Director’s Voice Provide Checks and Balances   20 Jan 2012

A healthy democracy needs a free and open broadcasting environment.

The recent moves by NZ On Air (NZOA) to question the timing of the broadcast of Inside Child Poverty and then to seek to legal advice on controlling the scheduling of programmes “likely to be an election issue” is counter to their politically neutral position.

The Electoral Commission has stated that Inside Child Poverty: Special Report has not breached the Electoral Act 1993 or Broadcasting Act 1989.

“In the Commission’s view, the programme was not election related for the purposes of sections 221A of the Electoral Act, given the fact that it is issues based and does not feature or comment on politcal parties or candidates contesting the 2011 election or the election itself. In any case, section 221A does not “restrict the publication of any news or comments relating to an election in a … television broadcast made by a broadcaster within the meaning of section 2 of the Broadcasting Act 1989” (refer section 221A(4)). TV3 is the broadcaster in this instance and the programme is a documentary that would clearly fall within the term ‘comment’” – The Electoral Commission.

Under the current system any programmes scheduled during an election period are subject to both the scrutiny of the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Electoral Commission. These organisations provide a sufficient check on the content of any programme. To load NZOA up with a complicated political brief will only create tension between the funding body, programme makers and broadcasters.

The SDGNZ supports the continued use of the current channels to assess the legality and impartiality of programmes rather than NZOA taking on this role.

The role of NZOA Board Member Stephen McElrea, who is also John Key’s Electorate Chairman and the National Party’s Northern Region Deputy Chairman, is now under scrutiny. Mr McElrea first raised concerns over the screening of the documentary as reported by Tom Frewan.

"Was NZOA aware that this doco was to be scheduled four days before the election?" he [Stephen McElrea] queried on Thursday 17 November 2011 to NZOA Board Chairman, Neil Walter, and Chief Executive, Jane Wrightson.

“While we understand that NZOA board members are often political appointments, our members are very concerned that a board member such as Mr Stephen McElrea would seek to use his position to influence programming when this is clearly not his role,” says Janette Howe (Acting Executive Director, Screen Directors Guild of New Zealand).

“Some SDGNZ members believe that Mr McElrea should resign now that he has shown such a lack of judgement over this issue and many have expressed to me concerns about their projects going forward for funding before the NZ on Air board.”

“Programme makers are worried that their proposals will now be assessed in terms of a perceived political influence rather than simply on the merit of the project,” states Howe.

(Screen Directors Guild of NZ)

Add a comment

Bookmark and Share

News

Patrick Gower interviews Laila Harre

22 Nov 2014 News
The Nation Patrick Gower interviews Laila Harre Headlines: Laila Harre to quit as Internet Party leader by Christmas when the party ... more

Establishment of NZ-China Strategic Partnership

21 Nov 2014 News By John Key
New Zealand Government 20 NOVEMBER, 2014 Joint Statement between New Zealand and the People’s Republic of China on the... more

Business

Extreme commute: From New Zealand to rural Iceland

18 Nov 2014 Business News
Every year, several dozen butchers make an epic commute - from provincial New Zealand to rural Iceland - for just two months' work.... more

A2 Milk to seek ASX listing, push into US market

18 Nov 2014 Business News
Article - BusinessDesk   A2 Milk to seek ASX listing, push into US market, renew sales into China By Fiona Rotherham Nov. 18 ... more

Living

Hawaiian Voyagers Return to Reaffirm their Link with Maori

17 Nov 2014 Lifestyle
WAITANGI, New Zealand – When intrepid Hokulea crewmembers first sailed to Aotearoa (New Zealand) 29 years ago using the ... more

Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship team in Round the Bridges

14 Nov 2014 Lifestyle
A University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship team is set to compete in this Sunday’s Round the Bridges. The team of... more

Property

More homes coming on board for Christchurch tenants

18 Nov 2014 Property
Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett is impressed with Housing New Zealand’s progress in building, redeveloping and repairing... more

New initiatives to improve tenancy services

17 Nov 2014 Property
Changes to the delivery of key tenancy services are set to streamline and speed up processes for landlords and tenants, Building and... more

Migration

Australians & New Zealanders should be free to live & work in UK

3 Nov 2014 Migration
Australians and New Zealanders should be granted special status to live and work in the United Kingdom without restriction, a new... more

New Zealand Named The Best Place For Raising Children

24 Oct 2014 Migration
New Zealand has been named the best place to raise a child in the Raising Children Abroad annual league table. According to the HSBC... more

Travel

NZ guest nights jump to a record in September on rise in international travelers

12 Nov 2014 Travel & Tourism By Tina Morrison
Nov. 12 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand guest nights rose 1.1 percent to a record for a September month, driven by a rebound in ... more

Travel to NZ made easier for Indian business visitors

7 Nov 2014 Travel & Tourism
Associate Tourism Minister Paula Bennett and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse say Indian nationals travelling to New Zealand... more

Sport

Valerie Adams named World Athlete of the Year

23 Nov 2014 Sport
New Zealand shot put star Valerie Adams has been named the World Athlete of the Year in Monaco this morning. Adams is the first Kiwi... more

All Blacks vs Wales: Hansen credits All Black desire

23 Nov 2014 Rugby
Steve Hansen highlighted New Zealand's desire to fight to the end after a stunning late show saw the world champions down Wales on... more

Columns

Gordon Campbell on the SAS role against Islamic State, and Podemos

20 Nov 2014 Opinion By Gordon Campbell
  Could this news report serve to explain – in a nutshell – why Prime Minister John Key has not ruled out the SAS... more

Gordon Campbell on Australia scoring trade points with China

18 Nov 2014 Opinion By Gordon Campbell
  It hasn’t been a great year for Trade Minister Tim Groser. The Trans Pacific Partnership deal has been deadlocked all... more

Kiwi Success

New Ambassador to the Philippines announced

18 Nov 2014 Appointments
Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced diplomat David Strachan as New Zealand’s new Ambassador to the... more

New High Commissioner to Malaysia

18 Nov 2014 Appointments
Foreign Minister Murray McCully has today named diplomat John Subritzky as New Zealand’s new High Commissioner to Malaysia, to... more

Recruitment

Smiths City starts CEO search after Hellings signals exit

12 Nov 2014 Recruitment
Article - BusinessDesk   Smiths City starts search for new CEO after Hellings signals exit By Paul McBeth Nov. 12 (BusinessDesk)... more

More than 600 take up 3K to Christchurch jobs

28 Oct 2014 Recruitment
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says the Government’s 3K to Christchurch scheme is a winner with 633 unemployed people... more