Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

NZ On Air Independence & TV3 Poverty Doco: OIA Documents

"NZ On Air Independence Under Threat Over TV3 Child Poverty Doco": Raw Documents

NZ on air, beehive, goldfish, broadcasting, political
interference
Click to enlarge.

Previously on Scoop Tom Frewen revealed the funding agency New Zealand on Air was considering changing its rules to prevent publically-funded political content screening during election campaigns, following alarm from the board at TV3's decision to schedule the documentary Inside Child Poverty days before the 2011 general election.

The documents below were released by NZ on Air under the Official Information Act (scanned in PDF format, email addresses have been redacted by Scoop).

***

17/11/11: NZ on Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson, seeking information following board member (also John Key’s electorate chairman and the National Party’s northern region deputy chairman) Stephen McElrea's message (to Wrightson and NZOA Chairman Neil Walter) point out Inside Child Poverty scheduling.

McElrea: "Was NZOA aware that this doco was to be scheduled 4 days before the election? If not, should we have been? To me, it falls into the area of caution we show about political satire near elections."


18/11/11: Neil Walter to NZOA board, on sending the Minister a "heads-up" and registering "strong disappointment" with TV3 (the following two documents attached).

"Time will tell how badly we have been dropped in it."

18/11/11: Wrightson letter to Sussan Turner, Managing Director of TV3 owner MediaWorks.

"While we do not interfere in editorial content, and do not involve ourselves in your scheduling decisions, we want to make clear the extent of our discomfort and disappointment with the scheduling of the programme at this time."

18/11/11: Wrightson to the Minister's office.

"We consider that we have been dropped in it on this occasion."


24/11/11: Surveying immediate reaction to screening.

Wrightson notes initial opinion "mainly – and pleasingly – focused on the issue itself", then notes TV3 report of an electoral commission complaint; McElrea sends link to Karl du Fresne's blog post; Wrightson concludes the debate "mainly focused a little more on what the political response should be rather than party-specific. And thus far, no serious criticism of NZ on Air thankfully".


24/11/11: Jane Wrightson replies to documentary maker Bryan Bruce.

"Our only issue was the scheduling in Election week... We guard our reputation jealously... and we think the scheduling did threaten this. We couldn't ask TV3 to change the schedule, recognising it's their decision not ours, but we did make our disappointment about the scheduling and its potential impact on us known."


13/11/11: Walter to Wrightson – copy of Walter's response to complaint from Alastair Bell.

"... I categorically reject the suggestion that New Zealand on Air was in any way involved in the broadcaster's decision to screen the programme at this time...

"On the scheduling of the programme just days out from a general election (when the topic had indeed become an election issue), I fully share your concern...

"This is the first time that NZ on Air has been let down by a broadcaster in this way... TV3 has expressed its regret for having put us in this situation and has assured us that there will be no repeat of the problem. We are nevertheless investigating options to strengthen our broadcast covenants against the recurrence of such an incident."


15/12/11: Wrightson to Walter, McElrea summarising interview with Herald reporter John Drinnan on "reputed tensions" between NZOA and TV3, and political neutrality – with Drinnan specifically asking about Stephen McEltrea (Drinnan's column appeared the next day).

"I said our displeasure re the scheduling was a whole-of-Board view, also shared by me, that all members were appointed by the Minister of the day, and that as a crown entity we are completely neutral."


23/12/11: Wrightson letter to Sussan Turner.

"Although we were not party to the scheduling decision, we now stand accused of political bias...

"The Board has asked me to explore with you ways in which we could avoid a repetition of this situation, based on some form of understanding that due account will in future be taken of our concern not to be pulled into the political arena in this way. One suggestion is that any proposal to screen a politically sensitive programme immediately before a general or by-election first be discussed with NZ on Air. The period concerned is probably best defined as between the issue of writs and the day of voting.

"We should be grateful for your comments on this proposal."


********

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 


Keith Rankin: Science, Scientists, And Scientism
Science, in the not-so-recent-past, has often had a bad press. It's been personified, particularly by the political left, as Frankenstein, as agents of capitalism, classical liberalism, colonialism, sexism (yang over yin), eugenics, and god-like pretension. More recently though, in the zeitgeists of climate change awareness and covid, it's had an unusually good press; although we retain this persistent worry that viruses such as SARS-Cov2 may be the unwitting or witting result of the work of careless or evil scientists... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Can ACT's Dream Run Continue?

By most reckonings the ACT Party has had a very successful political year. Not only has its expanded Parliamentary team settled in well to its work, without controversy or scandal, but its leader has gained in community respect, and the party’s support, at least according to the public opinion polls, has increased sharply... More>>

Keith Rankin: Basic Universal Income And Economic Rights
"Broad growth is only going to come when you put money in the hands of people, and that's why we talk about a Universal Basic Income". [Ritu Dewan, Indian Society of Labour Economics]. (From How long before India's economy recovers, 'Context India', Al Jazeera, 31 Oct 2021.) India may be to the 'Revolution of the twenty-first century' that Russia was to the 'Revolution of the twentieth century'... More>>



Gasbagging In Glasgow: COP26 And Phasing Down Coal

Words can provide sharp traps, fettering language and caging definitions. They can also speak to freedom of action and permissiveness. At COP26, that permissiveness was all the more present in the haggling ahead of what would become the Glasgow Climate Pact... More>>

Globetrotter: Why Julian Assange’s Inhumane Prosecution Imperils Justice For Us All

When I first saw Julian Assange in Belmarsh prison, in 2019, shortly after he had been dragged from his refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy, he said, “I think I am losing my mind.”
He was gaunt and emaciated, his eyes hollow and the thinness of his arms was emphasized by a yellow identifying cloth tied around his left arm... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Labour's High Water Mark
If I were still a member of the Labour Party I would be feeling a little concerned after this week’s Colmar Brunton public opinion poll. Not because the poll suggested Labour is going to lose office any time soon – it did not – nor because it showed other parties doing better – they are not... More>>