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Broadcasters Join Forces To Defend TV Reporting

TVNZ, TV3, Maori Television and Sky News NZ Join Forces To Defend Parliamentary TV Reporting

New Zealand's major television news organisations - Television New Zealand, TV3, Maori Television and Sky News NZ – today issued a joint public pledge to defy parts of Parliament's new rules on TV coverage of Members of Parliament in the debating chamber.

TVNZ, TV3 Maori Television and Sky News said the new "sessional orders" would lead to a serious erosion of democracy in New Zealand.

As a consequence the news organisations said they would continue to provide TV coverage of MP's in the chamber and ignore the anti-democratic parts of Parliament's rules.

TVNZ Head of News and Current Affairs Anthony Flannery said: "The banning of the use of images from the debating chamber for satire is a precious over-reaction by MPs and unnecessarily puts limits on New Zealanders' understanding of politics. The public has a right to see how their elected representatives behave and perform in Parliament; warts and all."

TV3 Director of News and Current Affairs Mark Jennings said: "Light-hearted and satirical coverage of politics by the news media is as old as reporting itself and New Zealanders should have this approach to politics available to them."

Sky News Director Ian Cook said: "The new rules on TV coverage of Parliament are the thin end of a wedge that will undermine reporting of politics. Sky News is a strong supporter of the open reporting of Parliamentary sessions, and we have broadcast live coverage of the New Zealand Parliament since our launch in NZ. Sky News views any erosion of access to television coverage of the chamber as being a backward step for democracy."

Mäori Television Head of News and Current Affairs Te Anga Nathan said: "Satire has long been used within Mäori cultural traditions, such as whaikörero and waiata, to provoke more acceptable behaviour and introspection where inappropriate action has taken place. The onus is on the MPs to ensure their behaviour reflects the respect and authority they believe is due to them – not in the denial of the media's portrayal of their performance in the House. We stand with other television news organisations in challenging the new rules."

All of the news organisations said they would fight against parts of the new rules on Parliamentary television coverage and, when warranted, continue to use images from the debating chamber in a satirical manner.

The news organisations understand that ignoring the rules could bring a 'contempt of Parliament' charge.

"This is not an issue of MPs versus the television media; it's about New Zealanders being denied a particular viewpoint on New Zealand politics," Mr Flannery said.

"This is such a serious issue about New Zealanders' democratic rights that our competing organisations are prepared to back each other up if one is penalised for ignoring this part of the new rules," Mr Jennings said.


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