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TV3 Has 'Public Responsibility 'To Include Leaders

TV3 Has Public Responsibility To Include Culled Leaders


The gag is off for United Future's Peter Dunne And the Progressive Party's Jim Anderton

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Justice Ron Young today found in favour of Peter Dunne and Jim Anderton in their battle to be seen on TV3 tonight. Both men had been culled from TV3's leaders debate based on a single poll published on 28 July. TV3's head of news and current affairs Mark Jennings explained yesterday in a press statement why Mr Anderton and Mr Dunne had missed out.

"Our position, openly stated a few weeks ago, was that our debate would include leaders of the top six polling parties based on our next 3 News/TNS Political Poll," he said.

The poll Mr Jennings based his decision on had a sample size of 1000 eligible voters and a margin of error of 3.1%. The difference between making the cut and not making the cut came down to the decision of two people - 16 people told the 3 News/TNS Political Poll they would vote for ACT whilst 14 people stated they would vote for United Future.

Justice Young today ordered TV3 to include both Mr Anderton and Mr Dunne in tonight's TV3 Leaders' Debate. Putting pressure on TV3 to include the Progressive and United Future Party leaders was considered by far the lesser of two evils by Justice Young. Failing to include Mr Anderton and Mr Dunne, was considered by Justice Young, to be detrimental to New Zealand's parliamentary democracy.

Justice Young told the court in his summing up that an affidavit supplied by Mr Jennings was more likely to support the plaintiff's case.

It is understood TV3 decided late this week to stand by their decision based on other factors besides the poll published on 28 July. Justice Young pointed out representatives of TV3 had previously stated that the 28 July TNS poll was the only basis for their decision, he therefore dismissed TV3's later arguments around their decision making process.

The process in utilising this one poll to decide who got TV time and who didn't was described by Justice Young as "arbitrary" and "fundamentally flawed". Justice Young further considered there was "little to commend" about TV3's decision making.

Justice Young was satisfied that TV3's decision was susceptible to judicial review, TV3 had put itself into the public arena, and in Justice Young's opinion, by staging the Leaders' Debate had certain public responsibilities.

Among the material submitted by the plaintiffs was the ACT Party publication, The Letter which is normally written by former ACT Party leader Richard Prebble.

"TV3’s debate on Thursday night is absolutely crucial for third parties. He who is not there is lost - so United's fate is sealed," explained this week's The Letter.

The Letter also considered that Mr Hide may be the politician to tame TV3's worm because of his "great intellect, wit and good humour". Now it would seem, thanks in some small way to Mr Prebble's musings, Mr Hide may have some extra competition in the form of the worm's friend - Mr Dunne.

ENDS

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