the two have been separated by barely a percentage point or two of the total television audience.
For Campbell Live, February 12 was historic. It was the first time the channel won the slot since TV3 began in November 1989, a win it repeated three days later by taking 7.2 per cent of the total audience aged five and over with 298,800 viewers to 242,300.
Perhaps TVNZ’s attitude toward public broadcasting and criticisms for a lack thereof, can be summed up by this comment by Kendrick,
“There has been a lot of commentary about Seven Sharp which has typically come from less than 12 commentators, and they tend to reinforce a more traditional perspective of what current affairs has been as opposed to a reflection of what it might be.”
There is an underlying arrogance in Kendrick’s remarks. It is a “We Know Best What You Want” conceit. Never mind if the public are craving intelligent, challenging TV content – we’ll get dumbed-down viewing because that’s what “We Really Want”.
Which is a self-fulfilling curse; the more crap broadcast, the more crap some viewers will watch, which then shows up in the Ratings…
Meanwhile, apart from the “12 commentators” that Kendrick dismisses in a cursory, derisory manner, what people are really expressing is just as critical of ‘Seven Sharp’.
As Facebook users have said to this blogger,
“Apparently it has the pollings. Sad reflection that NZ’ers prefer to be entertained than educated.
Loving Campbell taking on social issues now. But last Century, Sunday night was the time for hard political journalism – why are we being fed sop?”
“They assume the audience is stupid. They assume the ratings won’t be good enough, which in turn, won’t draw the advertisers. Which in turn, won’t pay for their prime time news slot. They apparently don’t think there’s enough local news around because everyone is watching garbage.
The so called mainstream media has been manipulated by other influences for years. I have sat and watched the quality of journalism rot like a gangrenous limb every night in TV. Watched objectivity, that grand bastion of true journalism vanish in favour of opinion pieces and puerile garbage about feuding families and neighbours and the bad natives who are too lazy to do anything worthwhile.”
“Advertisers react to raw data, and I’d be fairly sure the drive for less hard news content on TV is coming from the viewers, (us).. not any grand conspiracy…
As long as the value of a given programme is rated by viewer numbers, and nothing else, car crash footage will always beat political debate.”
“every body i know is crying out for decent news & political shows in prime time, instead of this diet of cooking shows & crap sitcoms, with all the political talk on a sunday morning… if, as he says, consumers are the ones who ask for this low-rent shit that claims to be ‘news’, then no bastard asked me”
“State television has been wallowing in the sewer for at least 15 years. Nothing has changed.
Their political independence has never been credible. You wouldn’t trust TV3 to report impartially on a corporate scandal involving Mediaworks and you wouldn’t trust The Press to report impartially on a scandal involving Fairfax, so why would you trust state television to duly criticise its owner?”
“I didn’t think it was possible to get worse… but it has.”
“TVNZ news and current affairs seem to be following an agenda of ‘keep ‘em dumb.’ Looking at comparisons between SevenSharp and Campbell this is plainly obvious, but the the same is true between Breakfast and Firstline, and increasingly so in the 6pm slot.
Here’s a question, as state broadcaster how much influence is placed on their independence and impartiality. Can we truly believe that at a time when John Key is singing the ‘nothing to see here’ tune that the state owned and operated news service are singing along.”
“Is it for education or entertainment ?”
“Given Kiwi’s television addiction, you could put any crap on TV and it will find an audience, so ratings don’t really come into it. Television is the cheapest form of entertainment available, so not hard to understand our love affair with the box.
However, I cannot accept New Zealanders are so intellectually deficient they can’t handle cerebral programming. Natural history and science programs rate very well in this country, so the problem is not what Kiwi’s choose to watch, it is simply that what is offered up is mindless rubbish. Is Kevin Kenrick cerebral enough to understand this? Now there’s a question.”
“Some harder journalism asking questions about things like the obscene prices expected of us by oil companies, the Sky City Casino deal, a constitution for New Zealand among other things, would be better.”
“Feel free to include my thought that Kevin Kenrick is an idiot.”
“I’ve switched to 3 and Campbell after years of sticking with TV One”
“I do not believe the content that 7 sharp even hits it with the under 35 year olds after all they have SKY television and reality shows and Seven sharp is hideous of course the people that are over 20 tend to be with Campbell Live, I have moved to Campbell being in my 50!!! I am embarrassed by TV ONE in every journalism respect. Campbell Team are on the pulse night after night.”
“The mainstream media generally get their tips and news from Tweets, Facebook posts and freelance bloggers. I would rather read and view the news of intelligent, articulate, investigative, freelance bloggers and journos, than have my mind dumbed down and filled with the biased agendas of a right wing, Fairfax driven media. That being said, Campbell Live does at least demonstrate a social conscience, and I made the switch to watching that over a year ago now. Seven Sharp is Seven Dull.”
“The so called mainstream media has been manipulated by other influences for years. I have sat and watched the quality of journalism rot like a gangrenous limb every night in TV. Watched objectivity, that grand bastion of true journalism vanish in favour of opinion pieces and puerile garbage about feuding families and neighbours and the bad natives who are too lazy to do anything worthwhile.”
“NZ tv show’s are alright! It’s when the MP’s start adding their bits in that the flavour become’s kawa (sour). If MP’s, had real job’s, instead of being in a studio for picking on somebody about their job,.. then,it’s time to GO!!! Leave the real worker’s to do their own job’s….KEEP YOUR NOSE, OUT!!!”
“I no longer watch what passes for news generated by any teevy broadcaster in NZ – I turn to Triangle/Face for Al Jazeera and DWTV, and occasionally, if I can stop my soul from rising up and strangling my moral conscience, Voice of America.
News on NZ teevy is dominated by road accidents, boozy teenagers, sport and scandal – as for expecting any in-depth analysis or anything remotely resembling investigative or critical journalism, well, we’re screwed, unless you happen to be one the unlobotomised, multi-tasking few who can listen to the radio (and I’m refering exclusively to the National Programme here) at the same time as they walk and chew gum.
I’m ashamed, sometimes, to be part of the institution which churns out the next-generation of wannabe journalists whose sole ambitions seem to be getting a job with a corporation and their grinning mugs on the small screen.”
Writing for the Herald on 8 February (see: Perhaps now’s a good time to sell off TVNZ), columnist Toby Manhire suggested that TVNZ was so far gone in terms of quality that it was irredeemable and fit only to be hocked of. He said, in part,
“ So sell TVNZ. It would end any residual confusion within the organisation about their purpose. It would end any misplaced vestigial attachment by audiences who still dream of the Goodnight Kiwi. Paradoxically, it might encourage TVNZ to pursue more public-interest journalism to retain a “national voice” reputation. For anyone who believes, as I do, that New Zealand should have a mainstream public TV broadcaster, it would blow away any fog around the question of whether we currently have one. We do not.”
In case Toby Manhire is being dead serious and not indulging in wry tongue-firmly-in-cheek black humour, any suggestion to sell TVNZ because it has been dumbed down, is simply rewarding National for deliberately undermining our State broadcaster.
It is not a solution. It is a reward for bad behaviour.
Not only would it fulfill what might be a deliberate agenda to alienate public support for TVNZ – but it closes of future avenues to bring the broadcaster back from the brink.
A future progressive government would have a massive task on it’s hands; to effectively undo decades of commercialisation and bring back a true public service.
But it’s not impossible.
If free-marketeers can wreck it – we should be able to repair or replace it.
One classic suggestion is to make TV1 a non-commercial station, funded by a fully commercial, go-for-trash, TV2 broadcaster.
Or to fund public television through a small levy on pay-to-view broadcasters, such as SkyTV.
More importantly, any such progressive reform would have to be entrenched in legislation and tied up in so many safe-guards that it would take years for any future National government to undo and wrecking it all over again. (See upcoming blogpost, ‘Talkback Radio, Public Radio, and related matters’, on ‘The Daily Blog‘, on 1 March.)
One-stop shop or multiple platforms?
An argument has been made that public-service programming should be left to NZ on Air, which would be responsible for dispensing contestable funding for documentaries, current affairs, and other public interest programmes.
So programmes like ’Inside Child Poverty‘ and ‘The Nation‘ could be funded by ‘NZ on Air‘, and broadcast by any number of electronic media, irrespective of whether of who owns said broadcaster. As it’s curreently mandated to do.
To a degree that has some validity.
Unfortunately, at least two cases point against ‘NZ on Air‘ as the sole agency for intelligent tv viewing,
- ‘The GC’ recieved $420,000 of taxpayer funding from ‘NZ on Air‘ (see: John Key Defends NZ On Air Funding For The GC . see previous blogpost: NZ on Air funding soft-core porn garbage? Since when? Since now!!)
- ‘New Zealand’s Got Talent‘ was given $1.6 million of taxpayer’s money by ‘NZ on Air‘, despite being a commercial venture (see: Who owns New Zealand’s Got Talent?)
Key defended ‘NZ on Air‘s‘ public funding for ‘The GC’ by claiming,
“ They make their decisions completely independently. Our board is to appoint the board, and their job is to make the funding calls.”
“Independent”, Mr Key?
I don’t think so.
Not when your own Electorate Chairman and National Party Regional Deputy, Stephen McElrea, sits on ‘NZ on Air‘s‘ Board – which is responsible for funding decision-making. (see: Call for McElrea to resign from NZ On Air)
Only a politician might think that is “independepent” and “non-partisan”.
Secondly, there are two other reasons why this country needs a committed non-commercial; fully funded; dedicated public service broadcaster.
It is the same reasons why we have a committed non-commercial; fully funded; dedicated public service radio station, Radio New Zealand. Namely;
Much like going to a supermarket which retails a wide range of goods, and saves us the effort of going to separate retailers for fruit & veg; meat; fish; hardware, the supermnarket is a convenient one-stop shop.
It’s what consumers want. And in a market-driven society, what consumers want, consumers get.
Why should it be any different for a one-stop broadcaster/shop?
In fact, we already have racing channels; religious channels; shopping channels; cartoon channels; etc, etc, etc.
So why not a committed non-commercial; fully funded; dedicated public service television station?
- A sense of purpose
TV3 did well to broadcast ’Inside Child Poverty‘ and it’s ‘Campbell Live‘ programme is to be commended for it’s investigate and advocacy journalism. Long may TV3 survive and return good dividends to it’s shareholder(s).
But we also need a dedicated public service television station that has a sense of purpose that is different to commercial TV.
We need a sense of purpose that is not controlled by ratings; has public service as it’s #1 goal; and broadcasts programmes that are challenging as well as informative. Programmes that might not be commercially successful, but nevertheless spark public debate on isues.
Such as ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ did, in November 2011.
Unfortunately, programming such as ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ by commercial broadcasters is a rarity, and TV3 received much flak for the courage they displayed that day.
It is a fact that almost every OECD nation, as well as Russia, has a public service tv broadcaster. Australia has seven; ABC1, ABC2, ABC3, ABC News 24, SBS1, SBS2, and NITV (National Indigenous TV).
It is depressing to realise that this National government refuses to give New Zealanders what other countries already have.
There is no arguing with the simple fact that Nationaland ACT have zero interest in public service broadcast.
In fact, if anything, the dumbing down or ghottoisation of public broadcasting serves their political interests. After all, a commercialised broadcaster will most often choose to focus their News stories around crime/police/court reporting – which is cheaper than investigative journalism, as police feed information directly to journalists in News Rooms.
Investigative reporting – such as “Campbell Live“ – is much rarer.
Documentaries that look behind the superficialities of our society – such as Bryan Bruce’s ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ – is rarer still.
Which is probably why right wing governments love the commercialisation of our broadcasting.
Evidence for this is on TV1, 7pm, week nights.
I rest my case.
Previous related blogposts
Fairfax media: Government signals big changes for TVNZ (13 March 2010)
TV3: TVNZ Charter abolished (13 July 2011)
NZ Herald: Perhaps now’s a good time to sell off TVNZ (8 Feb 2013)
NZ Herald: Susan Wood new host of TVNZ’s Q+A (21 Feb 2013)
NZ Herald: Seven Sharp staff in talks on show (22 Feb 2013)
NZ Herald: Seven Sharp vs Campbell Live – who’s winning? (22 Feb 2013)
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Coming to “The Daily Blog” on 1 March…
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Whaleoil – a rightwing blog by right wing extremist, Cameron Slater, has always had something of a dubious reputation. Terms such as “sleaze” and “gutter politics” are often associated with, and used in the same sentence as, Whaleoil.
Slater’s dirty tricks reached a nadir last year when on 13 March 2012, he wrote this blogpost revealing and detailing the private tragedy of a Ports of Auckland (POAL) worker, Mr Cecil Walker,
POAL was, at the time, engaged in a bitter industrial dispute with maritime workers, and had reached depths of enmity and dirty tricks by Port management unseen since the 1951 Waterside Lockout. It was also later established that the information regarding the POAL worker had been illegally leaked by a POAL company staffmember, for Slater to publish (see: Port admits leaking worker’s details – union).
Whaleoil not only actively championed the Board and management of POAL in an industrial dispute, and recklessly mis-used personal information that had been illegally provided – but it turns out that Slater was being paid to run blogposts, without declaring a pecuniary interest to his readers.
[Blogger's note: To clear up any mis-understanding (and deliberate deflection from Slater) there is no evidence (yet) that POAL was one of Slater's clients. His anti-worker/union hate-posts may've been a "freebie". ]
As Martyn Bradbury reported on his blogsite, Tumeke,
Which brings us to todays extraordinary confession on Media 3 this morning by Cameron Slater. Russell Brown landed a square blow to Slater’s jaw by asking him directly if he took money to write blogs, Slater’s response that he did and his puerile justification that spin drs want attention so he gives it to them for a fee was possibly the new gutter low for the NZ blogosphere.
… yet he has the audacity to try and defend his actions by saying to people (and I’m paraphrasing the defense he has given to others) ‘his audience values him not for journalism, but for saying things they agree with, and therefore there’s no conflict between taking a slice of a PR or spin agency’s fee to do part of their job for them’.
This is pure sophistry.
Shouldn’t Slater’s readers know when Slater is offering his opinion and when he’s being paid to spin? To claim they are coming to him not because he tells the truth but because he tells them what they want to hear and offer that as a justification is about as deceptive as you can get.
Now we know he takes PR money to spin, shouldn’t Cam be honest with his readers and identify the issues he’s purposely manipulated?
Now for the latest installment from Cameron Slater – porn merchant. As posted yesterday (2 Feb),
Sourse: Whaleoil -Ink or No Ink
And this is the same Cameron Slater who derides Opposition MPs; left wing activists; workers; Unionists, etc, for alleged lack of ethics?
Being slated by an extremist right wing blogger and porn-merchant just invites scorn and mirthful derision.
Mind you, along with being the new editor of ‘The Truth‘…
… I guess it completes his CV.
*Updated 4 February*
This blogger receives no funding of any description for writing this blog. (If, however, there are any rich Warren Buffet-types out there – let’s talk.)
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“A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” – Oscar Wilde
It’s no great secret that the news media in this country – with perhaps one or two exceptions - has been going downhill in the last three decades.
As an example, the previous entities, the ‘Evening Post‘ and ‘Dominion‘ in Wellington, once employed three reporters – two full time and one part-time – to cover local body politics and events in the city. No councillor or mayor could pass wind without one of the journos picking it up. If something smelled rotten, the journos would sniff it out fairly smartly.
Now, with continuing cutbacks at Fairfax media, and most sub-editors gone, the combined entity known as the ‘Dominion Post‘ has one journalist covering City Council activities on a part-time basis. Coverage has becomes sporadic, disjointed, and out of context.
Which is why Wellingtonians now have little idea what’s happening at their Council.
TVNZ and TV3 once had current affairs programmes, at prime time, conducting in depth investigations into government activities and dubious behaviour from dodgy politicians.
Many of those programmes, ‘Holmes‘, ‘Assignment‘, have gone. ‘Sunday” was an hour long on Sunday nights – that’s been cut to thirty minutes.
The main current affairs prpgrammes – TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘ and TV3′s ‘The Nation‘ – have been relegated to Sunday mornings at 8am and 9am. Hardly conducive to encouraging the public to be aware of political issues in our country. Only insomniacs and the most committed political junkie would be willing to forego a Sunday morning lie-in to watch TV journos in action with our elected representatives.
Private and State radio is perhaps the only part of the industry that has remained consistent.
Talkback Radio – idiot voices screaming at other idiot voices on issues that idiots know little about.
It is the realm where superficial “knowledge” is the main currency and shrill prejudice holds sway over calm reasoned analysis on issues. Imagine allotting a bunch of bigoted, ill-informed rednecks equal speaking time at the Oxford debates, shouting down their more knowledgeable and wiser debating opponants, and that gives an insight into talkback radio.
Even the talkback “hosts” are not ones to rise above the common, noisome mud of prejudice and wilful ignorance, as happened last week,
But hardly surprising.
It’s all part of the commercial radio game; win as many listeners as you can by being as offensive and outrageous as you can. That wins ratings, which in turn let’s you sell more advertising, leading to higher profits, which results in increasing dividends to ever more demanding shareholders.
Ever wondered why radio stations and newspapers “love” Michael Laws so much? Wonder no more. He sells advertising.
Ironically, when radio stations like NewstalkZB are then held to account for offensive behaviour, the additional publicity they gain – as in the case of the subsequent NZ Herald story above – gives them even more public attention. And higher ratings. And sell more advertising… It’s a win/win for them.
Radio NZ – after the political assassination of TVNZ7 – the last remaining non-commercial, public service media in this country.
And National is gunning for it,
It’s fairly obvious why Peter Cavanagh is resigning as Chief Executive: National has plans to commercialise Radio NZ.
This will no doubt be aided and abetted by Radio NZ board chairman, Richard Griffin. As well as having been a former Radio NZ political editor, Griffin took the job of press secretary to former National, prime minister, Jim Bolger (See: Richard Griffin to chair Radio NZ board).
The stage is set…
For National, non-commercial SOEs such as Radio NZ and TVNZ are anathema to their free market ideology – the very same ideology that saw the closure of TVNZ7 by deliberate political design, despite public support for the channel,
The commercialisation of media such as TVNZ is of considerable benefit to National Party (and perhaps Labour?) politicians, for two very good reasons,
- They yield a profit to the State, thereby making government’s job much easier to balance The Books.
- Commercialisation encourages ratings-driven programming. Hence the preponderence of crime ‘drama’, reality TV shows of every description, cheap US sitcoms, home improvement shows, and more cooking programmes than you can shake a wooden spatula at.
The second rationale has a by-product that governing politicians welcome with cunningly-disguised glee; ratings driven programming does not include current affairs shows and documentary making. These are now funded by NZ on Air – and even NZOA has been captured by National’s party apparatchiks,
… to fund brain-deadening crap like this,
See previous blogpost: NZ on Air funding soft-core porn garbage? Since when? Since now!!
It is no coincidence that the gradual demise of intelligent programmes that inform and challenge the viewer has been consistant with the rise and rise of commercialisation of the media – especially the state owned “public broadcaster”, TVNZ.
Quite simply, junk programmes such as cooking porn; MaF officials measuring the size of fish in someone’s bucket; and crime ‘dramas’ depicting the latest grisly murder (usually a female victim) in ghoulish detail, is what sells advertising.
And it should be no surprise that as the media shies away from serious reporting of current affairs, we had the lowest voter turnout last year since 1887 (see: Steve Liddle: Election apathy shows need for civics at school).
The Americanisation of our media (“if it bleeds, it leads”) is creating the Americanisation of our electoral process (apathy and low voter turnout – see: Voter turnout in 2012 US presidential elections 9% lower than 2008 ).
Major political parties – especially those on the Right, such as National – love this kind of thing. An unsophisticated public results in low-information voters. Low information voters allow governments to get way with all manner of dubious policies such as cuts to services; more user pays; environmentally-damaging activities, and further implementation of neo-liberal ideology.
It literally encourages the dumbing-down of society until the consequences are satirised in movies like this,
“Idiocracy” was produced as a speculative “what if” sf movie. It’s now more like a documentary. If you haven’t see it – this blogger strongly recommends that you do. You’ll be feeling a creepy sense of deja vu throughout it (and you’ll never look at ‘power drinks’ in quite the same way again).
It now appears that we, the New Zealand public, have till the end of the year to mobilise to pressure National not to interfere with the running of Radio NZ.
A statement from the Coalition for Better Broadcasting on 16 January, said,
The real story here is that the National Government – having fully commercialised TVNZ and done away with non-commercial TV channels Stratos, TV6 & 7 – is also slowly strangling RNZ to the point that it cannot survive. In 2007 a KPMG report to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage found that RNZ was already running as efficiently as possible. It recommended a funding increase to allow RNZ to continue its high standards. But the following year, the National Government froze the RNZ budget and that freeze still exists with RNZ operating on the same budget as 5 years ago.
The CBB believes this is a shockingly poor way to treat our national radio broadcaster: the station we rely on in times of emergency, disaster and crisis. We note the repeated absence on RNZ of our Prime Minister (who prefers to goof around on commercial stations) and many of his Cabinet colleagues. This fact and frequent remarks made by Ministers, makes it clear that the decision to freeze funding to RNZ is an attempt to influence the station’s ability to present in-depth news and current affairs. This contradicts statutory requirements that the government does not influence RNZ editorial stance and may even be illegal.
The under-funding of Radio NZ has been abysmal, with National wilfully attempting to strangle the broadcaster by a lack of money.
The situation for Radio NZ has become so dire that in late 2011, the Crown Entity registered itself as a charity,
The state-owned broadcaster registered itself as the Radio New Zealand Charitable Trust with the Charities Commission last month.
Some of its charitable purposes, which were listed on the commission’s website, included education, research, fundraising and providing grants to a number of individuals and groups.
A spokesperson for Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman said the broadcaster still received $34 million a year but couldn’t say how long it had been receiving that amount.
A financial review of Radio NZ for the 2009/10 financial year showed it had a net deficit of $498,000 after tax, compared to a surplus of $13,000 the year before.
The review said RNZ had been too cash-strapped to participate in the 2010 New Zealand Radio Awards or put in a bid for the Rugby World Cup 2011 coverage.
This is a deliberate campaign against Radio NZ and constitutes political interference – something that is strictly forbidden by law. National has found a way to circumvent that law.
Make no mistake, the dumbing down of Radio NZ is National’s final mission-plan to eliminate all critical, in-depth media analysis and reporting in this country. Turning Radio NZ in a radio-version of TVNZ would destroy any remaining semblance of serious current affairs programming, resulting in another medium for mindless, unquestioning, consumerism.
This is the neo-liberal agenda at it’s nastiest. To be successful in re-shaping a society into a “free market”, the new right must first remove all critical elements in society and either destroy it or marginalise it.
The commercialisation of Radio NZ would be the beginning of that marginalisation. Next would be a partial privatisation, followed by a full-scale sell-off.
This blogger encourages the reader to;
Join Save Radio New Zealand on Facebook. Get your friends and family to “Like” the facebook page – the more the better! Support a replacement for Peter Cavanagh who will maintain the non-commercialised status of Radio NZ.
If you have a National MP as your electorate MP, let him/her know your your vote in 2014 will depend on what happens to Radio NZ. Tell your National MP that not only will you vote for another Party, but you’ll be making a donation to them as well! Demand that Peter Cavanagh’s replacement support and maintain the non-commercialised status of Radio NZ.
Write a short letter to your local newspaper and voice your feelings on this issue. The deliberate demise of TVNZ7 was bad enough – but attacking Radio NZ is the final straw. Demand that Peter Cavanagh’s replacement support and maintain the non-commercialised status of Radio NZ.
Write to Labour Leader David Shearer and demand that, if he expects voter support, that Labour reverse National’s policies and undoes any commercialisation of Radio New Zealand.
On Point #4, the demise of TVNZ7 and impending commercialisation of Radio NZ underscores one very critical issue: that important services such as Radio NZ must be protected by entrenched legislation that makes it difficult – if not impossible – for incoming National regimes to to undermine such Crown entities.
It is unbelievable that an organisation such as Radio NZ – which has been operating in one form or another since 1925 – is vulnerable to the ideological machinations of a “government” that has been in office for only the last four years. In existence for 88 years – vulnerable to attack in four?!
A new Labour-led government’s Broadcasting Minister’s first task must be to enact legislation that;
- entrenches protection for Radio NZ,
- denies right governments any opportunity to commercialise the broadcaster,
- ring-fenches funding and ties it to the rate of inflation – perhaps by the Remuneration Authority which also sets MP’s salaries and perks.
The same protections must be in place for any new non-commercial public TV broadcaster that is set up by an incoming Labour-led government. Crown Entities must be free of covert political interference by the likes of Key, English, Joyce, et al, who cannot resist sticking their grubby fingers into places they shouldn’t.
At the risk of sounding overly-dramatic, this issue is not just about saving Radio NZ from commercialisation. This is a battle for the minds and souls of New Zealanders.
As Dave Armstrong wrote in August 2011,
“Despite its budget freeze, National Radio continues to do an excellent job. Its current affairs programmes are intelligent and objective. That’s why you rarely hear the prime minister on Morning Report or Checkpoint. As the recent BBC Hardtalk episode showed, Mr Key becomes dangerously exposed when interviewed by a tough, intelligent journalist. He tends to send in street-smart Gerry Brownlee to take one for the team on Radio New Zealand, while he has a cosy yet inane chat with ex-children’s presenter Petra Bagust on Breakfast or talks to Veitchy on sports radio about hot chicks. That’s far more fun than explaining to Mary Wilson why parents are going to have to pay more for childcare.”
In countries ruled by totalitarian regimes (late Soviet Union, North Korea, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Syria, United States, etc), despots control the media with an iron fist. Members of the state security apparatus watch every word printed; every word uttered; every picture or video screened.
In the West, we do despotic control of the media in more subtle ways. We use “market forces” instead of secret police forces.
The Western model is far more successful because the general populace doesn’t realise it’s happening. In fact, the general populace rather like “Master Chef Albania” or “CSI Timbuktu” or “Mumbai Squalid Home Improvement”. Unfortunately, watching such drivel doesn’t make the populace any smarter or informed. It simply prepares them for Talkback radio.
It’s up to the rest of us to lead the fight and stop National in it’s tracks.
Spread the word, people.
Previous related blogposts
Scoop.co.nz: PM has questions to answer over NZ on Air link
NZ Herald: TVNZ reveals Seven Sharp presenting team
Tom Frewen: GC In Breach Of Funding Agreement?
Tumeke: Seven Sharp already looks blunt
Brian Edwards: TVNZ exchanges current-affairs for a mess of pottage at 7pm
Tumeke: The future of RNZ
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TV1/Colmar Brunton’s recent(4 November) poll yields some interesting results and points to a conclusion that the author of the article has missed.
The results of the recent poll are,
ACT: 1 seat (highly unlikely)
United Future: 1 seat (possibly)
Maori Party: 3 seats (???)
NZ First: 4.9% (5% rounded up)
Mana: 1 seat (likely)
TV1′s analysis and conclusions are,
” The latest numbers mean National would have enough votes to form a coalition.
National would get 58 seats, add three from the Maori Party and one each from Act and United Future and the centre-right would have a majority of 63.
The opposition would have just 41 seats from Labour plus 16 from the Greens and one from Mana.”
I see no rationale as to how he author of that article can predict an outcome that “The latest numbers mean National would have enough votes to form a coalition“.
There are at least four unknown variables present in the above data,
- NZ First’s 4.9% could easily become 5%, thereby passing them over the threshold. If National legislates to reduce the Party threshold from 5% to 4%, that automatically translates into seats with this poll.
- ACT’s John Banks is unlikely to retain his seat.
- Without polling the three Maori Party electorates Tāmaki Makaurau, Te Tai Hauāuru, Waiāriki, there is no telling how many seats the Maori Party are likely to win. Neither is their preference to coalesce with National a foregone conclusion.
- Ditto for the Mana Party.
Taking more certainly from the following data, a National-led coalition is less than likely, and shows a consistant preference for a Labour-led coalition government,
United Future: 1 seat (possibly)
Maori Party: 3 seats (???)
Total National-led coalition: 45% plus up to 4 seats
NZ First: 4.9% (5% rounded up)
Mana: 1 seat (likely)
Total Labour-Greens-NZF Bloc: 49% plus 1 seat
Perhaps the most telling aspect of this poll is Key’s personal rating.
A 2009 UMR Poll had John Key at the stratospheric approval ratings
“In 2008, JohnKey’s favourability rating (‘very favourable’ or ‘somewhat favourable’) was consistently in the mid 60’s, however he started 2009 on a high when this jumped to 75%. His ratings were in the high 70’s throughout most of the year, with a couple of peaks of 80% and 81% in June and October respectively. No other politician, in a series dating back to 1996, has recorded a favourability rating as high.”
By 5 November 2011, Key’s popularity – though still high – was beginning to drop,
“In the preferred Prime Minister stakes, John Key is well ahead of any other rival for business voters, with 69% support.”
A year later, Key’s popularity has plummetted,
“John Key’s popularity has been slowly dropping away since the election but 42% still want him as Prime Minister.”
The interesting point here is that more respondents support National (45%) than they do John Key (42%).
This indicates that the scandals; the untenable support for John Banks; the lack of growth in jobs, despite big promises in 2008 and 2011; embarrassingPrime Ministerial faux pas; unpopular policies; an impression he no longer wants to be Prime Minister; and other bad stories, have eaten away at Key’s image like some political ‘necrotizing fasciitis’.
Any impression that he is the ‘Teflon Man‘ is long gone. Bad, smelly stuff is sticking to him, and the public perception of Key is that of someone who isfailing to meet expectations; break promises; and ducks responsibility on major issues. He is not just seen as evasive on contentious matters, but is developing a reputation for witholding the truth; using memory loss as a convenient excuse; and the suspicion that he is telling outright lies.
National’s public support continues to fall, and the outcome in the next election will most likely be a new government.
Interestingly, the same UMR Poll ranks the top five respected professions as nurses, doctors, teachers, police, and dairy farmers. The bottom five are bankers, politicians, share brokers, investment bankers, and real estate agents.
Real estate agents rate below politicians?!
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[This blogpost best read to the popular cult-hit, Gangnam-style.]
The sleaziest blogger in New Zealand, Cameron Slater, taking up the reins of editing the sleaziest newspaper, ‘Truth‘ – appropriate. There must be some fundamental law of bio-physics which explains the process how such clumpings take place.
The appointment is ostensibly to give a boost to ‘Truth’s‘ circulation – a Big Ask in this age of internet and freely available news-content. Better newspapers than kitty-tray-liner-’Truth‘ are finding that their circulations are falling, despite attempts and gimmicks to stem the slide.
What Slater has to offer ‘Truth‘ is a bit of a mystery.
More sleaze? Plenty on the internet, with blogs such as the one Cameron edits.
A return to the Page Three Girl, with unfeasibly large mammary glands? How quaint.
Listings of recent divorces, such as the ‘Truth‘ used to publish? Care factor; nil.
Stories of political corruption and incompetance? Plenty of those. But considering that National is in power, I doubt his political handlers on the Ninth Floor will take kindly to their attack-pooch turning on their own. They shan’t be amused.
Or will he launch ongoing attacks on the Parliamentary Opposition? Bashing Labour, the Greens, Mana, NZ First, etc, will be a pointless exercise. Not being part of the government, what would be the point?
Or else Slater can just make up any old sh*t. As TV3′s Duncan Garner took him to task on 15 March, this year, when Slater was caught out fibbing (again),
” For the record, claims made by the Beached Whale (Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater) that 3 News secured footage of John Key’s 2008 speech from the PSA are inaccurate.
The footage is held in our library.
It brings into question the credibility and accuracy of all his other blogs, read by dozens of followers.
Big claims from a big man on a small blog site.
It’s a shame he is wrong. Why does Slater make so much of his stuff up? “
Source: Whale Oil lies again – opinion
The most stomach turning aspect of this appointment is not that Slater will be ‘Truth’s‘ editor – the two are a perfect match for each other – but his comments today on Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report‘,
” It used to be that journalists held the powerful to account. They went out there and they outed people that basically caused the working man grief.”
Hear: Radio NZ – Blogger takes helm at Truth
Yes, it’s terrible when someone does things that “caused the working man grief”. Things like this,
Slater had nil reservations about posting personal details of a port worker. Perhaps he thought that smearing a man whose wife had died from a terminal disease would not “cause the working man grief “?
Let’s hope Slater is more responsible in his new, paid role.
What are the chances?
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NZ Herald “chief political commentator” seems to have taken issue with bloggers. Well, two bloggers, mostly,
Armstrong’s bizarre comments were… well, bizarre.
Personally, I put it down to an unholy mixture of jet-lag*; long nights; too much/too little caffeine; mid-life crisis; with a fair whack of frustration. Something has obviously crawled up his bits.
In fact, his comments in his column (above) were not just downright unprofessional, but suggestive of poor health. Comments like,
“Here is a blunt message for a couple of old-school Aro Valley-style socialists…”
“Get off our backs.’
“Stop behaving like a pair of tut-tutting old dowagers gossiping in the salons.’
“In short, stop making blinkered, cheap-shot accusations of the kind you made this week…”
And those were in just the first paragraph. After that, it was all downhill.
The tirade was directed at two gentlemen, Gordon Campbell and Bryce Edwards. Both responded in their own ways, and style,
All three are worth reading.
All three speak volumes about the state of journalism in this country.
Firstly; John Armstrong represents the Old Guard of the Fourth Estate; conservative; part of The Establishment; close to government. In fact, how close to government was exemplified by this extraordinary statement from opinion piece above,
“The rapidly growing influence of Edwards’ blog was initially down to its being an exhaustive wrap-up of all of the day’s political news. It is now starting to develop a much more political dynamic that is unlikely to please National.”
With an admission like that, you begin to realise why someone like Armstrong would be so belligerent to the likes of Campbell and Bryce, who are hardly Establishment-types.
Since when was it ever the concern of a journalist whether what s/he wrote was ” unlikely to please National “?!
A journalist is not put on this Earth to “please National” (or Labour). They are here to tell us what’s going on – regardless of whether or not National (or Labour) are “displeased”.
That one remark validates every criticism every made of the NZ Herald that it is a clandestine mouthpiece for the National Party. There is no other way it can be interpreted.
Secondly; whilst Armstrong represents the Old Guard of journalism, Campbell and Bryce are part of the New Wave of Media. In large part, this involves the latest advent of mass-media, the internet. But the internet is simply the tool – it is an attitudinal sea-change that best encapsulates what Bryce and Campbell represent.
When Rogernomics engulfed this country, it introduced the concept of the “free market” and “choice” to our economy. Some of it benefitted our nation – much of it did not. Thousands who lost their jobs will attest to that.
But the liberalisation and de-regulation of New Zealand was not simply something applied to our economy. It reached into, and affected every part, of our society.
MMP, for example, did to the electoral/political system was the removal of tariffs did to the importation of consumer products; it gave the Voter/consumer a greater choice in who to vote for.
That same liberalisation encouraged the de-regulation of the Media. It was no longer the province of card-carrying journos, feature writers, and freelancers. Suddenly, anyone could get “in on the game”. The internet did for citizen journalists, bloggers, and non-establishment commentators what the typewriter and paid salaries did for mainstream journos.
The richest irony here is that John Armstrong is a cheerleader for the de-regulated free market – the same de-regulated free market that has pissed him off by letting everyone in on his turf.
Right about now, Armstrong should understand what it felt like when our shops were flooded with cheap clothing and shoes from Fiji, China, and India – whilst New Zealand seamstresses and shoemakers were forced out of business.
Or how Labour and National politicans felt when MMP changed our political landscape and Parliament was flooded with Greens, NZ Firsters, Alliance, ACT, etc.
The de-regulated free market is such a wonderful thing – until it’s your arse that is bitten.
Painful eh, John?
Armstrong complains about the tough nature of his job – especially accompanying John Key and his entourage to the APEC conconference in *Vladivostok last week.
Perhaps instead of writing travelogue pieces (see: Curse of Russky Island strikes ) he might have considered writing about Key’s pursuit of a Free Trade Agreement with Russia. This might have been a worthy topic, considering that Russia appears to have an unhealthy, close relationship with the Russian Mafia. (See related blogpost: A FTA deal with Russia?! That’s a big “NYET” Comrade Key! )
Even the Guardian and Washington Post felt the situation warranted some decent investigative journalism. (See: The farce of Russian elections , Russia’s presidential election: rigging is a delicate art, Putin’s government moves to quash public dissent )
But we got none of that (unless I’ve missed it).
A story of a sovereign state that appears to have close connections to gangsters would seem to be much more of a story than interesting scenery in Vladivostok. That might’ve made an interesting story for Armstrong to pursue – especially if we’re going to be cosying up to our Russian cuzzies with a FTA.
Newsworthy, I would have thought.
Previous related blogpost
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What a shame I’ll be too busy watching paint dry…
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… and it ain’t reality TV shows!
A recent NZ Herald poll presented a very interesting result when it came to preferred programme-viewing,
See: NZ Herald
It’s intriguing to note that Reality TV shows scored a surprisingly low 4% !
Though possibly not a very accurate poll, it’s still surprising that Reality TV did not fare better with NZ Herald readers.
Could it be that television executives have badly misjudged their viewing audiences and fewer and fewer people are bothering with the heavily formatted, cliched reality shows?
The soft-core porn of “The G.C.” was bad enough. Now TV3 are planning to ‘share’ “The Ridges” with us, the viewing public? I have little idea why “The Ridges” are famous. Aside from pandering to a small(ish) male segment of the population with unwholesome mother/daughter fantasies – it’s a mystery to this blogger what these two women have achieved that merits an entire TV series devoted to them?
‘Reality’ shows like “The G.C.” and “The Ridges” are a far cry from the bold documentary-making of Bryan Bruce’s “Inside New Zealand: Child Poverty“.
See: Inside Child Poverty (the dvd)
See: Inside Child Poverty (Facebook page)
If the Herald poll is correct, it demonstrates one simple, hard fact; viewers are crying out for in-depth news and documentary programmes. They want to know what’s happening in their own country, and the world around them.
At 28% support, television moguls should know where the real money is; intelligent, thought-provoking docos.
Certainly not the boudoirs of a couple of hapless blondes. (No offence intended to Ms Ridge and her daughter.)
= fs =
Some (most?) folk will have seen an advert currently running on television, featuring the above image.
It is part of a campaign by tobacco companies to oppose plain packaging here in New Zealand. In Australia, recently, a million-dollar law suit brought by tobacco companies against the Australian government was fought on this specific issue.
The tobacco companies lost.
This trans-Tasman conflict was viewed closely by National and it’s coalition-partner, the Maori Party. Especially by Associate Health Minister, Tariana Turia.
Plans for a similar law are being mooted here in New Zealand; to replace the glamourous, brightly-coloured cigarette packets with plain packages featuring mostly the usual ghastly images of cancer victims.
In response, British American Tobacco New Zealand, the biggest tobacco company in the country launched a counter-campaign on 23 August, called Agree-Disagree.
Part of that campaign is a short, animated advertisement running at prime time on several (?) television networks. The campaign pushes the proposition that if a business creates “intellectual property” then it should be free to use it.
This blogger has seen the ad.
If the aim of the campaign is to mobilise public opinion to log on to the Agree-Disagree website, then they pushing poo uphill with a garden fork. Ain’t gonna happen, sunshine.
This is the New Zealand public we’re talking about here. A million of my fellow Kiwi brothers and sisters couldn’t be stuffed voting at the next election. If apathy had been a political party, it might’ve beaten National comfortably.
At the same time, we have pressing issues such as chronic alcohol abuse (which most of the country is in denial about); child abuse (except for a small group prone to moral panic attacks); child poverty; growing unemployment; a stagnant economy; blah, blah, f*****g blah.
Unless it’s a stranded penguin or some big white letters on a cliff-face overlooking a Wellington suburb or some silly bint making unwise comments on a Facebook page about dead soldiers – the public is too ‘busy’ to care. Hey, the latest episode of “The Block”, “The Voice”, “The Latest Really Exciting Cooking Show”, etc, etc, is on – and people are positively mesmerised by 21st century junk-TV.
By the time their particular favourite Reality-show porn is over, folk will have forgotten that ad, plus fifty others that might’ve flashed across our screens during that time.
Thank you, Television, for turning our minds into short-term attention spanners.
Sorry… um, what was I writing about?
Either tobacco companies have wasted their hard-earned cash (derived from customers just dying to enjoy their products) on a disastrously mis-judged campaign – or this blogger is missing something. If the public are not going to rear up on their collective hind legs in moral outrage that innocent
drug peddlers tobacco giants are being treated unfairly – then what is the point of these adverts?
On another excellent blog – Tumeke – well-known left-wing commentator, Chris Trotter made this interesting comment,
” The ads aren’t aimed at us, Bomber, they’re aimed at the newspaper publishers and broadcasting networks.
Add up the amount of money being spent – then look at the response from editors and columnists.
See how it works? “
Well, that’s as valid as any interpretation, I guess.
Because otherwise, BAT has just wasted several hundreds of thousands (millions?) of dollars on a campaign that is futile and doomed to be forgotten.
One final question to tobacco companies…
They make the point,
“If I create it, I should own it.”
Can that same statement be applied to everything else that tobacco companies created?
Like the millions of cancer sufferers who are dying from use of their product?
= fs =
Tracy Watkins is the Dominion Post’s political editor and has been reporting on politics from the parliamentary press gallery for over a decade. She writes many, if not most, of the political stories for Fairfax Media (the Australian owner of the Dompost and other newspapers).
So she’s no ‘newbie’ and should know what’s going on politically.
Last weekend (18/19 August), Ms Watkins was a guest on Russell Brown’s “Media3“, and top of the discussion was Fairfax’s new pollster, Ipsos, one of the biggest polling corporations on the planet.
Ipsos delivered it’s first poll-results at the end of July,
This blogger wrote an analysis of the Fairfax/Ipsos poll, and concluded that we are still on-track for a change of government in 2014 – if not earlier.
One of the most interesting aspects of the poll was the ‘revelation’ that John Key was becoming a polarising figure amongst the public,
” A new poll has found Prime Minister John Key is increasingly becoming a polarising figure – especially among women…
… Left wing commentator Bryce Edwards said there was a noticeable hardening in attitudes against Key, in line with the perception of a growing ideological divide with the Left, which opposes the sales.
“I sense more hostility towards him than there was, but I get the sense it’s among those who are predisposed to be against him.”
But after a year with the headlines dominated by asset sales, ACC, Nick Smith’s sacking, class sizes and the economy, Key is even losing his gloss among National voters, with one in four saying they hold a worse opinion of him than a year ago. “
Russell Brown raised this issue with Ms Watkins, @ 12.40 into programme.
Most interesting was this exchange between Russell Brown and Tracy Watkins,
Russell Brown: ” Was there anything in that first round about how people were feeling that surprised you?“
Tracy Watkins: ” There was actually and that was as a journalist it was a big call for me.
We had a story in the Sunday Star Time talking about how John Key had become more polarising. And I sort of struggled with that one because as a journalist you would say, ‘Ok well it’s not surprising that, y’know, people who don’t vote for national don’t like John Key’.
But we had the benefit of the open ended questions and the thousand responses from people. And Duncan Stuart , who’s a really amazing pollster who works for Ipsos , he made the call that Key was becoming more polarising on the basis that some of the comments about Key were very strong and very disparaging and that was something that as a political commentator I hadn’t really come across before.”
(@17.57 into the programme)
It seems unbelievable. Tracy Watkins who, as one of Fairfax’s most experienced political journalists, viewed Key’s increasing polarising effect as something she “hadn’t really come across before” ?!?!
Where does Ms Watkins live – the dark side of the Moon?
It seems astounding that a journalist of Ms Watkins’ long service could be so out of touch with public sentiment. Indeed, she went on say,
“And about Ipsos, behind it, I might’ve gone out into the street and asked ten people; what do you think about John Key, but I still wouldn’t have written saying he’s become polarising…”
(@18.40 into the programme)
You wouldn’t have written a story about John Key becoming more polarising, even with public feedback telling you directly how people were feeling?!?!
Little wonder, Ms Watkins; you seem to be out of touch with public sentiment.
There is no secret here and growing public dissatisfaction with Key has been blindingly obvious, especially since last years’ elections. A cursory look at blogs; internet fora; and the proliferation of anti-Key/anti-National pages on social websites should be enough to offer a clue that Dear Leader is no longer quite so beloved by many New Zealanders.
When Key was first elected as Prime Minister, those who had no love for National waited with bated breath as to how he would perform.
As time went by, and with an inept government that seems to be incapable of generating the jobs that they promised us last year, that nonchalence slowly morphed into an irritation; and then resentment; and now outright anger. This feeling has been generated by implementation of hardline policies that voters had only a barest understanding. It is a feeling that has been growing for the last nine months, and which was reflected in steadily dropping polls and weakening support for Key as preferred Prime Minister.
How could Tracy Watkins have missed all this?
It should not take a polling company from overseas to acquaint a seasoned political reporter with over ten years’ experience as to what her own countrymen and women are feeling. When politicians lose touch with the public, we view that with distaste.
When a journalist loses touch, that is cause for grave concern.
What else is she missing?
= fs =
Q+A, Charter schools
The highly contentious issue of Charter Schools was canvassed on Q+A this morning (5 August). Corin Dann interviewed NZEI President Ian Leckie and Former ACT president Catherine Isaac.
The Associate Minister for Education and ACT Party MP, John Banks, was nowhere to be seen. Curiously, it was left up to Catherine Isaac – not an elected member of Parliament – to front on the issue of Charter schools.
As Corin Dann said to Ms Isaacs,
CORIN OK, Ian Leckie, thank you. Now, Catherine, just finally, is it disappointing-? Are you disappointed that John Banks couldn’t come on this morning and front this issue? I mean, he’s your minister, your person in Parliament. We were pretty disappointed that he couldn’t come on.
ISAAC I couldn’t comment on that. I’m not sure why he couldn’t come on. I haven’t discussed that with him.
CORIN Well, it seems to be… Our feeling is that he’s reluctant, because he may be asked questions about the saga, of course, that’s been running over donations. And why I’m asking you this question is because does that make him an ineffectual minister to be fronting this flagship policy of your party’s?
ISAAC I’m sure you’ll find he’ll be fronting it.
CORIN So he won’t-? Does that mean he’d be-?
ISAAC Well, I can’t speak for him, of course, but he’s very positive about this policy. He’s extremely excited about it, and I’m sure you’ll see him appearing as often as he can.
CORIN But as a high-ranking party member, can you speak for the party? It must be disappointing.
ISAAC I can’t speak for the party. I’m not an official of the party, so I can’t speak for the party. But I think that you will find that John Banks will be a powerful advocate for this policy.
CORIN Do you think he’s been unfairly treated by the media and others?
ISAAC I don’t have a view on that.
CORIN You don’t have a view at all?
ISAAC I don’t
Corin Dann has summed it up perfectly; John Banks has become an ineffectual Minister when he is no longer able to front to explain radical new policies that National/ACT are implementing. It’s fairly obvious Banks is too frightened to appear where journalists are in a position to ask him hard questions over the Undeclared Donations saga.
It is also astounding that Catherine Isaacs appeared for National/ACT, when, as she herself stated,
“I can’t speak for the party. I’m not an official of the party, so I can’t speak for the party.”
If she can’t speak for the ACT Party – what was she doing, fronting on Q+A, to promote Charter Schools, which is ACT policy?
Maybe John Banks just ‘forgot’ to turn up for the interview?
Q+A, Fred Pearce
Of particular interest to us should be journalist and author of ‘The Landgrabbers: The new fight over who owns the Earth‘, Fred Pearce,
Pearce was interviewed over the critical issue of foreign buy-ups of arable farmland threoughout the world. Pearce revealed that buy-ups of land wasn’t just occurring here in New Zealand – but was taking place in Africa, South America, and elsewhere.
He was adamant in stating that the “land grabs” were part of a process of certain nations securing food sources at a time in our history when this will become a critical issue. He stated, in part,
JESSICA Are we right to be jumpy here in New Zealand?
PEARCE I think you are, actually, because you’re a relatively small country. Your land is valuable. Clearly there’s a lot of interest internationally in your dairy farming. There’s a tradition of German interest in New Zealand. And it could easily get out of hand, but it’s still relatively small-scale in New Zealand. Now, the figures I’ve seen suggest 1% or perhaps 2% of New Zealand farmland is in foreign hands, and while that could increase, that’s a heck of a lot less than, say, Liberia in West Africa, where two-thirds of all their land is now under some kind of concession to foreign investors, or South Sudan, the new state that was just set up a year ago in Africa, where 10% of all the land had been given away in some kind of lease deal to foreigners even before the state was created, before they’d raised the flag. So, you know, on the scale of things, New Zealand isn’t in a bad state. But you do have to watch out, because there is a huge kind of land rush round the world going on, and prospectors and national governments and big corporations in expanding nations like China and India are looking out for really quite large areas of land, and if they can get hold of them and at a good price, then they will.
JESSICA Why does it matter whether its foreigners or locals who own the land?
PEARCE Well, maybe it doesn’t matter. In good times, people will invest and it probably won’t matter too much. But in bad times, it can be a problem. And you have to say that land is a very fundamental asset for a country. There’s nothing much more fundamental than land to a nation. And if you sell or give long leases on that land to foreign entities, then you lose control of it. You have much more democratic control, if push comes to shove, with a nationally owned company than you do with a foreign-owned company. But it is also true that we’re all part of a global economy now. Even if the company that owns the land is based in New Zealand, it may well have bankers who are abroad. So we can’t, I think, sort of put up very high walls around our country. But we do need to have democratic accountability. We need make sensible democratic decisions about how much we’re prepared to give land to other countries or other countries. Now, they may bring in expertise, which we want; they may bring in finance that we want. But there again, they may be out for a quick hit. They may be wanting to make a quick profit and not really contribute to the national economy, and those are the kind of things that one has to look out for. As I say, I think New Zealand is a kind of grown-up nation. New Zealand can look after itself. But many – especially in Africa – small, new, poor nations really do have great difficulty in keeping control of their assets if rich foreigners want to come calling.
It seems that we New Zealanders were right to be concerned with offshore investors buying up arable land and that we risk losing control of this valuable asset at our peril.
Whether foreign ownership emanates from Berlin, Beijing, or Boston – be concerned. Be very concerned.
As Pearce said about land,
“You know, they’re not making land any more, so, you know, you’ve got to look after what you have. “
By the way, as a side-note; during the video interview with Pearce, an object appeared at the top right of the screen. It faded away momentarily, then came back brighter and more defined.
Anyone got any ideas what it was? (Cue: the X-Files theme.)
Q+A, Paul Holmes
Also on TVNZ’s Q+A this morning; Paul Holmes.
But not the Paul Holmes we’ve known since 1989, when he first beamed into our homes.
This morning, Paul looked terrible; gaunt, weak, with shaky voice – the result of recent open-heart surgery. At one point he had to reach and grasp an object to support himself on his feet. His appearance was so shocking that at any moment I expected him to collapse,
What was TVNZ thinking, allowing him on-air?
It was irresponsible.
It was heart-wrenching, watching him struggle to stay on his feet.
Not good, TVNZ.
And for Paul,
Get well soon, mate. You’ve got too much work to do, skivving of up on that farm of yours. TV is not the same without your impish grin on our TV screens.
Get better, please.
And we’ll see you back, when you’re 100% again!
= fs =
- Evelyn Gilbert, Aotearoa a wider perspective
If you find this informative may I suggest you send the link to your John Key voting palls!!!
Eugene Bingham is a journalist for the New Zealand Herald and he has been the writer of most of the articles about John Key and has repeatedly interviewed him. He wrote amongst others the Unauthorised biography which appeared in the 19 July 2008 New Zealand Herald edition and is well worth reading.
“You have sold your soul to the Devil and wrote the article as a PR stunt for the man who is now our Prime Minister but who is in fact one of the Arsonists of the perfect firestorm about to hit this poor small Nation.” Evelyn Gilbert
I have been thinking about writing this open letter to you for a while and today I felt was the right moment to tell you what I think about you and the way you have helped John Key get elected.
I will not beat around the bush. I’m not build that way, so here goes.
You are an insult to what was once a noble and very necessary profession in order to take our politicians to task if found wanting (thanks to the internet people like me can do our own research and we are no longer depending on frauds like you for our information).
You are either incredibly bad at your job because it appears that either you did not double check John Key’s story, something every self respecting journalist should do, or you have slipped over to the dark side and you willingly lied and allowed John Key to lie to your readers.
Either way you ought to be ashamed of yourself and resign today.
Why, you ask, is this blogger so crass in her accusations?
We have a government in which John Key is the Prime Minister. He has been elected based on information available and let’s not forget the much hyped need for “Change”.
In a functioning Democracy the press as the fourth estate is responsible for making sure that all the relevant information is available for the public to be able to vote in their best interest.
In the run up to an important election it is of the utmost importance that the public knows all about their politicians there is to know and if it means that a politician is not voted in because it turns out that said politician is a liar or a criminal than so be it.
In a time such as this when the entire global economy is crashing because of Wall street manipulations it is of the utmost importance to know everything there is to know of the most important opposition leader especially if that politician has made his money through parasitical speculation in the international finance world. That same world which is now collapsing due to it’s own irresponsible financial speculations.
Eugene, you failed to do that job so spectacularly and in doing so you helped put in power a man who has no business governing us in these times and the future will tell that you were instrumental in keeping information away from us that would have surely changed the out come of this election.
Let me give you but three examples of your failure to supply us with real information.
- The true relationship John Key had with Andrew Krieger and the attack on the NZ dollar in late 1987.
- The role John Key had in the Asian Crisis, the Russian collapse and the collapse of the LTCM hedgefund.
- The role John Key had in the Subprime trade and the real timeline of the Subprime crisis and the subsequent collapse of the global economy.
1. The true relationship John Key had with Andrew Krieger and the attack on the NZ dollar in late 1987.
You have in multiple articles told us that John Key only went to work with Andrew Krieger after Andrew Krieger in 1988. In fact you even give a specific date in this article. In it you state that John Key starts to work for the Bankers Trust on 29 August 1988. If this is true than John Key could not have worked with Andrew Krieger. Not for the bankers trust or any other bank. Because Andrew Krieger left Forex on 30 June 1988 and did not return to that trade until September 1990.
How do I know? Because Eugene, I did what you should have done.
I googled the name Andrew Krieger and Bankers Trust and found 3, that is three, (here, here and here) articles in the New York Times online archive (Especially put on line for journalists like you Eugene) written by three different journalists at three different times and each of those articles Chronicles Andrew Krieger’s career at that very crucial time. It turns out that Andrew Krieger (who because of his spectacular attack on the NZ dollar was a bit of a Wall street celeb) left the Bankers Trust in as early as December 1987 but no later than February 1988. He then went to work for George Soros as a senior manager from sometime March or April and left that position in June 1988. An interview with him in September 1990 reveals that he didn’t trade in the Foreign Exchange business beyond some very limited trading conducted solely for himself.
Other than that, the trade that made Andrew Krieger famous was conducted in mere hours only seven days after Black Monday (while New Zealand was still reeling from the worst crash in recent history) and if John Key was the sole manager of the hundreds of millions of dollars he traded in for Andrew Krieger as you state in your 19 July “Unauthorised” biography, it can only have been during that famous attack.
Eugene, if John Key traded with Andrew Krieger during what was the first speculative attack on a currency ever and which was followed by several world crisis provoking super attacks in which John Key partook don’t you think it would have been essential for us to know?
If John Key willingly engaged in behaviour that risked his country’s economy and he is prepared to lie or let you lie about it 20 years after the event I thought it would have been paramount that you let the public know especially in an “Unauthorised” biography. It sets after all a precedent. If he was prepared to collapse his own countries currency in a speculative raid than he would have no qualms about doing it to other countries either.
2. The role John Key had in the Asian Crisis, the Russian collapse and the collapse of the LTCM hedgefund.
Totally lacking in your “Unauthorised” biography is one of the most important periods in recent banking history other than the mere mention of how John Key came through the Asian crisis relatively unscathed and how John Key had to fire hundreds of colleagues earning him the nickname “the Smiling Assassin”.
Whether that is because John Key just fluttered over it while he spoke to you or you choose not to go into the subject it is never the less another gross dereliction of duty on you part.
The Asian crisis 1997 and the collapse of the Russian currency in 1998 were closely connected.
They were both the result of the actions of several hedgefunds. One of them being George Soros’s hedgefund and the other the Long Term Credit Management hedge fund also known as LTCM.
This hedgefund collapsed so spectacularly as a result of speculative Forex and derivatives trading it had to be bailed out by the Federal Reserve of New York in order to protect the entire global system from collapsing. John Key may or may not have been involved in the trading that lead to the collapse of the fund but you picture him as firing hundreds of his colleagues at Merrill Lynch, earning him the endearing nickname of the “Smiling Assassin” but the only time Merrill Lynch was forced to fire that many people was in the aftermath of the LTCM scandal putting John Key right in the middle of yet another major Forex scandal. In fact in 1999 John Key is introduced as the managing director of Debt in 1999 in this article.
How do I know? Because unlike you I did the research and a couple of simple google searches wielded al this information. So once again Eugene you either are bad at your job or you and John Key willingly lied to us, the punters.
3. The role John Key had in the Subprime trade and the real timeline of the Subprime crisis and the subsequent collapse of the global economy.
In what is perhaps either the most blatant show of ignorance on your part or perhaps the most blatant lie you state unequivocally in your “Unauthorised” biography that the subprime products were only hatched in 2004 and 2005.
That is outrageous. In fact it’s so outrageous that for this remark alone you should resign.
Why is this outrageous? Because it is common knowledge that house prices started to rise in the late nineties.
Not just in the US but around the world, including New Zealand.
This rise had nothing to do with higher wages, more prosperity or more production. In fact jobs in the entire Western world had been disappearing for years to China, wages were either stagnant or falling and more and more people had to take on debt to make ends meet.
That alone is a sign of bubble building.
But once again if you had taken the trouble Eugene to google subprime timeline you would have found this interesting Subprime timeline (just one of many) and this little graph telling you that as early as the beginning of 1998 the subprime markets exploded from less than 1% market share to a whopping 14%.
The years 2004 and 2005 was merely the time the bubble started to show it’s first cracks.
And if you had done your job and you would have spend another 5 minutes googling you would have found this graph as well.
And to top it off you would have found what enabled the subprime crisis and why it will inevitably collapse our economy together with the entire world’s economy, thanks to scumbags like John Key and his ilk aided and abetted by people like you.
What enabled the subprime crisis were three factors
- Easy CreditProvided by the Federal Reserve bank of New York and the City of London.
- The order given by the US Congress to Fanny mae and Freddy mac to give mortgages to every Tom, Dick and Harry and their dog. Yep, the US congress actually started the subprime mortgage selling. I suggest you read the timeline I linked to above.
- The repeal of the Glass Steagall act, unofficially in 1997 and officially in November 1999.This act put in place in 1933 to prevent Commercial banks from merging with investment banks to stop them from acting like the right side of the second graph had been promoted by Alan Greenspan since 1987 and had cost the Wall street investment bankers between $ 100 to $ 200 million dollars.It would have been inconceivable for John Key not to have known about the 1997 beginning of the subprime housing bubble build up because the repeal of this law was literally like giving the fox the key to the hen house and was greatly anticipated by every single Wall street/ City of London banker because it would strip every single bit of regulation away.In fact it was signed the same month John Key was invited to become one of only four advisors to the Federal Reserve bank of New York. He represented Merrill Lynch. The others represented Citibank, Lehman Brothers and UBSWahrburg. All those banks are either gone or in the process of going as a result of the subprime crisis.
These three items alone are enough to expose John Key as at least a liar and as the financial collapse progresses he will perhaps even be called a criminal as the mechanisms of the crisis will be exposed for what they are; The wilful manipulation of the money market by a small group of private banksters.
I said I would only take three issues on which you have been either ignorant or wilfully dishonest and I have shown comprehensively that you could have given us all the relevant information but you didn’t.
I could have added to that the derivative trade which has been building up another bubble about to collapse and in which John Key was a Key operator for Merrill Lynch or the collapse of the Bankers trust bank as a result of fraudulent Derivative trading or the fact that Andrew Krieger traded not in actual currency but in a Derivative called “options” connecting John Key to the Forex derivatives trade in as early as 1987. In fact in 2006 the Chinese government suspended the Forex Derivatives trade on the grounds that it was way to dangerous. The list is simply too long but rest assured Eugene, the information you refused us is out there and available to us.
In ending this open letter to you Eugene, I have to conclude that either you are staggeringly ignorant and therefore undeserving of your job as a journalist for a major newspaper in such a position to be tasked to investigate and write an “Unauthorised” (let’s face it there was nothing Unauthorised about the whole stinking article) biography of the man poised to become the next Prime Minister or you have sold your soul to the Devil and wrote the article as a PR stunt for the man who is now our Prime Minister but who is in fact one of the Arsonists of the perfect firestorm about to hit this poor small Nation.Either way the only honourable thing to do is to resign.
If you sold your soul to the Devil I hope he paid you handsomely because you are going to need every cent in the next 10 years as you find that less and less people can buy the rag you call home.
- Evelyn Gilbert
Reprinted with kind permission from aotearoaawiderperspective.wordpress.com
= fs =
- Neil Watts, Blogger, Fearfactsexposed
July 16, 2012
It was New Zealand’s leading political story this morning; the National-led Government have spent around $200m on roading consultants since coming into office.
Radio New Zealand broke it, the New Zealand Herald picked it up straight away and led the politics section online with it. But, it seems that John Key’s mates at Fairfax just didn’t have the heart for such embarrassing news about their favourite political party, so according to stuff.co.nz, it simply didn’t happen. Not a word.
Of course, regular readers of this blog know that this is nothing new, with Fairfax Media regularly avoiding stories – no matter how newsworthy – that are damaging to their chums in the National Government. And, this blowout is extremely damaging, coming as it does as the Government preach austerity, cut public services, and within a week of annoucing massive job cuts at Kiwirail. Yes, it seems that the National-led Government can’t find anything in the budget to invest in public transport and state-owned rail, but they are happy to provide jobs for the boys when it comes to their pet roading projects. Could it have anything to do with the strong association between the National Party and the road transport lobby? Could it be the dirty covert hand of big oil at play? Or, is it simply a matter of National doing what they do best - making their rich mates richer at the expense of New Zealand. In truth, it’s probably a combination of all of this, plus a little pressure from their mining billionaire owner Gina Rinehart thrown in for good measure.
With all of these powerful backs getting scratched, one would think that any real journalist would be itching to get into this story, but it seems that Fairfax are happy just to join in the back scratching, and ignore National’s dodgy accounting altogether.
According to the New Zealand Herald:
“Labour transport spokesperson Phil Twyford told Radio New Zealand it was an “eye-watering amount of money” to be spending on consultants in the current economic climate.“It really puts a big question mark over the roads of national significance and how much money is being ploughed into these gold-plated projects.
“$200m could buy a lot of useful transport infrastructure and services,” Mr Twyford said.
Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter questioned the impartiality of the advice given to NZTA by consultants.
“In does beg the question of whether the transport consultants’ industry is actually giving advice that’s totally neutral or whether they’re recommending projects they know are going to result in more work for them,” she told Radio New Zealand.”
Great story eh? But, Fairfax Media don’t really do the Opposition, especially when their arguments are harmful to the National Party. So, the issue got the old Fairfaxian denial treatment, just like so many others noted by this blog over the past three years.
If you’ve had enough of corporate Rightwing propaganda posing as news, or of politically partisan reporting controlling the message, boycott Fairfax, join us on Facebook, and tell your friends.
= fs =
If there is one thing that the demise of TVNZ7 has highlighted, it is National’s inability to read the public mood. It has also demonstrated, with stark, glaring reality, that National has little interest in maintaining social services. If it can close them down, with minimum fall-out, it will.
National could easily have funded TVNZ7. At roughly $16 million per annum, itwas probably the cheapest public broadcaster of any nation on this planet.
It simply chose not to. Because it didn’t want to.
TVNZ7 was a non-commercial station, and therefore made no money for National.
It probably also took viewers away from the state-owned, money-making, TV1 and TV2, thereby lessening the dividend paid to State coffers.
Yet, TVNZ7′s viewership was growing – past one million viewers per month. It was offering intelligent programming that was light-years ahead of most of what any other Broadcaster was providing the public. People can only take so much “reality” shows; infomercials; grim, misogynistic US crime/cop shows; US “comedies” (anyone for a re-run of “Friends“?); and soft-core porn like “The GC“.
None of which mattered one jot to John Key and his materialistic-minded fellow MPs, nor their right-wing philistine-supporters who deride non-commercial broadcasting because it doesn’t fit their moronic world-view of Market Rules.
Above everything that National has mis-managed; stuffed-up; or run-down – their wilful failure to preserve TVNZ7 speaks volumes about their culture of crass materialism and lack of understanding about the needs of society.
They simply could not understand why people wanted TVNZ7 saved. They did not want to understand.
Which is a dangerous thing to have, when a country’s governing Party doesn’t understand the needs of it’s own people. Such a Party is out of touch, and it’s little wonder that the Nats have made so many cuts that even our Navy is in dire danger of collapsing; the Police are considering marching on Parliament; and the education sector is in open revolt against their own Minister.
This is a re-run of the late 1990s.
Labour and the Greens have promised to resurrect public broadcasting in this country.
This blogger commends them for that.
But we need more than a public broadcaster. We need strong mechanisms put in place to entrench a non-commercial television station, to protect it from future interference by a right wing government of simple-minded fools. Such a mechanism will require legislation and the power of contracts to guarantee the viability of a public broadcaster
Those contracts have to be cast-iron, with penals for breaches so great, that no future National leadership will even countenance interference.
In the meantime, National has won this round against it’s own citizens. In Syria, their government kills their own people. Here in New Zealand, if a government wants to exercise vindictive power, it simply takes away part or all of a social service.
That’s how National operates.
Only the naive expect otherwise.
And wouldn’t it be fun if, on Monday morning, everyone who supports TVNZ7 phoned John Key’s office…
Phone: (04)817 6800
Fax: (04)472 2075
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… TVNZ7 will be gone,
New Zealand’s only public service, non-commercial TV broadcaster will be closed down – another casualty of National’s ideological mania for cost-cutting and gutting of our public services.
The National Party does not build social services – it cuts them. And where they can get away with it, National will close down or privatise a social service.
This is what the public of New Zealand gets when they vote for a National government.
It is up to a Labour-led government to eventually re-build what National has wrecked.
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