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Please substantiate --- Penny Webster

Please substantiate --- Penny Webster

Monday 14th Feb 2000
Penny Webster

Media Release -- Other

I write to ask whether you have any facts to substantiate your very serious allegation that Richard Long and Judy Bailey were being "wheeled out as part of a public relations campaign - just as Paul Holmes was".

On the face of it you are saying that state television has compromised its professional integrity as a news team in order to protect the Board of TVNZ against Government criticism.

Indeed I see you have gone further and suggested that unnamed TV journalists have been subjected to unethical pressure from agents for TVNZ public relations.

These statements are false, highly defamatory and amount to character assassination. We haven't seen this sort of personal abuse from a Prime Minister since the days of Sir Robert Muldoon.

It's a new Government and I wish to extend to you the opportunity to substantiate your allegations.

I read the Sunday Star Times story you refer to and it appeared to me the point that Judy Bailey was making was perfectly valid. She simply stated that there had been wild and inaccurate allegations made about her salary.

In fact, in the article Judy Bailey referred to statements printed by the Herald only. If she was part of some anti-Government campaign, then surely she would have referred to the statement by the Minister of Broadcasting saying TV news readers should be paid the same as nurses. In fact, neither Mr Long nor Ms Bailey responded to this gratuitous statement.

I notice that you also claim that Mr Paul Holmes' statements are also part of this TVNZ Board PR campaign.

This letter is to request you to provide me with the information to substantiate your allegations. In order to assist you in doing this, please regard this as a request under the Official Information Act.

I remind you that the Ombudsman has said that requests such as mine should be responded to quickly and I also remind you that relevant information which you have received orally and which now may be stored only in your head must also be communicated to me.

If you have just made up these attacks because you believe there is some organised PR campaign against your Government, can you advise why you believe the Board of TVNZ which doesn't appear to be able to organise anything, has suddenly got extraordinary organisational abilities with respect to this matter?

Yours sincerely

Penny Webster MP

Broadcasting spokesman

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