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TVNZ Secrecy Supports Suggestion PM A Bully

PRESS RELEASE

6 March 2000

Graham Capill
Party Leader

TVNZ SECRECY SUPPORTS SUGGESTION THAT PM USED BULLY TACTICS

Party Leader, Graham Capill has accused the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, or her Department, of bully-boy tactics after TVNZ decided to pull the new Christian programme from Higher Ground Ministry off the air within 24 hours of its first scheduled broadcast. It was to have its first broadcast on Saturday morning, 4 March 2000.

Mr Capill said, “TVNZ is refusing to say precisely how the programme allegedly breaches the Broadcasting Codes, but people I have spoken to have indicated that both Ms Clark’s office and the Minister for Broadcasting, Hon. Marian Hobbs’ office, put pressure on TVNZ to withdraw it. If this is true, it is a major violation of freedom of speech.

“If my sources are incorrect, TVNZ should make public how the programme violated existing standards. Their silence suggests that, following the Hawkesby affair, they are sensitive to criticism coming from Government and are concerned not to offend the Prime Minister.

“I think the public have a right to know if politicians are dictating to broadcasters what they can or cannot report. Even if such comment only amounts to subtle pressure, it violates the public’s interest in having free debate. It would also violate the Bill of Rights which guarantees freedom of expression and opinion.
“I have had several phone calls over the weekend from people concerned that something is amiss here. Both TVNZ and the politicians concerned need to make public what has happened.

“Pastor Brian Tamaki’s views may not be those of TVNZ or those of the Prime Minister, but since when is that a ground to silence the opinions of others? If a Christian group tried to quash the broadcast of a programme that promoted anti-Christian or anti-social behaviour, TVNZ would not hesitate to initiate debate on it and have been known to be quite mischievous about it. When they, on the other hand, do not like the opinion of a Christian preacher, they simply do not put it to air and refuse to make public the grounds of their decision. Such behaviour is inconsistent with what is proper from a SOE.

“Kiwis around the country enjoy Pastor Tamaki’s messages. He has had a positive impact on the lives of thousands of people. The programme he was putting to air was paid for by Higher Ground Ministry and in no way can be said to be a TVNZ endorsed programme. They should therefore come clean and spell out what is so offensive about Pastor Tamaki’s programme that they could not allow it to be broadcast.

“When it comes to sexually explicit material, violence, drug taking or any other unwholesome depiction, TVNZ simply puts a warning at the beginning of the programme and proceeds to broadcast it. If one tries to prevent it from going to air, as I have done with TV4’s proposed broadcast of Queer as Folk, one is told that you can only file a complaint after the programme has gone to air. When a Christian pastor stands up and challenges the politically correct ideology of our age, TVNZ unilaterally pulls it off air. TVNZ please explain!” Mr Capill challenged.


Contact: Party Leader Graham Capill (021) 661 766

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