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Maori Party asks: Do Clark and Key run TV3?

Maori Party asks: Do Clark and Key run TV3?
Hon Tariana Turia and Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leaders 29 September 2008

The Maori Party is astounded at TV3’s apparent cave-in to the demands of Labour’s Helen Clark and National’s John Key over the organisation of the political parties’ leaders debates.

“TV3 has apparently cancelled their all-party leaders’ debates because Helen Clark and John Key refused to participate. We initially welcomed TV3’s principled stand against big-party bullying,” said Tariana Turia.

“Now, unbelievably, their head of news and current affairs is suggesting that TV3 is planning to proceed with a debate between the two leaders of the old parties, having denied the minor parties any air time at all,” she said.

“It is difficult to see where TV3 is coming from, but perhaps they believe it is ratings and not journalistic integrity that make the debate ‘unviable’,” said Dr Sharples.

“Helen Clark and John Key have shown that their campaign is all about them, and not about voters – now TV3 has shown it’s all about entertainment and profits, and not about politics,” he said.

“This is a very serious issue for our democracy,” said Mrs Turia. “We have huge numbers of people who are not enrolled to vote, and others who do not vote because they are cynical about the whole process.

“We have seen political science research that shows the smaller parties get very little coverage of policy, and are mostly reported on as pawns in a game of political chess.

“We think TV3 and the media generally ought to reflect on their role as representatives of the public interest in politics. How can TV3 justify their decision in these terms?” she asked

“Our understanding was that TV3 called a debate for the leaders of all parties,” said Dr Sharples. “If some decline to participate, they should not be rewarded by having everyone else pulled from the stage.

“Otherwise the question must be asked: Who is TV3 accountable to – to Helen Clark and John Key? To their Canadian owners? Or to the people of New Zealand?”


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