National Claim TVNZ 'Unfairly Hounded' Dr Brash
National Claim TVNZ 'Unfairly Hounded' Dr
National's Broadcasting spokesperson Georgina Te Heu Heu has accused TVNZ of having abandoned political neutrality during the election campaign. She told National Radio's Geoff Robinson this morning that after watching TVNZ over the last few months "particularly during the election" she had found "[TVNZ's] political neutrality has, at times, seemed to be absent."
Ms Te Heu Heu's comments followed TVNZ’s chief executive, Ian Fraser’s resignation. Mr Fraser stated in his resignation letter that he had lost confidence in the Board of TVNZ.
“The Board of TVNZ is politically appointed. That makes it even more critical than it would be for a commercial board to stand well back from the day to day running of TVNZ, particularly our News and Current Affairs operation," wrote Mr Fraser on Sunday.
The Board of TVNZ replied swiftly to Mr Fraser's resignation letter pointing out that they had at no time, "interfered or otherwise involved itself in the editorial independence of the TVNZ news and current affairs operation"
Mr Fraser today clarified what he meant by "politically appointed".
"I want to make it clear that when I referred in my statement of resignation to a "politically appointed" Board, I was not alleging that there has been political interference in the editorial content of TVNZ News. I state categorically there has been none," explained Mr Fraser in a press release.
Despite the TVNZ board's unambiguous statement and Mr Fraser's clarification Ms Te Heu Heu was still concerned about possible political interference in TVNZ's affairs.
"I don't think it clears the air of the suggestion that there's political interference at all," she told Scoop this afternoon.
When asked by Scoop 'what in particular about TVNZ's election coverage had troubled her' she replied: "I don't know whether National raised this matter during the campaign but it did seen to us that on a number of issues Dr Brash seemed to be unfairly hounded. I know it's an election and supposedly anything goes but sometimes there was a feeling that whereas [Dr Brash] was going to be totally hounded by TVNZ, often the Prime Minister wasn't."
Ms Te Heu Heu did step back from alleging actual ministerial interference in TVNZ's running however.
Scoop: "Did you think that perhaps the Minister had put in a dictate to TVNZ [requiring them] to hound Dr Brash?"
Hon Georgina Te Heu Heu: "There's no suggestion of that at all."
Ms Te Heu Heu was vague when asked to give specific examples of who exactly at TVNZ had been, in her opinion, biased against Dr Brash telling Scoop there was no reporter or incident "in particular".
"Those are our perceptions - they are not truths - they are not anything other than a perception," Ms Te Heu Heu said when asked to detail specific instances of broadcasting bias.
National's leader Dr Brash said today in a press release that Mr Fraser's allegations "are difficult to dismiss when they concern an organisation appointed by Labour and including former Labour Cabinet Minister and current Labour Party fundraiser, Dame Ann Hercus."
Prior to the election Dr Brash had attacked journalists who were members of the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union. Dr Brash's attack on the fourth estate came after a difficult week in which it was revealed he had prior knowledge that the Exclusive Brethren had planned an anti-Labour pamphlet campaign.
TVNZ and a spokesperson for the Minister of Broadcasting (Steve Maharey) told Scoop there would be no further comment today on either Mr Fraser's resignation or National's attacks on TVNZ's news and current affairs.