Brian Edwards Media

Archive for August, 2011

The Sounds of Silence…


We’re in Rarotonga, which feels like our second home these days, having a busy time doing very little. Hence the ominous silence on the media/political/current affairs front. 

Relax – the Patron Saint of Unpopular Causes will be back with you shortly.


How political polls in prime-time + no serious political debate in prime-time = catwalk values and dumbed-down voters


Is John Key such an inspirational leader that he deserves to enjoy the support of 57% of New Zealand voters? Is Phil Goff such a hopeless leader that he deserves the support of only 8% of New Zealand voters? Has the National Party’s record in office been so impressive that it deserves to enjoy the support of 56% of New Zealand voters, including one might surmise, a significant number of Labour defectors? And has the Labour opposition been so feeble that it deserves the support of only 30% of New Zealand voters?

Well, if the polls are right – and there is no great difference between one and another – then the answer to all of these questions would seem to be Yes. But are they right? The extremity of their findings – the adulation of John Key and the seeming invisibility of Phil Goff; National having twice as much support as Labour  – seems curious, given the parlous state of the economy, the high level of unemployment and the near-Third-World conditions in which so many of our citizens, both adults and children, are currently living.

As a nation we seem to have closed our eyes to these realities, so dazzled are we by the luminance of the Prime Minister. The mirror image of ourselves as a people which the polls present seems to me less than flattering. Are we really a nation more impressed by style than substance? Are we really that shallow?  Read the rest of this entry »


Russell Brand Improvises a Shakespearean Backstory for almost Five Minutes (Amazing!)


A Shameful Ruling by the Broadcasting Standards Authority




I was on National Radio’s Afternoons (with Jim Mora) programme yesterday. One of the topics which fellow panellist Michelle Boag and I were discussing arose from an item in that day’s Dominion Post. The story was about a Wellington man whose complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority about an item on One News had not merely been dismissed as ‘frivolous and trivial’ by the Authority, but had resulted in his being ordered to pay TVNZ costs of $50 as ‘a form of deterrent’. The man’s name is Don McDonald, a beneficiary who is unable to work and receives the invalid’s benefit and pension.

I was surprised, as no doubt many Dom Post readers and listeners to Afternoons were, to learn that the BSA had the power not merely to punish broadcasters for their transgressions but to punish people whose complaints to the broadcasters and subsequently to the Authority were deemed to be ‘frivolous’ or ‘trivial’. As a general principle, that seemed to me an inappropriate function for an organisation whose mandate surely is (or ought to be) to represent the interests of listeners and viewers, not to ‘deter’ listeners and viewers from complaining with the threat of punishment if their complaints overstep the Authority’s arbitrary benchmarks of what is ‘serious’ or ‘important’.

The problem here is that ‘frivolous, trivial, serious, important’ are all subjective terms. What is ‘frivolous and trivial’ to one person may be both ‘serious and important’ to another. If you read all of Mr McDonald’s complaints to the BSA – I can find a total of 25 over the past 8 years – it becomes crystal clear that, in his mind, none is ‘frivolous’ or ‘trivial’ in intention or nature. Mr McDonald is simply a stickler for accuracy, one of the 11 ‘Standards’ which it is the broadcasters’ responsibility to maintain and the BSA’s responsibility to uphold.

What’s more, when he complains that a broadcast statement is inaccurate, he is, as far as I can see, almost invariably  correct. The complaint for which the BSA has ordered him to pay a fine of $50 to TVNZ is a case in point. Read the rest of this entry »


Agreement and some disagreement on my claim that TVNZ hung Close Up reporter Kate Lynch out to dry.

I read in today’s Herald that media-trainer to Right-thinking-people, Janet Wilson, has elegantly dismissed my assessment of TVNZ’s treatment of Kate Lynch as ‘bollocks’. Reminding readers that she was herself once a news producer, she opines that TVNZ were not only perfectly within their rights to demote Lynch, but would have been entitled to sack her.

I might accept that argument if the broadcaster had also sacked the producer of the programme for dereliction of duty in failing to detect what Lynch’s critics describe as a blatant example of plagiarism. She sent Lynch out on the job, she previewed the words and pictures, she approved the item for broadcast and she put it to air. The buck stops with her. That’s what being a producer means, Janet.

So I’m more inclined to go along with respected media commentator and University of Canterbury Professor of Social and Political Sciences, Jim Tully, who told the Herald that it was ‘extremely difficult’ to believe Lynch acted alone, and hoped anyone else involved had been dealt with at an appropriate level.

Hope springs eternal. I, for example, hope that TVNZ will give priority to identifying the ‘one inside mole’ in their organisation who breached their non-disclosure agreement with Lynch by gleefully revealing to gossip columnist Rachel Glucina every detail of the humiliating conditions imposed on the reporter by TVNZ management. They won’t of course. ‘Not knowing’ will make it easier for management to absolve themselves of responsibility, both legal and moral, for this employment scandal.

As I concluded in my previous post, ‘Lynch has now not merely been demoted by TVNZ but humiliated by the release of the terms of that demotion.’ In her position, I would be reaching for my lawyer.   Read the rest of this entry »


How TVNZ made Kate Lynch a scapegoat and hung her out to dry.

In today’s Herald on Sunday, in a piece headlined ‘Lynch Mob’, the paper’s ‘gossip queen’ Rachel Glucina reveals that Close Up reporter Kate Lynch has been ‘unceremoniously demoted’ by TVNZ from her senior reporting role on the prime-time programme and transferred to the channel’s off-peak, late-night news show Tonight.

The remarkably well-briefed Glucina goes on to reveal that Lynch ‘insisted that producers at Close Up knew what she was doing and approved of it.’

‘However, Spy understands the findings of the [TVNZ] investigation suggest Lynch was found to have acted alone.’

Glucina goes on:

‘Sources say Lynch will be expected to work on Tonight for a period of three to six months before her role is reviewed. It is likely she will make her way back to primetime news, though she will not be offered another position at Close Up.’

And, in case we missed the seriousness of Lynch’s demotion:

‘”It’s like being dumped from Cabinet to the electorate office as secretary,” said one inside mole. “It’s effectively the most junior role you can get. All new reporters cut their teeth on the late-night news shows. It’s a start-in position.”’

This story raises some disturbing questions about TVNZ’s handling of this affair and whether Lynch has been fairly treated.   Read the rest of this entry »


A Beginner’s Guide to Getting to and Staying at the Top of the Polls – Part Three


The right decision on Ashish Macwan; The wrong decision on Cornelius Arie Smith-Voorkam.

Ashish Macwan, whose son Aarush drowned when the family’s van rolled into a Central Otago lake, has been discharged without conviction. He was not fined and was allowed to keep his licence.

Though the father had pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving causing death. Judge Charles Blackie found that he had suffered enough.

This morning’s Herald summarised how the tragedy occurred:

“The accident happened at Easter when Macwan was holidaying with his wife Kinnery, son Aarush, and family friends.

“The group stopped at Lake Dunstan near Cromwell for a break. When Macwan, who was driving, got out of the Toyota Hiace to stretch his legs, the vehicle rolled backwards into the lake.

“Macwan reportedly forgot to put on the handbrake and left the van in neutral.

“The adults and an older child escaped, but Aarush, who was strapped into his seat, was unable to be saved.

“A group of people, including Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper, tried to swim down to the van but it was too deep.

“Police charged Macwan the same day.

“Lepper was one of many who questioned the decision to charge Macwan, saying the death of his son was punishment enough.”    Read the rest of this entry »


Not sure what to watch on the box? Check out ‘Brian’s Guide’. Categories include: Not to be missed; Good; Curate’s Egg; and Downright Awful!


Not To Be Missed

Top Gear – Prime: Great fun, even if you aren’t interested in cars.

Q and A – TV1: Intelligent examination of social and political issues.

Sunday – TV1: Quality investigative journalism.

House – TV3: The man’s awful and the plots silly beyond belief. Wonderful!

QI – Prime: Quirky intellectual panel show with Stephen Fry

Native Affairs – MTS: Public service broadcasting not just for Maori

Media7 – TVNZ7:  High quality debate on the New Zealand and international media with Russell Brown.

Campbell Live – TV3: Crusading local current affairs with a conscience.

HARDtalk – BBC World News: Stephen Sackur demonstrates the art of the interview.

Monroe – Prime: Medical drama possibly better than House

Big Fat Gypsy Weddings – TV1: Breathtaking. You will be amazed.

The Graham Norton Show – TV3: The ultimate talk show. Norton leaves Parkinson for dead.

7 Days – TV3: Crass. Vulgar. Obscene. Foul-mouthed. Cruel. Brilliant!

The Gruen Transfer – Comedy Central: Informative and highly entertaining Australian programme on advertising.

The Daily Show (Global Edition) – Comedy Central: The only version you can see in New Zealand of the fabulous Jon Stewart satire show.

The Colbert Report – See The Daily Show.

The Chaser’s War on Everything – Comedy Central: Brilliant Aussie comedy/satire show.

Entourage – Comedy Central: I’ve never seen it, but friends assure me it’s great viewing.    Read the rest of this entry »


A Short Lissun on to how to speak and understand Kiwi