Brian Edwards Media

TVNZ Responds to “A Little Bird Told Me” (Updated Tuesday, May 4)

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I have received the following email from Mike Valintine, Editor of Close Up:

Hi Brian …your little bird is completely wrong. There was no attempt to delay or prevent the Serepisos story from going to air. It is correct Daniel did the interview with the businessman a month before the item went to air but that is easily explained. Firstly Mr Henshilwood and his wife went on holiday immediately after the interview and we were awaiting documentation from them to support their claims. This was in storage and it took more than a week after their return to access the files. We also wanted them back to approach Mr Serepisos in person. Secondly at that time their story was part of a wide ranging investigation into Mr Serepisos’s debts. My expectation was that Daniel’s story would be aired as part of a more comprehensive insight. When it became clear that the wider investigation would take longer than anticipated Daniels story was put to air.
 
There was certainly no pressure placed upon me and I instructed staff working on it to treat it like any other story- without fear or favour.

Regards
Mike V.

 

Having accepted Mr Valintine’s explanation, I subsequently submitted a series of questions to him. His replies to those questions appear in bold. 

*Is it usual to film an item involving serious accusations against a public figure before having documentation to support those accusations?

It is unusual but in this case the couple seemed completely credible. We had sent out a crew with the reporter so it seemed logical to get the interview in the can before they headed away on holiday. We had every confidence they could supply the required documentation and of course they were able to. It just took a lot longer than we expected.

*Was a one-month delay acceptable in putting to air the doubts which Close Up must have harboured about the suitability of Mr Serepisos to host The Apprentice, given that the programme had 6 more episodes to run?

We were dealing with a $3,000 debt here and chasing what we believed was a much bigger story. The delay I believe was an acceptable if a calculated risk. As I understand it the show is pre-recorded so we were hardly going to stop production. In my view it was always highly likely that once we approached Serepisos he would quickly settle the outstanding debt

*Did you, as Editor of Close Up, have any concerns about the effect your story might have on The Apprentice?

My only real concern was to do this story without fear or favour.-  to be fair. Of course I gave some thought to the potential fallout for the programme but I go through the same process for any controversial story

*If so, did  you seek any advice on the matter?

I did not seek advice on the matter- I am an old hand paid to make the decision.

*Can we expect to see the meeting between Mr Serepisos and the Henshilwoods to which you refer on Close Up any time soon?

No, you cannot expect a meeting but Serepisos’s people have indicated he will be doing an interview with us in the near future.

*Is the “more comprehensive insight” into Mr Serepisos’ affairs, to which you refer, likely to appear on Close Up or elsewhere on TVNZ in the near future?

 

We are still working on the story – we are a bit short of the documentation needed and/or informants to go on the record.

It is being treated as any other investigation.

 

 I trust this clears the matter up.

 

  *****

 Readers of this post will have to decide whether this ‘clears the matter up’ or not.

They may wonder why, if the couple ‘seemed entirely credible’ and if Close Up ‘had every confidence they could supply the required documentation’, the programme was not prepared to put it to air, but preferred the ‘calculated risk’ of delaying till The Apprentice series was nearly or perhaps totally finished.

They may think that the fact that the series was pre-recorded might have made it easier rather than more difficult  for TVNZ to abandon it, if it was embarrassed by the Serepisos revelations. Not playing a tape is considerably easier than stopping a production.  

That said, Mike Valintine makes no bones of the fact that ‘of course I gave some thought to the potential fallout for [The Apprentice]’, but ‘it did not influence my decision’.

The matter must be left there. We can at least look forward to the Close Up interview with the host of The Apprentice and to the ‘comprehensive insight’ that will result from the programme’s ‘wide-ranging investigation into Mr Serepisos debts’.

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7 Comments:

  1. I am quite sure the timing of the interview going to air was perfectly normal, surely its often the case that there is some minor editing involved in putting these interviews up, by the time you factor in coffee breaks, various meetings, perhaps brisk walks in the park and it could easily be a month before such a piece was aired.

    The fact that the interview may possibly have harmed “The Apprentice” ratings and affected advertising if shown at a earlier time is surely just coincidental, a oversight if you will.

    I for one hardly think there could be any doubts of the suitability of a property developer as role model for budding entrepreneurs to aspire to.

    Sure some people may have lost some money or not got paid in a timely manner if at all, but without risk there is no reward. Perhaps if they used Mr Serepisos’s business methods they would be more successful and have less cause to complain

    • I am quite sure the timing of the interview going to air was perfectly normal, surely its often the case that there is some minor editing involved in putting these interviews up, by the time you factor in coffee breaks, various meetings, perhaps brisk walks in the park and it could easily be a month before such a piece was aired.

      Tut, Tut, superCalo, no irony warning!

  2. TVNZ’s Mike Valentine gets credit, for acknowleging the questions you raise.

    I can’t understand the reasoning behind your apology. It suggests TVNZ has been wronged by your blog, especially, when you follow it up with further “Please explain” questions. Clearly, you remain unconvinced of the justifications, thereby negating the apology.

    • I can’t understand the reasoning behind your apology. It suggests TVNZ has been wronged by your blog, especially, when you follow it up with further “Please explain” questions. Clearly, you remain unconvinced of the justifications, thereby negating the apology.

      No, I accept Mike Valintine’s explanation because I know him reasonably well and don’t expect him to tell lies. His answers did, however, raise some further questions. I’ve just received his answers to those questions and will add them to the post tomorrow.

  3. They have to avoid slander I expect but newspapers/TV usually have an ability to go “today” while the news is fresh, or before the opposition gets it. Four weeks?

  4. I’ve just received his answers to those questions and will add them to the post tomorrow.

    Tomorrow, Brian? Tomorrow?

    And you call yourself a blogger!?

    Although now I’m freaking out a bit because it’s 9.41pm where I am (ie: home) and your last comment was posted from the future, at 21:52 …

    • I’ve just received his answers to those questions and will add them to the post tomorrow. Tomorrow, Brian? Tomorrow?
      And you call yourself a blogger!?

      Unlike some bloggers, dear boy, I have a life. May I also suggest that you don’t muck around with Irish time travellers. All will be revealed.