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Dunne lodges complaints against TV3's 'stupidity'

Wednesday, 3 August 2005

Dunne lodges complaints against TV3's 'stupidity'

United Future leader Peter Dunne today lodged complaints with the Electoral Commission, the Broadcasting Standards Authority and TV3 against the television network's 'stupid and arrogant' decision to exclude United Future from TV3's planned political leaders' debate.

"TV3's executives seem to think that having one commercial hour of debate (i.e. 44 minutes in reality) is enough for the voters of New Zealand to make up their minds on who should be in Parliament.

"This is the same network that will make hours of time available for such intellectually-stimulating programmes like Survivor.

"This is ridiculous and insulting to the voters. TV3 is basing its decision on its own poll and is excluding us and including ACT despite there being only 0.2 percentage points between the two parties and despite the fact that those positions are reversed in several other polls.

"Even TV3's own political reporters say ACT won't be in the next Parliament while United Future will.

"In lodging these complaints, I expect TV3 to reply urgently and not try to prevaricate until after the debate or the election.

"It's time they fronted up to their responsibilities," said Mr Dunne.

**************

Letter of complaint.

3 August 2005

Mr Mark Jennings
Director of News and Current Affairs
TV3
Private Bag 92624
Symonds Street
Auckland

Dear Mr Jennings

I am writing to formally complain and protest in the strongest possible terms at your decision to exclude United Future from your Leaders' Debate scheduled for 11 August 2005.

Your formula for deciding which parties to exclude from the debate defies logic as far as United Future is concerned. The notion that access should be determined on the basis of one opinion poll result is flawed, especially when the difference between being asked to appear and excluded is 0.2%.

Even worse, according to your own commentary accompanying the poll, on the results it showed the ACT party is unlikely to be represented in the next Parliament, whereas you concede United Future will be, yet we are the ones you chose to exclude. It makes no sense at all; especially when in both the Herald Digi-Poll and the NBR Phillips-Fox Poll released at the same time, United Future rated twice the level of ACT.

The overriding principle, however, should surely be that in a parliamentary democracy, all parties have the right to have their view expressed in the forum of an election. By deciding which parties to include and which to exclude, TV3 is actually usurping the public's right to an informed decision. You are presuming to know the public mind in advance of the election actually being held. In a free society, such arrogance is intolerable.

I am further concerned that at no stage has TV3 entered into any discussion with me about its proposals and the reasons behind them. Indeed, any information we have obtained has been because of approaches my office has made to TV3.

I would therefore ask that the decision be reviewed as a matter of urgency and that all parties currently represented in Parliament be invited to participate in this debate. I would appreciate your urgent consideration of this matter and your response as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Hon Peter Dunne
Leader, United Future New Zealand

cc Broadcasting Standards Authority
Electoral Commission

ENDS


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