Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Radio New Zealand'

Radio New Zealand responds to my post on Gerry Brownlee’s appearance on ‘Afternoons’ and I look for the full story.

This morning I received the following email from Radio New Zealand Communications Manager John Barr:

Hi Brian

Your latest blog post re political interference at Radio New Zealand appears to be based on John Drinnan’s Media column in Friday’s Herald. Radio New Zealand has requested a retraction from the Herald and John Drinnan.

Radio New Zealand provided the following written response to a question from John Drinnan on February 16th in relation to this story. The response was ignored and Drinnan’s subsequent piece suggests political interference in Radio New Zealand programming decisions. This implication is repeated in your blog post. Any suggestion that Radio New Zealand CEO Peter Cavanagh instructed anyone to interview Mr Brownlee is wrong.

I would appreciate it if you could correct this perception.

Radio New Zealand Response to John Drinnan Question of February 16th
Re The Panel and Mr Brownlee

As I understand it Gerry Brownlee was listening to The Panel segment discussing the Christchurch recovery effort and phoned in to contribute to the discussion. He wasn’t immediately able to get through to the programme producers however and was subsequently put through to the CEO via Reception. I can confirm that all communication to the programme was via Reception.

After a brief conversation with Mr Brownlee, the CEO spoke to the manager responsible for the programme and let him know that the Minister was available and keen to make some comments in relation to the Panel discussion but had been unable to speak with any of the production staff. The manager spoke to one the programme’s producers who advised they would be happy to have a chat with Mr. Brownlee before the programme finished.
It is absolutely clear that at no time was there any instruction from the CEO to anyone that Mr. Brownlee should be interviewed. Mr Cavanagh did not arrange for him to be put on the programme.


John Barr

It is clear that this version of events is entirely at odds with Drinnan’s version in last Friday’s Business Herald on which I relied for my post.  So which version is correct?   Read the rest of this entry »


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

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 »


Why should we care about Radio New Zealand?

Ross Giblin/The Dominion Post

Ross Giblin/The Dominion Post

 Why should we care about Radio New Zealand?

Because it is the only broadcast medium in the country that takes the time to examine issues of consequence to New Zealanders at length and in depth. It can do so because, and only because it is a non-commercial radio network. It is not beholden to advertisers, does not need to concern itself with ratings – though many of its programmes outrate its commercial competitors – and its programmes are not interrupted or abbreviated by the irritating presence of advertisements.

Radio New Zealand’s success in commanding a large and loyal audience with programmes such as Morning Report, Nine to Noon, Checkpoint, Afternoons, Kim Hill’s (and formerly my own) Saturday morning show, gives the lie to the proposition that the public are not interested in social and political debate or intelligent conversation. They are.

In contrast the free-to-air commercial television channels offer us quasi ‘current affairs’ programmes such as Close Up and Campbell Live whose function is less to inform than to entertain and whose mandate is to retain the ratings momentum generated by the channels’ preceding news, sport and weather packages.

The entertainment ethos that drives these programmes – and the channels’ network news bulletins as well – is that the viewer has a limited attention span, requires constant stimulation and novelty, and has little appetite for the serious examination of social and political issues. To be palatable, what information the programmes offer must be served up in tasty, bite-sized chunks. Nothing too long, nothing too tough, nothing requiring chewing. The viewer must be given no excuse to reach for the remote to change the channel. Read the rest of this entry »


Plunket Loses Case Against RNZ



I read that Sean Plunket has lost his ERA case against Radio New Zealand. The Authority appears to have based its decision around the potential for a perception of conflict of interest, were Plunket to write a political column for Metro. This, as I indicated in an earlier post, was the only proper decision the Authority could come to.


The Plunket Enigma

Photo: Radio New Zealand

Photo: Radio New Zealand

Sometime after my unceremonious sacking by Sharon Crosby as host of Top of the Morning, I was interviewed on Morning Report by Sean Plunket. I was surprised by the vehemence of Plunket’s questioning. His theme was that there had been a clear conflict of interest between my role as media advisor to the Prime Minister and my role as host of the Saturday morning programme. Had Top of the Morning been a political or current affairs show, he would have been quite right. But it wasn’t. It was a magazine show, devoid of any political content. Of the 750-odd interviews I did on the programme, only three were with politicians and in every case dealt with the guest’s life and times, not with their political views. Interestingly enough, I interviewed Jenny Shipley on the programme, but never Helen Clark. Read the rest of this entry »