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Posts Tagged 'Broadcasting Act'

Political Interference in Radio New Zealand: It won’t do, Mr Brownlee; It won’t do, Mr Cavanagh.

stuff.co.nz

Good heavens, the idea that Cabinet Ministers could ring up the Director General  of the NZBC, as it then was, and throw their weight around, was already pretty well gone when I was an interviewer on the current affairs show Gallery in the late sixties and early seventies. If the Minister of Broadcasting himself wanted to issue a direction to the Corporation, he had to table the fact in Parliament. And it happened rarely.

One might have thought that 43 years later, the notion that it was OK for government ministers to interfere in the editorial affairs of public radio or television would be considered laughable. But apparently not.

Gerry Brownlee evidently  thought that his status as a Cabinet Minister entitled him to ring up Radio New Zealand and demand a right of reply to comments made on Jim Mora’s Afternoons programme some weeks ago by Christchurch MP Lianne Dalziel. The topic under discussion was of course the Government’s handling of the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes and Dalziel was predictably unimpressed. Brownlee is the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister and seems to have considered that his portfolio gave him the right to demand an instant right of reply on the programme.

The production team disagreed. As a regular contributor on the show, I can tell you that Afternoons is a tightly scheduled programme. It isn’t easy to slot in an additional item. More importantly, Afternoons would almost certainly have been  conscious of the significance of acceding to what amounted to a demand from a Government minister for immediate air time during a live broadcast. Brownlee was told that the programme could not fit him in.  Read the rest of this entry »

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