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Heavy-Handed Political Interference In TVNZ

Comments attributed to TVNZ chair Ross Armstrong in this morning's Independent Business Weekly effectively confirm a pattern of heavy-handed political interference in the company's news and current affairs, according to National MP Murray McCully.

"For months there have been rumours that key players in the current Government wanted to see the departure of TVNZ's Head of News and Current Affairs Paul Cutler. Today's reported statement by Armstrong that Cutler's departure was a 'dream scenario' and 'a change made in heaven' effectively confirm those rumours, and others suggesting that Cutler perceived unacceptable levels of outside interference in news matters, contributing to his decision to depart.

"Today's comments by Armstrong also leave the distinct impression that there may be a completely inappropriate level of participation by politically appointed directors in the appointment of the next Head of News and Current Affairs.

"Why is the politically appointed chairman, and not the chief executive, the spokesperson for the company on the process for appointing the next head of news and current affairs? Why was it the politically appointed chairman who announced the modified news programme arrangements for this year, and indicated which presenters were to be assigned to each bulletin? Is there some basis to the rumour that Cutler's departure is at least partly in response to directorial interference in news changes?

"These are serious matters which would have been treated as a national scandal if they had occurred under the previous government. They are made all the more worrying against the background of structural changes confirmed by Michael Cullen last weekend, which would involve TVNZ's viability depending on regular trips with the begging bowl to the 9th floor of the Beehive," Mr McCully said.

Ends


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