Brian Edwards Media

Archive for March, 2013

The BBC’s Eddie Mair with Boris Johnson – Is this the style of interviewing we want to see on our TV screens here?


Redefining ‘Current Affairs’ and why is everybody standing at TV3?

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Once upon a time the term ‘current affairs’ had an unambiguous meaning. Current affairs programmes were essentially programmes about politics or issues with a strong political content. On shows  like Compass and Gallery we talked to and about politicians and political issues. Compass was documentary in style, film rather than studio, not unlike TV1’s  Sunday programme today; Gallery, on which I made my name as a ‘fearless interrogator’ of those in power – a novel concept in those days – had both studio and location items, but the live studio interview, primarily with politicians, was the programme’s trademark feature.

If you check out the backgrounds and ages of the people who complain that there are no ‘real current affairs programmes’ on TV anymore – people like me – you’ll probably find that they’re in their sixties or older and that they come from the school of ‘serious’ current affairs, which essentially means long studio interviews with politicians or lengthy studio debates between politicians. Being entertained was relevant to those viewers only insofar as the disembowelling of politicians was entertaining and new.  Our early heroes were Robin Day and David Frost; today we bow down before HARDtalk’s Stephen Saccur and… I can’t think of anyone else.

‘Discursive’, a long word for ‘long’, is our preferred description of the sort of interviews we approve of, so that excludes Campbell Live, the late lamented Close Up and pretty well everything else masquerading (our word) as ‘current affairs’ on the telly.

‘Serious’ is our other favourite word which is why Seven Sharp does not  and cannot qualify in our philosophy as a current affairs programme. Those people are having far too much fun. Giggling and current affairs are incompatible.   Read the rest of this entry »


That odious non-journalist, Jonathan Marshall, is up to his old tricks in Australia and it’s not a pretty story.

Over the last couple of weeks Judy and I have  received phone calls and an email from Cathy Barker. Cathy is the wife of former  Spliz Enz  drummer Michael Barker.  Cathy and Michael are the parents of  teenager Tristan Barker who has become infamous in Australia –  where he has just finished school  –  and beyond for his anarchic and generally offensive rants on Facebook and Twitter.

According to Australian media reports, Tristan has ‘hundreds of thousands’ of teenage fans who hang on his every word. His Twitter page reveals that he currently has just under 15,000 followers, so I suspect his fan numbers may be exaggerated. But that’s still a lot of people and his on-line presence is undoubtedly significant.

Tristan’s methodology, by his own telling, is to slaughter as many sacred cows and offend the sensibilities of as many people as possible in order to make us all think. He is clearly highly intelligent and writes well.

But his outpourings are properly unacceptable, I would have thought, to even the most liberal mind. Here in New Zealand, Netsafe Executive Director Martin Cocker has described Tristan’s actions as ‘inciting of acts of hatred’. Whether that is Tristan’s intention or not,  I think Cocker may well be right.

Unsurprisingly, Tristan who is a Kiwi and whose parents live in Rotorua, has attracted the particular attention of the Australian media, most recently for allegedly assaulting Channel Seven’s Today Tonight reporter Dave Eccleston who had travelled to Rotorua to interview him. Eccleston required medical treatment. Tristan appeared in Rotorua District Court this morning, charged with common assault. He was remanded on bail until April 3.    Read the rest of this entry »


Why TV3 should hang its head in shame over ‘3rd Degree’ and why I suspect Duncan Garner and Guyon Espiner would agree with me.

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I got home rather late from dinner with friends tonight and tuned into TV3′ new hard-hitting current affairs show 3rd Degree. You’ve no doubt seen the preposterous promos for the show with Duncan Garner and Guyon Espener being the Batman and Robin of current affairs, fearlessly interrogating the bad guys. But their discomfort with the load of codswallop which they were compelled to front last night was as plain as the noses on their faces. Garner is brilliant and Espiner not quite as brilliant but together they should be a force for good. Instead they had the embarrassing task of having to appear enthusiastic about a disaffected car clamper and the beautiful but embarrassingly miscast Anna Guy. Good god, what an appalling waste of two of the most incisive political minds this country has ever seen. But hey, no doubt the execs at TV3 thought it would rate. And it just might. But the cost to your reputation and the reputation of Garner and Espiner may just be too high a price to pay. What is it they say about putting lipstick on a pig?  Let’s hope for better next week.


“Our kids buy a car on Trade Me and get ripped off in a big way” – The Story, One Year On

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On the second of March 2012, I wrote a post entitled ‘Our kids buy a car on Trade Me and get ripped off in a big way.’ That story came to its conclusion three days ago, on the second of March 2012, exactly one year later. To understand what has gone on in that year, I’m afraid you’ll have to read the original post first. But it’s an instructive story that may serve as a warning to others.

First the dramatis personae (the cast):

*Jon Horvath, the original owner of the car, who sold it to Erkan, with $7,000 odd owing to the finance company, Debt Works, some of it presumably in penalty fees.

*Erkan turned out to be Erkan Kilic. Mr Kilic comes from Turkey. He was, he would later claim, selling the car on behalf of one of his countrymen, whose name was Onur Ozbal.

*Onur Ozbal, the actual owner of the car, then living in Australia.

*Anil Ozbal, Onur’s brother. It was Anil whom Quentin met when he went to uplift the car and hand over his $3,700. Anil handed him a scrap of paper with  the car details, price and Onur’s name on it. Anil then signed Onur’s name on the paper which Quentin took away as a receipt.

The car was repossessed roughly six months later. Of the four options which Quentin and Livy then faced to get the car or their money back, they opted to take a case to the Disputes Tribunal, which we used to call the Small Claims Court.  This wasn’t entirely straightforward since they weren’t entirely sure who ‘Erkan’  was and Trade Me wasn’t about to tell them without evidence that a crime had been committed. Read the rest of this entry »


On Agent Anna, humourless realtors and dodgy viewing figures from TVNZ

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[I think it’s important that, if I get something wrong in a post, especially in a criticism of an individual or organisation, I should fix the mistake. In this post I surmised that the more than 400,000 average audience cited by TVNZ for its first three episodes of Agent Anna was a ‘cume’, that it included anyone who had watched the programme for more than 5 minutes during those three weeks. In a comment on the site, TVNZ’s Drama and Comedy Commissioner Kathleen Andersen said that this was incorrect.  She wrote: ‘The 400k was the audience average in 5+ for each of the three episodes that had been to air. It was not the cume.’ I accept that that is the case and that my surmise was incorrect. However, I stand by my assertion that TVNZ’s claim that 1.2 million people ‘tuned in’ to the programme over those three weeks, which Kathleen Anderson concedes was a cume,  is ‘rather misleading’ since it conveys to the ordinary reader, not familiar with ratings jargon, that this was the total number of people who ‘watched’ the programme, when in fact it was a headcount of anyone who literally ‘tuned in’ for 60 seconds (not even 5 minutes, as I suggested)  or more during those three weeks.  Given that the average audience for the show was more than 400,000 and the number of people who ‘tuned in’ for a minute or more over those three weeks was 1.2 million, the inevitable conclusion would seem to be that significantly more people ‘tuned out’ over that period than ‘tuned in’. 400,000 is nonetheless a solid rating for the programme. I’m indebted to Nielsen Television Audience Measurement for their assistance in this.]

Years and years ago, in another life, I fronted a television commercial for the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand. I don’t recall seeing the result on TV but I remember that I wasn’t very good. After numerous takes the director took me aside and said, ‘We’re having a bit of trouble with the accent, Brian. Viewers won’t know what you’re talking about.’

I was naturally affronted.

‘What on earth do you mean?’

‘Well, it sounds as though we’re in the railway business.’

‘In the railway business! Is this a joke?’

‘Well, come and have a listen.’

I listened to the playback, but couldn’t hear anything unusual.’

‘Well Brian, you’re saying “Rail Estate Institute of New Zealand”, not “Real Estate Institute of New Zealand”’.

He was right. If you say ‘real’ with an Irish accent, it comes out ‘rail’.

Twenty takes later I’d got it right.

I can’t remember what I was paid for this gig, but it was a lot less than Kev got for flogging carpet.

Thanks to our gypsy lifestyle, Judy and I have had lots of dealings with real estate agents over the years, some brilliant, some dire. So we were quite interested to see how the profession would be portrayed on what the Herald has described as ‘TV One’s new hit comedy series Agent Anna’ starring Robyn Malcolm.   Read the rest of this entry »