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Posts Tagged ‘TVNZ’

Worse than “fake news” – sloppy news!

31 March 2018 2 comments

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What’s worse than “fake news”? Sloppy news.

Sloppy as in: where a supposedly reputable mainstream media outlet presents a news story, but with a glaring error.  Case in point, TVNZ’s story on 25 March, reporting that “$1.7 million of taxpater’s money had been spent last year on airfares and escorts to deport overstayers – more than in any of the last five years“;

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The figures  presented were accurate enough.

The presentation, though, was misleading, with the intro statement reading;

The Government is spending a startling amount of money to get rid of overstayers in New Zealand, but few people are being deported and very little of that money is being recovered.

The most recent figure of $1.7 million related to 2017. (See image above).

The money had been spent by the previous, National government – not by the current Labour-NZ First-Green Coalition. By referring to “the government”,  TVNZ’s story suggested that responsibility for this spending lies with the current Coalition.

Silly slip-ups of this nature present an unfair critical picture of the newly elected Coalition government and let’s the National Party off the hook when it comes to owning their chronic mismanagement and waste of taxpayer’s money.

It may seem trivial to some, but it is inaccurate and misleading. It is sloppy news.

Not many people would have picked up on that error. The public may likely assume that the news reader’s reference to “the government” refers to the current Coalition.

The Coalition will have enough problems cleaning up nine years of National’s toxic legacies  without the msm trying to point responsibility to Labour, NZ First, and the Greens. (They’ll have their own stuff-ups to own up to in the future.)

Not good enough, TVNZ.

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References

TVNZ:   More than 10,000 overstayers in NZ and Immigration not actively looking for most of them

Previous related blogposts

How biased is the media? A Patrick Gower case study

When the mainstream media go feral

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 March 2018.

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Only four years too late – TVNZ-Colmar Brunton catch up with The Daily Blog

15 December 2017 1 comment

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Four years ago, this blogger pointed out that then-existing polling methodologies – relying solely on landline respondents – was flawed. The 2013 Census had revealed a significant ‘chunk’ of the population had surrendered access to landlines, in favour of cellphone/smartphone usage.

In March 2013, this blogger pointed out that the 2013 Census contained this question;

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Part of the problem are anecdotal  stories that many low income families, students, transients, etc, no longer rely on landlines and use only cellphones. Polling companies do not call cellphones – only landlines. (A low-income family living not far from us fits this demographic group perfectly; no landline; cellphones only. The sole-parent head of the household votes Labour.)

This year’s census has an interesting question; Question 17,

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2013 survey - qu 17

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The question asks the respondent to “mark as many spaces as you need to show which of these are available here in this dwelling”.

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Out of all polling companies,  only Roy Morgan recognised changing usage of modern technology by actively calling  cellphones to reach respondants.

As if to underscore this new reality, in September 2013, even this blogger was contacted by Roy Morgan. Questions ranged from legalisation of cannabis; political party support; travelling; radio station preference; social issues; etc.

Clearly Stats NZ wanted to determine the extent to which cellphone penetration of households had supplanted landlines.

In December 2013, Statistics NZ released the data gleaned from Question 17 (see above). The results confirmed suspicions that political pollsters (aside from Roy Morgan) was not reaching a sizeable number of New Zealanders, and polling numbers were being skewed;

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Yesterday (3 December 2013), Statistics NZ released the result of that question. The impact on political polling firms and their methodologies will no doubt be considerable;

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Three-quarters of households now have Internet access

  • Internet access at home continued to rise, at 76.8 percent in 2013, compared with 60.5 percent in 2006 and 37.4 percent in 2001.
  • Cellphone access also increased, with 83.7 percent of households in 2013 having access to a cellphone at home, compared with 74.2 percent in 2006.
  • 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.
  • Fax access decreased. In 2013, 14.6 percent of households had access to a fax, down from 26.0 percent in 2006.
  • A small percentage of households (1.6 percent or 24,135 households) did not have access to any telecommunication systems at home. That is, they did not have a landline telephone, cellphone, Internet access, or a fax.

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As I pointed out in that same blogpost;

Note that only “85.5% of households had access to a landline telephone at home, down from 91.6% in 2006”.

This means that 14.5% of households did not have access to a landline.

Almost precisely four years later, TVNZ had caught up.  On 8 December, TVNZ’s political editor, Corin Dann wrote;

“ It was a shock 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll back in July showing Labour on just 24 per cent that prompted Mr Little to make an on-camera admission to me that he had considered resigning.

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For me personally as Political Editor, the Andrew Little poll story is a very important reminder of the responsibility the media has, along with our polling companies, in presenting accurate polls and ensuring the methods we use are as good as they can possibly be.

As Andrew Little well knows, polls really matter.”

Dann went on to announce;

“ So it’s with that sense of responsibility – as well as a look to the future – that 1 NEWS and Colmar Brunton have now decided it is time to change our polling methodology.

In future we will no longer just poll telephone landlines. It will be a 50/50 split of mobiles and landlines.”

In explanation, he added;

“… during the course of the past year we at 1 NEWS, along with Colmar Brunton, felt it was right to start exploring whether adding mobile phones was prudent, given the rapid changes we are seeing in communication habits.

The fact is, landlines are no longer used by as many people. The best information we have on this is Census data from 2013 which confirms only 86 percent of households had a landline compared to 92 percent in 2006.”

Only four years late.

Perhaps this story illustrates that blogs – whilst not funded or otherwise resourced as richly as mainstream media – can be far more “nimble on their feet” when it comes to picking up, analysing, and commenting on developing trends.

For the second time, a blogger has red-flagged an issue that was belatedly picked up by the msm;

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The mainstream media – or at least one clever journalist working for Mediaworks/Newshub – has finally caught up with a story broken by this blogger last year that unemployment data from Statistics NZ was no longer reliable;

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It pays to keep an eye on blogs such as The Standard, No Right Turn, The Daily Blog, et al. The old saying holds true;

You heard it hear first, folks!

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References

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

TVNZ:  Mobiles to be included in 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll for the first time in bid to reach more young voters

Mediaworks/Newshub:  Unemployment – Bad news NZ, it’s much worse than you think

Additional

The Spinoff:   The first big poll for ages is due. What would be a good result for Labour?

Mediaworks:  Patrick Gower – Newshub’s poll is vital and correct

Previous related blogposts

Mr Morgan phoned (2013)

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones (2013)

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones (Part rua) (2013)

MSM catches up on Unemployment stats rort

Roy Morgan poll confirms blogger’s prediction – National is in freefall

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 December 2017.

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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)…

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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…

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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.

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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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My political compass…

23 August 2014 8 comments

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20-september

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TVNZ are doing a very interesting on-line political survey, where respondents are asked to give feedback to various political issues. It’s a New Zealand version of an overseas political compass that has been in existence for soime years.

I enourage people to go online and complete the survey. I’m sure a lot of politicians will be taking some interest in the outcomes.

I present my own compass here;

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How much you agree with the parties

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I agree only 90% with boththe Greens and Mana?! Hmmm, methinks I’ll have to check my middle class privilege…

But even more disturbingly, I agreed 23% with ACT?!?! And 37% with the Conservative Party?! What the heck is up with that?! I’m not going to be able to sleep well tonight…

Interestingly, this highlights a very real dilemma for me; who to give my Party Vote to?

Both the Greens and Internet-Mana are worthy parties to support. This is a real “sophie’s Choice” for me…

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How you fit in the political landscape

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Well, the above chart shows me clearly to the left on economic and socially progressive issues. Thank goodness. (In my teens and early 20s I would’ve been closer to National or ACT. But then, I was young and stupid.)

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How you rate the party leaders

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I think I was overly generous for Winston Peters…

I voted ‘1’ for Colin Craig based on,

  • his opposition to state asset sales,
  • his opposition to selling farmland to overseas investors,
  • his regular  contributions to the legal fraternity,
  • entertainment value.

One of the questions asked was what was the most pressing issue for me this election? I put child poverty. All else flows from that.

I encourage folk to take the Political Compass survey. (Just be careful before answering the questions as some are double-negatives.)

Have fun!

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References

TVNZ: Vote Compass

 


 

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john key is scared of your vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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State propaganda on TVNZ – pssst, just don’t mention the war! Er, Election!

16 August 2014 2 comments

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toilets-watching-bare-ass-on-tv

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TVNZ’s Breakfast on 12 August, went from it’s scurrilous mis-reporting of the effigy burning, to sheer, naked propaganda. This time, Key put on a performance as a typical all-blokey cook-in-the-kitchen.

The programme host, Jeanette Thomas, opened with this statement – in-between eye-lash fluttering and schoolgirl giggling;

“We’re cooking with the Prime Minister, John Key. And this is alllll about getting to know yooou, and all the stuff that you do kinda behind the scenes, ’cause we’re not allowed to talk politics today…*giggle, giggle*”

 

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TVNZ - Breakfast - cooking

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Yeah, yeah, giggle, giggle, flirt…

However, one sharp-eyed viewer made this comment on his facebook page soon after the show was over;

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TVNZ - Breakfast - cooking- facebook - hugh fletcher

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Not quite the ordinary, blokey “man-of-the-people” after all, eh?

Question is, will TVNZ’s ‘apolitical’ Breakfast show allow equal time to Labour leader David Cunliffe? And will it be hosted by ‘impartial’ host, Rawdon Christie…?

Which brings us back to this slightly-more-serious-matter…

11 August – TVNZ Breakfast Show:

Note the  Breakfast host’s chatty “interview” between Rawdon Christie and Dear Leader John Key. Rawdon is all smiles and let’s Key speak without interuption;

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TVNZ - Breakfast - kim dotcom - video - effigy - john key - burning - 2014 elections

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12 August – TVNZ Breakfast Show:

The following day, TVNZ allowed Internet Party, Laila Harré, to respond. Note the combative/defensive stance  by host, Rawdon Christie;

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TVNZ - Breakfast - laila harre

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Laila’s “right of reply” included at least thirteen interruptions as Christie spoke over his guest within a five minute period.

It was left to the State broadcaster’s competitor, TV3, to publish a ‘retraction’ by John Key,

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John Key admits effigy video not linked to Internet Mana

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No apology from  Key, of course. Dear Leader does not ‘do’ apologies – unless it is “serious”.

It appears that media can broadcast or publish any old garbage with minimal recourse. Even when the target of a deliberate smear is given an opportunity to correct misinformation, the broadcaster’s representative will fight tooth and nail to justify their own misconduct.

We’ve seen it with the NZ Herald and the Donghua Liu Affair.

Interesting though that when Rawdon Christie first interviewed Key on this issue, on 11 August, he said,

“Another stunt, which may cause you slightly more concern, and that is on Cameron Slater’s WhaleOil site, recently…”

It should come as no surprise that Key and Christie were more than willing to take the blogger’s story at face value;

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PM hints tip-off came from Cameron Slater

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As Claire Trevett wrote in February this year,

[Key]...would not confirm it was Mr Slater, but said he did speak to Mr Slater “every so often,” and had called him earlier this week during which they briefly discussed Kim Dotcom. He said that did not mean he agreed with everything Mr Slater wrote on his blog. “I speak to lots of blogsters [sic].”

Such is the unholy relationship between the National Party and far-right, sleaze merchant, Cameron Slater – along with media connivance for an “easy story”.

Though this time I suspect Key and TVNZ may have ended up with some egg on their faces.

Anyone for some fried eggs’n’effigies?

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References

TVNZ: Good Morning –  John Key in the kitchen

TV3: John Key admits effigy video not linked to Internet Mana

Facebook: Hugh Fletcher‎ – Good Morning

TVNZ: Internet-Mana denies involvement in PM burning effigy video

Fairfax media: Internet Mana anger over Key effigy claims

TVNZ: Good Morning – Laila Harre attacks PM for effigy video ‘slur’

NZ Herald: PM hints tip-off came from Cameron Slater

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 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 Mendacities of Mr Key #6: When apologising to a victim of violence is not considered “serious”

Other blogs

The Daily Blog: Just spoke to Electoral Commission – there’s been a complaint re the Planet Key satire song, they will declare if it’s banned this afternoon

 

 


 

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john key is scared of your vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 August 2014

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

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Labour claims Hosking's biased

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I checked the calendar, and it’s not April 1st.

An April Fool’s joke is the first reaction I had when I heard  that someone at  TVNZ had appointed Mike Hosking to be the moderator  for live, televised election-year debates.

I mean – really? Mike Hosking?!?!

The same Mike Hosking who endorsed John Key’s government in January 2013;

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Media - Hosking plugs car and Key - NZ Herald - Mike Hosking - John Key

(Hat-tip, The Standard)

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Hosking was effusive when he endorsed Key last year;

“As I see it, all things considered we are doing pretty bloody well. We box above our weight.

We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government.”

The same Mike Hosking who recently vilified Labour Leader, David Cunliffe?!

“Is David Cunliffe incompetent or mad? Is he out to lunch or out of touch? Is David Cunliffe deluded or living in a parallel universe?

What possible explanation can there be that has any level of sense or thought involved that sees him on holiday skiing two months out from an election when he is where he is in the polls. A decision like this speaks to a person who fails to understand the basic principles of leadership.”

The same Mike Hosking who called David Cunliffe a moron?!

If Mike Hosking is the answer – can TVNZ please spell out what the question was?!

Meanwhile, ordinary New Zealanders are leaving comments here, highly critical of TVNZ’s appointment of Hosking as a “moderator”.

However, Fairfax closed off their comments section after this story, with the majority of posts scathing of TVNZ.

The majority  readers of the Fairfax article seem to be unimpressed with Mike Hosking in their (unscientific) poll;

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Can Mike Hosking host the leader's debate - fairfax poll

(Vote here)

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It is abundantly clear to many people by now that the mainstream media in this country, for the most part, is covertly or overtly supporting the re-election of a John Key-led government. The ongoing de-stabilising campaign against David Cunliffe, complete with non-existent $100,000 bottles of wine and criticising his red scarf, are strong indications of the  mainstream corporate-media’s agenda.

If you, the reader, are as bemused by TVNZ’s bizarre decision to use Hosking as a faux “impartial” moderator, then sign the petition here;

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Petitioning TVNZ to drop Mike Hosking from moderating TV debates

(click on image)

Please do your bit: share the link to the above petition as far and wide as possible!

Meanwhile, this from me, to “The Listener“…

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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from:      Frank Macskasy
to:           Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date:      Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 9:51 PM
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
The Listener

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Of all the professional broadcasters that TVNZ could have used for the upcoming Leader’s Debates, they chose Mike Hosking?!

The same Mike Hosking who, last year, very publicly and enthusiastically endorsed John Key and his government by saying,

“As I see it, all things considered we are doing pretty bloody well. We box above our weight.

We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government.”

By what stretch of the imagination do TVNZ executives think that Hosking is in any way impartial? It would be like asking Maggie Barry or Shane Taurima to do the job.

There are many impartial, talented, and highly respected broadcasters who TVNZ could call upon; Rachel Smalley and Greg Boyd are just two names that spring to mind.

Or, the incomparable Kim Hill, perhaps one of the most respected broadcasters in the country would be ideal. Her credentials for impartiality are impeccable.

But not Mike Hosking. Not when he flies the flag for John Key and the National Party.

We deserve better.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

Remember to share, far and wide!!

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References

Fairfax Media: Labour claims Hosking’s biased

NZ Herald: Media: Hosking plugs car and Key

Newstalk ZB: Mike’s Editorial: Cunliffe looks like he’s given up

Yahoo Entertainment: Seven Sharp Returns and The Paul Henry Show Debuts

NZ Herald: Liu – $100k not just for wine

TV3: David Cunliffe owns up to getting it wrong

Previous related blogposts

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

Other blogs

Against the Current: Mike Hosking claims he isn’t biased. Yeah, right

Against the Current: Mike Hosking says Bash A Beneficiary Day!

Against the Current:  Mike Hosking asks – What is David Cunliffe hiding

MIKE HOSKING ASKS: WHAT IS DAVID CUNLIFFE HIDING?
YES, MIKE HOSKING IS A MORON
HOW MUCH OF A TOSSER IS MIKE HOSKING?

– See more at: http://nzagainstthecurrent.blogspot.co.nz/2014/04/mike-hosking-says-bash-beneficiary-day.html#sthash.4t68qxKz.dpuf

Against the Current: Yes, Mike Hosking is a moron

Against the Current: How much of a tosser is Mike Hosking?

Against the Current: Seven Sharp promotes anti-Gay politician

The Standard:Everything in moderation

Polity: Mike Hosking

The Daily Blog: Dear Seven Sharp – after learning Hosking will be the leaders debate moderator – NO I will not give you the pretence of balance & I refuse to appear on your show

The Daily Blog: UNBREAKING: The list of questions Mike Hosking will use in first TVNZ leader debate

 


 

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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= fs =

An interesting poll from TVNZ. Note some of the VERY left-wing questions!?

24 July 2014 5 comments

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20 September

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July 19 – Yesterday, I received this poll, sent by TVNZ to my email.

What I found very interesting were some of the question relating to issues that have not been discussed – literally – for decades. The question regarding free tertiary education is again an election issue. This is something we can attribute directly to the rise and rise of the Mana-Internet Alliance.

The questions (and answers I gave) are presented here as screen-shots. (Only the final two pages are not included, as they contained some personal responses and details. My preference for which Party I will be endorsing with my Party Vote for will be the subject of an up-coming blogpost.)

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TVNZ on-line survey p1

 

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TVNZ on-line survey p2

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It is a shame that the “anti-smacking” question (above) was put without real reference to what the law actually states. If people actually knew the actual nature of the  repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act, they might be more inclined to vote as I did. It is a fallacy that the repeal of Section 59 banned all smacking and is a deliberate distortion promulgated by neo-conservatives and religious right elements in our society.

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TVNZ on-line survey p3

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I responded somewhat “lukewarm” to the question about compulsory Kiwisaver (above). The problem of compensating low-income earners and beneficiaries should be taken into account along with implementing compulsion. Forcing the poor, who might be currently living in garages and unable to afford even the basics, to save for Kiwisaver would be an untenable proposition and a farce.

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TVNZ on-line survey p4

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I voted “strongly disagree” to the proposition that high income earners should not receive superannuation. We have been through this issue before and it was blindingly obvious that high income earners simply hid their money by clever accounting tricks – thereby avoiding cuts to their super.

Targetted superannuation invites the growth of a labyrinth of rules, exemptions, asset-income testing, and an associated invasive  bureaucracy. Better to have Universal Superannuation,  alongside a comprehensive progressive tax rate  that claws back super-payments by slightly higher marginal tax rates.

And the final tranche of questions;

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TVNZ on-line survey p5

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It is interesting to note that questions regarding tax cuts were omitted. I would have liked to have seen what New Zealander’s attitudes toward cutting taxes would have been. Especially if the question was framed as a choice between more tax cuts and less social services.

Now that would really have been a barometer of our nationwide psyche!

Now we just have to await the outcome of this poll…

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References

Wikipedia: Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 July 2014.

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= fs =

Letter to the Editor: Judith Collins

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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FROM:   "F.Macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Sun, 04 May 2014 19:44:39 +1200
TO:     "Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz> 

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The Editor
Dominion Post

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I am tempted to suggest that the pressures of Parliamentary
life has finally become too much for Judith Collins, and she
has lost the plot. How else to describe her attempted
character assassination of a TV1 reporter. But it goes far
deeper than that.

This was Collins' own nasty character coming out in a very
public way. This was a ruthless attack upon a member of the
media - an attempt to make an example of one journalist and
to send a thinly disguised message; "don't mess with me or
my National Party mates".

This is the same arrogance that landed Aaron Gilmour in hot
water last year,  and motivated Paula Bennett to release
private details of two solo-mothers back in 2009.

Whatever the reason, this should serve as a clear warning to
all journalists not to share their private details with
politicians. When politicians like Collins are backed into a
corner, they will either surrender and resign with good
grace - or, like a cornered, feral rat in a Karen Walker
suit, lash out.

September 20th can't come fast enough. 


-Frank Macskasy
[address & phone number supplied]

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References

TVNZ: Collins says sorry to TVNZ reporter after allegation


 

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Judith Collins

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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= fs =

Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 24 February 2014

24 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 24 February 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams discuss the recent political polls.

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (21′ 58″ )

  • TV1-Colmar Brunton Poll, Roy Morgan poll
  • Election campaigns
  • David Parker
  • Labour Party, NZ Power, “Best Start”, Auckland Rail Loop early start
  • Russell Norman, Kim Dotcom
  • David Cunliffe
  • Shane Taurima, TVNZ
  • Winston Peters
  • Greens, David Hay, Leaders’ Debates
  • ACT, Richard Prebble, Jamie Whyte, flat tax
  • Conservative Party, Colin Craig
  • and an early election in September?

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= fs =

Seven Sharp turns into Serious Shite?

23 February 2013 11 comments

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toilets-watching-bare-ass-on-tv

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The State of Media

With so much happening in this country over the last thirty years, one would think that this should be the Golden Age for investigative journaliasm and documentary-making.

Sadly, this is not the case.

On the contrary, our print and electronic journalism  have been relegated and turned into ‘McMedia ‘; quickly produced; lacking in any substance of value; and just as quickly (with some exceptions) forgotten.

In terms of documentary-making, what really stands out (confirmed by a ten second survey conducted in my household) is Bryan Bruce’s insightful and provocative doco, ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ (see:  Inside Child Poverty – A Special Report).

No other single, one-off documentary came to mind.

In terms of television current affairs, the only recent stories that came to us were stories to do with Novopay and the Bronwyn Pullar-ACC story which saw a government Minister and several ACC executives lose their jobs. ‘Campbell Live‘ and several ex-TVNZ7 documentaries such as  ‘The Court Report’ featured in our household discussion of what stuck in our minds.

Other current affairs such as ‘Q+A’, ‘The Nation’, and vastly under-rated ‘Think Tank’, were consigned to ghetto-times of Sunday mornings. TVNZ’s ‘Sunday‘ programme – on at a more watchable time-slot of 7pm – was cut from an hour to thirty minutes (less, once you excise advertisements for unfeasibly fast cars, personal hygiene products, and the latest Briscoes “sale”).

The print media is still reasonably diverse, though Wellington’s “Dominion Post” is fast losing circulation and becoming thinner and thinner. (Don’t think we haven’t noticed Mr Williams and Mr Thompson.) Constant reductions in staffing levels has resulted in a predictable down-turn in news stories – especially relevant news stories, which put issues and events into context.

For example, prior to the ‘Evening Post’ and ‘Dominion‘ being amalgamated, the ‘Post‘ employed two journalists to cover Wellington City Council issues on a full-time basis, and a third journalist, part-time. Former journalist, Lidia Zatorski, wrote some of the most insightful pieces on Council-related issues. (The mayor couldn’t sneeze without Ms Zatorski noting time, place, and potential effects on the capital city.)

As a result, Wellingtonians were well-served with an on-going stream of local body reports that not only informed readers – but also put events into context. Events weren’t isolated – they were linked, giving us an overall impression what was taking place in our city.

These days, Fairfax media has one journalist, working part time, covering City Council issues. There could be a mass shoot-out between Councillors, disagreeing on what colour to paint park-benchs, and we’d probably not know until a week later.

With TVNZ, a state-owned, supposed “public broadcaster”, dumbing-down has plumbed new depths in a stagnant pool of irrelevancy with it’s much-criticised, ‘Seven Sharp‘.

The replacement to ‘Close-up‘ (which, in itself was a replacement to ‘Holmes‘), ‘Seven Sharp’ may have met “demographic targets” and “consumer needs” – but fewer and fewer people are watching it. In fact, it’s turning viewers away in droves.

TVNZ’s descent into Idiocracy – like many things in the last 30 years – began with the corporatisation of state-owned bodies. Turning a profit was to be the number one goal – and television was no exception.

In 2003, the  Labour Government attempted to mitigate the worst effects of commercialisation by implementing a Charter for TVNZ to follow. The Charter would supposedly direct TVNZ to offer quality programmes for viewers,

Provisions included,

  • Having the presence of a significant Maori voice, including programmes promoting the Maori language and programmes addressing Maori history, culture and current issues;
  • Include the tastes and interests not generally catered for by other national television broadcasters;
  • Provide independent, comprehensive, impartial, and in-depth coverage and analysis of news and current affairs;
  • Promote understanding of the diversity of cultures making up the New Zealand population;
  • Feature New Zealand films, drama, comedy and documentary programmes;
  • Provide for the informational, entertainment and educational needs of children and young people;
  • Observe a code of ethics that addresses the level and nature of advertising to which children are exposed.
But National would have none of that “socialist” stuff, and by July 2011, Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman had repealed the Charter with the euphemistically sounding Television New Zealand (TVNZ) Amendment Bill. It was the end of any semblance of public broadcasting and Coleman’s assurances that,

The removal of the Charter will have little impact on what is shown on the screen. TVNZ will still screen content of relevance to a broad cross section of New Zealanders, and they will still screen high levels of New Zealand content.”

Source

– was a mealy mouthed, empty promise.

In fact, almost 16 months earlier, Coleman had told the public what he really wanted for TV 1 and TV2,

Everyone … could be a lot happier if they had that clear view where you go in TVNZ to find public broadcasting content and where you can expect to find frankly nakedly commercial stuff.”

Source

Coleman also made this extraordinary at the same time, in March 2010,

My view was if we could get that demarcation … once everyone has got access to digital television, which isn’t too many years away, if you know that if you go to 7 or maybe 6 and 7 you can get what most people could describe as quality broadcasting content.

“Then if you flick to One and Two you get whatever they serve up … it would bring some more honesty and clarity to the situation,” Coleman said.

“The 7 schedule pretty much already fits that definition broadly.”

IBID

His reference to  “going to [TVNZ]7 or maybe [TVNZ]6 and 7 you can get what most people could describe as quality broadcasting content” was the same TVNZ7 that National canned in July year, despite strong public opposition. (And politicians wonder why we distrust them?)

Parts of TVNZ6 was later leased to SkyTV for pay-viewing only.

In July 2011, Coleman stated as bluntly as he could, that removing the Charter and rejecting non-commercial   public-service content, would give TVNZ,

“…the flexibility it needs to effectively pursue commercial objectives”.

Under National, TVNZ programming was pre-ordained  to be 100% commercialised and ratings-driven. Much like giving children ice cream on demand, the viewing public got what they (supposedly) wanted; entertainment ‘lollies’.

In return, National would “milk” it as a cash-cow (as with Genesis, Mighty River Power, Meridian, Air New Zealand, and until lately, Solid Energy).

Seven Sharp‘ – or ‘Seven Shite‘ as one Facebook commentator labelled it – was simply the natural end-result of this process.

This was made no more clearer than when TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick admitted to a Parliamentary Select Committee that the broadcaster was now,

“... entirely driven by consumer behaviour”, and Seven Sharp was “absolutely in the right territory…”

“… And now there are so many more opportunities and places you can access the news and as a result of them I think that consumers are looking for short, sharp soundbites; they’re looking for a punchy delivery.”

Source

Well, if viewers are “looking for short, sharp soundbites; they’re looking for a punchy delivery” – they are showing it in a strange way by deserting TVNZ and switching on to ‘Campbell Live‘ instead,

The ratings head-to-head between Seven Sharp and Campbell Live reveals TVNZ’s new offering outperforming TV3 in total audience terms all but twice in its first two weeks.

But over the same period, the TVNZ show lost the key demographic both channels are chasing, those aged between 25 to 54, eight times.

Figures supplied by Nielsen TAM show that apart from the first big bang on February 4 where 508,500 tuned into Seven Sharp compared to 246,300 on TV3, there have been plenty of nights where the two have been separated by barely a percentage point or two of the total television audience.

For Campbell Live, February 12 was historic. It was the first time the channel won the slot since TV3 began in November 1989, a win it repeated three days later by taking 7.2 per cent of the total audience aged five and over with 298,800 viewers to 242,300.

Source

Perhaps TVNZ’s attitude toward public broadcasting and criticisms for a lack thereof, can be summed up by  this comment by Kendrick,

There has been a lot of commentary about Seven Sharp which has typically come from less than 12 commentators, and they tend to reinforce a more traditional perspective of what current affairs has been as opposed to a reflection of what it might be.”

Source

There is an underlying arrogance in Kendrick’s remarks. It is a “We Know Best What You Want” conceit. Never mind if the public are craving intelligent, challenging TV content – we’ll get dumbed-down viewing because that’s what “We Really Want”.

Which is a self-fulfilling curse; the more crap broadcast, the more crap some viewers will watch, which then shows up in the Ratings…

Public reaction

Meanwhile, apart from the “12 commentators” that Kendrick dismisses  in a cursory, derisory manner, what people are really  expressing is just as critical of ‘Seven Sharp’.

As Facebook users have said to this blogger,

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Jenny B

“Apparently it has the pollings. Sad reflection that NZ’ers prefer to be entertained than educated.

 Loving Campbell taking on social issues now. But last Century, Sunday night was the time for hard political journalism – why are we being fed sop?”

Taura J

“They assume the audience is stupid. They assume the ratings won’t be good enough, which in turn, won’t draw the advertisers. Which in turn, won’t pay for their prime time news slot. They apparently don’t think there’s enough local news around because everyone is watching garbage.

The so called mainstream media has been manipulated by other influences for years. I have sat and watched the quality of journalism rot like a gangrenous limb every night in TV. Watched objectivity, that grand bastion of true journalism vanish in favour of opinion pieces and puerile garbage about feuding families and neighbours and the bad natives who are too lazy to do anything worthwhile.”

Hone W

“Advertisers react to raw data, and I’d be fairly sure the drive for less hard news content on TV is coming from the viewers, (us).. not any grand conspiracy…
As long as the value of a given programme is rated by viewer numbers, and nothing else, car crash footage will always beat political debate.”

Matthew H

“every body i know is crying out for decent news & political shows in prime time, instead of this diet of cooking shows & crap sitcoms, with all the political talk on a sunday morning… if, as he says,  consumers are the ones who ask for this low-rent shit that claims to be ‘news’, then no bastard asked me”

David MF

“Seven Shite”

Alastair F

“State television has been wallowing in the sewer for at least 15 years. Nothing has changed.

 Their political independence has never been credible. You wouldn’t trust TV3 to report impartially on a corporate scandal involving Mediaworks and you wouldn’t trust The Press to report impartially on a scandal involving Fairfax, so why would you trust state television to duly criticise its owner?”

Jill M

“I didn’t think it was possible to get worse… but it has.”

Mike P

“TVNZ news and current affairs seem to be following an agenda of ‘keep ’em dumb.’ Looking at comparisons between SevenSharp and Campbell this is plainly obvious, but the the same is true between  Breakfast and Firstline, and increasingly so in the 6pm slot.

Here’s a question, as state broadcaster how much influence is placed on their independence and impartiality. Can we truly believe that at a time when John Key is singing the ‘nothing to see here’ tune that the state owned and operated news service are singing along.”

Mike M

“Is it for education or entertainment ?”

Robbie K

“Given Kiwi’s television addiction, you could put any crap on TV and it will find an audience, so ratings don’t really come into it. Television is the cheapest form of entertainment available, so not hard to understand our love affair with the box.

However, I cannot accept New Zealanders are so intellectually deficient they can’t handle cerebral programming. Natural history and science programs rate very well in this country, so the problem is not what Kiwi’s choose to watch, it is simply that what is offered up is mindless rubbish. Is Kevin Kenrick cerebral enough to understand this? Now there’s a question.”

Robert G

“Some harder journalism asking questions about things like the obscene prices expected of us by oil companies, the Sky City Casino deal, a constitution for New Zealand among other things, would be better.”

Mark H

“Feel free to include my thought that Kevin Kenrick is an idiot.”

Marianne H

“I’ve switched to 3 and Campbell after years of sticking with TV One”

Wendy EM 

“I do not believe the content that 7 sharp even hits it with the under 35 year olds after all they have SKY television and reality shows and Seven sharp is hideous of course the people that are over 20 tend to be with Campbell Live, I have moved to Campbell being in my 50!!! I am embarrassed by TV ONE in every journalism respect. Campbell Team are on the pulse night after night.”

Alison W

“The mainstream media generally get their tips and news from Tweets, Facebook posts and freelance bloggers. I would rather read and view the news of intelligent, articulate, investigative, freelance bloggers and journos, than have my mind dumbed down and filled with the biased agendas of a right wing, Fairfax driven media. That being said, Campbell Live does at least demonstrate a social conscience, and I made the switch to watching that over a year ago now. Seven Sharp is Seven Dull.”

Taura J

“The so called mainstream media has been manipulated by other influences for years. I have sat and watched the quality of journalism rot like a gangrenous limb every night in TV. Watched objectivity, that grand bastion of true journalism vanish in favour of opinion pieces and puerile garbage about feuding families and neighbours and the bad natives who are too lazy to do anything worthwhile.”

Daphne M

“NZ tv show’s are alright! It’s when the MP’s start adding their bits in that the flavour become’s kawa (sour). If MP’s, had real job’s, instead of being in a studio for picking on somebody about their job,..  then,it’s time to GO!!! Leave the real worker’s to do their own job’s….KEEP YOUR NOSE, OUT!!!”

Duncan L

“I no longer watch what passes for news generated by any teevy broadcaster in NZ – I turn to Triangle/Face for Al Jazeera and DWTV, and occasionally, if I can stop my soul from rising up and strangling my moral conscience, Voice of America.

News on NZ teevy is dominated by road accidents, boozy teenagers, sport and scandal – as for expecting any in-depth analysis or anything remotely resembling investigative or critical journalism, well, we’re screwed, unless you happen to be one the unlobotomised, multi-tasking few who can listen to the radio (and I’m refering exclusively to the National Programme here) at the same time as they walk and chew gum. 

I’m ashamed, sometimes, to be part of the institution which churns out the next-generation of wannabe journalists whose sole ambitions seem to be getting a job with a corporation and their grinning mugs on the small screen.”

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Sell it?

Writing for the Herald on 8 February (see: Perhaps now’s a good time to sell off TVNZ), columnist Toby Manhire suggested that TVNZ was so far gone in terms of quality that it was irredeemable and fit only to be hocked of.  He said, in part,

So sell TVNZ. It would end any residual confusion within the organisation about their purpose. It would end any misplaced vestigial attachment by audiences who still dream of the Goodnight Kiwi. Paradoxically, it might encourage TVNZ to pursue more public-interest journalism to retain a “national voice” reputation. For anyone who believes, as I do, that New Zealand should have a mainstream public TV broadcaster, it would blow away any fog around the question of whether we currently have one. We do not.”

In case Toby Manhire is being dead serious and not indulging in wry tongue-firmly-in-cheek black humour, any suggestion to sell TVNZ because it has been dumbed down, is simply rewarding National for deliberately undermining our State broadcaster.

It is not a solution. It is a reward for bad behaviour.

Not only would it fulfill what might be a deliberate agenda to alienate public support for TVNZ – but it closes of future avenues to bring the broadcaster back from the brink.

A future progressive government would have a massive task on it’s hands; to effectively undo decades of commercialisation and bring back a true public service.

But it’s not impossible.

If free-marketeers can wreck it – we should be able to repair or replace it.

One classic suggestion is to make TV1 a non-commercial station, funded by a fully commercial, go-for-trash, TV2 broadcaster.

Or to fund public television through a small levy on pay-to-view broadcasters, such as SkyTV.

More importantly, any such progressive reform would have to be entrenched in legislation and tied up in so many safe-guards that it would take years for any future National government to undo  and wrecking it all over again. (See upcoming blogpost, ‘Talkback Radio, Public Radio, and related matters’, on ‘The Daily Blog‘, on 1 March.)

One-stop shop or multiple platforms?

An argument has been made that public-service programming should be left to NZ on Air, which would be responsible for dispensing contestable funding for documentaries, current affairs, and other public interest programmes.

So  programmes like ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ and ‘The Nation‘ could be funded by ‘NZ on Air‘, and broadcast by any number of  electronic media, irrespective of whether of who owns said broadcaster. As it’s curreently mandated to do.

To a degree that has some validity.

Unfortunately, at least two cases point against ‘NZ on Air‘ as the sole agency for intelligent tv viewing,

Key defended ‘NZ on Airs‘ public funding for ‘The GC’ by claiming,

They make their decisions completely independentlyOur board is to appoint the board, and their job is to make the funding calls.

Source

Yeah. Nah.

“Independent”, Mr Key?

I don’t think so.

Not when your own Electorate Chairman and National Party Regional Deputy, Stephen McElrea, sits on ‘NZ on Airs‘ Board – which is responsible for funding decision-making. (see:  Call for McElrea to resign from NZ On Air)

Only a politician might think  that is “independepent” and “non-partisan”.

Secondly, there are two other  reasons why this country needs a committed non-commercial; fully funded; dedicated  public service broadcaster.

It is the same reasons why we have a committed non-commercial; fully funded; dedicated  public service radio station, Radio New Zealand. Namely;

  • Convenience

Much like going to a supermarket which retails a wide range of goods, and saves us the effort of going to separate retailers for fruit & veg; meat; fish; hardware, the supermnarket is a convenient  one-stop shop.

It’s what consumers want. And in a market-driven society, what consumers want, consumers get.

Why should it be any different for a one-stop broadcaster/shop?

In fact, we already have racing channels; religious channels; shopping channels; cartoon channels; etc, etc, etc.

So why not a committed non-commercial; fully funded; dedicated  public service television station?

  • A sense of purpose

TV3 did well to broadcast  ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ and it’s ‘Campbell Live‘ programme is to be commended for it’s investigate and advocacy journalism. Long may TV3 survive and return good dividends to it’s shareholder(s).

But we also need a dedicated  public service television station that has a sense of purpose that is different to commercial TV.

We need a sense of purpose that is not controlled by ratings; has public service as it’s #1 goal; and broadcasts programmes that are challenging as well as informative. Programmes that might not be commercially successful, but nevertheless spark public debate on isues.

Such as ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ did, in November 2011.

Unfortunately, programming such as ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ by commercial broadcasters is a rarity, and TV3 received much flak for the courage they displayed that day.

It is a fact that almost every OECD nation, as well as Russia,  has a public service tv broadcaster. Australia has seven; ABC1, ABC2, ABC3, ABC News 24, SBS1, SBS2, and NITV (National Indigenous TV).

It is depressing to realise that this   National government refuses to give New Zealanders what other countries already have.

Conclusion

There is no arguing with the simple fact that Nationaland ACT have zero interest in public service broadcast.

In fact, if anything, the dumbing down or ghottoisation of public broadcasting serves their political  interests. After all, a commercialised broadcaster will most often choose to focus their News stories around crime/police/court reporting – which is cheaper than investigative journalism, as police feed information directly to journalists in News Rooms.

Investigative reporting – such as  “Campbell Live”  – is much rarer.

Documentaries that look behind the superficialities of our society – such as  Bryan Bruce’s  ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ – is rarer still.

Which is probably why right wing governments love the commercialisation of our broadcasting.

Evidence for this is  on TV1, 7pm, week nights.

I rest my case.

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Previous related blogposts

NZ on Air funding soft-core porn garbage? Since when? Since now!!

Public Broadcasting – down, but not out

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want

The Ridges are on tonight!!!

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

Sources

Fairfax media: Government signals big changes for TVNZ (13 March 2010)

TV3: TVNZ Charter abolished (13 July 2011)

NZ Herald: Perhaps now’s a good time to sell off TVNZ (8 Feb 2013)

NZ Herald: Susan Wood new host of TVNZ’s Q+A (21 Feb 2013)

NZ Herald: Seven Sharp staff in talks on show (22 Feb 2013)

NZ Herald: Seven Sharp vs Campbell Live – who’s winning? (22 Feb 2013)

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Dear Leader caught telling porkies (again)?!

21 February 2013 6 comments

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lying-politician-copyright3

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Oh dear, it seems that Dear Leader has been caught out (again) being creative with facts. According to Hansards, on 20 February, Key told the House,

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Hansard debates - john key - skycity 20 feb 2013

Source*

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Slight problem though… None of it was true.

TVNZ has come out, effectively  rubbishing Key’s comments on any supposed land sale to Skycity,

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PM forced to back down over TVNZ claim

Source

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To put this into a time-linear context,

20 February

John Key said:

“It is pretty straightforward. Skycity, after it decided it would be prepared to enter an expression of interest process to have a larger convention centre, went off to its architects. Its architects designed such a thing, realised they needed more land, worked out who owned the land, and approached Television New Zealand…

[…]

I cannot speak for the Television New Zealand board, but I am finding it reasonably hard to believe that Television New Zealand entered a commercial agreement with Skycity to sell land that it owned, and it did so without its board knowing. If that happened, then maybe its board process needs to be improved, and maybe the mixed-ownership model would work for it…”

21 February

TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kendrick said:

“I’ve only been involved since May of last year, but we’ve seen the speculation in the media same as everybody else and so we’ve acknowledged that is a topic that’s live. We’ve yet to have any approaches from SkyCity about the land.”

Which means that Dear Leader either made it up; or one of his Advisors has mis-led him; or he’s talking about some Skycity-TVNZ deal from a Parallel Universe Earth.

At any rate, it kind of reminds me of this incident,  from October 2011,

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S&P contradicts Key downgrade claim

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That’s quite a dodgy rep that Dear Leader is developing…

Continued at: Dear Leader caught telling porkies (again)?! (part rua)

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* Note

Hansards can be “corrected” by MPs and Ministers. The screen capture above was taken at 5.20pm on 21 February, prior to any “amendments” being made.

Additional

NZ Herald: Sky City report ‘deeply disturbing’ (20 Feb 2013)

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

17 January 2013 13 comments

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could anything be more exciting than television

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A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” – Oscar Wilde

It’s no great secret that the news media in this country – with perhaps one or two exceptions –  has been going downhill  in the last three decades.

As an example, the previous entities, the ‘Evening Post‘ and ‘Dominion‘ in Wellington,  once employed three reporters – two full time and one part-time – to cover  local body politics and events in the city.  No councillor or mayor could pass wind without one of the journos picking it up. If something smelled rotten, the journos would sniff it out fairly smartly.

Now, with continuing cutbacks at Fairfax media, and most sub-editors gone, the combined entity known as the ‘Dominion Post‘ has one journalist covering City Council activities on a part-time basis. Coverage has becomes sporadic, disjointed, and out of context.

Which is why Wellingtonians now have little idea what’s happening at their  Council.

TVNZ and TV3 once had current affairs programmes, at prime time, conducting in depth investigations into government activities and dubious behaviour from dodgy politicians.

Many of those programmes, ‘Holmes‘, ‘Assignment‘, have gone.  ‘Sunday” was an hour long on Sunday nights – that’s been cut to thirty minutes.

The main current affairs prpgrammes – TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘ and TV3’s ‘The Nation‘ – have been relegated to Sunday mornings at 8am and 9am. Hardly conducive to encouraging the public to be aware of political issues in our country. Only insomniacs and the  most committed political junkie would be willing to forego a Sunday morning lie-in to watch TV journos in action with our elected representatives.

Private and State radio is perhaps  the only part of the  industry that has remained consistent.

Talkback Radio – idiot voices screaming at other idiot voices on issues that idiots know little about.

It is the realm where superficial “knowledge”  is the main currency and shrill prejudice holds sway over calm reasoned analysis on issues. Imagine allotting a bunch of bigoted, ill-informed rednecks  equal speaking time at the Oxford debates, shouting down their more knowledgeable and wiser debating opponants, and that gives an insight into talkback radio.

Even the talkback “hosts” are not ones to rise above the common, noisome mud of prejudice and wilful ignorance, as happened last week,

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Radio Network apologises for 'dyke' slur against Alison Mau

Full story

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Charming.

But hardly surprising.

It’s all part of the commercial radio game; win as many listeners as you can by being as offensive and outrageous as you can. That wins ratings, which in turn let’s you sell more advertising, leading to higher profits, which results in  increasing dividends to ever more demanding shareholders.

In a free market society, being offensive and prejudiced (or even better still, offensively prejudiced) is profitable. (See: Laws told off for ‘shoot rabid reporters’ comment)

Ever wondered why radio stations and newspapers “love” Michael Laws so much? Wonder no more. He sells advertising.

Ironically, when radio stations like NewstalkZB are then held to account for  offensive behaviour, the additional publicity they gain – as in the case of the subsequent NZ Herald story above – gives them even more public attention. And higher ratings. And sell more advertising… It’s a win/win for them.

Radio NZ – after the political assassination of TVNZ7 – the last remaining non-commercial, public service media in this country.

And National is gunning for it,

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Radio NZ on the hunt for next chief executive

Full story

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It’s fairly obvious why Peter Cavanagh is resigning as  Chief Executive: National has plans to commercialise Radio NZ.

This will no doubt be aided and abetted by Radio NZ board chairman, Richard Griffin. As well as having been a former Radio NZ political editor, Griffin took the job of  press secretary to former National, prime minister, Jim Bolger (See:  Richard Griffin to chair Radio NZ board).

The stage is set…

For National,  non-commercial SOEs such as Radio NZ and TVNZ are anathema to their free market ideology – the very same ideology that saw the closure of TVNZ7 by deliberate political design, despite public support for the channel,

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We need public service TV

See: TVNZ7 supporters rally at Parliament

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The commercialisation of  media such as TVNZ is of considerable benefit to National Party (and perhaps Labour?) politicians, for two very good reasons,

  1. They yield a profit to the State, thereby making government’s job much easier to balance The Books.
  2. Commercialisation encourages ratings-driven programming. Hence the preponderence of crime ‘drama’, reality TV shows of every description, cheap US sitcoms, home improvement shows, and more cooking programmes than you can shake a wooden spatula at.

The second rationale has a by-product that governing politicians welcome with cunningly-disguised glee; ratings driven programming does not include current affairs shows and documentary making. These are now funded by NZ on Air – and even NZOA has been captured by National’s party apparatchiks,

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Call for McElrea to resign from NZ On Air

Full story

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… to fund brain-deadening crap like this,

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The GC

See previous blogpost: NZ on Air funding soft-core porn garbage? Since when? Since now!!

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It is no coincidence that the gradual demise of intelligent programmes that inform and challenge  the viewer has been consistant with the rise and rise of commercialisation of the media – especially the state owned “public broadcaster”, TVNZ.

Quite simply, junk programmes such as cooking porn;  MaF officials measuring the size of fish in someone’s bucket; and crime ‘dramas’ depicting the latest grisly murder (usually a female victim) in ghoulish detail, is what sells advertising.

And it should be no surprise that as the media shies away from serious reporting of current affairs, we had the lowest voter turnout last year since 1887 (see:  Steve Liddle: Election apathy shows need for civics at school).

The Americanisation of our media (“if it bleeds, it leads”) is creating the Americanisation of our electoral process (apathy and low voter turnout – see: Voter turnout in 2012 US presidential elections 9% lower than 2008 ).

Major political parties – especially those on the Right, such as National – love this kind of thing. An unsophisticated public results in low-information voters. Low information voters allow  governments to get way with all manner of dubious policies such as cuts to services; more user pays; environmentally-damaging activities, and further implementation of neo-liberal ideology.

It literally encourages the dumbing-down of society until the consequences are satirised in movies like this,

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idiocracyposter0eo4

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Idiocracy” was produced as a speculative “what if” sf movie. It’s now more like a documentary. If you haven’t see it – this blogger strongly recommends that you do. You’ll be feeling a creepy sense of deja vu throughout it (and you’ll never look at ‘power drinks’ in quite the same way again).

It now appears that we, the New Zealand public, have till the end of the year to mobilise to pressure National not to interfere with the running of Radio NZ.

A statement from the Coalition for Better Broadcasting on 16 January, said,

The real story here is that the National Government – having fully commercialised TVNZ and done away with non-commercial TV channels Stratos, TV6 & 7 – is also slowly strangling RNZ to the point that it cannot survive. In 2007 a KPMG report to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage found that RNZ was already running as efficiently as possible. It recommended a funding increase to allow RNZ to continue its high standards. But the following year, the National Government froze the RNZ budget and that freeze still exists with RNZ operating on the same budget as 5 years ago.

The CBB believes this is a shockingly poor way to treat our national radio broadcaster: the station we rely on in times of emergency, disaster and crisis. We note the repeated absence on RNZ of our Prime Minister (who prefers to goof around on commercial stations) and many of his Cabinet colleagues. This fact and frequent remarks made by Ministers, makes it clear that the decision to freeze funding to RNZ is an attempt to influence the station’s ability to present in-depth news and current affairs. This contradicts statutory requirements that the government does not influence RNZ editorial stance and may even be illegal.

See: Response to the Resignation of RNZ CEO Peter Cavanagh

The under-funding of Radio NZ has been abysmal, with National wilfully attempting to strangle the broadcaster by a lack of money.

The situation for Radio NZ has become so dire that in late 2011, the Crown Entity registered itself as a charity,

The state-owned broadcaster registered itself as the Radio New Zealand Charitable Trust with the Charities Commission last month.

Some of its charitable purposes, which were listed on the commission’s website, included education, research, fundraising and providing grants to a number of individuals and groups.

A spokesperson for Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman said the broadcaster still received $34 million a year but couldn’t say how long it had been receiving that amount.

A financial review of Radio NZ for the 2009/10 financial year showed it had a net deficit of $498,000 after tax, compared to a surplus of $13,000 the year before.

The review said RNZ had been too cash-strapped to participate in the 2010 New Zealand Radio Awards or put in a bid for the Rugby World Cup 2011 coverage.

See: Radio New Zealand ‘forced to register as charity

This is a deliberate campaign against Radio NZ and constitutes political interference – something that is strictly forbidden by law. National has found a way to circumvent that law.

Make no mistake, the dumbing down of Radio NZ is National’s final mission-plan to eliminate all critical, in-depth  media analysis and reporting  in this country. Turning Radio NZ in a radio-version of TVNZ would destroy any remaining  semblance of serious current affairs programming, resulting in another medium for mindless, unquestioning, consumerism.

This is the neo-liberal agenda at it’s nastiest. To be successful in re-shaping a society into a “free market”, the new right must first remove all critical elements in society and either destroy it or marginalise it.

The commercialisation of Radio NZ would be the beginning of that marginalisation. Next would be a partial privatisation, followed by a full-scale sell-off.

This blogger encourages the reader to;

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Join Save Radio New Zealand on Facebook. Get your friends and family to “Like” the facebook page – the more the better! Support a replacement for Peter Cavanagh  who will  maintain the non-commercialised status  of Radio NZ.

2.

If you have a National MP as your electorate MP, let him/her know your your vote in 2014 will depend on what happens to Radio NZ.  Tell your National MP that not only will you vote for another Party, but you’ll be making a donation to them as well! Demand that Peter Cavanagh’s replacement support and maintain the non-commercialised status  of Radio NZ.

3.

Write a short letter to your local newspaper and voice your feelings on this issue. The deliberate demise of TVNZ7 was bad enough – but attacking Radio NZ is the final straw. Demand that Peter Cavanagh’s replacement support and maintain the non-commercialised status  of Radio NZ.

4.

Write to Labour Leader David Shearer and demand that, if he expects voter support, that Labour reverse National’s  policies and undoes any commercialisation of Radio New Zealand.

On Point #4, the demise of TVNZ7 and impending commercialisation of Radio NZ  underscores one very critical issue: that important services such as Radio NZ must be protected by entrenched legislation that makes it difficult – if not impossible – for incoming  National regimes to to undermine such Crown entities.

It is unbelievable that an organisation such as Radio NZ – which has been operating in one form or another since 1925 – is vulnerable to the ideological machinations of a “government” that has been in office for only the last four years.  In existence for 88 years – vulnerable to attack in four?!

A new Labour-led government’s Broadcasting Minister’s first task must be to enact legislation that;

  • entrenches protection for Radio NZ,
  • denies right governments any opportunity to commercialise the broadcaster,
  • ring-fenches funding and ties it to the rate of inflation – perhaps by the Remuneration Authority which also sets MP’s salaries and perks.

The same protections must be in place for any new non-commercial public TV broadcaster that is set up by an incoming Labour-led government. Crown Entities must be free of covert political interference by the likes of Key, English, Joyce, et al, who cannot resist sticking their grubby fingers into places they shouldn’t.

At the risk of sounding overly-dramatic, this issue is not just about saving Radio NZ from commercialisation. This is a battle for the minds and souls of New Zealanders.

As Dave Armstrong wrote in August 2011,

Despite its budget freeze, National Radio continues to do an excellent job. Its current affairs programmes are intelligent and objective. That’s why you rarely hear the prime minister on Morning Report or Checkpoint. As the recent BBC Hardtalk episode showed, Mr Key becomes dangerously exposed when interviewed by a tough, intelligent journalist. He tends to send in street-smart Gerry Brownlee to take one for the team on Radio New Zealand, while he has a cosy yet inane chat with ex-children’s presenter Petra Bagust on Breakfast or talks to Veitchy on sports radio about hot chicks. That’s far more fun than explaining to Mary Wilson why parents are going to have to pay more for childcare.”

See: Govt consigns RNZ to an undeserved chilly place

In countries ruled by totalitarian regimes (late Soviet Union, North Korea, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Syria, United States, etc), despots control the media with an iron fist. Members of the state security apparatus watch every word printed; every word uttered; every picture or video screened.

In the West, we do despotic control of the media in more subtle ways. We use “market forces” instead of  secret police forces.

The Western model is far more successful because the general populace doesn’t realise it’s happening. In fact, the general populace rather like “Master Chef Albania” or “CSI Timbuktu” or “Mumbai Squalid Home Improvement”. Unfortunately, watching such drivel doesn’t make the populace any smarter or informed. It simply prepares them for Talkback radio.

It’s up to the rest of us to lead the fight and stop National in it’s tracks.

Spread the word, people.

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FB save radio nz page

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Previous related blogposts

The Ridges are on tonight!!!

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want

Public Broadcasting – down, but not out

From July 1 onwards

TVNZ7 – value for money!

TVNZ7 – Picking at the body before it’s cold

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

The radio station, the newspaper columnist, and Dear Leader

NZ on Air funding soft-core porn garbage? Since when? Since now!!

References

Scoop.co.nz:  PM has questions to answer over NZ on Air link

Fairfax: Call for McElrea to resign from NZ On Air

NZ Herald: Radio Network apologises for ‘dyke’ slur against Alison Mau

NZ Herald: TVNZ reveals Seven Sharp presenting team

NZ Herald: Radio NZ on the hunt for next chief executive

Scoop.co.nz: Response to the Resignation of RNZ CEO Peter Cavanagh

Other blogs

Tom Frewen: GC In Breach Of Funding Agreement?

Pundit:  TVNZ kills ad-free channels to grow profits

Tumeke: Seven Sharp already looks blunt

Brian Edwards: TVNZ exchanges current-affairs for a mess of pottage at 7pm

Tumeke: Is the NZ Herald a newspaper or a Police press release?

Tumeke: The future of RNZ

Whoar: “..Radio NZ tops 2012 ratings..”

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Key on Q+A – Verdict?

1 April 2012 1 comment

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Today was not a good day for Dear Leader…

John Key was interviewed on TVNZ’s Q+A, by Shane Taurima. Key was obviously not the happy-go-lucky, supremely confident person  he had been these last few years.

In fact, Dear Leader appeared unhappy. Even imperceptibly rattled on occassion. As if he had things on his mind…

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Full Story

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During the interview, Shane Taurima touched on relevant issues that had been plaguing National in the last week. As Taurima’s probing into current issues progressed on;

  • The ACC/Browyn Fuller/Nick Smith scandal
  • Questioning whether John Keywas involved in Bronwyn Pullar’s “support team” in her letter to Sovereign Insurance?
  • Nick Smith’s resignation
  • Judith Collins defamation proceedings against two Labour MPs and Radio NZ – and who would pay for it
  • Factional infighting within National
  • A torrent of leaks from within National
  • Murray McCully’s mis-handling over restructuring of MFAT, and the backlash from diplomats…

And then – albeit belatedly – Key engaged the political equivalent of a Deflector Shield, and casually made reference to the following,

JOHN Thats the criticism of his political opponents, but actually thats not correct. I mean, the Chief Executive has set the direction that he wants to take the ministry. Of course, the minister as the purchasing agent, if you like, makes it clear the sorts of things he wants. Yes, John Allens set out an aggressive agenda of potential change, and not all of its going to be accepted. Youve had the Heads of Mission now coming back to New Zealand to sit down and talk to the Chief Executive. But in the end, that organisation is going to change. Im sure therell be some things thatll be rejected and some thatll be accepted. MFAT people themselves tell me regularly that there needs to be change, and we need to basically save money. Now, were gonna have a budget thats coming up in May. Last years budget was a zero budget. What Id say to NZers tonight is that there is every probability that this years budget in 2012 will either be zero or very close to a zero budget, and thats because the governments absolutely committed to going back into surplus by 2014/2015.

*Peoowww!!!*

Taurima took the bait, and his next question was no longer about embarressments to the National Party. Key had re-written the interview agenda,

SHANE So, let us confirm that, cos thats a fairly significant announcement. Youre saying that there will be no or very little new spending. A zero budget this year.

Well played, Dear Leader! Though a tad too late. The interview was already mostly over, with only four minor questions left for Taurima to ask, including,

SHANE You mentioned a future prime minister, and I do want to put this question to you, about you seeing out the rest of this term.

Which was a fairly gormless question to ask. I doubt very much if, only four months into National’s second term, Key would answer anything except with the “Yeah”  he uttered twice.

By the end of the interview, one could not escape the conclusion that Key’s veneer of teflon-coating and born-to-rule  confidence had worn away. He was defensive throughout, and on the backfoot having to explain away the actions of not one; not two; but three Ministers.

From here on in, it’s all down hill, Dear Leader…

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Related Blogpost

Bugger the polls?

Other Blogs

The Standard: Nat Civil War – Key backs Boag over Collins

Additional

Watch full interview here

Read full transcript here

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Bugger the polls?

1 April 2012 9 comments

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April 1st!?!

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Full Story

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At first, I thought this was an April Fool’s joke.

Evidently not. Colmar Brunton  and TVNZ are playing this one straight.

Like a previous Dominion Post  poll, pulling apart this piece of BS  and illustrating why  polling results like these  are meaningless drivel, is ridiculously easy.

On 10 November 2011, a pre-election Colmar Brunton poll gave us these  following results,

National: 54%

Labour:  28%

Greens: 11%

NZ First: 2.9%

A  week later, on 18 November, Colmar Brunton published these pre-election poll results,

National: 53%

Labour:  26%

Greens: 13%

NZ First: 2.0%

The Election Results,  on 26 November, painted a somewhat different picture,

National: 47.31%

Labour:  27.48%

Greens: 11.6%

NZ First: 6.59%

National’s polling on election day was nowhere as high as Colmar Brunton’s previous, far-fetched results.  (Though Labour and The Green’s results were reasonably close to previous polling, Colmar Brunton had totally under-estimated NZ first’s voter support.)

In which case, Colmar Brunton’s current poll results today (1 April) – which seem to be a rehash of last year’s skewed figures – should be viewed with considerable suspicion,

National: 51%

Labour:  29%

Greens: 11%

NZ First: 3%

What Colmar Brunton’s figure’s do show, is that National’s support is dropping; 54% to 53% to 51% in the polls. That’s a 3 percentage-point from drop from 10 November 2011 to 1 April 2012.

Apply that same 3 percentage point drop to National’s Election Day electoral results and you get 47.31% to 44.31%.

Converted to seats: 54 seats out of 120/121. Even if Banks and Dunne retain their electorates, that gives a National/Banks/Dunne coalition 56 seats out of 120/121.

Quite a different picture to what Colmar Brunton is painting.

As I wrote on 19 March, National’s days are numbered.  Barring a miraculous recovery to full employment and abandonment of their asset sales plans – this will be their last term.

Labour is now a government-in-waiting.

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Previous Blogpost

National – The End is Nigh

Other Blogs

Tumeke:  Mainstream media start brainfart landline polls early

Additional

Drop in support for National and Labour – poll

Support for National barely damaged by Tea Tapes

2011 General Election Results

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Paul Holmes, Port workers, and pay questions

20 March 2012 2 comments

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A few days ago,  in a column in the NZ Herald, broadcaster Paul Holmes passed judgement on the dispute between Port workers and their bosses, Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL). Holmes found in favour of the bosses, stating,

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Also for Q+A I had cause to really brief up on Auckland’s waterfront dispute and two of the leading protagonists came in on the programme last Sunday morning, the union president, Garry Parsloe, and the Ports of Auckland chairman, Richard Pearson.

Both were engaging men. And isn’t that an interesting thing? I hardly ever meet anyone I don’t like. Everyone wants the best for their people. Trouble is that people’s views of what’s best differ so widely. Causes trouble.

Anyway, I formed the view that the ports company have not been ungenerous in their offers to the union. In fact, even Auckland Mayor Len Brown himself agreed that the company’s first offer made early last September should have been accepted.

The offer would have rolled over the collective agreement and given the workers a 2.5 per cent pay increase each year for three years. There were several offers but early on the company decided it could no longer tolerate its workers getting paid for sitting around doing nothing.

I do not believe the union when it says that it’s a lie that the workers earn in excess of $90,000 for an average 26 hours work. Ports of Auckland had Ernst and Young audit the figures. And that’s something you notice about the ports’ conduct throughout the dispute. They’ve done things very thoroughly.

The union’s argument that its people ceasing to be permanent staff would mean that their families couldn’t plan things was obliterated by the company’s offer to roster the men for 160 hours a month, and the roster delivered a month ahead. For the life of me, I can’t see what’s wrong with that.

I think the union was dyed in the wool. I think they didn’t read the signs. Before they knew it, it was all over. Nearly 300 men were made redundant, just like that. End of story. I think there were some hardliners who’ve buggered things up for everyone. Hysteria is never a good thing.

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I find Holmes’ jaundiced views  on this issue highly ironic.

Aside from the fact that he has uncritically swallowed the POAL claim that Port worker’s are paid ” in excess of $90,000 for an average 26 hours work ” based on an Ernst & Young “audit” (of which we have been given only a summary, and not the full report on how that figure was calculated) – Holmes should have good cause to feel greater empathy for the much-maligned striking workers.

From February 2001,

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Evening Post - 2 February 2001

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Evening Post - 12 February 2001

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Paul Holmes had every right to feel aggrieved. The storm of angry criticism  over his salary amounted to little more than a moral panic from ‘armchair knitters’ – members of the public who had little better to do than chide a public figure for a perceived ‘sin’.  Most of the criticism was based on the misconception that Paul Holmes’s salary was paid out of taxpayers’ money.

He was actually paid out of advertising revenue and sponsorship  from various businesses that wanted their corporate name, products, and services associated with the highly rating ‘Holmes‘ programme at the time.

I recall writing several letters-to-editor on this issue. Even celebrities, I felt, deserved a measure of common sense and public criticism of Paul Holmes for being paid $770,000-$780,000 was unfair, unwarranted, counter to my understanding of the Kiwi ethos of giving people a fair go.

Back to the Future…

So for Paul Holmes to join in with the POAL to put the boot in to port workers is disappointing. Of all people, he should be painfully aware of what it’s like to be judged harshly, in a very public way, by people who don’t have the facts at hand.

There is an old saying which I try to live by (despite my own personal  mistakes in my life);  “There, but for the grace of god, go I“.

Paul seems to have forgotten that simple truism.

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Inconvenient truths? No go, Fair Go!!

3 March 2012 6 comments

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

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

The year of this futuristic world? 2012AD.

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

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

And things are not getting better…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That leaves us with…? Bugger all.

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

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

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

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

Latch went on to say,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As David Beatson wrote last July on Pundit,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Full Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Full Story

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Full Story

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Full Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Previous Blog Posts

Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand

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

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

Other Blog Posts

Pundit: TVNZ kills ad-free channels to grow profits

Tumeke: From ‘Fair Go’ to ‘Tame Blow’

Public Address: Freakanomics (TVNZ Edition)

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

Additional Reading

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

NZ Herald: Taxpayers’ $1.6m for talent show

NZ Herald: No eleventh hour reprieve for TVNZ7

Radio NZ: TVNZ accused of not wanting to upset advertisers

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

NZ Herald: TV boss denies instruction to protect advertisers

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

Fairfax: Losing public TV to infomercials

Green Party Broadcasting Policy

Labour Party Broadcasting Statements

A job! A job! My kingdom for a job!

27 February 2012 5 comments

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“We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, 29 January 2008

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Despite John Key’s election-pledges in 2008 to see wages rise in New Zealand, the opposite seems to be happening; wages have either mostly stagnated, or, in some very public instances, are being actively driven down.

The maritime workers in Auckland and meat workers for meat-processing company, AFFCO, are facing an unprecendented attack on workers’ right and conditions which would see many (if not all) of them casualised and suffer a cut in wages.

This is hardly an “unrelenting… quest to lift… economic growth rate and raise wage rates“. It is, in fact, more akin to Bill English’s remarkable admission on TVNZ’s Q+A, on 10 April last year that having wages 30% lower than our Australian cuzzies was a “a good thing if we can attract the capital, and the fact is Australians- Australian companies should be looking at bringing activities to New Zealand because we are so much more competitive than most of the Australian economy.

Unions representing various  groups of workers have had a gutsful, and are asserting their right to strike,

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Full Story

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The casualisation and reduction of real wages is not just a threat to the families of working men and women – but a threat to our economy as well.

National and ACT voters might care to reflect that just recently, BERL released a report outlining the value of blue-collar workers to the economy,

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Full Story

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We simply cannot afford to lose  skilled blue-collar workers heading of to Australia, or elsewhere in the world. Australia already has plenty of our doctors, nurses, engineers, scientists, etc.

As Berl chief economist Ganesh Nana said,

If you reduce the amount of trained and skilled labour out there, not only are you reducing the quantity available to businesses, you are also increasing the cost of the labour … because it’s in short supply.”

Global finance and accounting firm Robert Half director, Andrew Brushfield, said recently,

 “Where there is currently a need for skilled people in Australia, that need is just as prolific in New Zealand.” – Source

So let’s be clear about this;

Instead of short-sighted, selfish,  employer-driven vendettas against their workers – which achieves nothing except a form of reckless  economic self-sabotage – this country should be looking at ways to increase wages, which then leads to increased business turn-over; generating greater economic growth;  and ultimately, a more prosperous society.

I do not believe – not for one micro-second – Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Kim Campbell, when he said,

Frankly, I think most employers would like to pay more if they can, I don’t know any employer who genuinely wants to pay less.” – Source

That is 100%, unadulterated crap.

It is crap because many employers can pay more,

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Full Story

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They just choose not to.

Once again, from Mr Key,

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"The driving goal of my Government is to build a more competitive and internationally-focused economy with less debt, more jobs and higher incomes." - John Key, 21 December 2011

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And as we all know, John Key is a Man of His Word. Right?


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Dumber and Dumber for the 21st Century

10 January 2012 10 comments

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philistine  [fil-uh-steen, -stahyn, fi-lis-tin, -teen]

    noun

    1.  ( sometimes initial capital letter ) a person who is lacking in or hostile or smugly indifferent to cultural values, intellectual pursuits, aesthetic refinement, etc., or is contentedly commonplace in ideas and tastes.

    2.  ( initial capital letter ) a native or inhabitant of ancient Philistia.

    adjective

    3.  ( sometimes initial capital letter ) lacking in or hostile to culture.

    4.  smugly commonplace or conventional.

    5.  ( initial capital letter ) of or belonging to the ancient Philistines.

Source: Dictionary.Com

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In June/July of this year, TVNZ7 – the last remnant of non-commercial, public television – will be erased from the air-waves.

With the demise of the Public Charter for TVNZ, the two channels (TV1 and TV2) have become profit-driven  corporations that are indistinguishable from TV3 or any other  commercial broadcaster. TVNZ is a revenue-raiser for the government and nothing more.

What that means is that “public television” serves up populist pap – usually from the United States – that can sell advertising. That’s all there is to it; the raison d’être for TVNZ: to make money.

It is not obligated to do any of the following;

  • promote our culture in any manner whatsoever (hence seeing endless American crime and/or “reality” shows,
  • present niche programmes that, whilst possibly low-rating, are of considerable interest to many in our community,
  • represent any aspect of communities in New Zealand,
  • promote local acting talent (“Shortland Street” is it, folks),
  • informative programming that broaden our insights of our country, or the world around us,
  • present a News programme consisting of stories that reflect aspects of our communities – unless it involves the Murder-of-the-Day; Court case updates; latest crime story;  local disaster; overseas disaster; and then a celebrity/cutesy animal story. But if you want to know Otorohonga’s latest initiatives regarding youth employment – forget it.

Instead, TVNZ offers the following;

  • a News programme that is primarily crime, death, disaster, and the obligatory cutesy-animal story.
  • grisly US crime “dramas”
  • cooking programmes ad nauseum (followed by ads for weight-loss programmes and latest exercise/torture gadgets)
  • home improvement programmes for DIY obsessives
  • “reality” programmes – though unsure of what “reality” they mean to represent
  • tacky American sitcoms (including the 1 millionth re-run of “Friends“)

TVNZ’s two “current affairs” shows, “Close-up“, and “Q+A” suffer from respective problems.

It is no longer possible to consider “Close-up” as a serious current affairs show. A more appropriate description would be a “magazine”-type show. And by “magazine”, I don’t mean “Time”  or “The Guardian“.  (Think instead  “Woman’s Day“.)

Q+A” is buried on Sunday mornings, at 9am. Too bad, I guess, for those folk wanting a lie-in or getting ready to take the kids out to sport, or the family to some other recreational activity. Of course, there is TVNZ’s “On Demand” – if you can remember to go online and look up the last episode you missed.

Sunday 9am is basically the ghettoisation of TVNZ’s last remaining, half-hearted attempt at serious current affairs programming. Once upon a time, it would have been screened at 7.30 or 8.30pm – but not with the populist pap that we are given instead.

As an example;

Saturday 7.30pm: “Annabel Langbein the free range cook” (cooking show)

Saturday 8.30pm:  “Restoration Man” (reality/makeover show)

Saturday 9.30pm: “Zodiac” (crime movie)

Sunday 7.30pm: “Sunday” (current affairs/magazine show)

Sunday 8.30pm: “The Black Balloon” (drama movie)

Sunday 10.35pm: “Damages” (crime movie)

Monday 7.30pm: “Border Security” (reality law-enforcement show)

Monday 8.00pm: “The Force”  (reality cop show)

Monday 8.30Pm: “Line of Fire” (reality cop show)

Monday 9.30pm: “City Homicide” (crime drama)

Tuesday 7.30pm: “Coronation St” (drama)

Tuesday 8.30pm: “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” (cooking show)

Tuesday 9.30pm: “Real Crime: The Missing” (reality cop show)

Wednesday 7.30pm: “Fair Go Awards” (local programme)

Wednesday 8.30pm: “Castle” (crime drama)

Wednesday 9.30pm: “Real Life: Tribal Wives” (reality show)

Thursday 7.30pm: “Coronation St” (drama)

Thursday 8.30pm: “Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guidance” (reality show)

Thursday 9.30pm: “Hawthorne” (drama)

Friday 7.30pm: “10 years younger: the challenge” (reality/make-over show)

Friday 8.30pm: “Married, Single, Other” (drama)

Friday 9.30pm: “The Naked Office” (reality show)

(Source: “The Listener“, 16 October 2010 – picked at random)

Slim pickings for folks wanting anything remotely serious by way of documentaries or current affairs. Though “Sunday” is placed at a somewhat better time – if not an odd day of the week.

TV3 is marginally better,  broadcasting their own current affairs show, “Sixty Minutes“, at 7.30, on Wednesday evenings.

And that’s it, people. That is what passes for public television in New Zealand, circa 2012AD; crime; cooking; and reality/make-over shows.

It is perhaps no wonder that New Zealanders are disengaging from the politics of our country, and why we had the lowest voter  turnout since 1887,

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Full Story

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Hmmm, what an intriguing coincidence that the low voter-turned favoured National.

Just as, coincidentally (?) TVNZ7 faces closure by… National,

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Full Story

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And Stratos TV ceased transmission after faces heavy transmission fees by Kordia, a state owned enterprise, whose share-holders are Ministers of… the National government.

Conspiracy? I doubt it. It would be fairly difficult (if not impossible) to keep such a conspiracy secret, in a small country like ours, where practically everyone knows everyone, or is only two-degrees removed from someone else.

Instead, the reason for the demise of anything remotely resembling public television is far more prosaic; lack of interest.

This government simply does not care about public television. Indeed, if John Key’s comment below are anything to go by, this is a government whose core values do not recognise the Arts or Culture, in any meaningful fashion,

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It seems fairly obvious;  if a direct financial benefit cannot be gained from a State, social, or community activity, then this government is unable (and unwilling) to quantify, or just plain recognise, any value from said activity.

Which explains why this John Key-led government appears to be so unconcerned at cutting early childhood education. After all, pre-schoolers don’t vote.

There also seems to be no votes in it for National, to retain TVNZ7.

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Which leaves us with the consequences of a Dumbed Down “public-service” television.

Once upon a time, television had excellent informative, current affairs shows. Just look at this 1984 Leader’s Debate, hosted by Ian Johnstone. Newspapers and magazines contained vast amounts of information – especially of a political and socio-economic nature.

Now, with staffing cutbacks; thinner editions; and reduced circulation, newspapers are no longer the mainstay of informing the public.

And television has totally abdicated any responsibility in this area.

I am reminded of a movie which came out six years ago,

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Idiocracy is a 2006 American film, a satirical science fiction comedy, directed by Mike Judge and starring Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, and Terry Crews.The film tells the story of two ordinary people taken into a top-secret military hibernation experiment to awaken in a dystopia wherein advertising, commercialism, and cultural anti-intellectualism run rampant and dysgenic pressure has resulted in a uniformly stupid human society devoid of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, and coherent notions of justice and human rights.” – Source

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Hmmmm, now why does that description sound so hauntingly familiar…?

If you want to counter the drive toward New Zealand becoming even more of an Idiocracy, consider emailing a protest to John Key, and demand that government save TVNZ7. Otherwise, we will get the bland TV we deserve; dumbed down, for a dumbed down audience.

How dumb is that?

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Contacts

Save TVNZ7

John Key, Prime Minister: john.key@parliament.govt.nz

Minister of Broadcasting, Craig Foss: craigfoss@backingthebay.co.nz and craig.foss@parliament.govt.nz

Previous Blog entries

Another stake through the heart of quality broadcasting…

Additional

David Beatson – TVNZ kills ad-free channels to grow profits

David Beatson – New Zealand TV – there’s got to be a better way

David Beatson – Stratos is dead – who’s next?

Where to now for NZ public broadcasting?

How the badly maimed BBC can stand up to parasitic Sky

Brian Edwards – The TVNZ Charter – a toothless tiger out of its misery

Bernard Hickey: Free TV’s death spiral

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Plucking figures from outer space vacuum?

9 October 2011 2 comments

This is Q+A,

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Q+A is TVNZ’s “flagship” weekly, current affairs programme, usually hosted by well-known broadcaster, radio host, and author, Paul Holmes.

This is Guyon Espiner,

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Guyon Espiner

G.

Espiner is TVNZ’s interviewer on their current affairs programme, Q+A.

On the weekend of 8/9 October, Espiner led a debate on MPP with Lianne Dalziel (L) and Simon Bridges (N). Dalziel was supporting the pro-MMP debate; Bridges was promoting the anti-MMP/pro-SM debate.

During the debate, Espiner raised the issue of the ratio of MPs-per-population, in several countries. He said,

One of the questions that people have about MMP – and, in fact, it would be the same with Supplementary Member because theres 120 MPs under both systems. In Australia, theres one MP to every 97,000 people. England – one MP to every 95,000 people. New Zealand – one MP to every 36,000 people. Simon Bridges, isnt the problem-?Source

Espiner compared Australia’s one MP to every 97,000 to New Zealand’s one MP to every 36,000 people.

According to Espiner, we have just over two and a half times more MPs-per-head-of-population than Australia.

Can this be true?

No, it’s not true.

Whoever researched those figures stuffed up.

The actual figures are;

  • Australia:  one MP per 28,000 (approx)
  • New Zealand: one MP per 36,000 (approx)

In fact, we have less MPs per-head-of-population than Australia.

How did Espiner (or Q+A’s researchers) make such a blunder? The answer is simple arithmetic-gone-wrong;

New Zealand’s population is (approximately) 4.4 million people.

We have, at present, 122 MPs.

4.4 million divided by 122 = 36,000 (approx)

Q+A estimated their incorrect figure in the following manner,

22 million divided by 226 MPs = 97,000 (approx)

But there are two errors in that calculation.

1. The population of Australia is (approximately) 22 million – not 20 million.

2. There are indeed 226 Federal MPs in Australia. But there are also an additional 583 State MPs in Australia, making 809 Members of Parliament in total.

Federal and State MPs are broken down thusly,

226 in the two houses of the Australian Federal Parliament:

– The House of Representatives with 150 elected representatives.
– The Senate (the upper house) has 76 elected senators.

17 in the single house of the Australian Capital Territory Parliament:

– The Assembly with 17 elected representatives.

135 in the two houses of the New South Wales State Parliament:

– The Assembly with 93 elected representatives.
– The Legislative Council (the upper house) has 42 elected senators.

25 in the single house of the Northern Territory Parliament:

– The Assembly with 25 elected representatives.

85 in the single house of the Queensland State Parliament:

– The House of Representatives with 85 elected representatives.

58 in the two houses of the South Australian State Parliament:

– The House of Representatives with 47 elected representatives.
– The Senate (the upper house) has 11 elected senators.

40 in the two houses of the Tasmanian State Parliament:

– The House of Assembly with 25 elected representatives.
– The Legislative Council (the upper house) has 15 elected members.

128 in the two houses of the Victorian State Parliament:

– The House of Representatives with 88 elected representatives.
– The Senate (the upper house) has 40 elected senators.

95 in the two houses of the West Australian State Parliament:

– The House of Representatives with 59 elected representatives.
– The Senate (the upper house) has 36 elected senators. Source

In the interests of fairness and accuracy, it is vital that our media present information that we can rely on. This is not some academic matter of debate – we are considering whether or not to change or retain our electoral system.

Sloppy presentation of incorrect information will not be helpful.

One hopes that TVNZ will lift it’s game in the coming weeks as the General Election and Referendum approaches.

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I emailed Q+A on the same day (Sunday, 9 October 2011 5:55 p.m.) that this episode appeared. My email consisted of my blog entry, as given above.

Tim Watkin, Q+A’s producer responded, two days later (Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 12:02 PM) with this email,

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from:    Q+A Q+A@tvnz.co.nz
to:    [email]
date:    Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 12:02 PM
subject:    RE: Comment – A Programme – Q+A

Hi Frank,

Thanks for your comments, but rather than being sloppy etc, we’ve just
taken a different measure than you. The comparisons we made with other
countries included federal parliamentary MPs only, not State MPs. I
imagine you’ve figured this out yourself.

We don’t have State MPs in NZ, so it would be comparing apples with
oranges to include them. Sure, Australia and other countries have that
extra layer of democracy – but they are not MPs as we know them in this
country and do not have the same power and responsibility, so it seemed
to us the more accurate (or at least less inaccurate) comparison was to
limit our comparisons to national MPs. That way we’re comparing like
with like.

We decided that to most of our viewers “MP’ would mean members of a
national parliament, not a state one. Obviously you are one who defines
MP differently, but I suspect you’d be in the minority of viewers.

Regards,

Tim Watkin
Producer, Q+A

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To which I replied, on the same day,

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from    [email]
to    Q+A <Q+A@tvnz.co.nz>
date    Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 4:15 PM
subject    Re: Comment – A Programme – Q+A

Tim,

Thankyou for your response.

With regards to your explanation, I would submit the following;

“The comparisons we made with other
countries included federal parliamentary MPs only, not State MPs. I
imagine you’ve figured this out yourself.”

Indeed, I realised that immediately. This is an error made recently by another media outlet and I recognised the basis for the figures almost immediatly, as I had seen them before.

However, as you pointed out, it is worth noting that I’d be perhaps one of a handful of people who would realise this. The rest of the country watching that segment would take the figures  mentioned at face value.

“We decided that to most of our viewers “MP’ would mean members of a
national parliament, not a state one. Obviously you are one who defines
MP differently, but I suspect you’d be in the minority of viewers.”

I disagree and that explanation seems somewhat artificial. No mention was made of your definition between Federal and State MPs. State governments in Australia are just that; state governments with their own MPs, Parliaments, and Governor Generals. They pass their own laws; have their own Police; have a (somewhat loose) border-controls;  and even  extradition treaties with other (Australian) states.

Perhaps it would have been appropriate to point this out to viewers so that they could come to their own conclusions? As it is, only one interpretation has been presented, and that interpretation is, well, open to interpretation.

You’re correct; we don’t have State MPs. In which case comparing Australia with New Zealand was not comparing apples-with-apples. (Australia would probably prefer that we don’t mention our apples to them, at any rate.) So it wasn’t an accurate comparison even by your definitions.

All the best,
-Frank

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Categories: Media Tags: , , , , ,

From our “Boggles the Mind” Files…

20 September 2011 17 comments

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Q: When is a lie fair?

A: When the Broadcasting Standards Authority sez so.

Case in point,

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A One News item that claimed MP Hone Harawira spent more on parliamentary travel than the entire Maori Party has been ruled inaccurate but fair.

The story aired on April 28 stated that the MP had “racked up a $35,000 travel bill that’s almost $4000 more than the Maori Party’s total bill”.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority found that the figure compared Parliamentary Service expenditure only, and failed to mention that Maori Party MPs also received funds from Ministerial Services.

Maori Party MPs Dr Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia also spent $20,782 on domestic air travel from ministerial budgets, in addition to $31,658 spent the four Maori Party MPs on their parliamentary budget.

Quoting one figure and not mentioning the other was deemed misleading by the BSA.

“As the presenter stated that Mr Harawira’s travel expenses were more than the Maori Party’s ‘total’ travel bill, we consider that viewers would have been left with the impression that the figures reported constituted total travel expenditure for the period specified, and not just expenditure administered by one agency.”

The complainant Henry Clayton of Wellington also considered the item unfair to Harawira because it was misleading, but the Authority decided politicians should expect to face closer media scrutiny than other people.

“Although we have found that the presenter’s comment was misleading, we consider that, given Mr Harawira’s high profile status as an often controversial politician, he should expect to face robust criticism, especially with regard to the expenditure of public money,” said the decision.

The Authority said the news presenter’s comments related to Harawira in his professional capacity as an elected representative, and did not stray into “abusively personal territory” which is deemed unfair, even for political figures.

Source

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The background article which sparked the complaint to the BSA,

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“[1]  An item on One News, broadcast at 6pm on Thursday 28 April 2011, reported on MP Hone Harawira’s travel expenses. The presenter stated:

Figures out today show Hone Harawira racked up a $35,000 travel bill in just the first three months of the year – more than $20,000 went on air travel, $14,000 on rental cars and taxis – and that’s almost $4000 more than the Māori Party’s total travel bill. A spokesperson says Mr Harawira travelled to Hui across the country at the time due to concerns about the Māori Party’s relationship with the National Government.” Source

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Full Story

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So let me get this right… a story that is so inaccurate as to be worthless in terms of accuracy is still “fair” – according to the Broadcasting Standards Authority-  “given Mr Harawira’s high profile status as an often controversial politician, he should expect to face robust criticism, especially with regard to the expenditure of public money “?!?!

Say what?

Have I fallen down the rabbit hole to Wonderland?

If  the media has reported the BSA’s decision accurately and fairly, then this decision is astrounding and unbelievable on several levels.

Firstly. I think it not unreasonable that the public expect their media to be accurate when presenting information to us. It’s not a big thing to expect accuracy – it is what informative News and Current Affairs shows should be predicated on.

If standards of accuracy no longer apply, or are not a matter of high priority, then the credibility of News reporting has been undermined to the point where it is worthless.

Secondly. So what if Hone Harwira is a “controversial”, “high profile”, politician?  Since when should that matter one iota when we are presented with information from the media?

If anything, it behoves the News media to be even more scrupulous in presenting factual, unbiased, and complete information to the viewer/listener/reader. We, the public may well decide whop to vote for in upcoming electuions based on what the media presents to us.

There is also a matter of basic fairness and justice involved here. I don’t care if it’s Hone Harawira, Don Brash, Phil Goff, John Key, or Uncle Tom Cobbly – I think everyone deserves the basic decency of being treated fairly by the media, irrespective of being controversial or not.

Thirdly. For the BSA to arrive at a decision that it is acceptable for a news item to be “misleading” because ” the Authority decided politicians should expect to face closer media scrutiny than other people” defies understanding. Of course politicians an rightly expect “closer media scrutiny”.

But it is not beyond the realms of rationality that the public expect the media to be fair and accurate in the way that they present their information to is, the public.

For the BSA not to comprehend this most basic idea is truly disturbing. Especially so when, just recently, the BSA decided to fine a complainant $50 for a supposedly “frivolous complaint”. Full story. This despite the fact that the complainant was factually correct in his complaint.

What is also as bizarre is the Authority’s determining statement,

For the above reasons the Authority upholds the complaint that the broadcast by Television New Zealand Ltd of an item on One News on 28 April 2011 breached Standard 5 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[25]  Having upheld the complaint, we may make orders under sections 13 and 16 of the Broadcasting Act 1989. We do not intend to do so on this occasion. In our view, the publication of this decision is sufficient to remedy the breach, and serves to remind broadcasters to take care when making comparisons of this nature.” Source

So, to clarify; the BSA accepts that the TVNZ broadcast breached standards of fairness and accuracy.

But then, they go on to state that “in our view, the publication of this decision is sufficient to remedy the breach“. A “sufficient remedy”?!

In effect, the BSA is agreeing that TVNZ brokes the rules and that the mere publication of the BSA’s decision on their website is a sufficient “remedy”.

That would be like a burglar being found guilty by a Court of Law of breaking into my home and nicking my property – but the mere fact that the Court found the burglar guilty and reported the fact is suffient “remedy”. The burglar is free to go – just don’t do it again, sez the judge.

I am fast losing all respect and confidence in the BSA and it’s increasingly bizarre decisions.

If someone makes a mistake, it behoves them to  correct it. In the case of the media, they have  wide-ranging,  considerable,  influence on the public. These influences can affect the way we perceive the world around us; social issues; our political institutions and representatives.  As such, errors that can impact on public perceptions, must be rectified.

It is worth noting that the TVNZ website reports do not contain any reference to the BSA ruling on this issue; nor any attempt to correct the mis-information contained within the reports.

Harawira tops MPs’ expenses list

The lie is therefore perpetuated.

The media have a responsibility in this matter that they must not be allowed to shirk, no matter how “minor” it may be seen by decision-makers, nor how inconvenient it might be to management and producers.  And which the BSA must take more seriously than they seem to be doing.

Otherwise the role of the BSA must be called into question.

A media report that is “inaccurate but fair” is most certainly not “fair”. Not by any reasonable definition.

I note that the Chair of the BSA is Peter Radich. May I pose a question on my blog;  is it possible that Mr Radich has a penchant for wearing women’s underwear – would that be “misleading but fair” reporting on my part?

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Text of Complaint to BSA:

Clayton and Television New Zealand Ltd – 2011-077

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