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

$96.5 million for new science research programmes

3 Sep 2015 News
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has today announced funding for 48 new science research programmes, for a total... more

10 year passports will be delivered early

24 Aug 2015 News
10 year passports will be delivered early Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne today welcomed the Government Administration Select ... more

Business

CORRECT: Government, Auckland iwi reach agreement

3 Sep 2015 Business News By Fiona Rotherham
  CORRECT: Government, iwi reach agreement for private housing on Crown land in Auckland (Removes reference to selling land in... more

Air NZ to defend US class action over air cargo cartel claim

3 Sep 2015 Business News By Paul McBeth
  Sept. 3 (BusinessDesk) - Air New Zealand, the national carrier, will defend a multi-billion dollar class action in the US... more

Living

It’s Snoopy’s Birthday!

10 Aug 2015 Entertainment
20th Century Fox is celebrating Snoopy’s birthday ahead of the release of the first animated Peanuts movie SNOOPY AND CHARLIE... more

NZ's Sola Rosa Sound System heads to London - interview with Andrew Spraggon

6 Aug 2015 Entertainment By Charlotte Everett
Sola Rosa Sound System comes to London on 20 August – NZNewsUK London Editor Charlotte Everett had a chat with frontman Andrew... more

Property

Auckland house sales climb to 15-yr high for month of August

3 Sep 2015 Property By Paul McBeth
Article - BusinessDesk   Auckland house sales climb to 15-year high for month of August, prices stall Sept. 3 (BusinessDesk) -... more

Auckland house price growth stalls in July: Barfoot

5 Aug 2015 Property By Tina Morrison
  Auckland house price growth stalls in July as properties 'fully priced', Barfoot says Aug. 5 (BusinessDesk) - Auckland house... more

Migration

NZ net migration reaches new annual record in June

21 Jul 2015 Migration By Paul McBeth
  NZ net migration reaches new annual record in June, swelled by Indian, Chinese students July 21 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand... more

NZ migration rises to new annual record in May

22 Jun 2015 Migration By Suze Metherell
  NZ migration rises to new annual record in May, closing in on Treasury's upside scenario June 22 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand... more

Travel

Air NZ to continue alliance with Cathay Pacific

25 Aug 2015 Travel & Tourism By Joshua Riddiford
Air NZ to continue alliance with Cathay Pacific, targets Asian tourists Aug. 25 (BusinessDesk) - Air New Zealand's has had its... more

Partnerships push New Zealand’s profile abroad

25 Aug 2015 NZ Tourism
25 August 2015 Campaigns promoting New Zealand as an outstanding visitor destination reached more than 1.2 billion people globally... more

Sport

NZ Rowing: Kiwi crews book A finals

3 Sep 2015 Sport
3 Sept 2015 Emotions ran high on an action packed day four at the 2015 World Rowing Championships with eight New Zealand crews taking... more

Silver Ferns to take on world’s best!

3 Sep 2015 Netball
Netball’s greatest rivalry will take centre stage in October when the Silver Ferns host the world champion Australian Diamonds... more

Columns

Gordon Campbell on the flag campaign

25 Aug 2015 Opinion
Gordon Campbell on the flag campaign So far, the public has treated the government’s flag campaign with something between... more

Gordon Campbell on Donald Trump, and Dr Dre

19 Aug 2015 Opinion
Gordon Campbell on Donald Trump, and Dr Dre   For the past few months, you, me, and Rupert Murdoch have been waiting for the... more

Kiwi Success

Library and Information Advisory Commission Appointments

3 Sep 2015 Appointments
Library and Information Advisory Commission Appointments Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne today announced three new... more

Former cricketer Simon Doull signs with NZME

19 Aug 2015 Appointments
Former cricketer and established broadcaster Simon Doull signs with NZME 19 August 2015 – New Zealand Media and Entertainment... more

Recruitment

Eleven straight quarters of job growth

5 Aug 2015 Recruitment
The latest labour market data shows continued job growth, with 7,000 more people employed over the last quarter and 69,000 more New ... more

NZ unemployment rate rises to 5.9% on weaker jobs growth

5 Aug 2015 Recruitment By Paul McBeth
NZ unemployment rate rises to 5.9% as jobs growth lags behind growing population Aug. 5 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's jobless rate... more