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MMP parties join forces over TV3 debate

3 October 2008

MMP parties join forces over TV3 debate

The leaders of three MMP parties have written a joint letter to the TV3's head of news and current affairs Mark Jennings condemning the decision to cancel the All Parties Leaders debate and asking for it to be reconsidered.

Green Party Co-Leader Dr Russel Norman says, "this is the outcome that Key and Clark had hoped for. It seems clear they are too frightened that if they front up to questions or criticism from the MMP parties they will end up looking bad."

ACT Leader Rodney Hide says, "Helen Clark knows she can match John Key and doesn't want to have to debate anyone else - or appear onstage with Winston Peters. TV3 has agreed and become a key part of Helen Clark's anti-democratic and anti-free speech election campaign. We're not allowed to campaign and say what we want without government authorisation, and now TV3 has pushed the MMP Parties off the air because that's what Helen Clark wants."

UnitedFuture Leader Peter Dunne says, "it is extremely disappointing that TV3 has buckled to the wishes of Clark and Key and cancelled the debate, obviously deciding MediaWorks profit margins are more important than this country's democratic process."

The leaders say, "in our joint letter, we reminded Mr Jennings that in 2005 Justice Ron Young clarified over the Dunne/Anderton case against TV3, that, the channel placed itself in the role of providing a public function. This means it is not possible for TV3 to look at the situation purely in commercial terms and dump the show because it believes it is not 'viable'."

"That legal decision reinforces that when it comes to election debates TV3 has an obligation to provide New Zealanders with a balanced view presenting all the points of view - not just those of John Key and Helen Clark," they say.

Note: A copy of the joint letter is attached

--

3 October 2008

Dear Mr Jennings,

As leaders of three MMP parties we are writing this joint letter to lodge a complaint about your decision to cancel the All Parties Election Debate planned for October 9, and to ask you to reconsider.

These debates provide a very important service to the New Zealand public and provide a platform for all parties to explain their policies, and we are extremely disappointed with TV3’s decision.

As you are aware, either National or Labour will most certainly be in the position to form a government after the election, but it is very unlikely that this will be without the help of one or more of the MMP parties.

Your decision to ditch this debate because Helen Clark and John Key refused to appear has excluded the MMP parties from this platform and robbed voters of an important source of information from which they can make an informed decision. Most certainly this is the outcome that John Key and Helen Clark had hoped for, as it means they don’t have to front up to questions or criticism from the MMP parties, and it will keep New Zealanders from being able to see what kind of government they may be voting for.

In the 2005 decision over the Dunne/Anderton case against TV3, Justice Ron Young clarified that, in undertaking to hold pre-election debates TV3 placed itself in the role of providing a public function. This means it is not possible for TV3 to look at the situation purely in commercial terms and dump the show because it believes it is not viable.

Justice Young’s decision reinforces that when it comes to election debates TV3 has an obligation under section 4(1)(d) of the Broadcasting Act, to provide New Zealanders with a balanced view presenting all the points of view – not just those of John Key and Helen Clark.

We urge you to reconsider your decision.


Yours sincerely


Russel Norman
Green Party Co-Leader

Rodney Hide
ACT Leader

Peter Dunne
UnitedFuture Leader


ENDS

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