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Message to TV3 execs – Is this really acceptable?

25 July 2014 2 comments

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everyday-sexism-book

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If there is one thing that Tania Billingsley has raised in this country, it is focusing the glare of public scrutiny  on New Zealand’s casually sexist and demeaning attitude toward women. Some refer to it as a “rape culture”, where men (and generally speaking, they are men) hold the most repulsive attitudes imaginable toward  women.

I’m not even referring to rapists, molesters, and men who beat (and often kill) their partners senseless.

I’m referring to the casual acceptance of views toward women that are more suited to less enlightened societies, than a supposedly advanced, well-educated nation like ours. It is views of some men who – whilst not abusers and rapists themselves – are enablers of attitudes that empower the abusers and rapists by creating an ingrained belief that they are entitled to abuse and rape. Somewhere in the back of what passes for the minds of abusers and rapists are the comments they’ve read and heard elsewhere in society; that it is ok to mistreat and violate women. (Though they have to be over 16 to be abused and violated. Anyone under that, and the abuser/rapist is labelled a paedophile – which is evidently still ‘not ok” for misogynists. Yet. But working on it.)

The vileness of such attitudes is not just found on rabid social media pages where  poorly-educated,  and often insecure males (predominantly),  click “Like” to show their solidarity  with several hundred (a minority) other poorly-educated and often insecure males.

The mainstream media also has a culture of sexism, ranging from crass innuendo and exploitation of women,  to outright violence.

Case in point is the media personality-cum-village-idiot, Paul Henry.

Henry has a track record in boorish behaviour, more befitting an immature, adolescent male, rather than a mature man who should know better.

As Mike Kilpatrick wrote for Fairfax media on 16 July, Henry’s obnoxiousness reached a nadir when he interviewed Dr Michelle Dickinson, a scientist working at Auckland University;

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Auckland University - Michelle Dickinson - Paul Henry - TV3

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To quote the Auckland university directory, Dr Dickinson’s  areas of expertise are;

Nanotechnology, Nanomechanical testing, Fracture Mechanics, Materials Engineering, Biomimetics, Calcified Biological Structures.

And,

Dr Michelle Dickinson obtained her PhD from Rutgers University (USA) and her MEng from Manchester University (UK) in Biomedical Materials Engineering. She has previously held positions in industry which brings an applied focus to her academic research.

Her research is involved in measuring the mechanical properties of materials from the nanoscale through to the macro scale, specifically using indentation techniques.

She has a special interest in biological material behaviour and adapting traditional engineering measurement techniques and models to suit realistic biological testing conditions.

Dr Dickinson is a scientist with serious credentials*.

Which makes what followed next all the more jaw-droppingly unbelievable.

After a cursory interview with Dr Dickinson, Henry then asked a  question of mind-blowing, crass sexism, as Kilpatrick  explained in his Fairfax piece,

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Just when you thought Paul Henry couldn't sink lower

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Henry then shows a photograph of Branson hugging Dickinson and then asks the question “Did you have sex with Richard Branson?”.

Note the question; “Did you have sex with Richard Branson?”.

For those with kevlar-lined stomachs, they can see the interview here. The offensive remarks are 5:21 into the interview.

To illustrate the sadly-all-too-predictable consequences of Henry’s  comment, read the public comments – 425 as at this blogpost – which followed Kilpatrick’s story. Note the attitude of  those who think that Henry’s comments are acceptable. Note the casualness of acceptance of a remark that, in other circumstance, would be utterly unacceptable in normal social circles, and result in oppobrium.

Is this to  be the new benchmark standard for female guests for TV3?

What do female staff and management think of Henry’s remarks? Would they be comfortable if comments like that were directed at them? Or their daughters?

What does Sussan Turner, Group CEO of MediaWorks think of being asked – in public – who she’s recently had sex with?

Perhaps Clare Bradley, Legal Counsel/Company Secretary; Siobhan McKenna, Chief Executive Officer (Interactive); Wendy Palmer, Chief Executive Officer (Radio); Liz Fraser, Director of Sales & Marketing; Katie Mills,  Group Marketing Director (Radio); and Jana Rangooni, General Manager  (Talk Brands), et al, might like to offer answers  to Paul Henry’s questioning of their own sex lives?

If not, why do TV3 executives think that such comments directed at Dr Dickinson were remotely acceptable?

Allow me to remind TV3 executives, producers, staff, and presenters;

  • It is not ok to treat women like that.
  • It is not ok to have it beamed into our homes.
  • It is not ok to give voice to a culture of sexist denigration.
  • And it is not ok to dismiss it as just “humour”. There is nothing remotely funny about sexist denigration.

After all, this is precisely why 99% of New Zealanders were so horrified at the degrading  behaviour of a group of young men calling themselves “Roastbusters”.

At least the “Roastbusters” had the excuse of youthful stupidity (a crime I was guilty of, in my own youth).

Paul Henry has no such excuse.  He is a supposedly mature, responsible, 54 year old man.

I agree with Mike Kilpatrick. Henry’s comment was beyond the pale. He must resign, or be sacked. Unless New Zealanders are comfortable with more and more abhorrent, gutter-level attitudes being expressed by “media personalities” and broadcast into our homes, this kind of behaviour cannot be allowed to become a new norm.

Changing channels is not a practical option. Not if this kind of behaviour is to be normalised throughout the electronic media.

No wonder Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris were able to inflict their decades-long reign of predatory-terror on hundreds of children and women. It had become acceptable and normalised. No one thought to speak out. And if they did, the new normality meant their cries for help fell on deaf ears.

Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris were also funny men.

Their behaviour was anything but.

Well, Mike Kilpatrick has spoken out. And I add my voice to his. I refuse to give assent by silence. I refuse to turn my back on behaviour that, to fair-minded people, is just plain unacceptable.

TV3 – Paul Henry has no place in broadcasting.

He must go.

 

* Though all women, regardless of education achievements, professional status,  etc, should be treated with respect and not with degrading sexist attitudes that are demeaning and promote a culture of casual misogyny.

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Addendum 1

Email sent to TV3;

from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Producers <paulhenryshow@mediaworks.co.nz>
cc: Mark Jennings <mjennings@mediaworks.co.nz>
date: Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 12:10 AM
subject: Paul Henry Show – Asking a female guest if she’s had sex with a businessman – is this OK?

Kia ora,

Please refer below to a draft of a story which I intend to publish regarding remarks made by Paul Henry on his show, on 15 July and directed at his guest, Dr Michelle Dickinson.

I would appreciate your response to the issues I have raised and what remedies, if any, Mediaworks intends to make before I proceed further.

Your comment s would be appreciated.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

[Draft copy of this blogpost included as in-text]

I received a response the same day;

from: Paul Henry Show <PaulHenryShow@mediaworks.co.nz>
to: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
date: Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 5:26 PM
subject: RE: Paul Henry Show – Asking a female guest if she’s had sex with a businessman – is this OK?

Dear Mr Macskasy

TV3’s company culture is one that highly values equality and equal opportunity. Our news and current affairs division has often led the debate on how women are treated in New Zealand culture, including two of the instances you mention – a 3 News investigation uncovered the Roast Busters group and led the subsequent coverage, and Tania Billingsley recently told her story on 3rd Degree.

The question line taken by Paul in Tuesday night’s interview with Dr Michelle Dickinson was checked with her before the interview, and Dr Dickinson has confirmed she was not offended at the time, and is not offended now. The question was not asked without Dr Dickinson’s okay. She is an intelligent and articulate person who has appeared on the show many times and can hold her own with Paul (and anyone else). Dr Dickinson has since made her views on the interview clear and it is worth paying her the respect of reading her blog at http://sciblogs.co.nz/nanogirl/2014/07/17/science-sexism-and-the-media/

For the record we completely reject the comparisons your email makes between Paul Henry, and the actions of the Roast Busters group and of renowned paedophiles Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris. Such comparisons are irresponsible, lacking in fairness and balance, and verging on defamatory.

I’m afraid it’s just not possible to take your blog or questions about TV3 seriously when they are written from a position of such ignorance.

Regards

Rachel Lorimer
Group Head of Corporate Communications

Fiona MacMillan
Executive Producer, Paul Henry Show

For the record, I did read Ms Dickinson’s sciblog post, and have several points to make;

  1. My criticism of TV3 and Paul Henry in no way reflects on Ms Dickinson or her professional career. Dr Dickinson can in no way be held responsible or associated with things that Paul Henry said.
  2. This issue is wider than Dr Dickinson herself, and if muppets like Henry can get away with asking obnoxious questions from a highly respected; well-educated; professional woman – then no one else is safe from his prurient “humour”. It was not too long ago that Willie Jackson and John Tamihere were suspended as radio-hosts from RadioLive, after  comments were directed to a woman about her sex life, after she disclosed on-air that  she had been raped as a 14-year-old.
  3. I sympathise with Ms Dickinson’s remark in her blogpost; “I feel passionately about providing our daughters with a positive role model for an educated female who is successful in a very male dominated field“. The question is – how does being questioned about one’s sex-life help our daughters to be successful in male dominated fields?
  4. Dr Dickinson further writes; “Yes, I’m not naive to the reputation that Paul has and I go on to his show prepared for a question that may be slightly off topic or controversial, but I’m an intelligent female who works in a very male dominated field, and I’m used to inappropriate and sexist comments and questions, it goes with the territory of being a female engineer!  Perhaps my past experience of being the only woman in a meeting (and asked to make the tea), or being told that if I want to be taken seriously I need to wear shoes with less of a heel as they could distract the men in the room has made me a little immune to sexism and a little more tolerant of comments that I should be offended by.” Should we not be offended by such remarks? And should we not do more than just being offended?
  5. Should boofheads like Paul Henry not be challenged when they make disparaging sexist comments to women they would never dream of making to male guests? Just as scientists once challenged authority on much-cherished beliefs that the world was flat and the sun orbited the Earth or that disease was caused by  ‘humors’ of the body?
  6. Ms Lorimer and Ms MacMillan seem more keen to label me as “ignorant” rather than addressing the issues I raised in my blogpost. Does this mean they have no answers to the criticisms I have levelled? They certainly have studiously avoided the questions I put to them;
  • Is this to  be the new benchmark standard for female guests for TV3?
  • What do female staff and management think of Henry’s remarks? Would they be comfortable if comments like that were directed at them? Or their daughters?
  • What does Sussan Turner, Group CEO of MediaWorks think of being asked – in public – who she’s recently had sex with?
  • Perhaps Clare Bradley, Legal Counsel/Company Secretary; Siobhan McKenna, Chief Executive Officer (Interactive); Wendy Palmer, Chief Executive Officer (Radio); Liz Fraser, Director of Sales & Marketing; Katie Mills,  Group Marketing Director (Radio); and Jana Rangooni, General Manager  (Talk Brands), et al, might like to offer answers  to Paul Henry’s questioning of their own sex lives?
  • If not, why do TV3 executives think that such comments directed at Dr Dickinson were remotely acceptable?

Fairly simple, straight-forward questions I would have thought?

Or perhaps they would prefer to discuss their sex-lives, if it’s easier?

Addendum 2

A list of  companies advertising during the Paul Henry Show on 16 July;

Ford (Kia)

Subway

ANZ

Heineken

Placemakers

NIB Health Cover

Harvey Norman

Caredirect (caredirect.co.nz)

Whiskas (catfood)

Southern Cross Health

Masterfoods

Early Settlers (furniture)

Centrum (vitamins)

Future Finance (futurefinance.co.nz)

Skysport

KFC

Bridgestone Tyres

 

Dependent on TV3’s actions to follow, this blogger will be contacting the above advertisers next and posing three very simple questions; do they want to be associated with a TV show that promotes sexist denigration of women? Do they want to risk having their reputations tarnished when this story goes ‘viral’ in the blogosphere and social media? And is this what they are paying their expensive ad-slot times for?

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References

NZ Herald: Bryce Edwards – Does New Zealand have a ‘rape culture’?

Fairfax media: Just when you thought Paul Henry couldn’t sink lower…

Auckland University:  Dr Michelle Emma Dickinson

TV3:  Organic foods study finds significant benefits

Fairfax media:  Just when you thought Paul Henry couldn’t sink lower

NZ Herald: Roast Busters: RadioLive hosts taken off air

Additional

Sciblogs: Science, sexism and the media

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 July 2014.

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TV3 News on Polling Cellphone Users – Only A Year Late

13 July 2014 5 comments

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Over a year ago, in March 2013, I raised the issue of cellphone users  not being polled  by the major polling companies, with the exception of Roy Morgan. To polling companies such as Reid Research, UMR, Ipsos, Colmar Brunton, Digipoll, etc, people who rely solely on cellphones are “invisible” when it comes to surveying.

As I wrote on 8 March last year,

“If the numbers of households without a landline are significant (+/- 10%), then polling companies will either have to adjust their polling techniques – or be rendered useless. Without factoring in cellphone-only households, polling companies risk becoming an expensive ‘parlour game’ with little value.”

The importance of this fact was highlighted in last year’s Census, which reported on 3 December 2013 that  14.5% of households did not have access to a landline,

Access to a landline telephone decreased. In 2013, 85.5 percent of households had access to a landline telephone at home, down from 91.6 percent in 2006.”

I then wrote on 12 December,

“Low income families may not necessarily have credit on their cellphones – but that does not prevent polling companies from phoning in, to cellphone owners. As I blogged on 1 September, when Roy Morgan phoned me on my cellphone (see:  Mr Morgan phoned).

The up-shot of this census result is twofold;

  1. As the only pollster to call respondants’ cellphones, Roy Morgan is the most credible polling company and the one to watch.

  2. Expect other polling companies to follow suit and call respondants via their cellphones – or risk being ignored and becoming irrelevant.”

It was therefore amusing to see this TV3 “news” story on 6 July

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Cellphones make political polling tricky - tv3 - emma jolliff

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As the story stated;

The rise of the mobile phone is casting a shadow over the reliability of traditional telephone polling…

[...]

In fact, he says it is not just young people who are rejecting landlines. The latest census data shows 86 percent of households have a landline, down from 92 percent in 2006.

That means 14 percent of households don’t have a landline and because there is no directory of mobile phone numbers those people are essentially off the grid to pollsters.

Only sixteen months since I raised the issue.

And only eight months since I pointed out that the increasing sole-reliance on cellphones in many households made land-line-calling, as a sole means of contacting respondents, somewhat dubious.

Interestingly, TV3 journo, Emma Jolliff – who penned the story – wrote,

“…because there is no directory of mobile phone numbers those people are essentially off the grid to pollsters.”

Which is total rubbish. Any journo writing such crap has obviously failed to do his/her homework.  A “directory of mobile numbers” is not required. I evidence that with my own situation when Roy Morgan phoned me on 31 August 2013on my cellphone.

In fact, Roy Morgan is the only polling company to conduct its surveys by calling respondents on their cellphones;

“Electors were asked: “If a New Zealand Election were held today which party would receive your party vote?” This latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted by telephone – both landline and mobile telephone, with a NZ wide cross-section of 817 electors from June 16-29, 2014. Of all electors surveyed 5.5% (up 0.5%) didn’t name a party.”

So unless Roy Morgan is telling lies on it’s website, and I had a hallucinatory moment in August last year, Ms Jolliff doesn’t know what she is talking about. Not surprising for the Media in this country whose work has become more sloppy, superficial, and sensationalist with each passing year.

Bloggers up and down this country have been well aware of the limitations of polling companies which preclude contacting respondents by cellphone. It has been a fairly well-discussed issue for well over a year.

For TV3 to now run a “news” story on this issue shows how dangerously out of touch the mainstream media is in New Zealand.

I wonder when we’ll hear from a media company that David Cunliffe was elected Leader of the Labour Party?

Maybe “news” doesn’t necessarily have to be “new” after all?

As long as it sells advertising.

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References

Stats NZ: Release Calendar

Stats NZ: 2013 Census QuickStats about national highlights –  Phone and Internet access

TV3: Cellphones make political polling tricky

Roy Morgan: National (48%) down but still holds clear election winning lead over Labour/ Greens (40%)

Previous related blogposts

Dodgy polls, dodgy dealings, and a spot of fear-mongering

Mr Morgan phoned

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones (Part rua)

 


 

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 8 July 2014.

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“The Nation” – a review

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First off the block for the ‘Battle of the Current Affairs Shows’ is TV3’s The Nation.

The current affairs show has been revamped with a different format and new hosts, Patrick Gower and Simon Shepherd. There is also a political panel, with familiar faces Bill Ralston, Josie Pagani, and Jordan Williams, frontperson for the latest right-winger ‘ginger’ group, The so-called Taxpayer’s Union.

So, how was the first episode?

Not the best, really. It is as if all the experience built up over the last few years have gone out the window, and there were a few irritating “clunkers”.

The main discordance – Patrick Gower. The man is talented, knowledgeable, and (should) know his craft.

But he needs to learn to Shut The F**k Up. Posing question to his guest also means waiting for an answer – not leaping in before the interviewee has even has a chance to complete his/her first sentence. Gower’s non-stop interuption of Cunliffe meant the viewer couldn’t get any idea of what the Labour Leader was trying to get at.

Message to Gower: do you want to know why David Cunliffe shouldn’t be outlining his coalition preferences on your programme?

Answer: Because he wouldn’t be able to articulate it properly without you over-talking him. We’d never get an answer because we’d be hearing your voice instead of his, and any message he’d  try to express would be lost in your strident voice continually interupting him.

Next week, Gower will be interviewing John Key. Now, as much as I’m no fan of Dear Leader, I think I’d rather hear him speak than Gower. So learn to pose the question and draw breath whilst your guest responds.

On a vastly more positive note, contrast Simon Shepherd’s interview with Jamie Whyte. This was a measured, professional, almost laid-back style of interview reminiscent of past, by-gone years where the guest’s responses were the central theme of  an interview – not the interviewer’s ego.

Simon’s strength lay in his soft-spoken, unexcited style of questioning Whyte (who, I think benefited from Simon’s style). There was definite ‘steel’ reinforcing his  laid-back approach. The ‘softly, softly’ approach – and it worked.  I was reminded of the BBC’s Hard Talk host, Stephen Sackur.

More of Simon, please.

The panel was a direct rip from TV1’s Q+A, with practically the same characters re-cycycled.

If TV3 is going to pinch another channel’s idea – can we at least have some fresh commentators? There must be more than half a dozen political pundits that TV3 can call on?

Next, the whole “Next Week’s News” seemed a bit of a farce. Not content with a TV current affairs programme being “across” a story (god, I hate that term) – now they’re going one step further and trying to predict stories? It is almost as if  The Nation is trying to set the news/current affairs agenda – an uncomfortable step for a news/current affairs programme to take.

Oh well, at least they’re not making up Tweets.

Lastly; what gives with the near all-male line-up of hosts, reporter, and panellists?!  Does TV3 have no talented women journalists? And what happened to Rachel Smalley, who really grew into the role?

All up, I rate this 6/10.

Can do – should do – much better.

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Other blogposts

The Daily Blog:  The Patrick Gower Hour of Power

Polity: Heads, talking

The Standard: A tale of two journalists

Whoar: review:..the nation:..the far-right come out to play..

 

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The trivialisation of the News and consequences

8 February 2014 4 comments

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Foot In Mouth

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Patrick Gower recently wrote on the TV3 website,

“The Labour Party has been putting voters wrong about its baby bonus.

Labour has been deliberately misleading, and in my view dishonest by omission.

On Monday night I told 3 News viewers that under Labour’s $60 a week baby bonus policy, families would get $3120 a year for their baby’s first year.

A simple calculation you might think, of $60 mutiplied by 52 weeks, given David Cunliffe announced in his State of the Nation speech: “That’s why today, I am announcing that for 59,000 families with new-born babies, they will all receive a Best Start payment of $60 per week, for the first year of their child’s life.

Now most normal people would think that means “all” those parents will get the payment “for the first year of their child’s life”.

But it wasn’t true – not that you would know that from Cunliffe’s speech, media stand-up, the MPs who were there to “help” and all the glossy material handed out to us.

Because buried in the material was a website link that takes you to a more detailed explanation policy.

And on page six of that policy document, in paragraph 3, it revealed the payment would commence at the “end of the household’s time of using Paid Parental Leave, ie. after 26 weeks in most cases.”

So translated, in most cases, the $60 a week payment is not for the first year, but for the second six months.”

Gower then went on with this eye-brow raising bit,

“Most journalists, like our office, only had time to find this overnight on Monday.”

So. Gower was obviously miffed. He had reported Cunliffe’s speech – and got it embarrassingly wrong.

So, it was all Cunliffe’s fault, right?

Well, yes. Partially.

But Three News team and especially Patrick Gower also need to take a measure of responsibility for incorrectly reporting this story. In fact, Gower is the one who took time to ask the wrong questions, when interviewing Cunliffe on 27 January,

@ 7:05

Gower: [voice over] And no controls on how the money is spent!

To Cunliffe: Some parents will just end up spending this on themselves on alcohol and cigarettes, though [unintelligible]?

Now aside from the obvious;  what the hell kind of question was that?!?! Why did Gower automatically assume that, with an extra $60 a week, parents would spend it on “alcohol and cigarettes” ?

Does Gower have friends and family who regularly spend up large on “alcohol and cigarettes“?

Is there excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption in Gower’s own home, and he believes it to be the norm for other Kiwi households?!

No?

Then why assume the worst for other households, some of which could be his friends, family members, work colleagues, neighbours, etc.

It beggars belief that, when a government transfers funds, that journos automatically assume that it will be spent on vices.

I hope Gower asked the same question of Gerry Brownlee when it was revealed that former National Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley,was  one of several Government appointees being paid $1,000 (per day!) to “monitor” the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera). Was that money spent on alcohol and cigarettes by the CERA Review Panel? (Who knows – maybe it was.)

Perhaps if Gower had not been so lazy as to resort to  posing such a vapid and inane question, and instead spent an extra hour or so researching the  the matter more in-depth – by simply checking the website links he referred to in his opinion piece! –  he and TV3 would not have been embarrassed at mis-reporting Labour’s sloppy policy release. (And by the gods, it was sloppy!)

After all, Cunliffe’s speech was released at 1pm on the day,  giving Gower and his production team, five hours before the 6PM News Bulletin that evening. What was Gower doing during all that time? Having a fag down at the local pub?

So please, Patrick – don’t get all toey, mate. Writing pissy little “opinion pieces” does not excuse  your sloppiness.

Maybe next time, try a little less of the sensationalising, moralistic “booze’n’baccy” questions, and do your job properly with real analysis.

Blaming others because you chose to trivialise a major news story with a superficial, cliched question is your responsibility.

Just as David Cunliffe’s  right-royal screw-up with Labour’s “Best Start” policy launch was his.

Any questions? (Make them good.)

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References

Dominion Post: Govt spent $500,000 on boozy functions

The Press: Jenny Shipley on Cera review panel

TV3: Opinion: Labour dishonest on ‘baby bonus

TV3 News: January 27 6PM Bulletin

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

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National out

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 February 2014.

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The Paul Henry Show – A Review

4 February 2014 8 comments

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paul henry show TV3 website page (2)

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Far from being “television history”, TV3’s new “Paul Henry Show” on 27 January was a bit of the old chat show; the usual weather graphics; a mix of interviews and on-the-scene reporting; plus a curiously dated style of reading the news.

I must admit, I was sceptical. Henry’s track record in the electronic media left a lot to be desired, with episodes of racism and juvenile behaviour. He appealed to a certain sector of our society – mainly the racists and juvenile-minded adults. For the rest of us, he was a major *facepalm* in our lives and people were happy to switch off.

On 16 January, as TV3 began to promo Henry’s up-coming show, I blogged,

Henry can do outrageous, tasteless, shocking. It’s not that hard to cater for society’s lowest common denominator. Ignorance, juvenile “humour”, and  tastelessness require no thought whatsoever. Just check out Courtney Place in Wellington or Queen St in Auckland, in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings, for evidence of that kind of behaviour.

But I’ve also seen Henry’s better, more serious  side, where he has hosted intelligent current affairs programmes with maturity, dignity,  and professionalism. That side of Paul Henry is one that treats viewers, and his own profession, with respect.

I’m not expecting a sombre, sullen, Henry – fresh from a funeral or roadside crash.

But is it too much to expect maturity and  dignity from a man who is quite capable of delivering a professional performance?

Paul Henry has talent. I would love to see that in his new show. I would love to see TV3 encouraging that talent. And I would love to be part of an audience to appreciate it.

So Paul, I look forward to a solid, professional, engaging, performance from you.

Just leave the clown nose at home this time. Ok?

So, how was Henry’s first performance?

Firstly, it’s worthwhile pointing out that Henry had a co-presenter (or straight-person), in the form of Janika ter  Ellen. She was the “news” reader and weather presenter (off screen to weather graphics).

She read her news from paper (as well as an off-screen tele-prompter) – something of a ‘retro’ feeling – reminding me very much of news-readers from, literally, the last century;

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phillip sherry

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The ‘newsyness’ of the material ranged from a once-over-lightly of serious issues to the superficial; Lorde’s Grammy achievement; David Cunliffe’s State of the Nation speech; an explosion in Invercargill; Mt Etna erupting; inter-family rivalry, North Korean style; the Syrian civil war; ongoing unrest in the Ukraine; and a strange item on two pidgeons released by the Pope, and prompty attacked by a crow and seagull… (Slow news night, perhaps?)

As Ter Ellen finished reading the news and weather, Henry jumped in and made light of the pidgeon-vs-crow-and-seagull story, and referred to “If you were Jesus…”

At this point, it appeared that  the old, obnoxious, Henry was about to stage a sudden re-appearance and launch into a bad-taste comedy-routine… It came close. I nearly switched off… But persevered. Henry reigned himself in.

Just as well – a few thousand other hands were poised with TV Remotes, ready to switch channels or switch right off. Janika ter  Ellen looked decidedly uncomfortable, squirming ever-so-slightly in her chair. I could see her thinking, hoping, praying, “Please, please, please, Paul; don’t say something dumb. Don’t do it; don’t do it; don’t do it!”

The moment passed. Henry pulled back from the Chasm of Bad Taste. Viewers thumbs moved away from the channel switch. Janika ter  Ellen breathed relief. The show’s producer popped another med for angina.

As well as the superficiality of the news, a Paul Henry coffee cup was plonked in front of ter Ellen, distracting the viewers attention. If that was some kind of “product placement”, it was a dumb move. If it was an accident – watch that kind of stuff next time, please.

The “news” was followed in quick succession with an interview with David Cunliffe. There was discussion of his State of the Nation speech; oil drilling safety; royalties; Norway; and coalition partners.

Not a bad interview. Cunliffe responded well; confidently; and was well advised. But again, once-over-lightly, with easy questions, and no follow-ups.

Then on to World “News”; an Australian base-jumper killed; UK’s feral cats; and a pregnant brain-dead woman in the US having her life-support switched off. The stories were off-beat and more what you’d expect from Youtube than a serious media organisation.

Then into an interview with John Key, with a permanent – and oh-so-obviously fake – smile cemented onto his face. The Prime Minister must be a very worried man. I haven’t seen such a fake smile since the last door-to-door sales-girl came to my door suggesting I switch power-cos.

Henry quizzed Key on playing golf with Obama; what did they chat about (with a non-committal and vague response from Key); potential coalition partners; the Maori Party; would he trust Peter Dunne (yes); would he trust Winston Peters (evasive response);  would he trust Kim Dotcom (firm, decisive “NO!”); and would he trust Len Brown (a very diplomatic answer – but then Key isn’t an attractive woman).

That was followed by a bizarre contest; first prize a very shiny new car. Key had to name ten native birds in ten seconds. He got four or five.

It was a jarring moment, incongruent with a supposedly news/current affairs programme. Had we entered into a light entertainment segment. If so, it was a seamless switch.

Then we got given a “story” on Labour MP Jacinda Ardern. Evidently she “moonlights as a D.J? Vaguely interesting. The suggestion was that it was a means by which a politician could connect with young people in a social setting? If so, that wasn’t original at all. The Alliance did something similar in 1996, with young cadres visiting night-clubs with “Alliance” badges and other election paraphernalia.

Overall, it was a restrained, almost mature performance from Paul Henry (except for the pidgeon thing. As infotainment it was watchable.

As serious news/current affairs, it is a step backwards. Whether it was a miscalculation to deliver “lighter stories” at that time slot or someone at TV3 not doing their job properly, it was hardly in the class of John Campbell or Paul Holmes.

It’s major failing is that the Show tries to be all things; serious; newsworthy; informative; light-hearted; chatty; irreverant. It doesn’t work. And there were enough moments that ‘jarred’ as to make the viewing experience less than coherent.

Would I watch it in preference to TV1 News? Probably not. Not unless there was a particularly topical interview.

Can it do better? Without doubt.

Can it do worse? With Paul Henry, what do you think?

On a Frankly Speaking Rating, where 1 is Godawful-never-to-be-seen-again-by-Human-eyes to 10, This-is-unmissable-Walter-Cronkite-BBC stuff, I’d rate this a 6.

Unless the Show confirms which path it wants to be  on – serious news/current affairs – or  – light infotainment/chat show – it will not appeal to either audience demographic who demands one or the other.

However on a new Frankly Speaking Rating for Paul Henry’s self-discipline and attempt at professionalism; 8/10.

Indeed, perhaps that was the real news story of the night..

Postscript

Having watched the Paul Henry Show again (28 January), I can confirm that he has not failed to live down to expectations. His inanities came through with usual juvenile predictability. He has obviously “loosened up” from the previous night, and returned to true form. I found it tedious.

It may work on 7 Days – but with him, on his show,  it falls flat and stinks. Much like an Arctic cod.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 January 2014.

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Additional

Paul Henry Show: David Cunliffe talks State of the Nation with Paul Henry

Previous related blogpost

The Paul Henry Show – Insulting or Insightful?

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No retreat, No surrender, Vote!

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Categories: Media, Social Issues Tags: ,

The Paul Henry Show – Insulting or Insightful?

16 January 2014 8 comments

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toilets-watching-bare-ass-on-tv

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TV3 have been running ads promoting the new “Paul Henry Show”.  The ad shows Henry walking down a darkened alley, with a disembodied voice-over – hype over-flowing like the Waikato in heavy flood – and just as murky. Tantalisingly, or nervously perhaps,  TV3 gives little idea what the programme’s content will be.

TV3’s website offers this, somewhat less-than-illuminating, “information”,

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paul henry show TV3 website page

Source

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The text refers to  “covering everything from the erudite to the outrageous” – and that, frankly speaking, does not reassure me one iota.

We know that Henry can be “outrageous”. He has form. Whether it be reference to a woman’s appearance or giggling like a ten year old at someone’s unusual-sounding name – Henry’s behaviour can certainly qualify as “outrageous”.

If outrageous is what TV3 want, I suspect Henry can deliver that by the monster-truck full. As much as TV3’s executives; the show’s producer(s); and the public can stomach before Henry  once again over-steps the mark and the audience vomit back any tasteless performance he rams down our throats.

Which is not to say that there is a percentage of the viewing public that will always rush to Henry’s defense after one of his spectacularly tasteless performances.

Then again, some people defended Tony Veitch after his vicious assault on his girlfriend. Not that I’m comparing Henry with Veitch. No,  I’m comparing their audiences whose moral compasses were so skewed that they would defend the repugnantly indefensible.

Henry can do outrageous, tasteless, shocking. It’s not that hard to cater for society’s lowest common denominator. Ignorance, juvenile “humour”, and  tastelessness require no thought whatsoever. Just check out Courtney Place in Wellington or Queen St in Auckland, in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings, for evidence of that kind of behaviour.

But I’ve also seen Henry’s better, more serious  side, where he has hosted intelligent current affairs programmes with maturity, dignity,  and professionalism. That side of Paul Henry is one that treats viewers, and his own profession, with respect.

I’m not expecting a sombre, sullen, Henry – fresh from a funeral or roadside crash.

But is it too much to expect maturity and  dignity from a man who is quite capable of delivering a professional performance?

Paul Henry has talent. I would love to see that in his new show. I would love to see TV3 encouraging that talent. And I would love to be part of an audience to appreciate it.

So Paul, I look forward to a solid, professional, engaging, performance from you.

Just leave the clown nose at home this time. Ok?

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 January 2014.

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Categories: Media, Social Issues Tags: ,

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

18 June 2013 9 comments

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Continued from: The GCSB law – vague or crystal clear?

On TV3 News, this remarkable piece of “journalism”,

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GCSB

“The law is so opaque it’s open to interpretation.”

Acknowledgement: TV3 News

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The media in this country are asleep at the wheel. Or drugged. Something.

Their lazy interpretation of events  (when they even bother to cover stories of national importance – see:  Poisoned Legacy: Why is the News Media and the Left so bad at defending our freedoms?) has gone beyond incompetance – and is now firmly in the land of mis-information.

A prime example of various new media was Tova O’Brien on the evening of Wednesday 22 May 2013 on TV3 News. At about 6.5-6.10pm (and later that evening), she covered the on-going story of Paul Neazor’s report into the GCSB.

O’Brien stated matter of factly,

“The GCSB’s been cleared of breaking the law, but only just. The law ‘s so opaque it’s open to interpretation.The Prime Minister won’t won’t release the report into the spying on those eightyeight New Zealanders because it’s top secret, leaving the Opposition to continue to openly interpret it’s findings.”

Rubbish.

Has she or her news team actually read the f*****g Act?!?!

They can’t have. Otherwise they would know the following parts of the law,

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Section 14 of the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 states,

Restrictions imposed on interceptions

14 Interceptions not to target domestic communications
  • Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Furthermore, the Act states in at least two parts, precisely who the GCSB may collect data on;

Part 2
7. Objective of Bureau
  • (1) The objective of the Bureau is to contribute to the national security of New Zealand by providing—

    • (a) foreign intelligence that the Government of New Zealand requires to protect and advance—
      • (i) the security or defence of New Zealand; or
      • (ii) the international relations of the Government of New Zealand; or
      • (iii) New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being; and
    • (b) foreign intelligence to meet international obligations and commitments of the Government of New Zealand; and
    • (c) advice, assistance, and protection to departments of State and other instruments of the Executive Government of New Zealand in order to—
      • (i) protect and enhance the security of their communications, information systems, and computer systems; or
      • (ii) protect their environments from electronic or other forms of technical surveillance by foreign organisations or foreign persons.

    (2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(a)(iii), the interests of New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being are relevant only to the extent that they are affected by the actions or intentions of foreign organisations or foreign persons.

Part 3
13. Purpose of Part
  • The purpose of this Part is,—

    • (a) subject to the restrictions imposed by this Part, to enable the Bureau to obtain foreign intelligence; and
    • (b) to authorise the interception of communications (whether under section 16 or under an interception warrant or a computer access authorisation) only if the purpose of the interception is to obtain foreign intelligence.

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The law surrounding the GCSB is most certainly not “opaque”. It fairly strait forward to anyone with a Primary School grasp of the Queen’s English.

What part of  “Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident - do journos not understand?!

FFS!! It’s there in black and white!

The only people who’ve been seriously promoting the meme that the Act is somehow “vague” or “unclear” are the Prime Minister – not exactly noted for being 100% honest with the public – and his appointed minion, GCSB Director, Ian Fletcher.

I’ll point out here and now, this isn’t directed at O’Brien. She simply happens to be the most recent case of sloppy journos who have obviously not bothered to look up the relevant act – because otherwise they would be fully aware that the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 is actually fairly damned clear and unequivocal. I’ll print the relevant section again – In. Big. Red. Letters.

Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident” ?!

The most dangerous aspect of this sloppy journalism is that the public will take people like O’Brien, or at TVNZ, or the Dominion Post, or NZ Herald, or any number of radio stations at face value. The public will not be bothered to look up the relevant legislation.

And why should they? Aren’t we entitled to have a degree of faith in the media to know what the heck they’re talking about?

Evidently not.

Each time I catch some lazy journo pushing the government-orchestrated meme that the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 is “unclear” or “vague” – I’ll be on their sad arses pointing out their laziness and sloppy journalism.

This is serious shit, people. National intends to pass laws allowing even more invasion of our privacy; more spying; and increased State power.

If it was Labour doing this, the MSM would be baying for blood and screaming “nanny state!”. But when it comes to National and it’s right wing agenda, all we get is mis-informed “news” that is not based in any reality I’m familiar with.

Jesus, all I’m asking is that the media get their story straight.

When did that ever become something we have to ask for?

It’s simple. Do your job.

For one last time,

Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident?!

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 May 2013.

 

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Mediaworks, Solid Energy, and National Standards

17 June 2013 2 comments

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Solid Energy looking to sell Southland land

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – TV3’s owners in receivership

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Stupidity heaped upon government incompetence – there is no other way to describe the fiasco that Solid Energy has become since National took office in 2008. Whether it was National Ministers  encouraging Solid Energy to expand their operations during a time of  recession or  forcing it to borrow huge sums and then pay it to the National government as “dividends” – Key, English, Joyce, et al have a lot to answer for.

It is not often that a government will run a SOE into the ground and then blame others for their incompetance. (See previous blogpost: Solid Energy – A solid drama of facts, fibs, and fall-guys )

News that Solid Energy may be planning to sell 3,500 hectares of land, and which may be purchased by offshore investors, is the final humiliation.

At this stage, I will make the following point;

  1. I don’t care if a foreign purchaser resides in Boston, Berlin, or Beijing. The negative economic consequences to New Zealand are all the same.
  2. Rightwingers maintain that it doesn’t matter if the land is sold into foreign ownership; “no one can take it away”. But that’s not the point. It’s not the land that is removed – but the profits  generated for owners. It is dividends  to overseas investors that can be “taken away”, thereby reducing our income; worsening our balance of payments; and ultimately pushing up interest rates.
  3. Land sales to overseas investors denies the birthright of  all New Zealanders to participate in land based enterprises. It is difficult for young people to buy a farm when competing with wealthy  investors from Boston, Berlin, or Beijing. In the end, those young New Zealand may end up tenants in our own country – which Dear Leader himself said was not desirable (see: PM warns against Kiwis becoming ‘tenants’ ).

The most common sense solution to this problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”) is simple and straightforward.

If local buyers cannot be found, the land should be transferred to SOE Landcorp, to hold it in stewardship. Good, productive farmland could be later sold/leased to young New Zealanders who want to get on the first rung of the ladder to farm ownership.

Selling/leasing to the next generation of New Zealanders – our children – is a sound way to give them opportunities in our own country.

Why we would deny them that birthright and instead prefer to sell to faceless foreign investors, sitting in offices halfway around the word, defies understanding.

As Bruce Jesson said in his book, about the neo-liberal mentality to sell off everything to the highest bidder, and bugger  the consequences; Only their Purpose is Mad.

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MediaWorks in receivership

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – MediaWorks in receivership

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It is a great shame that Mediaworks is in this position. Their flagship broadcaster, TV3, has raised the quality and standard of programming in this country. Unlike the mediocre rubbish on state-owned TVNZ, TV3 has treated the viewer with a fair measure of respect.

Programmes like Campbell Live, Outrageous Fortune, and Inside Child Poverty have been nuggets of gold at a time when mainstream media is dumbing down faster than John Banks’ integrity post-Skycity and Dotcom donations scandal.

This leftwing blogger wishes the company all the best for the future; fervantly hopes that no one loses their job; and looks forward to more high-quality programming  from TV3.

See more at The Daily Blog by Selwyn Manning: Breaking News: New Company Newco Positions To Purchase MediaWorks Off Receivers

Breaking News: New Company Newco Positions To Purchase MediaWorks Off Receivers – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/06/17/breaking-news-tv3-radiolive-owners-mediaworks-has-gone-into-receivership/#sthash.YBRLNczb.dpuf

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Teachers to boycott trial of national standards computer system

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Teachers to boycott trial of national standards computer system

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The biggest problem and greatest threat from National Standards is the American phenomenon, “Teaching to Tests”. As Gordon Campbell wrote, four years ago when National Standards were first mooted by the Nats,

The main risk is that national testing will foster mechanical ways of assessing of children’s learning, as teachers get pressured into ‘teaching to the test’ – thus narrowing what they teach, and fuelling a focus on simplistic measuring rather than on creating a richer, and more child-oriented environment.

Quite simply, what this means is that for schools to “look good” in league tables (another right wing invention that inevitably follows National Standards), they will be pressured to teach  students solely to answer tests. Nothing more, nothing less.

Because otherwise, a school risks looking poorly in National Standards results. Couple this with “performance related pay”, and “teaching to the test” to guarantee a high ranking in League Tables, becomes a dead cert.

Parents should not only be worried – they should be downright angry. This undermines our education system and turns it into a farce. Kids become expert at answering tests – but not much more. Problem-solving, initiative, increased knowledge, and even more tradition curricula, become secondary.

Because, really, if we’re going to have “performance related pay”, then teachers will make damn sure that their school doesn’t fall behind in any National Standard and subsequent League Table.

Interestingly, China, Sth Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong are also at the top of the OECD PISA scale.  International education scholar, Yong Zhao (see bio here), pointed out why in December 2010;

… China has become the best education nation, or at least according to some experts and politicians. Chinese students (a sample from Shanghai) outscored 64 countries/education systems on the most recent PISA, OECD’s international academic assessment for 15 year olds in math, reading, and science…

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I don’t know why this is such a big surprise to these well educated and smart people. Why should anyone be stunned? It is no news that the Chinese education system is excellent in preparing outstanding test takers, just like other education systems within the Confucian cultural circle—Singapore, Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong…

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That’s the secret: when you spend all your time preparing for tests, and when students are selected based on their test-taking abilities, you get outstanding test scores.

Acknowledgement:  A True Wake-up Call for Arne Duncan: The Real Reason Behind Chinese Students Top PISA Performance

Is this education?. Or is this a  corruption of education and turning our children into mass-trained cogs, able to pass tests, but not much more in terms of free-thinking and expanding knowledge?

Make no mistake. This is setting us up for failure in the decades to come.

Perhaps, instead we should be looking at the Finnish experience,

In his country, Dr. Darling-Hammond said later in an interview, teachers typically spend about four hours a day in the classroom, and are paid to spend two hours a week on professional development. At the University of Helsinki, where he teaches, 2,400 people competed last year for 120 slots in the (fully subsidized) master’s program for schoolteachers. “It’s more difficult getting into teacher education than law or medicine,” he said.

Dr. Sahlberg puts high-quality teachers at the heart of Finland’s education success story — which, as it happens, has become a personal success story of sorts, part of an American obsession with all things Finnish when it comes to schools…

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Both Dr. Darling-Hammond and Dr. Sahlberg said a turning point was a government decision in the 1970s to require all teachers to have master’s degrees — and to pay for their acquisition. The starting salary for school teachers in Finland, 96 percent of whom are unionized, was about $29,000 in 2008, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, compared with about $36,000 in the United States.

More bear than tiger, Finland scorns almost all standardized testing before age 16 and discourages homework, and it is seen as a violation of children’s right to be children for them to start school any sooner than 7, Dr. Sahlberg said during his day at Dwight. He spoke to seniors taking a “Theory of Knowledge” class, then met with administrators and faculty members.

“The first six years of education are not about academic success,” he said. “We don’t measure children at all. It’s about being ready to learn and finding your passion.”

Acknowledgement: New York Times – From Finland, an Intriguing School-Reform Model

Solutions?

1. Don’t vote for National in 2014.

2. Look at Finland for our answers to improve education – not the US which is lower on the OECD PISA ranking than us. (Finland is near the top.)

3. Be wary of simplistic rightwing agendas.

Other Blogs

Gordon Campbell: National Education Tests, And Michael Jackson

The Political Scientist:  National Standards and Neanderthals – “They will know what is required …” – Part I

The Political Scientist: National Standards and Neanderthals – “They will know what is required …” – Part II

The Political Scientis: National Standards and Neanderthals – “They will know what is required …” – Part III

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Nothing quite sez Rich Man’s Conference than this event (part rua)

24 February 2013 3 comments

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national-needs-act-hide

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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.)

But, nah.

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,

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ACT 2013 conference_rodney hide_gibbs farms_hates unions

Source

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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,

  1. Rodney Hide doesn’t give a sh*t anymore
  2. Rodney Hide just gave the metaphorical “fingers” to the whole country
  3. 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.

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Just say “NO!” to political prostitutionism

25 October 2012 18 comments

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From the Sunday Star Times (scanned hard-copy  – on-line version locked behind a Fairfax paywall) on 14 October,

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Andrea Vance is correct;  most polls have shown a steady decline for National (with the exception of those at specific moments when issues surrounding Maori claims over water rights are in the headlines) since the general election last year.

John Key’s teflon coating is patchy at best, as scandals; incompetance; and a stagnating economy is showing up National as singularly inept at any measure of governance.

A TV3 poll tonight (24 Oct) was even more bad news for these ministerial muppets,

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Full story

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The four relevant questions asked of respondents were,

1. Do you agree National has done a good job in terms of building a brighter future?

  • 49% said no;
  • 46% said yes;
  • 5% did not know.
2. Has National helped with full employment?

  • 57% said no;
  • 36% said yes;
  • 7% did not know.
3. Is the Government providing the best school system for our children?

  • 58% said no;
  • 32% said yes;
  • 9% did not know.
4. Are our Government departments run efficiently?
  • 49 percent said yes;
  • 42 percent said no.

Key’s responses to each of these four questions is reported here: National’s bright future not here yet – poll

Some of his comments are laughable. Actually, no. All his comments are a joke.  If anything, his responses to these poll results are a scathing indictment of National’s arrogance and disconnect from the public.

Which brings us to Peter Dunne.

National is in power only because of complicity by John Banks and Dunne.

Dunne’s history began in 1984, as a Labour MP. From there, he  jumped from one Party to another; Labour; United New Zealand; United Future New Zealand; and join coalitions led by both National, then Labour, and back to National again in 2008.

See: Peter Dunne – Member of Parliament

Dunne is a political chameleon – able to re-shape and re-form to suit his political environment, as governments come and go. Unlike that other Great Survivor, Winston Peters, Dunne has the unmatched record of rarely having been out of government. Any government.

He has outlasted  Lange, Palmer, Moore, Bolger, Shipley, and Clarke – and is now onto his seventh Prime Minister, John Key.

Whatever “political viagra” the man is on, he could make a vast fortune selling it globally, to other politicians.

Political journalist, Andrea Vance,  has suggested in her 14 October article that,

As Labour begin to pick up in the polls… Dunne is the kid on the sidelines, eyes screwed shut, willing David Shearer to pick me, pick me”.”

Like hell.

For many people in this country, and this blogger included, Peter Dunne has burnt his bridges with the social democratic left.

His vote in Parliament, to enable the passing of legislation to facilitate the 49% sell-down of Mighty River Power, Genesis, Meridian, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand, is a step too far. (See: The asset partial sell-off can begin)

With the passing of the Mixed Ownership Model Bill into law on 27 June, Peter Dunne well and truly nailed his colours to the mast – despite even a poll on his own website receiving an over-whelming ‘no’ vote, and many comments critical of asset sales.

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The poll was taken down soon after it began to attract public attention. (Evidently the outcome was not to Mr Dunne’s satisfaction?)

So much for asking the public to “let us know your views“.

Unless we see a threat of a possible third term for National (and one hopes the voting public is not that capricious), Shearer, the Greens, Peters, and Harawira should have nothing to do with Dunne.

His politics is best described as prostitutionism – with about as much ethics shown as a Wall Street banker or back street crack-dealer.

Dunne has utterly betrayed his own country by supporting the sale – theft –  of state assets. Considering he has been part of three terms of a Labour-led government – to then support neo-liberal policies  shows a lack of principled behaviour.

What was he doing in a Labour-led government in the first place?

What else is he willing to do to keep ministerial “baubles of power”?

A new Labour-led government, starting  afresh and addressing many of the social inequities and economic imbalances afflicting our country,  should leave behind the dross of previous administrations.

The next government should be a principled one. And Peter Dunne has none of the necessary qualities that would make him a credible fit with such a new administration.

Take note, Mr Shearer; you need to start your new Administration on the very best footing. Peter Dunne will provide the opposite.

Mr Shearer; do you really want the left-overs of a failed National “government” at your Cabinet table?

As the Member for Ohariu once said,

We understand clearly that the only reason for our existence is to represent the voice of the people in our parliament. We believe  that any  party that is not constantly in touch with the views of the people is simply not doing its job. In this space you can read what others think on key issues, and you can let us know your views.” – Peter Dunne, “Have your Say Polls”, United Future website (since deleted)

Clean sweep, Mr Shearer, clean sweep.

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Postscript:

Whilst Dunne’s website has closed down the Poll and the many posted comments are lost on his website, Blogger Robert Guyton had the presence of mind to C&P and re-post many of the posted comments on his blog.

These are the views that Peter Dunne does not want us to read: Robert Guyton.

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Tracey Watkins on John Key – Surprised?!

21 August 2012 21 comments

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Media3 host, Russell Brown, talks with Fairfax political reporter, Tracy Watkins

Source

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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,

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Full Story

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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.

See: On course for a change in government (Part Rua)

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…

[abridged]

… 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. “

See: ‘Polarising’ PM losing gloss

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)

Whut?!?!

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?

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TVNZ7 – Picking at the body before it’s cold

15 June 2012 5 comments

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TVNZ7’s impending demise is already attracting corporate “vultures”, even before the body is dead and cold.

TV3 has agreed to take up ‘Media7‘ (renaming it ‘Media3‘) on their own channel, and adding it to their other current afairs shows;  ‘The Nation‘, ‘Three60‘, and ‘Think Tank‘, from August onwards.

See:  Media 7 finds a new home on TV3

Whilst it’s better than losing ‘Media7′ entirely, one cannot help but feel a measure of ongoing disappointment.

For one thing, the fragmentation of non-commercial public television to other TV networks dilutes any sense of cultural identity and  value. Sandwiched between ads for beer; food-porn;  and grim US crime ‘dramas’ (with their usual high body-count of  predominantly female victims), does not lend mana to serious television production.

Secondly,  broadcasting ‘Media7‘ on a non-commercial station gave it credibility. It critiqued issues surrounding commercial media without fear or favour, as it had no commercial imperatives of it’s own, looking over it’s shoulder.

By contrast, in early March of this year, TV1’s ‘Fair Go‘ was molested by TVNZ management when they were ordered ‘Fair Go’s‘ staff to take  commercial imperatives into account when carrying out their investigative journalism.

This issue was brought before Parliament’s Commerce Committee by Labour’s broadcasting spokeswoman Clare Curran.

Jeff Latch – Head of TV1 & TV2,   replied to allegations of management interference by saying it  “wasn’t an instruction, per se“.

The key points I made at that meeting was that the heart of Fair Go for the past 20 odd years it has been on television, is that it represents the underdog and the small guy and stands up for them.

“I also made the observation we operate in a commercial environment and Fair Go, like all our programmes, need to exercise care in the way they handle stories.”

Yeah, right. Whatever.

Latch was caught with his pants down around his ankles, doing an “indecent media deed” to a TV show dedicated to serious investigative journalism. Cut to the chase; this was a naked attempt to interfere with ‘Fair Go’s‘ impartiality, on behalf of commercial interests (aka, advertisers).

This is that sort of thing that ‘Media 7 3‘ will have to be concerned with. It should be noted that TV3 is owned by Media Works – which also owns C4, tv station Four,  ten radio stations, and eighteen interactive websites. How will Media Works management react if/when ‘Media 3‘ critique some aspect of any one of their subsidiaries? Or a high-spending advertising client becomes involved?

There are potential problems associated with a commercial media corporation taking over a media show that critiques other media.

Fair Go‘ has proven that corporate executives just can’t help theselves. They have the power; human nature cannot resist using it. After 2014, an incoming Green-Labour led government must address this critical issue,

  • A new public broadcaster must be set up, or,
  • Conversely TV1 must be de-commercialised
  • Any public broadcaster must be placed at arms-length to political interference
  • Funding must be ring-fenced, and entrenched by contractual-law, as well as legislation.

This blogger will write more on this issue, shortly.

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Previous blogposts

Inconvenient truths? No go, Fair Go!!

A public broadcaster for New Zealand?

The Worst Newspaper Editorial Since – – – Whenever?!

21 May – Public meeting: TVNZ7 gets the big tick!

Additional

Coleman admits he got it wrong on TVNZ7

TV boss denies instruction to protect advertisers

Fair Go told not to upset advertisers, Labour claims

Other blogs

Red Alert:  Media 7 saved by TV3. Back Benches next?

Public Address:  Media7 will soon be Media3

Tumeke: Media7 moves to ghetto

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Why Judith Collins should be sacked

13 June 2012 1 comment

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In my previous blogpost,  Why Hekia Parata should not be sacked, I outlined three reasons why Minister Parata should not be sacked from her role as Minister of Education.

In essence, though her policy of increasing class size and cutting teacher numbers was unpopular with the country, she had done nothing inappropriate (that we know of) or underhand. Unpopularity, by itself, is a poor reason to sack any elected representative – or else we’d be having elections to fill vacancies on a weekly basis.

The same, however, cannot be said of ACC Minister, Judith Collins.

There has been some very dodgy dealings going on at the very highest levels and Minister Collins has been implicated in events that have yet to be adequately explained,

  1. Who leaked Bronwyn Pullar’s name to the NZ Herald?
  2. Who leaked Ms Pullar’s information to a certain right-wing blogger?
  3. What was right-wing activist, and National Party apparatchik, Simon Lusk’s involvement in this issue?
  4. Did Collins know that the report from ACC contained falsehoods?
  5. If the answer to #4 is in the affirmative, when did she become aware of the falsehoods?
  6. Why has Minister Collins not called for an investigation into the authors of the report?

Instead of acting decisively to get to the bottom of this extraordinary matter, Collins’ reaction has been to… issue demation lawsuits against Labour MPs Andrew Little and Trevor Mallard!? How does suing MPs,  who are asking hard questions, help clear up this murky affair?

It is clear to even the most partisan National supporter that ACC’s management was out of control and engaging in dubious activities. At the very least,  the Police complaint laid by ACC against Bronwyn Pullar appears to constitute an offence of wasting Police time.

Minister Collins appears not only to have done nothing to resolve this unmitigated mess – but appears to have some form degree of involvement, yet to be determined.

John Key has no option. He must stand down Judith Collins immediatly and ensure than any and all investigations include her office as well.

What we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg – and god knows what lies beneath the surface.

Judith Collins must go.

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Additional

Full list of Bronwyn Pullar’s complaints against ACC

Recording reveals public was misled over extortion claims

TV3 60 Minutes:  The Eye of the Storm

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The Shining Path according to Dear Leader (Part Tahi)

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After a damning interview on TV3’s ‘60 Minutes‘, Bronwyn Pullar and ex-National Party president, Michelle Boag, left the viewer in little doubt that there were serious concerns surrounding ACC’s management and Judith Collin’s handling of the entire affair.

See: TV3 60 Minutes  -The Eye of the Storm

The following day (11 June) John Key commented on Bronwyn Pullar’s conflict with ACC by stating,

What is clear is that ACC deals with a huge number of complaints, a huge amount of data and there are always people who feel the system hasn’t treated them fairly and that is partly because the big dispute always comes around the definition of a pre-existing condition.

That at one level is at the heart of what sits with this Bronwyn Pullar claim.”

See: PM wades into ACC Pullar debate

Pardon?!

Since when did Dear Leader become privy to Ms Pullar’s personal file to such an extent that he could utter pronouncements that she had a “pre-existing condition ” ?!

Not since Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, accessed and mis-used the personal files of two women on the domestic purposes benefit has a Minister referred to a private citizens personal details.

See:  Hypocrisy – thy name be National

Dear Leader’s desperation is becoming obvious when he becomes a self-professed expert on medical “pre existing conditions” and attempts to mis-use his position of Ministerial authority to try to dis-credit a critic of his administration.

Rob Muldoon would’ve been proud.

A word to the wise, Dear Leader – keep your nose out of other people’s business and their personal files.

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20 May: End of the Week Bouquets, Brickbats, & Epic Fails

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- End of the Week Bouquets, Brickbats, & Epic Fails -

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Frank Macskasy - blog - Frankly Speaking

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Think Tank

TV3’s current affairs “chat” show,  “Think Tank” is  hosted by John Tamihere, on Sunday mornings. This half hour programme discusses critical issues confronting our nation, but in a low-key, constructive manner. There are no flashy graphics; no distracting backgrounds; and the guests are encouraged to offer their views without being talked over by other guests or the host.

The only slight criticism? that this excellent show is “ghettoised” on Sunday mornings (alongside TVs’s “The Nation” and TVNZ’s “Q+A”).

It would be a radical moment in our media history if “Think Tank” (as well as “Q+A” and “The Nation”) were re-scheduled for prime-time evening viewing. The public might actually be exposed to intelligent viewing for a change.

Shayne Currie (Editor, New Zealand Herald)

Who tweeted   (@ShayneCurrieNZH), ‘We wouldn’t want to be populist now would we Mr Key‘, after Dear Leader whinged on Newstalk ZB that  “the media are in a more aggressive and hostile mood towards us” . Key singled out the Sunday Star Times and NZ Herald  for special criticism.

Nice one, Shayne.  Sometimes it takes a gentle reminder for politicians to understand that the Herald is not Pravda, nor is  Sunday Star Times New Zealand’s own Izveztia.

AFFCO workers

Locked out by their employers, the Talley Brothers – millionaire businessmen  – who are hell-bent on driving down  staff’s wages and destroying the Meatworkers Union.

The AFFCO meatworkers are ordinary New Zealanders – they could be any one of us – who have been harrassed and persecuted by the Talleys.

In a display of sheer courage that our ANZAC forebears would be proud of, the workers have faced up to the bullies who are their employers.

These brave men and women should be hailed as true Kiwi battlers.

An incoming Labour-led government should not forget the AFFCO workers when they next review employment legislation.

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Frank Macskasy - blog - Frankly Speaking

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Paula Bennett (National MP

For planning to force welfare recipients to immunise their children for no other reason than they are receiving welfare assistance from the State. This has to be the worst case of State coercion since military conscription.

If National wants everyone immunised, by law, then make it compulsory for everyone. Yeah, right! There would be rioting in the streets, and this rotten government would fall within a week.

But it’s fairly obvious that Key, Bennett, and their  misguided mates are exploiting the vulnerability of New Zealanders who happen to be on welfare, for their own political ends.

This country’s economy is in dire straits; we are stagnating; unemployment is on the up; and kids are starving and going through pig-slop buckets to get a feed. Plus on top of that numerous scandals and dodgy deals, and National is desperate to focus public attention elsewhere.

In the 1930s, the nazi government used gypsies and jews as scapegoats.  We can’t use jews – Israel would kick Key’s sorry arse to the curb. And we don’t have gypsies.

But we do have welfare beneficiaries, and the public doesn’t mind if they’re ‘bashed’ around a bit.They are the 1930s “jews”  of our society.

This is shameful. For a New Zealand government to demonise a sector of the population in such a  cynical manner  is unforgivable.

Pita Sharples (Maori Party)

For citing that there had been a number of gains for Maori the upcoming budget, such as  “funding for treatment of cancer, funding for tackling rheumatic fever…”

Yes, Mr Sharples – but at the expense of raising prescription charges from $3 to $5, which will hurt welfare beneficiaries, superannuitants, and low income earners the hardest. Many of whom already have to make hard choices whether to pay the rent and electricity bill, or cut back on food, medicines, etc.

Many of those low-income earners are the Maori Party’s constituents.

By any definition, that is not a “gain”, Mr Sharples. This is robbing Pita to pay Paul.

Wally.

ACT Party

For not distancing itself from racist bigot, Louis Crimp, and returning his $125,520 donation.  Is ACT so desperate for funds that it willingly accepts money from a person who believes,

I don’t give a stuff what I’m called. You have to look at the facts and figures. This is the problem with New Zealanders. Most of them dislike the Maoris intensely – I won’t say hate – but they don’t like to say so.”

At what point does a Party draw a line and refuse to accept financial support because the donor is just so repugnant?

Act’s president, Chris Simmons, said he disagreed with Mr Crimp but respected his right to have a view,

One of the beauties of the Act Party is we believe everyone should have their say.”

That may be, Mr Simmons. But by accepting a racist’s money, you are giving tacit approval to their abhorrent prejudice.

It’s called tarred by association.

Think about it.

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And for the final category, the Epic Fail of the Week,

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Louis Crimp

Businessman and bigot.   Unfortunately, he may not be alone is holding such racist views.

We have a long way to go, in this country.

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A public broadcaster for New Zealand?

- Matty T, Blogger, Extra-Channels.com

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Digital switchovers (and analogue turnoffs) are presently progressing in both Australia and New Zealand. In New Zealand most people tuning into free to air television are either going for Freeview Satellite, being broadcast on the Optus D1 satellite, or Freeview HD on UHF (or since they have slightly different channel line ups, setting themselves up to receive both). In Australia they have Freeview Australia serving the capital cities and major towns on UHF. For regional areas beyond the reach of UHF towers they are going with a new system called V.A.S.T, which is being broadcast on the Optus C1 satellite. V.A.S.T. is replacing an earlier system called Aurora. Both V.A.S.T and Aurora broadcast mostly encrypted channels enforced by smartcards mostly to limit the geographical areas of broadcast for the licensees.  New Zealand’s satellite system in contrast is free to air (but limited by the footprint of the satellite beams to just over New Zealand).

Those in the know in New Zealand have been tuning into 2 channels from SBS, an Australian public broadcaster which has been filling a hole in the Aurora coverage for viewers in remote parts of Tasmania with transmissions on the Australia New Zealand beam of the Optus D1 satellite. (You can get it with a 90cm or larger dish and a LNB picking up the vertical polarity, or with a dual polarity LNB since Sky and Freeview Satellite use horizontal polarity on the same dish.) SBS is a unique station in that it is a public broadcaster of an ilk that New Zealand just doesn’t have. Originally setup to broadcast to ethnic viewers initially in Sydney it went nationwide and has evolved into a station that still serves its ethnic viewers, but with all foreign language programmes subtitled in English, and many programmes in English (e.g. documentaries, cooking shows, soccer, cycling) it is a channel that has wide appeal.

TVNZ7 is the only channel in NZ that comes close to being a public broadcaster like SBS and it is being defunded by the NZ government in July 2012. This will be a great shame.

With the commissioning of V.A.S.T. for Tasmania in the first half of 2013 New Zealand viewers are probably going to lose the ability to pick up SBS. This will also be a great shame.

SBS was originally ad-free, but then as Australia’s second public broadcaster it was being squeezed for funds by the Australian Government and it introduced some ads between programmes. The purists were horrified. Since then ads have been snuck in during programmes, and a lot of people in Australia have decried the intrusion. Ads are on SBS for about 5 minutes every hour. This is apparently to raise revenue of a bit over $20 million dollars a year. The commercial channels in Australia and NZ by contrast have 15 or 16 minutes of ads per hour.

It is said New Zealand is too small to have a proper public broadcaster. TVNZ has virtually been fully commercialised. It may be a State-owned enterprise, but it doesn’t have a remnant of public charter to fulfill. The charter was officially dumped by the National Government on July 12th 2011. Government money is spent by NZ on Air to get New Zealand productions and NZ shows onto the existing commercial channels. The last Labour government’s attempt to introduce a modicum of ad-free public broadcasting, TVNZ6 and TVNZ7 have come and gone, and as previously said, or are about to go. TVNZ6 has turned into the god-awful channel U and TVNZ7 will be defunded, meaning that it will disappear altogether. Only public outcry has saved TVNZ7 from being turned into a shopping channel. (A blank screen, and a hope for something better is better than a shopping channel). New Zealand free to air TV will thus be aligned to the National government’s ideological position that quality public television should not exist. One of their problems with it (apart from wanting to keep the population stupid so they are more likely to vote National) is the cost of running a quality public broadcaster. New Zealand is a small market and to run a BBC or ABC like service it would cost the country a lot, or so the argument goes.

So the end result is no quality ad-free public broadcasting for New Zealanders. It really doesn’t have to be that way.

Suggestion one: flog off TVNZ to the highest bidder. We will lose nothing more than we have already lost by allowing it to be privatised.

Suggestion two: Make an offer to the Australian Government. Tell Australia that New Zealand will pay just over $20 million dollars a year to share the costs of running SBS. SBS takes that $20 million dollars and completely removes advertising from its two TV channels. Most of the programming doesn’t change. SBS News Australia, becomes SBS News Australasia. Mandarin News Australia becomes Mandarin News Australasia.  Dateline is now seen on SBS instead of TVNZ 7. SBS will now look to Australia and New Zealand production houses when it commissions work. SBS 1 (HD and SD) and SBS 2 (SD) gets added to either Freeview Satellite or Freeview HD. The beauty of this suggestion is that for $20 million a year you get channels that would cost many more millions of dollars to produce than that.

NZ On Air still can fund New Zealand specific content on the commercial broadcasters much in the same manner as it does now. Not accounting for the fact that funding crap reality TV with public funds is sometimes pissing money up the wall. FFS who thought funding reality TV was a good idea?

Indigenous Television

Maori TV which is primarily for Maori audiences either in English on Maori TV, or in Maori on Te Reo can continue to be funded by the NZ Government at about $28 million a year.

In Australia there is an Aboriginal channel on the Optus-C1 satellite, called National Indigenous TV. It is run as a non-profit enterprise.

There is a reasonably large Maori population in Australia ( >100,000 people), and many of the programmes on Maori TV are interesting to a non-Maori audience.. There are not that many Australian Aboriginals in New Zealand, but likewise some of the programming has a wider appeal than just to one indigenous group. So a straight out swap and putting Maori TV on VAST and Freeview Australia and NITV onto one or both of the Freeview services in New Zealand will give people all over Australia and New Zealand access to all the indigenous cultures of both countries.

There would be a minimal cost to governments in NZ and Australia,

What Australia gets: 1 new FTA channel. The two SBS channels go back to being ad-free.  Price competition for commissioned works. Australians get to see Maori programming. Cost – the broadcast fees for another channel on Freeview Australia and VAST.

What New Zealand gets: 3 new FTA channels, including quality public ad-free TV. Programming for some ethnic groups present in NZ. Another market for content makers. New Zealanders get to see Aboriginal programming. Cost – $20million a year to help fund SBS. The broadcast fees for another 3 channels on Freeview-HD and/or Sat.

It’s win/win/win/win/win for the Australian public/ the New Zealand public/SBS/Maori TV/NITV. The only objectors would be commercial interests who run commercial TV faced with more quality competition, and small-minded ideologues opposed to public broadcasting.

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Author’s Note

This is version 2 of this post. I’ve made a couple edits since I had a couple of factual errors, and a suggestion was made to me that because of the two hour time difference when SBS is showing foreign news in the late afternoon (4-6pm) East Coast Australia time it’s early evening (6-8pm) in New Zealand, and those hours could be used for New Zealand specific programmes such as we are losing from TVNZ7. Australian audiences might prefer Hearts and Crafts over the PBS News Hour.

It’s also been pointed out to me that $20 million dollars a year is more than the cost of keeping TVNZ7 open with its current budget of $16.25 million dollars. Whatever solution to our public broadcasting deficit though it’s better to fund public TV than to subsidise commercial TV in NZ. If commercial TV needs handouts from the government to survive then perhaps there are too many commercial channels.

Acknowledgement

Extra-Channels.com

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It’s official: the media honeymoon is over (#Rua)

15 March 2012 3 comments

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Oops!

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As I predicted over the last few months, John Key’s ‘honeymoon’ with the media is well and truly over.

The ridiculous saga of the ‘Teapot Tape';  calling in Police; raiding media offices – these were the actions of a petty dictator from some Latin American banana republic,* who got peeved because someone didn’t salute his 30m statue in the city plaza fast enough and had the hapless citizen and his family chucked in jail…

Tonight, TV3 “found” a film-clip of John Key giving a speech (to a very unenthusiastic-looking PSA gathering).  Key’s comments probably left most TV3’s viewers  flabbergasted, spluttering into their early-evening milos, and quite bemused,

3 News has dug out never before seen footage of Mr Key promising “no job cuts” to the Public Service Association Conference back in 2008.

Since then 2,500 jobs have gone and hundreds more are being shed at Foreign Affairs, Defence and in the wider public sector.

In the same speech Mr Key also says selling assets like Mighty River Power will not make the economy better or the “boat go faster”.” – TV3 News

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The TV3 story, with video embedded…

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The highlights…

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Highlights from Key’s 2008 ‘no job cuts’ speech

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That, folks, was the all-too-rare sight of a politician caught with his pants down around his ankles.

Kudos to TV3 for this insightful, and revealing,  story on our current Prime Minister.

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Previous “Minty Moments”…

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John’s Key’s promise NOT to raise GST,

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On 1 October 2010, Key’s government raised GST from 12.5 to 15%.

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John Key trying to explain away an email from a “mysterious friend” who claimed that Standard & Poors would have down-graded New Zealand’s credit-rating had Labour been in office,

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Standard & Poors quickly denied making any such comments.

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Additional

TV3: Economy on skids, cuts to come – Duncan Garner’s blog

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(* No offence intended to banana republic tinpot dictators – I actually like bananas quite a bit.)

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Inconvenient truths? No go, Fair Go!!

3 March 2012 6 comments

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Imagine a future society where citizens have global communications, entertainment, and news-information available at the press of a button, and can be viewed on large, wall-mounted, video-screens. Imagine that almost every part of the planet is accessible  to our gaze, courtesy of a network of media agencies; citizen journalists, and an orbital spider-web of communication-satellites.

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In this futuristic society, nothing is denied to us.  We can see, hear, experience, and understand almost every aspect of human civilisation, past, present, and possible futures.

The year of this futuristic world? 2012AD.

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The future is here and now. Everything I described above is reality – none of it science fiction.

Unfortunately for us, despite the vast amount of human knowledge now available to us at our finger-tips; despite the in-depth information that can explain everything from Middle Eastern background-politics to the latest updates in all the sciences – our television is now geared toward the mental age of a 14 year old child.

And things are not getting better…

Last year, as many will recall, TV3 was lambasted by NZ On Air’s board member, and National Party apparatchik, Stephen McElrea, who attempted to interfere with the scheduling of programmes funded by NZoA, and which might be embarressing to the National Government.

The timing of the documentary’s broadcasting  was criticised by McElrea, who complained that it was highly politicised and could impact of NZ on Air’s “impartiality”. There were suggestion made that NZ on Air should have authority over when programme  should be broadcast.

“Impartiality” in this case being code for “embarressing”.

McElrea and NZoA’s board quickly backed down in the ensuing public storm. It was one thing to stack government ‘quangos’ with party hacks – but quite another to openly try to interfere in the independence of such groups. That was a step too far. (Especially for supporters of incumbent governments, who prefer such shady political dealings behind firmly closed doors.)

Sadly, the state of public broadcasting in this country has already gone to the dogs.

In August last year, the Public Charter governing New Zealand was finally dumped. Any pretence that TVNZ was a public broadcaster committed to quality, informative, intelligent programming had finally been despatched to Neverneverland. TVNZ could now get on with it’s top three aims,

  1. Make money
  2. Make money
  3. Make more money

TVNZ could now broadcast as much food “porn” (cooking shows); reality TV; American sitcoms; and guesome crime shows with their nauseating misogyny; as they could fill in the hours. All interspersed with as much advetising as they could physically cram in between their rubbish programmes. (And often during programmes.)

The last remaining bastions of intelligent broadcasting (for the moment) are,

Unfortunately, TVNZ7 is doomed to disappear in June/July, as National refuses to continue funding the station. More on TVNZ7’s impendind demise here, by David Beatson.

That leaves us with…? Bugger all.

Even documentary-making is now under constant  threat; “Fair Go” has had the Hard Word put on them by TVNZ’s “Head of TV1 and TV2″, Jeff Latch.

According to “Fair Go” staff, Latch “was invited” to attend a staff-meeting of the popular consumer-advocate/investigative show, as a “guest”, where he says he told staff,

I also made the observation that we operate in a commercial environment  and that ‘Fair Go’ like all our programmes need to exercise care in the terms of the way they handles stories.” – Source, Radio NZ

Why would a programme that deals in consumer-investigate reporting have to be mindful that TVNZ “operate[s] in a commercial environment” and “need[s] to exercise care in the terms of the way they handles stories” ?!?!

Latch went on to say,

They need to make sure that they’re always balanced, because in a commercial environment a story that is not a balance story could be something that is not really what we would want to run on this network. ” – Ibid

There’s that reference to being  “in a commercial environment ” again.

When asked if his comments were a clumsily-coded warning to “Fair Go” staff not to upset advertising clients, he replied,

It wasn’t an instruction, per se“. – Source, Fairfax News

There are two things that really annoy the heck out of me,

  1. Politicians or company bosses who try to interfere with the autonomy of an independent party,
  2. Politicians or company bosses who – when caught out –  then treat us, the public, as blithering idiots, with blatantly spurious denials which they know, and we know, are pure bovine excrement.

It is hardly surprising that Latch put the Hard Word on the “Fair Go” team, considering that,

Jeff [Latch] has full accountability for driving the performance of our core channels, TV ONE and TV2. Prior to joining TVNZ again in 2006, Jeff had been with TVNZ for thirteen years as both Head of Sales and Head of Moving Pictures. ” – Source, TVNZ

Like Stephen McElrea, who tried to bring pressure to bear on TV3 – this time for political purposes – it appears that Latch has taken his commercial “imperivative” a step further and is now attempting to influence “Fair Go” so as not to alienate TVNZ’s advertisers.

Or, as lawyer and media-legal blogger, Stephen Price, wrote,

It does make sense. So much sense, in fact, that you have to wonder why Jeff Latch had to organise a meeting with Fair Go to tell them that. Did he also mention that they should try to be accurate? Not defame people? Latch should know that Fair Go are probably the TVNZ reporters best versed in broadcasting standards and media law, since they deal with them every week. (Back in my days at Kensington Swan, I used to provide advice to them).

Asked if he was instructing Fair Go not to produce programmes that upset advertisers, he said “it wasn’t an instruction, per se.”

Not per se? This sounds weasily to me. Was it a hint, Mr Latch?

Because actually, Fair Go has a pretty good track record in its broadcasting standards complaints. It has not been listed in the BSA’s “Most complained about” shows for at least the past three years, despite the fact that it often makes serious accusations against people with the resources to sue. Likewise, there haven’t been any reported defamation cases against them in the last few years, as far as I can tell. Was there a big secret settlement recently?

If not, Mr Latch – how should I put this? – you should stay the fuck away from the Fair Go staff. It’s their job to tackle TVNZ’s advertisers when that is merited, and it’s your job to hire good journos then leave them to get on with their job.” – Media Law Journal

(That was worthwhile re-printing in it’s entirety, as Price went straight to the nub of this fiasco.)

It should be fairly evident to any reasonably perceptive person that free-to-air TV is a commercialised creature, and for the most part, quite a dumb one.

TVNZ – despite being a state owned enterprise – can no longer be called a “public broadcaster” in any meaningful sense of the term. It is nothing more than a cash cow (muchlike our state owned power companies) which the government uses to bolster it’s revenue.

As David Beatson wrote last July on Pundit,

Official papers show Television New Zealand won $79 million in government funding for its advertising-free channels TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7, by claiming they would be self-funding by 2012. Now they are closing the new channels down to enhance profits.

Television New Zealand told the last Labour government that two advertising-free channels it was launching to lure viewers onto the Freeview digital transmission platforms would be self-funding by 2012…

…On that basis, Labour agreed five years ago to commit $79 million over six years to get TVNZ 6 and 7 up and running, and a further $25 million over five years to get the Freeview digital transmission platforms established. This funding was in addition to the $15 million a year that Labour had already committed to TVNZ to meet its public service charter responsibilities.

Somewhere between TVNZ’s committment to the previous Labour government; the dissolution of the Charter; and the decision to abandon TVNZ7 and replace it with a shopping channel (!), committments to non-commercial, public broadcasting have been abrogated.

Appeals to this government to save TVNZ7 as one of the last two remaining free-to-air broadcasters  has fallen on deaf ears. (I expected nothing less. National MPs are individuals who know the price of everything – and the value of nothing.)

After July, the only remaining public, non-commercial broadcaster will be Radio NZ. And that station is badly under-funded.

As for NZ on Air, a body supposedly responsible for bringing quality programming to our TV screens, their latest funding project is for… reality tv. I kid you not,

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Full Story

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The cunningness of NZ on Air funding a commercial reality show, is amazing. It works like this,

  1. The government funds NZ on Air,
  2. NZ on Air funds a commercial reality-show, designed to attract maximum ratings and advertising revenue for TVNZ,
  3. TVNZ makes a good return on the show, through advertising revenue,
  4. Government then recieves a higher dividend from TVNZ,
  5. More money from TVNZ makes government accounts look better,
  6. Which helps National’s re-election chance in 2014.

Even Baldrick would be hard-pressed to come up with an even more cunning plan.

None of which contributes one iota to intelligent, informative broadcasting in New Zealand.

In my opinion, public broadcasting in this country is doomed under this current government. National has no committment to a non-commercial, public service. It’s only interest is (a) earning revenue from a profit-driven TVNZ and (b) coincidentally neutering critical, investigative journalism that might uncover stories potentially embarressing to Key’s government. (Stephen McElrea’s appointment to NZ on Air’s Board facilitates the latter.)

This is an issue of critical importance to our nation; our society; and our democracy.

As Blogger and Radio NZ un-person, Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury wrote, “The dumber the media, the number the electorate. Nowhere is this more evident than in the USA, where Fox News makes our talkback radio look like high culture at a Mensa meeting.

We’re well on the way to following our American cuzzies.

Without a strong, non-commercial,  public broadcaster, committed to informing the public – we become like the programmes we watch; dumbed down; ill-informed; and easily manipulated by politicians who desire our uncritical support, and most importantly, our vote.

The reaction from certain quarters to Bryan Bruce’s documentary on child poverty, last year,  was an unequivocal example of how much fear there is of informative, critical programmes that provoke debate and public scrutiny,

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Full Story

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Full Story

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A new, incoming, Labour-led government must take bold initiatives to redress the parlous state of our public broadcasting. The dumbing down of broadcasting, with the associated apathetic dumbing down of the public is as much of a threat – if not greater –  to our democracy than any “red menace” in the past; current, global US-led/Islamic conflict; or trans-national corporate takeover of our country.

This is as important as child-poverty in New Zealand because this is about intellectual-poverty.

Umpteen cooking shows, reality shows, banal comedies, crime-police “drama-porn”, et al, do not enrich our understanding of our society; our institutions; the issues confronting our nation and the world beyond.

Accordingly, any new progressive government must seriously consider the following:

  1. A non-commercial, public broadcaster – either TV1 or resurrected TVNZ7 – devoted to quality, informative programming; local drama; community productions;  and a comprehensive news/current affairs service.
  2. Funding levels for TV1/TVNZ7 and Radio NZ to be removed from the auspices of the Minister of Broadcasting (or any other  politician or Cabinet) and placed into the hands of an independent body such as the Remuneration Authority (the independent body that sets politicians’ pay).
  3. Enshrining a non-commercial, public TV broadcaster; Radio NZ; and Remuneration Authority-style funding system,
  • either in law; requiring a 75% vote in Parliament to amend or dis-establish,
  • or using a system of seven-year-minimum contracts.

TVNZ and Radio NZ were created ostensibly in such a manner as to prevent direct interference by politicians. However, politicians being the manipulative, arrogant creatures that they are,  simply cannot help but place their sticky fingers all over state broadcasting by any means possible. This usually involves remote-interference by  starving a state broadcaster of funding – which achieves pretty much the same goal as issuing dictats from on-high.

If New Zealand is to achieve the worthy goal of re-building a public, non-commercial TV broadcaster and adequately funding Radio NZ, then it must be taken out of the hands of politicians. Our elected representatives  have demonstrated that they are too self-serving to be trusted with something as critically vital to our society as the viability of public broadcasting.

If they cannot be trusted to set their own salaries, superannuation, and perks-of-office – they sure as hell can’t be trusted with our TV and radio.

It’s time to take the remote out of their hands.

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Previous Blog Posts

Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand

Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand – Part Deux

Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand – Part Trois

Other Blog Posts

Pundit: TVNZ kills ad-free channels to grow profits

Tumeke: From ‘Fair Go’ to ‘Tame Blow’

Public Address: Freakanomics (TVNZ Edition)

Media Law Journal: Doesn’t sound like a fair go to me

Additional Reading

Scoop: Tom Frewen – NZ on Air Spooked by Political Interference

NZ Herald: Taxpayers’ $1.6m for talent show

NZ Herald: No eleventh hour reprieve for TVNZ7

Radio NZ: TVNZ accused of not wanting to upset advertisers

Radio NZ: Fair Go creator on claim show could be compromised :

NZ Herald: TV boss denies instruction to protect advertisers

Fairfax: Fair Go told not to upset advertisers, Labour claims

Fairfax: Losing public TV to infomercials

Green Party Broadcasting Policy

Labour Party Broadcasting Statements

Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand – Part Trois

20 January 2012 3 comments

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Continued from Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand – Part Deux

The decision from the Electoral Commission  was inevitable really,

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Source

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Why was the decision from the Commission inevitable? Two reasons spring to mind,

  1. Common sense. Often a quality missing from politicians and their  fellow-travellers and groupies. Common sense tells us that broadcasting a documentary dealing with a critical social problem such as child poverty, during an election,  is as appropriate as broadcasting rugby during the recent RWC tournament. Crushing critical tv documentaries may be the  norm in places such as Putin’s Russia – but in New Zealand?!
  2. The Electoral Commission – unlike NZ on Air – is an independent body. It has no National Party apparatchiks on it’s Board, pulling strings. The Electoral Commission is made up of Chairperson,Hon Justice Sir Hugh Williams QC, Auckland. KCNZM, LLM (Hons), LLB; Deputy Chair Jane Huria, LLB, FIODNZ, FNZIOD; and Chief Electoral Officer Robert Peden, Wellington. BA/LLB (Hons). Not a Party official or hack anywhere to be seen.

By contrast, NZ On Air’s Board is heavily stacked with National-friendly businesspeople, and Stephen McElrea, who is a prominent figure in the National Party.  He is not just the  regional deputy chairman of the National Party – but is also John Key’s electorate chairperson in the National Party Helensville Electorate branch.

Bryan Bruce is correct: TV3 deserves an immediate apology from “NZ on Air“.

Furthermore, as I posted previously, Stephen McElrea must resign immediatly from the Board of “NZ on Air“. His position on “NZ on Air” is no longer tenable and his continuing presence taints that organisation with political partisanship and interference.

McElrea has no alternative.

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UPDATES

25 January

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An interesting response from NZ On Air, to a simple question posed on their Facebook page,

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Related Blog posts

Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand

Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand – Part Deux

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Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand – Part Deux

18 January 2012 7 comments

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Cont’d from: Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand

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This blogger has written to Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss on this issue,

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from:    Frank Macskasy
to:    Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss <craig.foss@parliament.govt.nz>
date:    Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 1:44 PM
subject:    NZ on Air

Sir,

Is it simply outrageous that NZ on Air – and more specifically – Board member, Stephen McElrea, is attempting to interfere with  the broadcasting and programming of television documentaries, citing that it might contravene NZ on Air’s impartiality. Specifically, NZ on Air has criticised and condemned TV3’s broadcasting of a documentary on child poverty four days prior to last year’s election.

This is absolute rubbish. It is also dangerous.

It is not – and should not – be mandated to a state owned organisation as to what New Zealand citizens are/aren’t allowed to watch, and when. Then is North Korean or Syrian style of government.

Furthermore, it appears that Board member, Stephen McElrea, is involved in attempting to empower NZ on Air to have authority to determine when specific programmes may be broadcast by independent media,

““The minutes of the NZ On Air board’s meeting in December says it is now considering adding a clause to the broadcast covenant requiring broadcasters not to screen programmes likely to be an election issue during the election period.”” – http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/96173/nzoa-accused-of-political-bias-over-poverty-show

This is outrageous and unacceptable. More so because because Stephen McElrea is deeply connected to the National Party, in his role as a Regional Deputy Chairman, and as John Key’s Electorate Chairperson in the Helensville Electorate.

This is totally unacceptable. Not only is this a gross conflict of interest, but it places NZ On Air’s independence into serious question.

This entire situation demands the following;

1. A new system of appointees to state bodies be set up which may make impartial appointments based solely on merit, rather than political connectivity. Such a reform is necessary if the public are to maintain confidence in our state structure and bodies.

2. Stephen McElrea must step down immediatly from NZ On Air. His position is simply not tenable, and casts a dark shadow over the impartiality of that organisation.

I sincerely hope that the suggestions and comments I have made here are brought to your attenton, as I believe this issue demands your utmost attention.

Regards,
- Frank Macskasy
- “Frankly Speaking“”

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Any response from the Minister’s office will be published here.

A copy of the email has also bee sent to various media, as it might be of interestr to them that a call has been made for Stephen McElrea’s resignation from “NZ on Air“. I suspect I may not be the only one making that call.

Tom Frewen has also come up with an interesting little matter of the only person to have complained to “NZ on Air“;  a person by the name of  “Alastair Bell”. As Frewen has written, is this the same “Alastair Bell”  who is on the National Party’s Board?

To clarify this matter, I have written to Mr Bell, at the National Party,

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from:    Frank Macskasy
to:    Alastair Bell <alastair.bell@national.org.nz>
date:    Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 1:53 PM
subject:    NZ on Air

Kia Ora, Alastair,

Regarding the matter of an email sent to the board of NZ on Air, regarding a complaint about the broadcasting, by TV3 of a documentary, (“Inside Child Poverty”), can you confirm that you are the same Alastair Bell referred to in NZ On Air documents, as released under the Official Information Act?

Regards,
- Frank Macskasy
“Frankly Speaking”

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Again, any responses will be published here, as I believe it is important to clarify this matter. Keep checking back, for updates.

19 January

Acknowledgement from the Minister’s office, recieved earlier today,

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from:    Kartini Havell (MIN) kartini.havell@parliament.govt.nz
to:    Frank Macskasy
date:    Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 2:43 PM
subject:    FW: NZ on Air
mailed-by    parliament.govt.nz

Dear Mr Macskasy

Thank you for your email of 18 January 2012 to the Minister of Broadcasting.  The Minister will consider the issues you have raised and respond as soon as he is able.

Best regards

Kartini Havell
Private Secretary – Broadcasting
Office of the Hon Craig Foss
Minister of Broadcasting
Private Bag 18041
Parliament Buildings
WELLINGTON 6160
DDI  04 817 9022    Fax  04 817 6518

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Response recieved from Chris Foss, nearly a month later,

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I’m not sure if anyone would buy the Minister’s assertion that “the expectation is that all Board members put their political or other affiliations aside when they participate in Board activities“.

Stephen McElrea most certainly did not ” put [his]  political or other affiliations aside ” when he attempted to interfere in TV3’s programme-scheduling over the child poverty documentary.

 

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Additional

Email address for Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss: craig.foss@parliament.govt.nz

Related Blog post

Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand – Part Trois

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Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand

18 January 2012 9 comments

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Last year, in March,  is a NZ Herald’s business writer and media commentator,  John Drinnan, raised the issue of possible conflict-of-interest surrounding the appointment of  Stephen McElrea to the Board of NZ on Air,

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Neil Walter, NZ On Air’s  chairperson  denied that there was any conflict of interest,

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Well, there was and there is, most certainly a conflict of interest, as events are now showing.

Stephen McElrea is a prominent figure in the National Party.  He is not just the  regional deputy chairman of the National Party – but is also John Key’s electorate chairperson in the National Party Helensville Electorate branch,

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McElrea is obviously  well connected.

So it is not surprising therefore, that NZ on Air’s Board, which is already heavily stacked with National-friendly businesspeople, has issued an unprecedented condemnation of TV3’s decision to broadcast Bryan Bruce’s document, Inside Child Poverty last year, in the week leading up to the Election.

For those who have not seen Bryan Bruce’s excellent, thought-provoking documentary, it is something worth watching. It is highly critical of New Zealand’s growing poverty which is having far-reaching, dire effects on our country’s children. The documentary looks at Sweden, and how the Swedish society ensures that problems such as poverty-related diseases, hunger, damp housing, etc,are not allowed to affect children.

And it looks at how New Zealand society has arrived at a stage where children go to school hungry, bare-foot, and sick with disease caused by poor housing; poor nutrition; over-crowding…

We used to think of New Zealand as a great place to bring up kids. Not anymore.

Multi-award winning documentary maker Bryan Bruce spent 6 months investigating why the current state of child health in New Zealand is so bad and what we can do about it. This is his controversial report.

What’s gone wrong and how can we fix it?

His journey begins in East Porirua, just 15 Km from Parliament to discover what the Free Market economy has done to the health of children living in lower income families.

Skin infections and respiratory illnesses he discovers are rife. Children living in damp moldy rental houses are suffering the highest rate of Rheumatic Fever in New Zealand.

In search of an answer Bruce travels to Sweden to find out why they are Number 2 in the OECD for child health and we are third from the bottom.

“What I discovered” says Bruce “ is that they work smarter. They know that for every dollar they spend on prevention they save about $4 on cure. They have a completely free health care system for children and they feed every child a free, healthy lunch, everyday. For the Swedes child health is a moral responsibility not a political issue.”” – Source

The documentary does not (if I recall correctly) attack any parfticular political party.

That has not stopped  NZ on Air from  attacking  the timing of TV3’s broadcasting of  “Inside Child Poverty“,  stating,

“”We are barred by legislation from seeking to influence editorial content of the programmes we fund.

“We’re very conscious and very respectful of the freedom of expression provisions of the Bill of Rights, but in this case we felt that we’ve been dropped in it by the decision to put that particular programme on just days out from voting.“” - Source

When someone sez, “we’re very conscious and very respectful of the freedom of expression provisions of the Bill of Rights, but—”  - what they’re actually  saying is that the preceding part of their statement (the bit before the “but” is about to be trashed.

It was fairly obvious that the documentary had political content. It’s also fairly obvious that the issue of child poverty transcends pilitics, and is probably the most important socio-economic crisis facing this country.

Why?

It is the most pressing crisis we face, not because of it’s far reaching consequence (which are many) – but because as a nation we seem spectacularly inept at (a) recognising that the problem exists (b) creating a plan to fix this problem, and (c) doing it.

We’re more pre-occupied with penguins, tax cuts, and victim-blaming.

This is cause for deep concern,

The minutes of the NZ On Air board’s meeting in December says it is now considering adding a clause to the broadcast covenant requiring broadcasters not to screen programmes likely to be an election issue during the election period.” – Source

It is preposterous and arrogance in the extreme that a tax-payer funded, state  organisation is attempting to set  itself up to determine  when it shall be appropriate to broadcast a programme. Especially one that is extremely relevant to our society.

It is even more outrageous that this is apparently a blatant, unconcealed, attempt by a National Party functionary to make this happen.

It is obvious to all but the most staunch National Party apparatchik or supporter, that NZ on Air’s attack on TV3 and Bryan Bruce is politically motivated. The nice, pretty words of  taking  its “political impartiality very seriously and now stands accused of political bias” is bullshit.

No one has accused NZ on Air of any such thing (to my knowledge), and if complaints were laid to the Broadcasting Standards Authority and/or Electoral Commission –  relating to  the timing of the documentary – those were most likely undertaken by National Party supporters. The  Nats have a habit of  deriding and being dismissive of  criticism.

One wonders how NZ on Air reconciles it’s critricism of the timing of the documentary’s broadcast, when current affairs programmes such as “Q+A” and “The Nation” were being screened into the living rooms of our country from Kaitaia to Stewart Island, almost up to Election Day?

Will NZ on Air be reviewing the timing of those programmes as well?

Perhaps we shouldn’t have any documentaries at all – especially if it might be seen as critical of the government-of-the-day? (Not that there are very many docos left on our free-to-air TV anymore… )

Who’s up for another re-run of “FRIENDS“?

The law of the land is crystal clear on the broadcasting and transmission of political matters. Political issues can be discussed in the media, and by political parties, right up until midnight on Friday, on the day before Election Day.

NZ on Air has no mandate to determine when documentaries shall be broadcast. It cannot and should not have a say in TV or radio programming. (At best, this is a matter from the Electoral Commission to assess, not NZ on Air.)

NZ on Air is not the arbiter of the public’s right-to-know.

And NZ on Air is not an arm of the National Party.

When a government attempts to dictate to independent media what they may/may not broadcast, and when, then it is apparent that state interference in our lives has transcended any quaint notions of “nanny statism”. This is pretty darn close to fascism.

At the very least, it is blatant political interference when Stephen McElrea writes, in his capacity as a NZ on Air board member,

“Was NZOA aware that this doco was to be scheduled 4 days before the election? If not, should we have been? To me, it falls into the area of caution we show about political satire near elections.” ” – Source

It is fairly apparent that the entire system of political appointees to various state bodies must be reviewed.  A system of impartial appointees must be looked into – because it appears that National’s influence has gone too far, this time. (Plus, it seems fairly bizarre that a National Party official considers a documentary on child poverty, as “satire“?!)

This is entire disgraceful affair has been a politically-motivated attack on Bryan Bruce, and TV3. It is obviously that Stephen McElrea’s position on NZ on Airs Board is untenable. He has lost all credibility as an impartial member of NZ on Air’s board and any decision from that body is now highly suspect.

As McElrea himself said,

Other than this, the Government should butt out of television broadcasting and leave it to the industry. ” – Source

Stephen McElrea has no other option: he must resign immediatly.

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Additional

Scoop: Tom Frewen – NZ on Air Spooked by Political Interference

Link: Stephen McElrea

Radio NZ: Listen to Radio New Zealand’s political editor on Summer Report

Radio NZ: Listen to Checkpoint interview with Neil Walter

NZ on Air

NZ on Air Board

Facebook: NZ on Air

National Party: Helensville Electorate

NZ Herald: MediaWorks works overtime to woo Henry

Kiwipolitico: Hearing No Evil

Tumeke:  Key’s electorate chairman attempts to censor political docos at NZ on Air

Pundit: NZ on Air gets it back-to-front on political docos

Pundit: Because politics is the LAST thing you need to see at election time!

NZ Herald:  Poverty trap set at birth – study

NZ Herald:  Political round-up: January 18

Related blog story

Unfortunate Outrage

Continued at

Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand – Part Deux

.http://www.linkbusiness.co.nz/Brances/Brokers/tabid/74/id/87/Default.aspx

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Greed is Good? Part Deux

6 January 2012 8 comments

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Bryan Bruce’s eye-opening documentary, Inside NZ: Child Poverty,  was broadcast last year on TV3,  and finally brought out into the open what had only be barely acknowledged: New Zealand as a society was failing it’s children, especially in low-income families.

Radio New Zealand TV Reviewer, Simon Wilson, described the documentary as;  “Outstanding. The most significant piece of New Zealand Television in years” – for good reason.

Bruce’s  doco raised public awareness, for sure. But I think it’s done more than that. Along with the “Occupy Movement”, I think we are finally seeing a new realisation that the last 27 years in New Zealand has not produced the “trickle down” benefits.

When 150 Rich Listers increase their wealth by 20%; when tax cuts have to be funded by borrowing other peoples’ savings from overseas, and have benefitted mostly the top 10%; when the income/wealth gap continues to widen; when we have to sell the family “silverware” just to paint schools – something is seriously wrong with this picture.

New Zealanders may choose to overlook your documentary (I hope TV3 re-broadcasts it) , but they won’t be able to ignore the next message, and the next, and the next.

Eventually it will percolate into our collective psyches that the promises made of  by the New Right economists; politicians; and their fellow-travellers; of “trickle down” benefitting us all – has been a hoax. Or a scam. (Pick whichever word you prefer.)

The next message that our socio-economic values are terribly awry, will be the increasing flood of New Zealanders leaving for Australia.

The more I look at this phenomenon, the more I’m thinking that our brothers and sisters are not leaving (just) because of “higher wages”.

There’s more to it than that. There is a massive dislocation in effect. People have lost that sense of belonging to a community – and once that no longer exists, why not shoot through to richer pastures?

What’s to keep our children here?

The answer is; not much. Our children can’t even buy their own home in NZ anymore. Why? Because my generation (baby boomers) have bought up most of the available stock, using borrowed funds from offshore, which has pushed up prices and “locked in” ownership to my generation.

New Zealanders can turn all this around. But it means making decisions at the ballot box based on what is good for our country, rather than our own wallets. (John F Kennedy said it much more eloquently.) Until then, we will be the victims of our own selfishness and short-sightedness.

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Sourced from “Inside Child Poverty NZ”

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On his Facebook page, Inside Child Poverty, Bryan Bruce has started a Poll; Should we raise the retirement age by 1 year to pay for free school lunches to all school children?

The responses opposing raising the retirement age are not just unhelpful – they are indicative of the very nature of our society; our self-centredness; and how badly we have gone so far off the tracks.

Raising the retirement age by one year, to pay for free lunches? Absolutely!!And there are some very good reasons to do so.

  1. If we don’t have healthy children, we have no future (or not much of one). Because it is our children who pay for the retirement of the elderly. The connection is fairly simple.
  2. My generation, the “baby boomers”, have had it “sweet”. We had free education; free healthcare; and many other state-provided services.
  3. Then, after 1984, all that changed; “baby boomers” voted seven tax cuts for themselves; implemented User Pays in tertiary education, and elsewhere; sold off state assets that had provided many of these services; and succeeding generations made do with much less of what my generation enjoyed.
  4. The feeling I’m getting from the responses on Bruce’s FB page is that it is  becoming a generational  “resource war”  –  the aging baby boomers vs succeeding generations.
  5. Well, I can tell you now who will lose that “war”; the elderly. If we continue to deny the services that we ourselves enjoyed – expect to see the flood of migration to Australia turn into a torrent. We’ll be “killing the Golden Goose” for sure because it is the younger generations who will be the ones who support the elderly and greying Baby Boomers into their retirement.

Am I painting the picture clearly enough here?

The question, to me, is not whether we should be raising the retirement age by one year – we should be asking our children; is one year enough? Can we do more for you, our children?

Because as sure as sunrise follows night, if we don’t look after our children; if baby boomers continue to vote more and more resources for themselves – the result will be predictable. And I for one will not blame our young people for leaving this country for richer pastures.

If we don’t look after our children, why should they look after us?

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Additional Blog Entries

Greed is Good?

“Building better public services” – Really?

Further Reading

Greed of boomers led us to a total bust

Rich list shows rich getting richer

New Zealand’s wealth gap widens

Rolls Royce sales rocket as super-rich drive in style

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The game’s afoot, Watson!

14 November 2011 3 comments

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Continued From

What are you hiding, Mr Key?

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More than ever, people’s curiosity is mounting over just what was recorded in the “Teapot Tapes“. John Key’s assurances that the tapes hold nothing of interest seem to be of dubious value,  since he has now referred the matter to the Police for investigation.

By referring the matter to the Police, it’s a rather ham-fisted attempt to close down the issue. Fat chance. (Although it now gives John Key the standard excuse,  “I-can’t-comment-on-an-ongoing-police-investigation”,  when journalists press him on this issue. Clever lad, John.)

Things have become more interesting…

The ‘Herald on Sunday’ advised the public that they had destroyed their copy of the tape… but not before passing a copy on to another media outlet – TV3!

Today, TV3 ran this story on the “Teapot Tapes”,

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[Click on image]

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TV3 have been warned by Police not to air the tape or publish a transcript.

However, that didn’t stop TV3 reporter, Rebecca Wright from asking John Banks a series of questions;

“1. Did you talk about Don Brash at all?

2. Is there going to be a restructure of the ACT party after the election?

3. Do you think that people who are going to vote for you have a right to know if Don Brash isn’t going to be there after the election?”

Which kind of gives away what was discussed by the Two Johns: ACT’s leadership.

Judging by John Key’s reticence in releasing the “Teapot Tapes”, he said something that – at the very least – might be highly embarressing to him, publicly.

Little wonder that Brash, Banks, Key, and ACT/National supporters don’t want the contents of these tapes made public.

It makes them look like utter wallies.


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Politics-Free Zone? “Tui” time!

9 October 2011 5 comments

Last Friday (30 September), Prime Minister John Key (or ‘Dear Leader‘ as he is now known), played radio DJ for an hour. Using the excuse of the “electoral commission rules”, Key’s presence on Radio Live was supposedly an “election free” event,

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During Key’s session on air, New Zealand’s second sovereign credit-ratings downgrade was announced. Again, he refused to discuss the issue, citing “electoral commission rules”. His one hour was to be keep “politics and election free”.

We learnt that his cat was named, “Moonbeam“.

Which is like having Peter Jackson on-air and expecting him not to make any comment whatsoever on any of his movies or the entire film-making industry…

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Just because Dear Leader instructs his listeners that his show was an “election free zone” does not make it so. In fact, it clearly was not “election free” at all, and only the most naive or ardent National Party-apologist could claim it to be. Quite simply, John Key is the Prime Minister and Prime Ministers are political irrespective of what “zone” they might be in.

In fact, hosting a politics-free radio show is a perfect opportunity for any politician to “connect” with his/her electorate and promote their persona as being one-of-the-people.

But there is more to this issue than simply John Key getting one hour of free media exposure. Quite a bit more.

It began in 1984 when Steven Joyce, at age 21,  set up his first radio station, “Energy FM”. From there, his business venture expanded considerably,

“Joyce made his millions in broadcasting. He got involved with student radio as a presenter and programme director while doing his zoology degree at Massey University in Palmerston North. Then he and a group of friends, including radio presenter Jeremy Corbett, started their own station in Joyce’s hometown of New Plymouth.

Corbett says Joyce son of a grocer had a prodigious work ethic: “Steven expects everyone to work as hard as him and nobody does.”

Joyce was 24 when Taranaki’s Energy FM finally got a full licence. Later, the team began acquiring other stations. As Corbett puts it: “I got married and left, and the rest of them became millionaires.”

Joyce says money was the furthest thing from his mind. For years “we kept living like university students [so] we could keep ploughing money back into the business”.

By 2000 he was CEO of an empire called RadioWorks, with 22 radio stations and 650 staff. He didn’t want to sell up, but Canadian company CanWest launched a stockmarket raid and left him standing with a cheque for $6 million in his hand. It was a “bittersweet” moment.”  Source

“In 2004, CanWest Global Communications combined television company TV3 Network Services and radio company RadioWorks to form the new MediaWorks company. On 29 July 2004, 30% of this new company was sold on the NZSX. Three years later, in July 2007, CanWest sold its stake of the company to Ironbridge Capital, a group of Australian investors, who subsequently obtained the remaining 30% from other investors.  MediaWorks is significantly larger than any of its other investments.”  Source

So far we have the following “trail”:  Steven Joyce/Energy FM → Steven Joyce/RadioWorks → CanWest → CanWest/MediaWorks → Ironbridge/MediaWorks, which is the current ownership-situation.

In April 2009, the  Radio Broadcasters’ Association wrote to the now-Minister of Communications, Steven  Joyce, asking for the high cost of renewing radio spectrum licence payments to be spread over 20 years, rather than paid in  one lump sum. Source.

In the following month, May 2009, the Ministry of Economic Development advised Joyce that there was no compelling reason to accede to the Association’s request, as it would “put the Government in a credit financing role“. Joyce followed that advice and subsequently declined the RBA’s request. Ibid.

At around this point, the Dear Leader Prime Minister starts to get involved and things begin to get murky. Around August 8th or 9th,  2009, Brent Impey –  the then-CEO of Mediaworks –  lobbied John Key directly, to get a deferred-payments scheme put in place. (Evidently, such a scheme was desirable not because MediaWorks was in financial trouble – but because it would improve their bottom-line profitability.)

At first, John Key denied even meeting with Brent Impey, and stated this  in answer to parliamentary written questions,

The Prime Minister said he had “no meetings” with representatives of MediaWorks to discuss the deal.” Source

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Two days later that answer was corrected, saying he “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” in Auckland where the issue was “briefly raised” and he “passed his comments on” to the responsible minister.Source

It seems fairly unbelievable that one could have a meeting with someone; discuss a matter involving $43 million – and then claim to have forgotten it?!

Despite having declined the Radio Broadcasters’ Association’s first appeal (May, 2009) – after Key  “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” the matter was re-visited and on October 22, 2009, Cabinet agreed to the RBA’s request for deferred payments.

Question: What transpired between May 2009 and October 2009 to so radically change government policy, and in effect adopt the role of “credit financing”, against the advice of the Ministry of Economic Development, which Steven Joyce had originally accepted?

Question: What role did John Key have to play in this matter? Because all of a sudden he seemed to become pivotal to this issue and it’s outcome.

Question: How could John Key have forgotten that he “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” ?

Click here for a Timeline of events, by NZ Herald report, Derek Cheng.

Essentially then, for reasons that are as clear as a barrelfull of Christchurch liquifaction, this government decided to make a  loan  for radio frequency-fees, worth $43.3 million to MediaWorks.,

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As John Drinnan wrote in the above article,

…the Government allowed them to keep the frequencies and pay the money over a 50-month period – paying 11.2 per cent interest a year. The Crown held a mortgage on the frequency with a strong security.

However, politicians being politicians, they will always argue the point,

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Telecommunications Minister Steven Joyce yesterday said the money was not a loan, but a deferred payment system to help the radio industry during tough times in 2009.” Ibid

Steven Joyce was  adamant that this was not a “loan” to MediaWorks,

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In fact, Joyce goes on to say,

“”They have to present it as a debt because it is a debt they owe the Crown, so how they do that is between them and their accountants.

“All I can tell you is that the Crown has not advanced any cash to MediaWorks at all, that the Crown has offered a deferred payment option to all of the frequency holders who were due to renew at that time, which involved them paying interest and getting in their payments over five years.”” Ibid

So according to Steven Joyce, this is not a debt “the Crown has not advanced any cash to MediaWorks at all“?!

Reallllly?

Is that how it works?!

In which case, property-owners around New Zealandf should rejoice and do cartwheels! We have no debts! The mortgages that our banks and building societies extended to us are not debts at all because they did not “advance any cash” to us!  After all, mortgage monies  are paid directly to the vendor – the new owner never sees a cent of it. Banks and other financial institutions simply hold a mortgage over our properties, and charge us interest on top of principle, to be re-paid.

Which is precisely what this government has done, as already mentioned above,

…the Government allowed them to keep the frequencies and pay the money over a 50-month period – paying 11.2 per cent interest a year. The Crown held a mortgage on the frequency with a strong security.Source

It’s a loan, Mr Joyce. Deal with it.

So perhaps it’s little wonder why Radio Live (owned by MediaWorks) did not extend Labour Leader Phil Goff, and other Party leaders, the same advantage as John Key had,

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Of course Radio Live “didn’t give an explanation for refusing“.  It’s fairly obvious what has transpired in some fairly shady, back room, “arrangements”.  It is fairly obvious that whatever “arrangement” now exists between Media Works and John Key and  his government is now to their mutual benefit.

The question is; did that $43 million buy just the one hour with Radio Live?

Or is there more to come?

Watch this space.

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Additional reading

A word with… Steven Joyce

Wikipedia – Steven Joyce

Key’s six million dollar man – Steven Joyce

Key changes tack over meeting with broadcaster

Wikipedia – MediaWorks New Zealand

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Bread & Circuses, Penguins & Rugby.

28 September 2011 4 comments

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Our entire mass media seems to be fixated on RWC, or Rugby, or any other sport, social event, or person(s) vaguely related to balls.  If “Happy Feet” had played rugby on Peka Peka beach, our media moguls would have died happy in their beds…
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Case in point how the RWC has supplanted normal, every-day, news events.  On 25 September,  TVNZ7 News-at-8 consisted of the following:

8.00 – 8.07: The Warriors’ win

8.08 – 815: Rugby. RWC. People with a rugby ball. Sick Jonah Lomu (ex rugby player). More rugby.

8.15: Christchurch earthquake. Meningitis case in Wellington.

8.16: Crime story in Dunedin.

8.18: Plane crash in Nepal/Mt Everest

8.19: Libyan civil war

8.21: Civil unrest in Yemen. Fire and fatalities in London.

8.23: Politics in Russia. Putin standing for President again. (Aside; will he campaign bare-chested?)

8.25: Campaign against bull fighting in Spain. (True! No bull!) Crazy US stuntman in China. Followed by Weather today. Followed by International Weather. (Raining in Botswana, I see – fishing trip cancelled tomorrow.) Then TVNZ7 station break.

8.28: Global financial crisis

8.33: UBS Bank Fraud – CEO quits. I shed at tear. (No, not really.) ASB computer glitch. (Some IT geek too busy watching internet porn?) ACT announces policy to decriminalises cannabis. (Good policy – except pot heads will have forgotten by tomorrow morning.)

8.38: Kiwi chick #1,000 born. (Lack of suitable penguin story?)

8.39: “Coming Up Soon” announcement.

8.40: TVNZ7 station break.

8.41: Sport. Rugby. (At this point I switch off. Consider phoning ASB IT geek to obtain his favourite porn website.)

There we have it, folks: fifteen minutes of rugby leading a supposedly “serious” TVNZ7 news hours – with another 15 to 20 minutes of same,  at 8.40.

By comparison, the global financial crisis – which threatens the entire planet with another Depression and collapse of entire governments – lasted five minutes.

Though this information was collated from TVNZ7, the other two television news serices, TV1 and TV3, have been likewise guilty of trivialising news reporting. Theresult is that we, as a society, are less well informed as to what is happening in our own country, and indeed the world.

This is perhaps a matter made even more critical as we have a general election looming and the global economic crisis seems to be gathering an evil head of steam. We also have a piece of legislation called the Police Surveillance Bill currently before the House – a proposed law that could make New Zealand one of the most surveilled country in the Western world.

Big Brother has taken a step nearer.

All this is practically “invisible”. The news media has practicalled muzzled itself, as it chases the Rugby World Cup, and cute animal stories.

Now I’m as happy as the next bloke or blokette to have TV news cover the RWC. No, honestly, I am! But not at the expense of general news; politics; the economy; community; and international affairs. There is a time and place for everything and the News media have a responsibility to inform New Zealanders what is happening in their own country. There is more to our lives than  a 15 minute story on the All Blacks thrashing [insert other rugby team here], and then a human-angle story on one of the All Blacks’ mum and dad.

Otherwise, this isn’t just “dumbing down”, this is a pre-frontal lobotomy of the electronic media with an ECG charge of 5,000 volts to the temples, for good measure.

Welcome to Bread and Circuses, 21st Century style – instead of  Christians and Lions, we have penguins and rugby.

Question – without using Google, do you know the answers to the following:

  1. What date will the coming General Election will be held on?
  2. Which party proposed a Capital Gains Tax?
  3. There are NZ military staff in which country: Iraq, Libya, Fiji?

If you don’t know the answers, but do know who will be playing the next match, then ask yourself why?

And who knew that this was going on:

Occupy wall street movement begins to gain critical mass

Keith Olbermann calls out Media Blackout on ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protest

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