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Posts Tagged ‘TV3’

TV3’s The Project – A Babyboomer lowers the boom

2 April 2017 2 comments

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“TV3 have attempted to make current affairs for people who listen to the Edge, the problem is that generation doesn’t watch TV. So TV3 have alienated Gen X and Boomers who want actual current affairs at 7pm to gain a generational audience who don’t bother with the platform TV3 are using.” Martyn Bradbury, 26 March 2017

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I don’t often comment on other bloggers who have contributed a piece for The Daily Blog. Ninety percent of the time, my ideals, values, and beliefs are  muchly similar to those expressed by others on this forum.

Martyn Bradbury’s piece on   “The Project meltdown raised a point that has been on my mind since I saw the very first ‘Project’ billboard in Kilbirnie, Wellington. Waiting patiently at the lights, my gaze wandered over to the billboard on my hard right (metaphor?);

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The Billboard was situated just above clothing bins where unwanted stuff is dumped by people. (Irony?)

At first, I was stumped. I couldn’t work out what ‘The Project’ or the logo, ‘+HR=E’ was supposed to signify. My first impressions were that it was promoting a new New Zealand comedy movie. Or a novel, upmarket chain of childcare centres was entering the country. ‘+HR=E’ would be a pretty nifty corporate logo for the latter. ‘+HR=E’. Three year olds. Geddit?

A few moments later, as the lights were still red,  I noticed the blurb “News delivered differently” and “Weeknights 7pm”, and then it dawned on me. It was Mediawork’s latest effort to wrest primacy of the 7pm timeslot from ‘Seven Sharp’ and ‘Shortland Street’.

The lights turned green, meaning my *facepalm* moment had gone and I kept both hands gripping the wheel as I mercifully left the scene of the Braindead Zone I had stopped in.

My thoughts turned to another image I remembered from Google Images;

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Oh, how times change.

From sombre anchormen (and they were all men during Phillip Sherry’s time at the NZBC), to… muppets.  Yes, really, muppets. ‘The Project’ has muppets on its set. Here’s the evidence, from an episode on 4 March 2017;

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Let’s play a game, children… see who can spot The Muppet.

Take…

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Your…

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Time…

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No?

Can’t pick it?

Ok, it’s probably this one;

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(But I could be wrong.)

Now, I’m not suggesting for one micro-second that we return to the era when our NZBC was practically an off-shoot of the 1950s-version of the BBC.

But Mediaworks already had a well-recognised, well-respected ‘brand’ in the form of TV3’s ‘Campbell Live‘. It was solid journalism covering a wide range of stories, from the sombre and thought-provoking to the occassionally light and frothy.

Its in-depth coverage the  GCSB Bill, and the Ian Fletcher scandal  in 2013 and 2014 were perhaps one of only two serious media  analysis (the other being Radio NZ) of National’s widening of the surveillance state in this country;

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Campbell Live’s‘ on-going investigation of  post-earthquake events in Christchurch also raised new standards of journalism, as well as nationwide consciousness of events and on-going problems in that stricken city.

Indeed, John Campbell and his talented team at TV3 were so successful at raising public awareness on the GCSB issue that it provoked our former-Dear Leader Key to respond in his usual trivialising, shoulder-shrugging, *meh*-sort of way;

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Jessica Wright: “How do you think that Kiwis feel about the bill?

John Key: “I think they’re much more interested in snapper quota.”

Jessica Wright: “But I’m not talking about snapper quota, I’m talking about the GCSB Bill. How do you think that they feel about the GCSB Bill?”

John Key: “Yeah, I think they’re much more interested in snapper quota.”

Jessica Wright: “Why?”

John Key: “Because they like catching fish.”

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Despite ‘Campbell Liverise in ratings, it was insufficient to save the programme from it’s apparently pre-determined doom.  It was soon followed by the jaw-droppingly  inane New Zealand-version of  ‘Come Dine With Me‘;

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Rivetting stuff. Almost as engaging as watching grass grow.

By sheer coincidence the producer of ‘Come Dine With Me‘ was  none other than Mediawork’s Board Member, and unReality TV porn-purveyor, Julie Christie.

When Mediaworks axed ‘Campbell Live‘ in May 2015 – most likely at the behest of corporate head-kicker Mark Weldon, aided by his trustee henchwoman, Julie Christie – they opened a can of worms.

There were (unsubstantiated) rumours that Key had contacted Weldon, demanding that Campbell be gotten rid off.

The short-lived garbage  that was ‘Come Dine With Me‘ was considered unappetising by the viewing public, and was quickly canned after only two months. It was followed by Story’  in August 2015 but seemed not to engage viewers. The last chapter of ‘Story’ was broadcast in December 2016.

Now we have ‘The Project‘.

Firstly, I have no idea where Mediaworks execs get their ideas from or why they think that something as vacuous as this programme would appeal to the public.

As “Bomber” Bradbury succinctly put it;

“TV3 have attempted to make current affairs for people who listen to the Edge, the problem is that generation doesn’t watch TV. So TV3 have alienated Gen X and Boomers who want actual current affairs at 7pm to gain a generational audience who don’t bother with the platform TV3 are using.”

We ‘boomers  are the generation that grew up on serious investigative journalism. We are the who watched as Muldoon was taken down by a younger Simon Walker and John Campbell took on Helen Clark. We’ve enjoyed the stellar talents of committed professionals like  Lindsay Perigo, Louise Wallace, Brian Edwards, Maggie Barry, Bill Ralston, Kim Hill, Ian Fraser, Mihingarangi Forbes, Liam Jeory, Kathryn Ryan, Carol Hirschfeld, Paul Holmes, Anita McNaught, Cameron Bennett, Melanie Reid, Guyon Espiner, Genevieve Westcott, Mike McRoberts, Lisa Owen,  and so many, many more. 

Regardless of their politics, these were dedicated journalists who we could rely on to ask the questions that we ordinary Citizens were rarely in a position to do. They were persistent. They asked the hard questions which demanded answers and in doing so, challenged those in authority.

That is the purpose of journalism.

Not to look like this;

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I can’t speak for all Babyboomers (of which I am a member of that privileged demographic), but I want my current affairs and news more like BBC/Al Jazeera/Radio NZ/CNN/etc instead of this;

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I want to see this;

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And most certainly not this;

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Next, the number one rule in business is;

#1 The customer is always right

The second rule is;

#2 If in doubt, refer to Rule One

That rule may not always apply. If a customer requests cyanide in their latte, that request can be rightly declined (or not, depending on what is clearly stated on the menu board).

Aside from issues of life and death, public morality, and physical/biological impossibilities, the customer (in the form of the Viewing Public) is always right when it clearly expressed a desire to keep ‘Campbell Live‘ very much alive. So, how right was the  customer?

Viewers:

Campbell Live – 23 May 2015: 330,830

According to comparative ratings, approximately 186,830 customers were very much right. They “walked” from TV3, en masse. Consider me one of them.

Instead of telling us, the viewers what we want to watch, perhaps Mediaworks should have listened to us in the first place. Businesses that turn a deaf ear to their customers usually end up like this;

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If Mediaworks is attempting to cater to Babyboomers, then shite offerings such as ‘The Project‘ will not cut the mustard. It is a pale, immature, sickly parody of professional journalism. What else can you call something that is fronted by people whose day-jobs are comedians? (Though, to be fair, Jesse Mulligan and Josh Thompson are pretty damned good comedians. I’ve enjoyed watching their gigs on ‘7 Days‘.)

It is an insult to my intelligence.

It is an insult to the intelligence of every person who has grown up (or not) watching real journalism, covering real stories, in a real, professional manner.

To be blunt, Mediawork Execs, if you can’t cobble together credible meaningful journalism for your 7pm timeslot, just repeat F.R.I.E.N.D.S or M*A*S*H* or anything else with excessive punctuation marks in the title.

Or just show this;

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Add a bit of background elevator-music and you’re sorted.

Or, you could try something Different/Not Different. Hire a bunch of the most respected, experienced, capable journalists; resource them properly; and give them sufficient editorial-independence to do their jobs properly.

Guarantee them security from interference by the Mark Weldons and Julie Christies of the world.

Spend money on promoting the product. If Mediaworks can spend millions promoting ‘The Block‘, ‘The Batchelor‘, ‘The Project‘, and other programmes of dubious value – then it should be able to promote a serious, flagship current affairs programme.

Treat the viewing public with respect.

That is how a business succeeds.

It’s not that hard. Does it really have to be explained?

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References

Radio NZ: Labour calls for inquiry over GCSB appointment

Scoop media: The GCSB Bill – We at least have to try

Fairfax media: Come Dine with Me to replace Campbell Live

Fairfax media: John Campbell bows out of Campbell Live show

NZ Herald: Political roundup – Who killed Campbell Live?

Wikipedia: Story

NZ On Screen: Tonight – Robert Muldoon interview

NZ On Screen: 3 News – ‘Corngate’ interview with Helen Clark

Throng: TV Ratings – 22 May 2015

Fairfax media: MediaWorks boss – Project is here to stay and will win the ratings war

Other Bloggers

The Daily Blog: The Project meltdown – when Executives come out to support your 7pm Show, that’s when you know you are in trouble

The Standard: I want that left wing bastard gone

Previous related blogposts

The Curious World of the Main Stream Media

Producer of ‘The Nation’ hits back at “interference” allegations over ‘Campbell Live’

Campbell still Live, not gone

Friends, Kiwis, Countrymen! I come to praise John Campbell, not bury him

Mediawork’s Julie Christie at war with NZ on Air – Possible conflict of interest as first reported last year on TDB

Blogger threatened with lawsuit over questions of conflict-of-interest regarding Mediaworks

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 March 2017.

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Mediawork’s Julie Christie at war with NZ on Air – Possible conflict of interest as first reported last year on TDB

22 February 2016 2 comments

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the-jc

 

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In June last year, as news of the cancellation of Campbell Live rocked the nation, I reported on possible conflicts of interest between Mediaworks’ programming decisions, and one of it’s board members, Julie Christie;

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Just when you thought Mediaworks couldn’t possibly dumb-down their television service any further;

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Come Dine with Me to replace Campbell Live

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When I first heard this, my initial reaction was someone on Facebook, with a wry sense of humour, was playing ‘silly buggers’ at Mediaworks’ expense.

Then I was pointed to the media report on Fairfax’s website.

Honestly – how does one react to a decision like this? Deep sobbing tears and face-palming – or maniacal laughter that might do The Joker proud?!

If this is Mediaworks’ idea of a joke – exacted against Campbell Live supporters as revenge for daring to question executive decisions – then someone has a rather cruel, demented sense of humour.

If this is what passes for sound business decision-making in Mediaworks’ boardrooms these days – then their next round of bankruptcy will not be far away. I’m picking three months.

Whoever was responsible for this awful programming decision would be wise to never, ever admit  their part in this insanity. Their career would be in tatters if word got out. To quote a Mediaworks press release describing ‘Come Dine With Me‘;

“Week one features Monika, a Slovakian child carer, who’s all about silly with a side of spice; Tony, an eccentric real estate agent with some cutting critiques and a few ‘endearing quirks’; Hinemoa, a part-time tattooist and full-time eyebrow enthusiast; motor-bike riding, insurance broker Kyle; and stylish yoga enthusiast Sarah.”

Perhaps an answer to this incomprehensible decision to replace a highly successful, well-respected current affair show like ‘Campbell Live‘ with another (and somewhat gormless-sounding) “reality” programme lies with Mediaworks’ board member, Julie Christie.

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julie christie - gerry brownlee - mediaworks - minister - national government - TV3

“Politicians have also had a strong affection for her over the years. Murray McCully and Gerry Brownlee have been photographed out and about at her bar in the Viaduct.” John Drinnan, 15 February 2013

Image acknowledgement: Postman Productions

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In 1991 Christie founded television production-company, Touchdown Productions.The company was responsible for “reality” (aka “unscripted television“) programmes such as ‘My House My Castle’, ‘Whose House Is It Anyway’, ‘DIY Rescue’, ‘Trading Places’, ‘Treasure Island’,Game of Two Halves’,  ‘Pioneer House’,  ‘Dragons’ Den’, and others.

Julie Christie quickly acquired a reputation for being New Zealand’s own television “Reality Queen“, as TV3 itself described her, two years ago;

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Reality TV queen quits production firm - Julie Christie - Mediaworks - Eyeworks - Campbell Live - John Campbell

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More on Christie’s involvement with reality-TV and TV3 in a moment.

In February 2006, Touchdown was sold to Dutch media group, Eyeworks. She remained as CEO of Eyeworks NZ until 31 October 2012, when she resigned. Eight months later, in June the following year as Mediaworks was put into receivership, Julie Christie was appointed to the board of directors.

There is no telling how much earlier  Christie’s June appointment had been planned by parties involved, though this had been tipped by NZ Herald media columnist, John Drinnan four months earlier.

Julie Christie remained closely involved with the company, as confirmed by Eyeworks on their website;

Former CEO Julie Christie will no longer work for Eyeworks New Zealand but remain connected to the Eyeworks Group (15 territories, HQ Amsterdam) working in an international creative role.

There is indeed a strong, formal link between Christie and Eyeworks.

The directors of Eyeworks New Zealand Ltd are;

  • Greg Anthony HEATHCOTE (NZ)
  • Johannes Petrus Christoffel KERSTENS (Netherlands)
  • Peter LANGENBERG (United Kingdom)
  • Michael David Joseph MOLLOY (NZ)

The parent company of Eyeworks New Zealand Ltd is Eyeworks Holding New Zealand Ltd. It’s directors are the same four individuals;

  • Greg Anthony HEATHCOTE (NZ)
  • Johannes Petrus Christoffel KERSTENS (Netherlands)
  • Peter LANGENBERG (United Kingdom)
  • Michael David Joseph MOLLOY (NZ)

Christie has a separate company, JGM Investments Ltd, whose directors happen to be;

  • Julie Claire CHRISTIE
  • Greg Anthony HEATHCOTE (Director)
  • Michael David Joseph MOLLOY

And JGM Investments No2 Ltd, whose directors are also;

  • Julie Claire CHRISTIE
  • Greg Anthony HEATHCOTE
  • Michael David Joseph MOLLOY

Christie’s JGM Investments No2 Ltd company is described as;

JGM Investments No. 2 Ltd. is a public hotels and motel founded in 2010. With 11 employees, the company is larger than the average hotels and motel.

By “coincidence”, the New Zealand version of ‘Come Dine With Me‘ – which has taken ‘Campbell Live’s‘ “plum” 7pm time-slot – is produced by none other than – Eyeworks NZ.

Eyeworks was not wrong when it stated that Christie “remains connected to the Eyeworks Group”.

Not exactly conspiracy theory stuff – but a possible conflict of interest?

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For full story, see related blogpost: Blogger threatened with lawsuit over questions of conflict-of-interest regarding Mediaworks

Written questions put to Eyeworks and Mediaworks on this issue went unanswered. Instead, Rod McGeoch, Chairperson of Mediaworks, responded with a thinly-veiled threat of legal-action for defamation.

My investigations failed to uncover a further salient fact about Christie’s on-going “close relationship” with Eyeworks – Michael David Joseph Molloy is Julie Christie’s brother. Molloy happens to sit on Eyeworks’ board (now known as Warner Bros NZ), as well as Christie’s own  JGM Investments Ltd.

On 14 February, this story appeared in Fairfax’s Sunday Star Times;

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TV row erupts over $5m funding of soap that reflects modern NZ as a bit 'mongrel' - Mark Weldon - Julie Christie

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Journalist Amy Maas reported that NZ on Air has rejected an application for a Mediawork’s soap opera;

The funding pitch proposed the drama would run five nights a week at 5.30pm. The concept pitched to NZ on Air said Trinity Point was a fictional mid-sized beach town, 90 minutes north of Auckland “and one of the last bastions of the Kiwi dream”. It would feature a white-sand beach and an estuary, the main road of the town would host a Santa parade, Dawn Parade and feature a large Four Square supermarket.

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Confidential emails sent six months before funding was declined, and obtained under the Official Information Act, revealed Christie accused NZ on Air board members of questioning her integrity because she used to own Eyeworks/Warner Bros NZ – the production company awarded the proposal to make the drama, despite 50 other applications.

Christie was not impressed, and was scathing in her response to NZ on Air;

After a meeting between MediaWorks and NZ on Air board members, Christie emailed chair Miriam Dean saying: “Your management continues to use this as one of the reasons to decline the necessary level of funding for MediaWorks’ serial drama to proceed”.

“I am assured by leading drama producers in our industry that the only people perpetrating this rumour are your own management and, as a result, TVNZ who are now gleeful that they have been successful,” Christie wrote.
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Christie pointed out that not only did she not have any conflict with the potential producers of the show, she had not worked there for nearly three years and had sold the company seven years ago. She said she had not even met with the current Warner Bros NZ owners.

However, Dean said it was necessary to question her because she previously owned the production company, and her brother, Michael Molloy, was a director of Warner Bros NZ. But “after appropriate probing”, Dean said NZ on Air found there was no conflict, but she could not provide any evidence that the other production companies had expressed concern.

Evidently, charges of conflict of interest had come from several sources;

But in the June 2015 exchanges between Christie and Dean, the NZ on Air chair explained that some of those whose proposals had been rejected had raised the issue of a potential conflict of interest with it being awarded to Warner Bros NZ.

“The complainants expressed their concerns in confidence by telephone, with no records taken. Several production companies conveyed a sense of disquiet regarding the selection process to the effect that, despite the [request for proposals], the outcome was predetermined.”

Christie then referred to her close connections to various government bodies;

In her emails, Christie made a point of mentioning that she currently sat on three government boards, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, New Zealand Story Board and the Flag Consideration Panel, and had a “deep knowledge of responsible public funding”. 

“It is clear that the Government considers me to be a board member of the upmost integrity. I was awarded ONZM for services to film and television. Yet, NZOA continues to suggest I would behave inappropriately.”

And then, to drive home the point of her and Mark Weldon’s “connections” to the National government, threatened NZ on Air;

Christie said she would like to bring the matter “to the attention of the minister”.

Christie’s and Weldon’s close relationship with National is a matter of record, as pointed out in this story by Rex Widerstrom, in the Daily Blog; Thirteen things you (probably) didn’t know about Mark Weldon (CEO of Mediaworks.

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julie christie - gerry brownlee - mark weldon - john key

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Mark Weldon also lashed out at NZ On Air;

During the mud-slinging, MediaWorks chief executive Mark Weldon also waded in to the debate with a terse email to NZ on Air’s chief executive Jane Wrightson, accusing them of prioritising funding for TVNZ programmes.

In the email he wrote that he “had someone do some work” on the discrepancy between funding received by both TVNZ and MediaWorks. He pointed out that TVNZ had been awarded $27m in the last funding round, compared to MediaWorks’ $4m.

“Looking at the documentation, it does not appear to be the case that you have budget constraints … It is clear that you do have budget choices.”

For Amy Maas’ full story, click here.

As I wrote last year;

I seem to have “touched a nerve”. When thinly-veiled threats of defamation lawsuits start flying, it suggests that someone finds the tenor of questioning to be uncomfortable.

To make it crystal clear for Mr McGeoch and his 40 year old lawyering career, I am asking questions, not making assertions. It would be a fairly simple matter to refute the questions with simple answers.

Thus far, no refutations or clarifications have been forthcoming.

However, an apparent conflict-of-interest still remains to be addressed by Mediaworks. Especially when the programme that replaced ‘Campbell Live‘ was created by a company – Eyeworks – with which Julie Christie is still associated, and whose Board members also sit on two companies with which Christie is involved with.

The perception of murkiness in all this cannot easily be overlooked.

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There is no telling how Christie has benefitted from Eyeworks acquiring the contract to produce ‘Come Dine with Me‘. But what we do know – from Eyeworks’ own admission – is that Christie continues to “remain connected to the Eyeworks Group… working in an international creative role”.

Whilst Christie is no longer a Director of Eyeworks, she is still closely associated with two  Eyeworks Directors via two other companies.

We do not know how Eyeworks acquired the contract to produce ‘Come Dine with Me‘. But we do know that Christie is on Mediaworks’ Board of Directors.

We do not know what role Christie played in the production of ‘Come Dine with Me‘, except;

  • her involvement in the reality TV industry is well known
  • Eyeworks admits that she continues to “remain connected to the Eyeworks Group… working in an international creative role“

The 7pm-7.30pm time slot is prime time, and a lucrative slot for advertising within programmes, as  Rod McGeoch, Chairperson of Mediaworks, stated candidly on 11 April 2015;

“We put news on, but only because it rates. And we sell advertising around news. This is what this is all about.”

For Eyeworks to produce a product and schedule it at prime time would have meant a profitable exercise for the company. That required, first of all, to get rid of ‘Campbell Live‘, thereby leaving the slot open.

It has taken nearly eight months, but after my initial findings, this story has finally been reported by the msm.

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References

Fairfax media: Come Dine with Me to replace Campbell Live

TV3 “News”: Come Dine with Me launches on Monday

Mediaworks: Management

NZ on Air: Julie Christie

Wikipedia: Eyeworks Touchdown

TV3 News: Reality TV queen quits production firm

Scoop media: Sale of Touchdown Television to Eyeworks Group

NZ Herald: Julie Christie quits Eyeworks

NBR:  MediaWorks in receivership

NZ Herald: Media – MediaWorks eyes TV queen Julie Christie

NZ Herald: Anger over Campbell Live’s replacement Come Dine With Me

Fairfax media: TV row erupts over $5m funding of soap that reflects modern NZ as a bit ‘mongrel’

The Daily Blog: Thirteen things you (probably) didn’t know about Mark Weldon (CEO of Mediaworks)

Additional

NZ Herald: Political roundup – Who killed Campbell Live?

Previous related blogposts

Campbell still Live, not gone

The Curious World of the Main Stream Media

Producer of ‘The Nation’ hits back at “interference” allegations over ‘Campbell Live’

Radio NZ – Mediawatch for 24 May 2015 – TV3’s Mark Jennings interviewed re Campbell Live

Friends, Kiwis, Countrymen! I come to praise John Campbell, not bury him

Campbell Live, No More

Blogger threatened with lawsuit over questions of conflict-of-interest regarding Mediaworks

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Campbell - TV3 - cartoon - walking the plank

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on  17 February 2016.

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Blogger threatened with lawsuit over questions of conflict-of-interest regarding Mediaworks

25 June 2015 4 comments

The following story elicited a thinly veiled defamation threat by a senior Mediaworks boardmember.

Just when you thought Mediaworks couldn’t possibly dumb-down their television service any further;

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Come Dine with Me to replace Campbell Live

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When I first heard this, my initial reaction was someone on Facebook, with a wry sense of humour, was playing ‘silly buggers’ at Mediaworks’ expense.

Then I was pointed to the media report on Fairfax’s website.

Honestly – how does one react to a decision like this? Deep sobbing tears and face-palming – or maniacal laughter that might do The Joker proud?!

If this is Mediaworks’ idea of a joke – exacted against Campbell Live supporters as revenge for daring to question executive decisions – then someone has a rather cruel, demented sense of humour.

If this is what passes for sound business decision-making in Mediaworks’ boardrooms these days – then their next round of bankruptcy will not be far away. I’m picking three months.

Whoever was responsible for this awful programming decision would be wise to never, ever admit  their part in this insanity. Their career would be in tatters if word got out. To quote a Mediaworks press release describing ‘Come Dine With Me‘;

“Week one features Monika, a Slovakian child carer, who’s all about silly with a side of spice; Tony, an eccentric real estate agent with some cutting critiques and a few ‘endearing quirks’; Hinemoa, a part-time tattooist and full-time eyebrow enthusiast; motor-bike riding, insurance broker Kyle; and stylish yoga enthusiast Sarah.”

Perhaps an answer to this incomprehensible decision to replace a highly successful, well-respected current affair show like ‘Campbell Live‘ with another (and somewhat gormless-sounding) “reality” programme lies with Mediaworks’ board member, Julie Christie.

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julie christie - gerry brownlee - mediaworks - minister - national government - TV3

“Politicians have also had a strong affection for her over the years. Murray McCully and Gerry Brownlee have been photographed out and about at her bar in the Viaduct.” John Drinnan, 15 February 2013

Image acknowledgement: Postman Productions

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In 1991 Christie founded television production-company, Touchdown Productions.The company was responsible for “reality” (aka “unscripted television“) programmes such as ‘My House My Castle’, ‘Whose House Is It Anyway’, ‘DIY Rescue’, ‘Trading Places’, ‘Treasure Island’,Game of Two Halves’,  ‘Pioneer House’,  ‘Dragons’ Den’, and others.

Julie Christie quickly acquired a reputation for being New Zealand’s own television “Reality Queen“, as TV3 itself described her, two years ago;

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Reality TV queen quits production firm  - Julie Christie - Mediaworks - Eyeworks - Campbell Live - John Campbell

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More on Christie’s involvement with reality-TV and TV3 in a moment.

In February 2006, Touchdown was sold to Dutch media group, Eyeworks. She remained as CEO of Eyeworks NZ until 31 October 2012, when she resigned. Eight months later, in June the following year as Mediaworks was put into receivership, Julie Christie was appointed to the board of directors.

There is no telling how much earlier  Christie’s June appointment had been planned by parties involved, though this had been tipped by NZ Herald media columnist, John Drinnan four months earlier.

Julie Christie remained closely involved with the company, as confirmed by Eyeworks on their website;

Former CEO Julie Christie will no longer work for Eyeworks New Zealand but remain connected to the Eyeworks Group (15 territories, HQ Amsterdam) working in an international creative role.

There is indeed a strong, formal link between Christie and Eyeworks.

The directors of Eyeworks New Zealand Ltd are;

  • Greg Anthony HEATHCOTE (NZ)
  • Johannes Petrus Christoffel KERSTENS (Netherlands)
  • Peter LANGENBERG (United Kingdom)
  • Michael David Joseph MOLLOY (NZ)

The parent company of Eyeworks New Zealand Ltd is Eyeworks Holding New Zealand Ltd. It’s directors are the same four individuals;

  • Greg Anthony HEATHCOTE (NZ)
  • Johannes Petrus Christoffel KERSTENS (Netherlands)
  • Peter LANGENBERG (United Kingdom)
  • Michael David Joseph MOLLOY (NZ)

Christie has a separate company, JGM Investments Ltd, whose directors happen to be;

  • Julie Claire CHRISTIE
  • Greg Anthony HEATHCOTE (Director)
  • Michael David Joseph MOLLOY

And JGM Investments No2 Ltd, whose directors are also;

  • Julie Claire CHRISTIE
  • Greg Anthony HEATHCOTE
  • Michael David Joseph MOLLOY

Christie’s JGM Investments No2 Ltd company is described as;

JGM Investments No. 2 Ltd. is a public hotels and motel founded in 2010. With 11 employees, the company is larger than the average hotels and motel.

By “coincidence”, the New Zealand version of ‘Come Dine With Me‘ – which has taken ‘Campbell Live’s‘ “plum” 7pm time-slot – is produced by none other than – Eyeworks NZ.

Eyeworks was not wrong when it stated that Christie “remains connected to the Eyeworks Group”.

Not exactly conspiracy theory stuff – but a possible conflict of interest?

I contacted Eyeworks and Mediaworks and put certain questions to them;

To Eyeworks I posed these questions;

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(1) Is Eyeworks currently involved in any projects intended for TV3 that might (or is intended) to be broadcast at that time?

(2) Is Julie Christie involved in any projects intended for TV3?

(3) Was Julie Christie involved in the production of ‘Come Dine with me’?

(4) Was Julie Christie involved in any way in production of ‘Come Dine with me’?

(5) Is Julie Christie involved in any production associated with your company, either currently, or planned for the future?

(6) Julie Christie resigned from Eyeworks on 31 October 2012. Your website states that she “no longer work for Eyeworks New Zealand but remain connected to the Eyeworks Group”. Can you provide details as to what capacity she ” remains connected to the Eyeworks Group”, and is she receiving any form of remuneration for her work?

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As at time of publication, Eyeworks has not replied to my enquiries.

Through a Mediaworks staffer, I asked Board member, Julie Christie;

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According to the Eyeworks website, you “remain connected to the Eyeworks Group”. This refers to your previous role as CEO of Eyeworks NZ until your resignation from that company, effective around 31 October 2012.

Can you shed some light on what your “connection to Eyeworks Group” consists/consisted of?

Did this “connection” remain in place after your appointment to Mediaworks’ Board, in June 2013?

Does the “connection to Eyeworks Group” involve two of the Board directors of Eyeworks?

Do you receive any form of remuneration from Eyeworks?

When did Mediaworks commission ‘Come Dine With Me’?

Were you connected with commissioning ‘Come Dine With Me’ for TV3?

Who initiated the project ‘Come Dine With Me’?

Were you connected in anyway with the production of ‘Come Dine With Me’, especially in the light of Eyeworks comment that you “remain connected to the Eyeworks Group” ?

What was your role in determining the programming schedule for ‘Come Dine With Me’?

What in-put, if any, did you have in deciding that ‘Come Dine With Me’ would fill the 7pm to 7.30pm timeslot, weekdays.

When was that decision made?

Do you perceive any possible conflict-of-interest between your membership of Mediaworks’ Board, and “remaining connected to the Eyeworks Group”?

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As at time of publication, Christie has not replied to my enquiries.

To Mark Weldon, CEO of Mediaworks since August last year, I put the following;

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According to the Eyeworks website, one of your Board members, Julie Christie “remains connected to the Eyeworks Group”. This refers to her previous role as CEO of Eyeworks NZ until her resignation from that company, effective around 31 October 2012.Can you shed some light on what your understanding of her “connection to Eyeworks Group” consists/consisted of?

To your knowledge, does this “connection” remain in place subsequent to her appointment to Mediaworks’ Board, in June 2013?

To your knowledge, has Julie Christie received any form of remuneration from Eyeworks?

Are you aware that two of the Board directors of Eyeworks are also Board directors of her own company, JGM Investments Ltd and JGM Investments No2 Ltd, namely;

  • Greg Anthony HEATHCOTE
  • Michael David Joseph MOLLOY

When did Mediaworks commission ‘Come Dine With Me’?

Were you or Julie Christie connected with commissioning ‘Come Dine With Me’ for TV3?

Was Julie Christie in any way involved with the production of ‘Come Dine With Me’?

Who initiated the project ‘Come Dine With Me’? Was it Mediaworks, or did Eyeworks “pitch” the project to Mediaworks?

What was your role in determining the programming schedule for ‘Come Dine With Me’?

What in-put, if any, did you have in deciding that ‘Come Dine With Me’ would fill the 7pm to 7.30pm timeslot, weekdays.

When was that decision made?

Does Mediaworks have a Conflicts of Interests Register for Board Members?

If so, has Julie Christie registered any conflicts of interest on such a Register?

Do you perceive any possible conflict-of-interest between Julie Christie’s membership of Mediaworks’ Board; Ms Christie “remaining connected to the Eyeworks Group”; whilst Mediaworks purchases productions from Eyeworks?

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Mark Weldon did not reply, but Rod McGeoch, Chairperson of Mediaworks sent this response the following day;

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Dear Mr Macskasy
I am the Chairman of Mediaworks. I have been a lawyer for more than 40 years and a director of many companies over the last 20 years.
Mediaworks is a private company with one shareholder. Short of breaking the law it is entitled to run its affairs as it wishes.
As it happens Julie Christie has made all the appropriate disclosures. The board and the owner value very much her experience and connections. My views as expressed here ,mean I believe, that the answers to your enquires are unnecessary.
Any suggestion that her behaviour or interests have in any way interfered with her duties would in my view be likely to be defamatory of her.
Yours faithfully
Rod McGeoch

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I seem to have “touched a nerve”. When thinly-veiled threats of defamation lawsuits start flying, it suggests that someone finds the tenor of questioning to be uncomfortable.

To make it crystal clear for Mr McGeoch and his 40 year old lawyering career, I am asking questions, not making assertions. It would be a fairly simple matter to refute the questions with simple answers.

Thus far, no refutations or clarifications have been forthcoming.

However, an apparent conflict-of-interest still remains to be addressed by Mediaworks. Especially when the programme that replaced ‘Campbell Live‘ was created by a company – Eyeworks – with which Julie Christie is still associated, and whose Board members also sit on two companies with which Christie is involved with.

The perception of murkiness in all this cannot easily be overlooked.

The Director’s Guide, from the Financial Market’s Authority, refers specifically to potential conflicts of interests;

• Be aware of possible conflicts of interest

Make sure any conflicts you personally have are officially recorded. All companies should have an Interests Register and a process for managing potential conflicts

Where you have an ‘interest’ in a transaction, you need to be able to show how your company (or your parent company if your constitution allows this) benefits and gets fair value from it.

• Check if your company constitution allows related party transactions (transactions between related companies). If so, do any special
conditions apply and are they in the best interests of your company?  Related party transactions are also likely to be material to investors and should be disclosed in any disclosure documents.

• Ensure you have a good understanding about what falls within the definition of a related party.

There is no telling how Christie has benefitted from Eyeworks acquiring the contract to produce ‘Come Dine with Me‘. But what we do know – from Eyeworks’ own admission – is that Christie continues to “remain connected to the Eyeworks Group… working in an international creative role”.

Whilst Christie is no longer a Director of Eyeworks, she is still closely associated with two  Eyeworks Directors via two other companies.

We do not know how Eyeworks acquired the contract to produce ‘Come Dine with Me‘. But we do know that Christie is on Mediaworks’ Board of Directors.

We do not know what role Christie played in the production of ‘Come Dine with Me‘, except;

  • her involvement in the reality TV industry is well known
  • Eyeworks admits that she continues to “remain connected to the Eyeworks Group… working in an international creative role

The 7pm-7.30pm time slot is prime time, and a lucrative slot for advertising within programmes, as  Rod McGeoch, Chairperson of Mediaworks, stated candidly on 11 April 2015;

“We put news on, but only because it rates. And we sell advertising around news. This is what this is all about.”

For Eyeworks to produce a product and schedule it at prime time would have meant a profitable exercise for the company. That required, first of all, to get rid of ‘Campbell Live‘, thereby leaving the slot open.

As usual, it boils down to money.

Someone has made a lot of money out of this.

The final question; is Mediaworks new owners – Oaktree Finance – aware of all this? They should be.

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In a rare moment of sanity (hopefully) prevailing, this also appeared in  Fairfax stories (9 June);

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John Campbell talks to Radio New Zealand about possible role

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There is hope yet, that the corporate lunatics have not gained complete control of  Asylum Aotearoa. John Campbell and Mihingarangi Forbes is a Dream Team, second only to a full non-commercial, public-service television broadcaster being re-established in this neuron-deprived nation of ours.

This must be one of the top priorities (along with addressing child poverty, polluted waterways,  and housing problems) of any incoming Labour-Green(-NZ First?) government. Every New Zealander with a conscience and deep, abiding interest in the future of our country, must be on the back of a new progressive government to get this done.

I know I will.

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References

Fairfax media: Come Dine with Me to replace Campbell Live

TV3 “News”: Come Dine with Me launches on Monday

Mediaworks: Management

NZ on Air: Julie Christie

Wikipedia: Eyeworks Touchdown

TV3 News: Reality TV queen quits production firm

Scoop media: Sale of Touchdown Television to Eyeworks Group

NZ Herald: Julie Christie quits Eyeworks

NBR:  MediaWorks in receivership

NZ Herald: Media – MediaWorks eyes TV queen Julie Christie

NZ Herald: Anger over Campbell Live’s replacement Come Dine With Me

Business.govt.nz – Companies Office: Eyeworks New Zealand Ltd

Business.govt.nz – Companies Office: Eyeworks Holding New Zealand Ltd

Business.govt.nz – Companies Office: JGM Investments Ltd

Business Profiles: Greg Anthony Heathcote

Business.govt.nz – Companies Office: JGM Investments No2 Ltd

Find the Company: JGM Investments No. 2 Ltd.

Financial Markets Authority: A Director’s Guide

NZ Herald: New majority owner for Mediaworks

NZ Herald: John Campbell enlists lawyer as replacement rumours swirl

Fairfax media: John Campbell talks to Radio New Zealand about possible role

Additional

NZ Herald: Prime News outrates TV3 as audience numbers halve

Previous related blogposts

Campbell still Live, not gone

The Curious World of the Main Stream Media

Producer of ‘The Nation’ hits back at “interference” allegations over ‘Campbell Live’

This is news?!

Radio NZ – Mediawatch for 24 May 2015 – TV3’s Mark Jennings interviewed re Campbell Live

Friends, Kiwis, Countrymen! I come to praise John Campbell, not bury him

Other bloggers

Postman Productions: Media ‘crack whores’ & dirty deals

The Daily Blog: Dirty Politics – Coming To A TV Station Near You

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Sam Caughey - @peachysam - twitter - John Campbell - TV3 - Come Dance with me

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 June 2015.

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Producer of ‘The Nation’ hits back at “interference” allegations over ‘Campbell Live’

25 April 2015 4 comments

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campbell live header

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Current affairs programme producer, Tim Watkin, has vigorously denied any outside interference in his weekend show,  ‘The Nation‘ .

In an email, to this blogger, dated 18 April, Tim asserted his editorial independence,

“Let me reassure you, most importantly, that not a single ounce of pressure was brought to bear on me or anyone in my team. It was our decision alone (and some felt strongly it would be a waste of our time)…

[…]

What was most frustrating about your blog was the utterly unfounded assertion that we would give in to pressure from management to not cover that, or any, story. “

On 9 April, news broke on the announcement that the last remaining  investigative/advocacy, current affairs show on free-to-air TV, Campbell Live‘, was facing a “review”. In commercial media parlance, “review” is often  a euphemism for staff to prepare to pack their bags and vacate their desks by lunch-time.

Strangely, announcing an impending “review” is hardly ever a precursor to a 20% salary increase for staff; more allocation of resources for the producers; and a more favourable time-slot for the show.

On 14 April, this blogger reported in The Daily Blog that neither TVNZ’s ‘Q+A’ nor TV3’s ‘The Nation’ that weekend (Saturday/Sunday, 11/12 April) had mentioned this story which had featured in every other main-stream media;

As well as the msm, most of the top blogs in the country covered the story, one way or another (see: Other blogs)

So I was looking forward to see some serious analysis on ‘The Nation‘ and/or ‘Q+A‘, on this issue.

Incredibly, and alarmingly, none was forthcoming, except for a brief throw-away-line by comedians Jeremy Corbett and Paul Ego, during their sixty-second satirical-slot on ‘The Nation‘ (though without any actual direct reference to John Campbell), to “being replaced by Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce“.

TV1’s ‘Q+A‘ was also strangely silent on an issue that had been a nationwide talking point.

Instead, on Saturday’s ‘The Nation‘, we had stories on;

  • Legal highs, with interviews with Peter Dunne and Matt Bowden
  • the booming Auckland Property market, with interviews with Mayor Len Brown; Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse; Kate Healy from Ngati Whatua Orakei Whai Rawa Ltd, and property developer David Whitburn

Sunday’s ‘Q+A‘ on TV1  gave us;

  • an interview with HSBC economist, Paul Bloxham, who coined the phrase “rock star economy”
  • urban-designer, Charles Montgomery, on how to improve our cities

Considering that ‘Campbell Live‘ is one of the last serious current affairs programme remaining on free-to-air television, one would have thought that this was worthy of scrutiny by either ‘Q+A’ or ‘The Nation‘.

Understandably, perhaps, TV3’s executives Julie Christie and Group Chief Executive Officer Mark Weldon – who have allegedly expressed a dislike for  ‘Campbell Live‘ – may have dissuaded ‘The Nation‘ from enquiring further into the matter.

On the weekend of 18/19 April, TV3’s ‘The Nation’s‘ stories focused on;

On 19 April, TV1’s ‘Q+A focused on;

  • water ownership rights & Iwi claims
  • an interview with Lt Gen Tim Keating, on our troop deployment to Iraq
  • historian, Dr Vincent O’Malley, on our own land wars

Again, it was left to the satirical componant of ‘The Nation‘ (on Saturday 18 April) to refer obliquely to the issue, when ‘Animation Nation‘ poked fun at “the entertainment value of Campbell Live“. (More on the repeat broadcast of ‘The Nation‘ on Sunday 19 April, below.)

On 18 April, I asked Tim Watkin why there was no mention during the body of the programme regarding ‘Campbell Live‘. Considering the national interest involved in this story, I found it strange that ‘The Nation‘ has not looked into the issue. Could he shed any light on whether or not  the issue had been discussed by ‘The Nation’s‘ Producers, for possible inclusion?

Tim’s reply;

“Journalism struggling is not new  and, to be honest, many journalists shy away from such stories because it looks self-indulgent and the public appetite for us navel gazing (and the political appetite for public service broadcasting, for that matter) is not high in my view. Programmes like The Nation and Q+A have no history of reporting media stories, beyond coverage of Dirty Politics etc (which we did extensively), so why start now? We didn’t cover the end of Close Up. Or the rise of Paul Henry. Or Tim Murphy’s resignation… I could go on. There are lots of media stories that matter, but it’s not our core business.”

Tim did admit though;

“Having said that I accept this is bigger than most, which is why we made sure we did discuss it both weeks, on our Sunday panel…”

Tim’s reference to “Sunday panel” repeats an earlier statement in his 14 April email where he asserts “you must have missed the fact that we talked about Campbell Live in our extra Sunday panel“.

The Sunday edition of ‘The Nation‘ is a few minutes longer because of a lack of commercial advertisements on Sunday mornings. Hence, more of the panel discussion is broadcast on Sunday than it’s original airing on the previous day, Saturday morning.

So if the viewer watches the Saturday morning broadcast, but not the Sunday morning, extended version, she/he will miss a few extra minutes of chit-chat.

Hence Tim Watkin’s reference  to the “extended panel”.

The question for the reader is threefold;

(a) is a panel discussion sufficient coverage of an issue that Tim himself concedes is “bigger than most”?

(b) is a panel discussion a suitable alternative to an actual interview and story by trained journalists?

(c) how many viewers are aware that the Sunday version of ‘The Nation‘ is extended by a few minutes, because of a lack of commercial advertising, and therefore a need exists to fill in a gap that would otherwise be left, if the original Saturday version were broadcast? Unless a viewer was aware of the extended version on Sunday mornings, why would anyone watch the same show twice?

Given Point C, most viewers, having watched the early morning Saturday version of ‘The Nation‘, would miss the repeat (albeit extended) broadcast on Sunday, and any additional material therein.

This blogger will raise his hand and say he was unaware of the extended panel version, and would have been oblivious to this situation had Tim not referred to it, and a close friend (hat-tip, Freda) not alerted me to having heard the panel discussion on Sunday morning.

Tim further stated;

…Our kind of programme is not made in a few hours. Sure, we can dump everything when major news breaks, but that’s a big ask of my already over-worked team (which is currently preparing for six hours of ANZAC Day coverage on top of their day jobs). So you pick your battles. While the CLive story matters it’s hardly 9/11 or Dirty Politics. Next, you have to think about what talent you can get to talk to and what you can add to the public debate. The newspapers were all over CLive, so what new could we add? Who would talk in a studio programme that would be useful and wouldn’t look indulgent? .”

No one is suggesting that the ‘Campbell Live‘ story is “ 9/11 or Dirty Politics“, and we can dismiss that strawman/woman reference right here and now.

However, considering the very nature of ‘Campbell Live‘; it’s reputation for investigative journalism; it’s reputation for advocacy journalism; and John Campbell’s outstanding, impeccable reputation – this blogger believes that it does matter. It matters very much.

Referring to coverage of any story on ‘Campbell Live‘ as “self indulgent” seems an exceedingly weak excuse to ignore it.

Tim’s question as to who “you can get to talk to and what you can add to the public debate. The newspapers were all over CLive, so what new could we add? Who would talk in a studio programme that would be useful and wouldn’t look indulgent” is a question for a current affairs producer to answer. S/he is paid to come up with such names.

But off the top of my head, I can think of  Kim Hill, Brian Edwards, Bill Ralston, Andrea Vance, Fran O’Sullivan, to name a few. Or ex tv company executives. Perhaps even staff willing to talk, off the record, under a guarantee of anonymity.

Critiquing and scrutinising media events that impact on our country and the way investigative journalism is carried out is hardly “indulgent”. For one thing, it addresses the ages-old question; Who Watches The Watchmen?

On the issue of  “Who Watches the Watchmen”, I asked Tim; in your experience, do media outlets (eg; TV3) ever investigate themselves when they are the focus of public attention?

Tim responded;

Yes, many do investigate themselves. Look at the BBC on Clarkson. Indeed our host Lisa Owen, when at TVNZ, was often used to stories on TVNZ.

So, it’s not “indulgent” when Lisa Owen did stories on TVNZ?

Tim added;

“It’s always delicate reporting on yourself, but it’s important to be able to do (arguably more so at TVNZ than at TV3 because there is public money involved there while Mediaworks is just a private business).”

Mediaworks is just a private business“?

I leave the reader to draw his/her own conclusions to that one single sentence. To this blogger, it raise more questions than it answers – especially when Tim described how “it’s always delicate reporting on yourself”.

Indeed.

I then referred Tim to a recent story  by Matt Nippert in the ‘NZ Herald‘ on 18 April; “Campbell’s sponsor cut months ago“. I asked if he thought Nippert’s claims warranted further investigation on ‘The Nation‘, and if not, why not?

Tim was categorical;

“No. By this time next week, I’m sure that angle will have been fully investigated and played out one way or another. It also might be useful to consider the differences between the strengths and weaknesses of print vs studio-based TV programmes. That’s a great print story, but how would you cover it on TV now that it’s broken? It’s a newsworthy reported fact, but doesn’t suggest a compelling 10 minute interview or 10 minute track, which is what we do.”

I am intrigued that Tim asks, “but how would you cover it on TV now that it’s broken?

If a blogger – untrained in media or journalism – has to advise a TV producer “how to cover it on TV now that it’s broken“, then one of us is in the wrong job. I would assume, just for arguments sake, that Nippert’s story would be covered in the same way that Nicky Hager’s story on ‘Dirty Politics‘ was covered.

To determine whether Nippert’s story is “compelling” or not, I refer the reader to the full article;

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campbell live - Campbell's sponsor cut months ago - nz herald - matt nippert - john campbell - TV3 - mediaworks

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On one point in  Nippert’s story, I will add my own observation. Reference Bill Ralson’s comment;

Bill Ralston, a former TVNZ head of current affairs, said the short-term deal was highly unusual and only made sense if a decision about the future of the show had already been made…

[…]

Mr Ralston said longer-term sponsorships made more financial sense for broadcasters.

“If you’re a cash-strapped TV channel like they are, you’d want that cash booked in for at least a year.”

In the 1990s, this blogger worked for a community newspaper, in the advertising department. When seeking clients to advertise, we were told to encourage clients to book advertisements for long periods – the longer the better. It meant guaranteed income for the paper.

Given a choice between a three month contract and a year-long contract, any advertising rep would have pushed for the latter. No advertising manager in his/her right mind would willingly give a client only a three month contract when a twelve month version was available.

Otherwise, you would be throwing potential revenue away.

This point alone warrants a full investigation by any current affairs team worthy of the name. It raises questions. I suggest to Tim  Watkin that might be a valid starting point; why was a cash-strapped TV channel that has just come out of liquidation turning down year-long sponsorship contract

On 14 April, Tim strenuously also rejected any executive interference in his show, and  expressed umbrage at impugning the integrity of his team;

“…you suggest that we “may” have been “dissuaded” from covering the story by Weldon or Christie. Clearly given my first point, that’s wrong. But what has prompted me to drop you this personal note is that it also impugns the integrity of my team without any supporting evidence. Let me assure you that it is entirely incorrect.

[…]

That I’m always happy to debate, but I get very protective when people make stuff up, make lazy assumptions or get personal, especially if it reflects on the integrity of my hard-working team of journalists, who more than most have put their skin in the game and chosen to work on a NZOA funded programme trying to make the type of television that is thorough and thoughtful and holds power to account without fear or favour.”

Two points require addressing here.

1.  The point made in my previous blogpost (The Curious World of the Main Stream Media) stated;

“Understandably, perhaps, TV3’s executives Julie Christie and Group Chief Executive Officer Mark Weldon – who have allegedly expressed a dislike for  ‘Campbell Live‘ – may have dissuaded ‘The Nation‘ from enquiring further into the matter.

Note the two words I have highlighted; “allegedly” and “may“.

I have no evidence except other media reports which have carried this suggestion. (Hopefully Tim will be contacting them, seeking a “correction”?) Indeed, I purposely left out a damning allegation which had first been reported on social media (and since published on another website)  simply because I could find no corroborating evidence to support it.

However, let me make this point. Tim refers to Nicki Hager’s investigative book, ‘Dirty Politics‘.

When ‘Dirty Politics‘ was released and the contents of National’s dealings with a far-right blogger became public knowledge, several individuals, from the Prime Minister up, were quick to shrug and respond;

So what? We all knew this was happening. There’s nothing new here.

I make no claim what influence – if any – Mediawork’s executives Julie Christie and  Mark Weldon made to keep the ‘Campbell Live‘ issue out of their current affairs programmes.

We simply don’t know for certain. There have been unsubstantiated claims, but no evidence.

But – if evidence does surface that pressure has been exerted from MediaWork’s lofty towers, or further afield, from a certain Ninth Floor, will we be hearing the same cynics dismissively protesting;

So what? We all knew this was happening. There’s nothing new here.

2. This blogger rejects any suggestion that Tim’s Team has been insulted or in any way had their integrity impugned.

If legitimate questions cannot be asked of politicians by the media; and of the media by the public – then someone is holding themselves above any form of accountability.

For the record, this blogger does not question the hard work or integrity of the workers involved in ‘Q+A‘ and ‘The Nation‘. Nothing I have written comes close to suggesting otherwise, regardless of Tim’s long bow which seems to stretch from Bluff to Kaitaia.

Also for the record,  despite not questioning the dedication and integrity of workers involved in both shows; my question remains; why was the ‘Campbell Live‘ issue not considered worthy of scrutiny by either/both ‘Q+A‘ and ‘The Nation‘?  Tim himself concedes that this is an extraordinary, on-going story.

When the fate of television’s last, prime-time investigative tv show is under threat – then we, the public, deserve to at least ask why?

Are we still permitted to ask questions? Especially when the msm won’t ask on our behalf?

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Addendum1

I invite producers of ‘Q+A‘ to answer the same questions I have levelled at Tim Watkin.  To date, I have had no response to queries sent via Twitter to the show’s producer.

Addendum2

Meanwhile, news for ‘Campbell Live‘ just gets better and better;

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campbell live - twitter - ratings - 17 april 2015

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As I tweeted back, “I guess with those figures, Mediaworks will be canning Jono & Ben and 3 News?”

Addendum3

The near-full version of emails between myself and ‘Nation‘ producer, Tim Watkin, is available for viewing here.

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References

NZ Herald: Campbell Live to be axed? TV bosses place show under review

Frankly Speaking: Campbell still Live, not gone

TVNZ: Q+A (19 April 2015)

TV3: Animation Nation

NZ Herald: Campbell’s sponsor cut months ago

Mana Party:  Key – I want that left wing bastard gone

Twitter: Campbell Live

Previous related blogposts

The Curious World of the Main Stream Media

Other bloggers


 

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campbell live - cartoon - bromhead

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 April 2015.

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Campbell still Live, not gone

16 April 2015 11 comments

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I don’t always get an opportunity to write about something positive. Whether political or in the media, there are so many dodgy, unpleasant, or downright despicable things happening that our attention is usually taken up by matters that are, in the main, negative.

Case in point, regarding the media, was Paul Henry’s outrageous and offensive remark to a female guest on his programme, when he enquired if she had had sex with Virgin Airlines owner, Richard Branson. The fact that the woman in question was internationally respected and renowned  scientist, Dr Michelle Dickinson, who had been one of a number of people invited by Branson to attend his event,  made Henry’s remarks even more repugnant.

But as some TV3 producers of Henry’s show indicated rather hysterically and defensively, it seems that Henry’s obnoxious behaviour was perfectly acceptable to them (see: Addendum 1).

Thankfully, good  taste prevailed and Henry’s late night programme was dumped only after one year. Perhaps viewers were simply too tired at the end of a long working day to put up with an over-grown schoolboy revelling in his crude, moronic, “sense of humour”.

On the other end of the media spectrum, we have current affairs shows like ‘Campbell Live’. In a vast ocean of dross, John Campbell’s prime time programme of social and political stories stands out like a beacon.

Campbell and his team of professionals hold politicians to account; bring us stories of events happening in our communities; focus on the worst of human behaviour – but also highlight the very best that people are capable off. There is simply none of the jaded cynicism or political sycophancy of Mike Hosking, Campbell’s so-called “competition” on TV1. There is certainly none of the juvenile, smutty, sexist “humour” that the cretinous Paul Henry indulges in.

Campbell reflected what was happening in our own country, good and bad; noble and anti-social; and asked awkward questions of those in authority.

Hardly surprising that “Campbell Live” has won a whole slew of awards, according to this Wikipedia article;

  • Campbell Live won two awards at the 2006 Qantas Television Awards including Best Current Affairs Series. The second award was for the Best News or Current Affairs Presenter for John Campbell.
  • At the 2010 Qantas Television Awards, Campbell Live received three awards, one for Best Current Affairs Editing, one for Best Current Affairs Reporting and John Campbell again won for Best News or Current Affairs Presenter.
  • At the 2011 Aotearoa Film and Television Awards, Campbell Live received an award for investigation of the year for their work tracking the Samoan Tsunami relief funds – presented to host John Campbell, Executive Producer Pip Keane and Producer Claudine MacLean.
  • Campbell Live has also won The TV Guide Best on the Box People’s Choice Award for Best Current Affairs Show from 2011 to 2014 and Best Presenter from 2010 to 2014.

The growth of media “personalities/entertainers”, replacing professional journalists and broadcasters, is becoming more depressing with each passing year.

Media personalities like Hosking no longer even bother hiding their political allegiances. Political neutrality, it seems, is a quaint concept left behind in the 20th Century.

When so-called “broadcasters” like Mike Hosking treats a Government Minister with unquestioning  reverance, whilst badgering, demeaning, and dismissing a critic of the government, we have indeed arrived at a state of affairs little better than a satrap of Putin’s Russia.

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Seven Sharp - 14 august 2014 - nicky hager - steven joyce - dirty politics

Seven Sharp‘ – 14 August 2014 – Mike  Hosking chats with Steven Joyce whilst excoriating Nicky Hager over revelations in ‘Dirty Politics‘.

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Luckily for Hosking, he has his supporters from the National Party parliamentary wing, as Todd Barclay revealed with his injudicious comments on Twitter.

Ironically, right-wing broadcasters such as Bill Ralston – who himself has links to the National Government – has berated TV3’s moves to “review” ‘Campbell Live‘;

“I think they’re dealing with a product that they do not understand. There is a market for news and current affairs in New Zealand and there is a market for what John is doing.

The most senior management of TV3 have been gunning for John Campbell for a long while. He has been under enormous pressure and it has been lawyers, I understand, at 40 paces as they fight this one through.”

On Twitter, Ralston lamented;

For the record: TV3 top management are intellectual pygmies (excepting Jennings) who never understand good current affairs

Has realisation finally dawned on Ralston that a free media can be undermined by capitalism as well as authoritarian governments? Better late than never.

Bit by bit, the so-called “free” media in this country is being neutered – not by State power – but by the unrelenting, voracious hunger of commercial imperatives for profit and shareholder returns, as well as conservative, National-aligned broadcasters.

Commercial threats to the media cannot be under-estimated. Note this intriguing (and over-looked) comment on a ‘Stuff‘ website reporting on the ‘Campbell Live‘ story;

Avocado on Toast

Okay, I’m going to shed some light on this. I use to work for Mediaworks which – ten years ago up until three years ago – was an amazing place to work. Sadly a lot of managerial/decision making positions have been given to accountants or sales representatives as of late. Neither of which have any experience in how TV nor Radio actually works; all they care about is the bottom line. Redundancies/cost cuttings have been occurring across the company in all the wrong places and all the work funneled into hubs last year and this year. This saves money but puts pressure on those hub staff as they’re not re-compensated for the extra work nor given extra resources to help with the work. The only departments getting extra resources, pay increases and extra staff are sale representatives. Questioning these decisions results in “hush meetings”. They’ll be looking at Campbell Live not asking: “How can we make this better for the staff and the business?”, instead they’ll be asking: “How can we make this cheaper yet more profitable without any regard for the staff?”. They’ll cut key staff and resources then blame the staff members whom they don’t make redundant when it falls over. And I can assure you that this paragraph is EXACTLY what Mediaworks’ business model is. Mediaworks is going to implode within the next two years, I feel pretty confident in saying this as everything that I’ve said would happen three years ago up until this very story HAS happened. Thus why I happily resigned.

The reason I give credence to that comment is because precisely the same corporate policy of staff cutbacks and drop in quality has occurred at Fairfax media. Sources within Fairfax have described  very similar events taking place within our newspapers – which I scrutinised in June 2013  – and which was recently covered on Radio NZ’s “Media Watch” on 5 April.

The gutting and dumbing-down of our media has been occurring at a creeping, snail’s pace.

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frog-in-pot

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Recent “milestones” – of a pessimistic variety – have been the amalgamation of Wellington’s ‘Evening Post‘ and ‘Dominion‘, in  July 2002; on-going redundancies of journalists and sub-editors at Fairfax NZ;  axing of non-commercial TVNZ7 on 30 June 2012; replacing TVNZ’s ‘Close Up‘ with ‘Seven Sharp‘ on 4 February 2013, and many others. The scheduling of TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘ and TV3’s ‘The Nation‘ on Saturday and Sunday mornings  is an undisguised ghettoisation of political current affairs programming in this country.

Aside from ‘Campbell Live‘, only Radio New Zealand’s ‘Check Point‘ offers a serious prime-time, professional, broadcast-programme. But even Radio NZ  has been the victim of a sustained, covert attack by this National government, with a freeze on funding since 2008.

Make no mistake – ‘Campbell Live‘ is the last serious current affairs programme, scheduled for prime time viewing, on our free-to-air television screens.

The threat to a free media comes not from jack-booted secret police, acting on orders from a repressive government. The threat is more subtle, and comes in the form of commercial imperatives – which demands “more from less”.

The irony here is that our newspaper, radio, and television media are quick to point to “press freedom”, when they perceive their ability to publish/broadcast as they wish, is under some form of constraint by legislation; privacy demands; national “security”; police investigations, etc.

But the real attack on freedom of the press is coming not from externalities – but from within.

The next time TV3 complains of an attack on press freedom – someone should be asking them how they reconcile the so-called free press with TV3 executives axing the last serious current affairs programme on prime-time TV.

If an authoritarian government banned ‘Campbell Live‘ from the air, TV3 would be up in arms. There would be fierce resistance; government diktats resisted; offices raided by police; arrests made; people detained.

But when their own management does it, for commercial reasons, that is evidently acceptable.

The media demand press freedom. As longer as it’s profitable.

Perhaps, as Brian Edwards pointed out in his insightful blogpost on 10 April, it is simply that public service television and commercial television are as incompatible as mixing oil and water.

In which case, the sooner we return to a dedicated, non-commercial, public-service broadcaster – the better. And commercial broadcasters like TV1, Tv2, TV3, et al, can do what they do best; broadcast crap.

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Addendum1

Petitions to save ‘Campbell Live’. Add your voice to this campaign;

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save campbell live petition

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save campbell live petition - (2)

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Addendum 2

On-line poll at NZ Herald (not scientific) as at mid-day, 10 April;

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should campbell live be saved - nz herald

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Addendum 3

From MediaWork’s Mark Jennings;

“Viewer expectations in 2015 are quite different from those of 2005 – and we need to constantly review our programming to ensure we are meeting those expectations.”

Mr Jennings – I suggest pornography;

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NZ media - new styles of news reading

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Nothing quite like some bare flesh to push up ratings, eh?

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References

TV1: Seven Sharp – Hager and Joyce: Head to head

Fairfax media: National MP Todd Barclay blasts Campbell Live supporters

NZ Herald: Media – Hosking plugs car and Key

Wikipedia: Campbell Live – Awards

NZ Herald: Decline in Campbell Live audience not ‘sustainable’

Dominion Post: Rise in consultant costs ‘gob-smacking’

Twitter: Bill Ralston

Fairfax media: Campbell Live to be reviewed

Frankly Speaking: Pay Walls – the last gasp of a failed media business-model? (blogpost)

Radio NZ:  Mediawatch for 5 April 2015 (alternative link)

Scoop media: Redundancies at Radio NZ? The funding freeze in action

NZ Herald: Campbell Live to be axed? TV bosses place show under review

Fairfax media: Behind every TV stripper

Previous related blogposts

Mike Hosking – Minister for War Propaganda?

Message to TV3 execs – Is this really acceptable?

When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays

The Media will respond to Kim Dotcom’s up-coming revelations professionally, impartially, and with all due diligence

Letter to the Editor: John Campbell expose on Key and GCSB

The trivialisation of the News and consequences

Seven Sharp turns into Serious Shite?

NZ media; the Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very, Ugly

Pay Walls – the last gasp of a failed media business-model?

Additional

Facebook: Campbell Live

Facebook: Save Campbell Live!

NZ Herald: John Campbell: Mr Conscience

Petition: TV3 – Save Campbell Live

Petition: Save Campbell Live

Other blogs

Brian Edwards: The Campbell Live Debate – A Considered View

Insight NZ: Some of the best #SaveCampbellLive tweets and statuses (so far)

No Right Turn: Save Campbell Live

Polity: John Campbell

Public Address: About Campbell Live

The Civilian: No telling how large Mike Hosking’s erection is right now

The Standard: Save Campbell Live!

The Standard: Campbell live and politicisation of media

The Political Scientist: Seven Sharp, Campbell Live and TV Ratings – The ‘Nudge’ Factor

Lefthandpalm: Campbell … live?

 

 

 


 

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media-sensationalism-and-laziness-jon-stewart

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 April 2015.

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The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed

24 September 2014 10 comments

 

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composite header - donghua Liu Affair - v2

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– Special investigation by Frank Macskasy & ‘Hercules

Speculation that the Beehive office of Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, was behind the release of a letter linking Labour leader, David Cunliffe, with controversial Chinese businessman, Donghua Liu, is supported by Twitter chatter linking Herald editor, Shayne Currie, with Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil blog.

Nothing to see here” Currie’s boss, Tim Murphy, tweeted on 19 June in response to questions about Immigration NZ’s speedy release the previous day of the now infamous  Cunliffe-Donghua Liu 2003 letter to his investigations editor, Jared Savage.

“We seek info, public service tells govt and denies us info. We refine request and get letters. We publish. Pretty standard.”

But there was nothing “standard” about the handling of this OIA request. Made at lunchtime on Monday June 16 it produced a response — which usually takes at least 20 working days —  within 48 hours. Plucked from a file and previously withheld on privacy grounds, the 11-year-old letter was immediately put to use by National’s frontbenchers in the debating  chamber and by the Parliamentary press gallery in the corridors to discredit Cunliffe and undermine his leadership of Labour’s caucus.

Although just a routine check on progress being made on  Donghua Liu’s residency application, signed by Cunliffe as New Lynn MP in March 2003, the letter was touted as evidence of support and advocacy for the controversial Chinese businessman.

[Full Background]

For the Herald, it lent credibility to its investigation into allegations that Liu had made big donations to the Labour Party.

Jared Savage’s investigation had included a request on May 8 for all information that Immigration NZ held on Donghua Liu. After taking three weeks to decide to withhold everything on his file on privacy grounds, the ministry sat on that decision for another three weeks before suddenly agreeing to  release it to Mr Savage at 8.59AM on Monday 16 June.

Although no explanation was given for the sudden u-turn it is most likely that the potential for extracting maximum political advantage from releasing the Cunliffe/Donghua Liu letter became apparent over the preceding weekend.

The resignation of ACT leader John Banks as an MP had taken effect on the Friday (13 June). The filling of the vacancy created in Epsom required a special debate on whether to hold a by- election or wait for the general election on September 20. Gerry Brownlee decided to get it over with, scheduling it for Wednesday afternoon following the weekly General Debate. That meant National faced a torrid afternoon on Wednesday 18 June as Opposition parties combined to hang the Government’s dirty washing all around the debating chamber.

A  diversion would be handy.

First, the response to Mr Savage’s May 8 OIA request had to be cleared away and replaced by a fresh request targeted more precisely at the Cunliffe/Donghua Liu letter. Mr Savage obliged with an email seeking “any correspondence, including emails, letters or queries, from an Members of Parliament in regards to Donghua Liu’s immigration status prior to 2005.” The email was sent at 1.04pm on the Monday and asked for the request to be treated urgently because of “the public interest in this case.”

Just over an hour later, at 2.11pm, a remarkably similar request arrived from TV3’s political reporter, Brook Sabin;

“We’d like to know if any Labour MPs lobbied for Donghua Liu’s residency back in 2005 . . . Cheers.”

A growing army of managers, business advisors, comms people and consultants went straight to work on co-ordinating responses to the two requests. Ironically, although TV3 lodged their request sixty seven minutes after the Herald, Sabin was to scoop Savage by three minutes when the 2003 Cunliffe letter was released just under forty eight hours later at 12.49PM on Wednesday 18 June.

Twitter chatter in the hour leading up to the letter’s release reveals a small network of journalists and right-wing bloggers who knew it was coming. They had their stories already written and were waiting impatiently to hit “send”.

12.10pm: Herald editor, Shayne Currie, starts the count down on Twitter: “Tick, tick, tick . . . keep an eye on @nzherald #scoop.”

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Shayne Curry - 12.10 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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The 2003 Cunliffe-Liu letter has not yet been released at this point. No one outside of  Immigration NZ and Minister Woodhouse are supposedly aware of it’s existence. It would not be released for another thirty nine minutes.

At exactly the same moment, an unidentified staff member in the Immigration Minister’s Beehive office in Wellington emails across the Parliamentary complex to Cunliffe’s office with a heads-up. Two documents, Cunliffe’s 2003 letter and a similar one sent five months earlier from Labour’s Te Atatu MP, Chris Carter, are to be released to the media “around 1pm”.

12.12pm: Meanwhile, “Pete” is getting impatient. Described in his Twitter profile as “a fluffer, researcher, reporter, journalist, moderator and deputy editor” for Whale Oil Beef Hooked, “Pete” tweets back at Currie: “We’ve been waiting. Get on with it. #bloodyembargoes.”

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Peter  - 12.12 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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12.23pm “Pete” is missing lunch. He asks @Inventory2 [Wanganui right-wing blogger and National Party member, Tony Stuart] and Currie if he has enough time to make himself a sandwich;

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Peter - 12.23 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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12.28pm: Currie tells sandwich-seeking “Pete” to “Take your Herald mobile app.

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Shayne Curry - 12.28 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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12.30pm: Back in Wellington, ministry staff are racing to get the  letters to the minister’s office. An area manager in Visa Services emails 10 colleagues with the news that a copy of the OIA response to Sabin’s request has been sent to the minister’s office.

12.39pm: The Visa Services area manager reports that he’s “just been advised that the Ministerial consultation has been completed so we will proceed to release.”

12.42pm: The same area manager then emails 10 colleagues to report that the consultation process has been completed and the letters are being released. “I have also asked . . . when we can release the Brook Sabin OIA.”

12.49pm: A business advisor in the ministry’s “Operations Support” team emails scans of the signed response and the two letters to Jared Savage at the Herald. At this point the 2003 Cunliffe and 2002 Carter letters ‘officially’ become public.

12.53pm: Sabin posts a scan of the Cunliffe letter on TV3’s website with a story quoting extensively from it. His story appear four minutes after ImmigrationNZ release the 2003 Cunliffe and 2002 Carter letters to Savage.

12.55pm: “Pete” checks in. He’s had lunch and he’s hot to post the story he’s already written after hearing from Whale Oil. Currie gets the green light and, obviously unaware that the Herald has already been scooped by TV3, tweetsBig political story breaking now . . . what David Cunliffe knew and said about Donghua Liu.”

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Pete - 12.55 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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Shayne Curry - 12.55 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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12.57pm: Cameron Slater posts excerpts from Savage’s story on his Whale Oil blog along with a transcript from a media briefing the previous day on Labour’s KiwiSaver policy when Sabin’s TV3 colleague, Tova O’Brien, asked Cunliffe four questions about Donghua Liu.

12.59pm: Blogger Keith Ng posts the Question and Answer transcript on Twitter, describing it as a “wicked sick burn.”

1.00pm: The Herald’s veteran political correspondent, John Armstrong, posts a comment on the Herald’s website saying Cunliffe “is in deep political trouble. So deep that his resignation  as Labour’s leader may now be very much in order”. Armstrong’s column is written and published on-line eleven minutes after Savage is emailed the 2003 Cunliffe and 2002 Carter letters.

1.46pm: Parliamentary Press Gallery accuse Cunliffe of lying and and being a hypocrite in 8-minute “stand-up” on his way into the debating chamber.

2.00pm: Cunliffe arrives in chamber, met by jeering from National benches. Ministers use the 2003 Cunliffe-Liu letter to attack the Labour leader’s credibility. Two of them (English and Woodhouse) quote directly from TV3’s Question and Answer transcript from the previous day.

On the following day, Thursday 19 June . . .

8.04pm: Herald political editor, Audrey Young, in New York with the prime minister, reports that Key admitted knowledge of the Cunliffe/Donghua Liu letter for some weeks. She says Cunliffe’s denials that he wrote “any such letter” has “thrown his leadership into crisis.”

5.14pm: Herald deputy political editor, Claire Trevett, and political reporter, Adam Bennett, report that Woodhouse had confirmed that his office had informed the prime minister’s office of the letter’s existence within a few days of learning of it on 9 May, the day after Savage lodged his first OIA request — the first of three conflicting accounts from Woodhouse.

Four conclusions

1. This was no ordinary scoop. This was a political dirty trick with journalists as willing participants when they should have been exposing it for what it was. Links between political operatives, bloggers and journalists are inevitable and revealed. Ultimately the credibility of mainstream news depends on  its objectivity, independence and accuracy.

2. While the last-minute scramble to publish the letter before 1pm on the Wednesday depended on its release to the Herald’s  investigations editor at 12.49pm, there is no record of its  release to TV3’s political reporter. There is no paper trail, except a few references in internal emails. If it didn’t come from the ministry, it must have come from the minister.

3. The production and circulation of the Question and Answer transcript, required to support the — false — claim that Cunliffe had lied or suffered serious memory loss, remains a mystery. Blogger Keith Ng’s instant judgment on it as a “wicked sick burn” is more than just a smart turn of phrase.

4. Nicky Hager’s chapter on the Cunliffe/Donghua letter in ‘Dirty Politics’ refers to a blogger called “Barnsley Bill”, who – on the day before the Cunliffe-Liu story “broke” on 18 June in the Herald –  made this cryptic remark on Danyl McLauchlan’s blog, “The Dim Post;

Within 24 hours the poll are going to be the least of David Cunliffes problems.
Keep an eye on the herald website, we are about to see pledge card theft relegated to second place as the biggest labour funding scandal.

Comment by Barnsley Bill — June 17, 2014 @ 10:21 am

Followed the next day with this;

Pascals Bookie..
There ya go. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11276510
Boom.
Now wait for the 100k bottle of wine to drop

Comment by Barnsley Bill — June 18, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

“Barnsley Bill’s” reference to “the 100k bottle of wine” was made before the Herald published allegations of Liu spending $100,000 on a bottle of wine to the Labour Party. (Allegations which have since been re-tracted by the Herald.)

Subsequent questions put to  “Barnsley Bill” have yielded no sensible answers, and his/her responses have been evasive. (Ref.)(Ref.)(Ref.)(Ref.)

Maintaining his cryptic game-playing,  “Barnsley Bill” referred on “The Daily Blog” to “look to Kerikeri for the leak” – which he pointedly repeated. Kerikeri is in the Northland Electorate. Northland is National MP, Mike Sabin’s electorate.

Mike Sabin is TV3 journalist, Brook Sabin’s father.

These are the people who knew about the 2003 Cunliffe letter before it was made public under  OIA requests on 18 June. Those OIA requests were ‘smoke-screens’ as TV3, NZ Herald, and Whaleoil already had the documents, or had been informed of their content.

Those letters were provided by the Office of the Minister for Immigration.

Under Savage’s OIA request there was a deliberate, pointed paper-trail trail by Ministry officials. No doubt the civil servants involved had an idea what their Minister was up to, and wanted plausible deniability in case any investigation resulted. By contrast, no such paper trail exists to explain how Brook Sabin obtained his copy of the 2003 Cunliffe letter. Minister Woodhouse was clumsy.

This could have come directly from the Minister’s office.

As the Twitter discussion and “Barnsley Bill’s” cryptic, prescient, comments  indicate, there were several people “in the loop” to what was clearly a calculated, planned, – if rushed – political trap and public smear campaign. Clearly, these people did not expect anyone to notice their public conversation.

Organised from a  Minister’s office; with involvement by Cameron Slater,  and with TV3 and NZ Herald complicity, David Cunliffe walked into that trap.

The truth is only now coming out.

Put the whole Twitter conversation together, and it is abundantly obvious that those involved knew that the story was coming out  prior to the Ministry releasing the 2003 Cunliffe and 2002 Carter letters.

Herald Editor, Shane Currie certainly had fore-warning.

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Shayne Curry - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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Acknowledgement

Appreciation to ‘Hercules‘ for providing  information and filling in the gaps. Without your in-put, this story would never have come it.

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References

Wikipedia: Shayne Curry

Document Cloud: David Cunliffe-Liu-Immigration NZ 2003 letter

Document Cache: Jared Savage OIA request 16 June 2014

Document Cache: Jared Savage OIA request declined 8 May 2014

Parliament Hansards: Daily debates – Volume 699, Week 75 – Wednesday, 18 June 2014

TV3: Cunliffe’s links to Liu (see video)

NZ Herald: Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party

Document Cache: Jared Savage OIA request extension-approved 16 June 2014 8.59AM

Radio NZ: John Banks to resign from Parliament

Document Cache: Jared Savage – Immigration NZ – new OIA request – 16 June 1.04PM

Document Cache: Brook Sabin – TV3 – Immigration NZ – OIA request –  16 June 2.11PM

NZ Herald: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

Document Cache:  Release of OIA to Jared Savage – covering email – 18 June 2014 – 12.49PM

Document Cache: Chris Carter – letter – 3 October 2002

Twitter: Pete – 12.12PM

Twitter: Pete – 12.23PM

Twitter: Shayne Currie – 12.28PM

Wanganui Chronicle: Wanganui man outed in Hager’s book

Document Cache: ImmigrationNZ Area Manager to 10 colleagues – 12.30PM

Document Cache: Immigration NZ – 18 June – 12.39PM

Document Cache: Immigration NZ – 18 June – 12.42PM

Twitter: Pete – 12.55PM

Twitter: Shayne Curry – 12.55PM

Twitter: Shayne Currie @ShayneCurrieNZH

Whaleoil: BREAKING – David Cunliffe’s career, such as it was, is over [ UPDATED ]

TV3: Tova O’Brien’s four questions to David Cunliffe, 17 June

Twitter: Keith Ng –

NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order

NZ Herald: Key on Liu-Labour Link – More to come

NZ Herald:  National denies dirty tricks campaign against Cunliffe

The Dim Post: June Polls – Barnsley Bill

The Dim Post: Entities – Barnsley Bill

NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

The Daily Blog: EXCLUSIVE: Was the Donghua Liu Affair another example of Dirty Politics?

Mike Sabin

Previous related blogposts

The Donghua Liu Affair:  Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?

The Donghua Liu Affair: the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign

The Donghua Liu Affair: The first step to a complaint to the Press Council

The Donghua Liu Affair: responses from NZ Herald and Prime Minister’s Office – Is the PM’s office fudging?

The Donghua Liu Affair: Evidence of Collusion between the NZ Herald and Immigration NZ?

The Donghua Liu Affair: the Press Council’s decision

The Donghua Liu Affair: The OIA Gambit

 


 

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Vote and be the change

 

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 September 2014 as “The Donghua Liu Affair – how the NZ Herald played their part in #dirtypolitics

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When the mainstream media go feral: the descent into sheer farce, according to Tova O’Brien

30 July 2014 7 comments

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Tova O'Brien - foot in mouth award

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It had to happen, I guess… The media pack-campaign against Labour Leader David Cunliffe has managed to  plumb new depths of absurdity.

On TV3, on 24 July,  TV3/Tova O’Brien ran this report on their 6PM News bulletin, about Key’s face appearing – photo-shopped – on the cover of the “Rugby News“;

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tova o'brien - tv3 - john key - cover rugby news - david cunliffe

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The print-version on the TV3 website had this to say on the story;

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Key nestles in with the All Blacks

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Tova O'Brien 3 News Political Reporter

Political Reporter – Thursday 24 Jul 2014 6:32p.m.

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New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has labelled the Prime Minister a poser and an imposter after yet another photo opportunity coup.

First it was tea with the Queen, then golf with United States President Barack Obama – now he’s managed to nestle in with some All Blacks on the cover of the Rugby News magazine.

“Some people will love it and some people will hate it,” says Mr Key.

With the All Blacks almost like royalty in New Zealand it could be seen as an endorsement, and Labour leader David Cunliffe is not impressed.

“I was surprised to see it,” he says. “It’s not often you see a major sporting body getting involved in politics.”

The New Zealand Rugby Union was forewarned by the magazine.

It did nothing but request a small disclaimer that Mr Key leading the pack wearing an All Blacks jersey was not an endorsement – it was photoshopped.

“I think I need to accept that I’d more than likely make it as a mascot than a player,” says Mr Key.

“It’s posing and impostering,” says Mr Peters. “You wouldn’t put an All Black jersey on unless you’re an All Black. He looks like an imposter.”

He did not request the cover, the magazine approached him and it does not breach any electoral laws.

3 News

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However, stuck at the very end of the video-version of the story, is this incredible parting-quip by O’Brien;
“So once again the blue team gets one over the red team.Yes, it’s cringey, but it’s left Cunliffe looking whingey.”

Geddit? “Cringey”. “Whingey”. They rhyme!!

Oh how very witty, Ms O’Brien!

Ho, ho, ho! Tova, you certainly earned your salary with that piece. There must have been several children who laughed their heads of at the ‘funny’ you made!

Not so funny is that despite the fact that the story was ostensibly about Key getting his face photo-shopped onto a magazine and scoring some free election-year publicity – a supposedly well-educated, “impartial” journo still managed to somehow insert a childish comment about David Cunliffe. That’s despite the fact that Cunliffe’s comments were much more restrained and measured than the criticism  made by Winston Peters in the same video.

So there we have it, folks. Even when the story is about John Key – a silly little journo still managed to turn it into a swipe at David Cunliffe. This is what we are being served up as “news”;

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toilets-watching-bare-ass-on-tv

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This is not impartial, intelligent journalism.

It’s not even close.

So what should be the response of the Left? To work our arses off in the next two months and score a decisive victory on 20 September. That will be our “FUCK YOU!” to the media in this country.

 

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References

TV3:  Key nestles in with the All Blacks

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

Mike Hosking as TVNZ’s moderator for political debates?! WTF?!

When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays

 


 

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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 25 July 2014.

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Message to TV3 execs – Is this really acceptable?

25 July 2014 5 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 6 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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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!!!

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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 3 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…

[…]

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…

[…]

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 4 comments

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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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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