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www.mccully.co.nz - 14 October 2005

www.mccully.co.nz 14 October 2005

Good News and Bad News at Radio New Zealand

It was a classic case of good news and bad news for Radio New Zealand staff last week. First, the state broadcaster’s staff received news that a new collective contract, negotiated with the union, had just been formally approved by the company. Salary increases all round. Champagne anyone? Perhaps not.

Then came the bad news. A memo to all staff from RNZ chief executive Peter Cavanagh. There would be no champagne, apparently. Not even a chardonnay or a beer.

"I regret to advise that Friday drinks have been suspended until further notice pending a full review of discretionary expenditure in what’s going to be a very tight financial year.

"We have also received feedback from a number of staff concerned that the timing of previous events has disadvantaged some people –particularly shiftworkers.

"We’ll be closely monitoring our budgets in coming months and hope to revisit staff hospitality options as soon as funding allows.

Regards,

Peter Cavanagh Chief Executive"

This would be the very same Peter Cavanagh known to be very very keen on the re-election of a Sisterhood-led government. And on the basis of the above effort we may conclude that Mr Cavanagh has obviously become a recent graduate from the Sisterhood School of Charm and Grace.

The World’s Most Invisible Government

Have they no shame? After nearly a month of breathless predictions that a Labour-led Government would be formed within days, and still no visit to the Governor-General, surely some of the nation’s journalists must soon realise how big a hammering their credibility is now taking.

For the first two weeks following the election, journalists were reporting that talks at leader level, followed by mopping up of the detail by chiefs of staff, would enable the formalities to be concluded immediately the special votes were counted. Halleluiah. A Labour-led government was only days away.

The release of the special votes, with one less seat for National, and the overhang of Maori seats reduced by one, were great news for Helen Clark, crowed her media acolytes. A 121 seat Parliament would make it much easier for Clark to cobble together her coalition. And such coalition would be announced within days, almost certainly by the end of the week.

By late last week, with no announcement in sight, the nation’s commentators were unembarrassed. Tuesday of this week would be the day, according to some. But Tuesday came and went. As did Wednesday and then Thursday. Two media releases from Clark were interpreted in much the same manner as white smoke from the Vatican chimney. But still the world’s most invisible Labour-led Government stubbornly refused to oblige the gushing media. And by late Thursday the signs were unmistakable: there would no photo op at Government House this week.

But still, the media are undeterred. The deal is done with Winston Peters, many insist. They are simply waiting over the weekend for the ink to dry. Or for the champagne to chill. Or the squadron of pigs to fly over the Beehive.

By now, so-called media commentators are the only people left in the country who don’t seem to have realised what the public figured out weeks ago: the nation’s media actually haven’t got a blind clue what is actually happening in the coalition discussions, when a government will be formed, or who will actually be in it. Which would be fine. If only they would admit it.

Labour Ad Agency for TVNZ?

Regular readers may recall the revelation in this journal a few weeks prior to the election that the state broadcaster Television New Zealand had chosen the Labour Party’s advertising agency, Assignment, as its sole agency. There was mild panic amongst the Bow Tie and Ballet Tights Brigade. The decision was rapidly unmade and an announcement deferred to avoid the obvious flack which such a partisan act would draw.

In the meantime, Tourism New Zealand have just announced that they have hired Labour’s agency. And this afternoon TVNZ will announce their deferred appointment.

After the second-rate Labour Party advertising campaign, it defies belief that two major state agencies could have hired Assignment on the basis of recent performance.

So watch for the TVNZ announcement. If the Labour agency is appointed we may all draw the obvious, and not very charitable, conclusion.

ENDS


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