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What’s the position on chequebook journalism?

Hon. Georgina te Heuheu MP
National Party Broadcasting Spokeswoman

26 March 2006

What’s the position on chequebook journalism?

National Party Broadcasting spokeswoman Georgina te Heuheu is calling on the Government to outline its position on chequebook journalism, after claims made about TVNZ in weekend newspapers.

“It has been alleged by other media that TVNZ paid for an exclusive with the family of freed-hostage Harmeet Sooden, at an estimated cost of $30,000.

“The Broadcasting Minister needs to tell taxpayers whether he approves of this type of spending.

“In my view, state television should not be paying for stories even if their Minister has publicly criticised the news service as being inferior to the competition.

“Steve Maharey was quick to sink the boot in over the slide in ratings. He can’t now say that he won’t comment on how the news service goes about its business.

“Mr Maharey should also tell taxpayers how much TVNZ spends on this type of ‘chequebook journalism’ and whether he plans to do anything about it,” says Mrs te Heuheu.

“Questions about freedom of the press, fairness and accuracy are all relevant when the largest taxpayer-funded broadcaster starts trying to out-bid the competition for the best story.

“If this is allowed to continue unchecked, truth and honesty will be the real casualties,” she says.

ENDS

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