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Research Indicates National Radio Bias

Research Indicates National Radio Bias

Friday 12 Dec 2003 Deborah Coddington Press Releases -- Broadcasting

Radio New Zealand is in breach of its obligations under the Radio New Zealand Act's Section 7 1(f) to provide `comprehensive, independent, impartial and balanced national news services and current affairs', ACT New Zealand Broadcasting Spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.

"Today I am releasing a 10,000 word report, based on research I have undertaken since May, which outlines ways in which National Radio lacks diversity and has allowed itself to become politicised," Miss Coddington said.

"This is not an 'ideological attack' on National Radio. I do not claim that my analysis is scientific, or that this report is the last word on public broadcasting. It is the opening of dialogue with the public - the result of which should strengthen RNZ by pointing out areas where it must lift its game. Increasing diversity and reducing bias will help the broadcaster regain credibility and listeners. It will also ensure the institution will survive a change in government.

"The data for this six-month project came from audio tapes and RNZ's news story database. In one portion of the study, I catalogued the perspectives present in news stories, and compared the results with those of a commercial radio station and a newspaper. The findings indicated that National Radio has an imbalance toward pro-interventionist viewpoints.

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"I examined the broadcaster's treatment of education stories from pro-market and pro-interventionist organisations. Stories from unions were run without dissenting viewpoints - stories from pro-market groups did not, or were run with pro-interventionist dissenting voices. I found many types of bias within education news stories.

"I reviewed business news bulletins, where I found most stories were shallow and appeared to be created from press releases. I also looked at Mediawatch, which lacked depth and diversity.

"To my knowledge, this is the most thorough study of its type. Former RNZ directors - Dennis Dutton and John Isles, endorse it.

"In the past, the CEO and staff of RNZ have been extremely defensive of any criticism. I hope that new CEO Peter Cavanagh will have more respect for listeners, and will acknowledge the constructive criticism of my report. This is a chance for a new culture at the organisation.

"I have sent my report to Mr Cavanagh and the RNZ Board, and to Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey. I advise the Minister to get the Board into his office and urge them to ensure that RNZ upholds the charter, as required by law. The bias on National Radio may assist the government today, but it is incredibly destructive for the institution and its staff," Miss Coddington said.

To read the report, visit (


For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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