Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'TVNZ'

TVNZ Introduces ‘Political Arousal Test’ for Journos

New Zealand Politics Today 

Late News:

We understand that, following the Shane Taurima embarrassment, Television New Zealand has employed a psychometric testing company to root out staff working in the news and current affairs areas who may be prone to bias towards a particular political party or party leader.

The test is a refinement of a similar procedure used by psychologists to identify paedophiles where electrodes are attached to the offender’s genitals and he (normally it is a ‘he’) is shown photographs of a range of people of both genders and varying ages. Signs of sexual arousal when shown photographs of children allow the testers to gauge the strength and direction of the subject’s inappropriate desires and, it is hoped, to devise aversive therapies to curb those desires.

Current and prospective TVNZ journalists and interviewers will from now on be required to undergo this ‘political arousal test’. Once the electrodes have been attached to their private parts they will be shown a rapid-fire, random series of photographs of John Key, David Cunliffe, Russell Norman, Meteria Turei, Colin Craig, Tariana Turia, Jamie Whyte and Hone Harawira.

It is understood that preliminary results from the programme (or ‘dry runs’, as they are called) have necessitated recalibration of the testing equipment. On being shown photographs of the party leaders, the libidos of all the TVNZ reporters and interviewers fell to such an extent that no reliable data could be extrapolated.

In an attempt to ‘de-inhibit’ the party leaders, the researchers sought their agreement to undertake the test naked. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this outrageous suggestion was rejected by all but one of the leaders, Mr Craig stating that he had ‘nothing to hide’.   Read the rest of this entry »


Seven Sharp Week One – Was the weather or Waitangi Day to blame?

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The best comment I’ve heard about Seven Sharp came from Canterbury University senior journalism lecturer Tara Ross who said: We were invited to tweet and we were invited to vote, but what were we invited to think about?”

My answer would be: little of any consequence. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that – the utterly brilliant QI deals almost exclusively in ‘quite interesting’ ephemera. I can watch, and have watched half a dozen episodes on the trot and could happily have watched half a dozen more. Informative, irreverent, rude, challenging, side-splittingly funny. All the things Seven Sharp isn’t.

Given the quality of talent available to the BBC, the comparison is of course unfair. And QI makes no claim to be anything other than an (admittedly somewhat intellectual) entertainment.

Television New Zealand’s Head of News and Current Affairs, Ross Dagan, on the other hand, does a disservice to the producers and presenters on Seven Sharp, not to mention its viewers, by continuing to insist that Close Up’s replacement is still a ‘prime-time current affairs’ programme. It isn’t, at least not in the common usage of the term.  Collins English Dictionary defines ‘current affairs’ as ‘relating to events and developments taking place in the world now, or the way in which these are covered or presented by the media’. The only prime-time network programme that currently comes close to that definition is Campbell Live.

Had Seven Sharp been billed as a ‘magazine programme offering a light-hearted and occasionally serious look at the events of the day’, its producers and presenters would have been spared the tsunami of criticism and viewer disappointment that has all but swept the programme away.   Read the rest of this entry »


On awful female voices in television news and who’s really to blame.

I’m going to keep this reasonably brief. It’s a plea to the bosses at TVNZ and TV3 and to their Heads of News.

Do you watch your own news bulletins? If you do, do you watch with the sound turned off? That is the only possible reason I can think of why a majority of your female field reporters have such ghastly, such appalling, such unlistenable voices.

And no, I am not talking about their Kiwi accents. I think we should embrace that aspect of our culture. (Though I could do without ‘Wallington’ and ‘talyvision’.) No,  I’m talking about the fact that most of these young women sound as though they have permanent head colds, that the noise they produce is a high-pitched nasal whine that compares unfavourably with chalk squeaking on a blackboard. THEY ARE AWFUL!   Read the rest of this entry »


Last words on my critique of TVNZ’s ‘Fair Go’ (after Lewis Carroll)

   But  answer  came  there  none!


I return reluctantly to the topic of Fair Go and reply to a friendly critic.

I hadn’t intended to return to this topic, but a response by Kevin Milne to my critique of Fair Go’s modus operandi leaves me little choice. Kevin was speaking to Herald media commentator John Drinnan. Drinnan reports him as having said:

“I don’t know if there is a word for people who attack their own babies. Brian’s comments are outrageous and criticism about the show from day one is just nuts. He started an amazing programme that has been hugely popular for 30 years and I think he knows that. My impression [of the people who commented on the Edwards blog] was that they are not the sort of people who watch Fair Go very often. It’s a major conversion on the Road to Damascus. You also need to put into focus that he makes his living – an extremely good living one would assume – advising big business how to deal with Fair Go.”

A deranged Waiheke neighbour of ours, whose ginger tom was terrorising every other cat in the district, and to whom I complained, put it about the island, when the cat mysteriously disappeared one Christmas, that I had killed it by throwing it over the cliff. I hadn’t. But for some time people would approach me and say, ‘Ah Brian, the Waiheke cat killer!’

This is, however, the first time I have been accused of attacking my own babies, whatever the word for that is – ‘child abuse’ I suppose, Kevin – but I’m going to treat the accusation  as an elderly moment and move on.  Read the rest of this entry »


Beneficiary appeals against Broadcasting Standards Authority decision to High Court. Read the Court’s Finding!


Kathryn Gray

 Cast your mind back, if you will, to a post I wrote on August 16 of last year. It was headed A Shameful Ruling by the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

The story was about Don McDonald, a Wellington beneficiary who had become a thorn in the flesh of the BSA as a result of his numerous complaints to the broadcasting watchdog about inaccurate reporting on radio and television.

The final straw for the Authority was a complaint by Mr McDonald about an item on One News.

In its bulletin of 6 January the network had reported on the discovery of a supernova by a 10-year-old Canadian girl, Kathryn Gray. The report included the following statement:

‘The Canadian Astronomical Society says Kathryn’s supernova was in a galaxy 240 light years from Earth.’

Mr McDonald complained to TVNZ that the statement was inaccurate because ‘a supernova star at such close distance would barbecue the earth.’ He said the distance from the earth to its neighbouring galaxy Andromeda was at least two million light years.

He was right. What’s more, TVNZ agreed that he was right. Kathryn’s supernova was in a galaxy not 240 but 240 million light years from the earth. In other words, a million times further that TVNZ had reported.  Read the rest of this entry »


TVNZ7: if you want to save it – adopt it out.

Q:        What do you call public service television that almost no-one watches, because almost no-one knows about it?

A:        TVNZ7

Q:        Why aren’t the programmes advertised?

A:        Because they might attract viewers from the commercial channels run by TVNZ.

It appeared to be an inspired plan, to get our state broadcaster to run the two commercial-free channels TVNZ6 and TVNZ7. TVNZ had the infrastructure, the studios, the staff and the know-how. It also had millions of dollars, kindly donated by the Government, to run the channels.

It was in fact an invitation for TVNZ to shoot itself in the foot. 

Our state broadcaster operates with one hand tied behind its back at the best of times. The mixed model that requires it to be mindful of public broadcasting requirements and programming  and at the same time be commercially successful and return a healthy profit to the government, is as daft as claiming someone’s a little bit pregnant. You can be a successful public broadcaster; you can be a successful commercial broadcaster. You can’t do both successfully because their aims and objectives are antipathetic.

Every viewer who switches to TVNZ7 is a viewer who isn’t watching TVOne or TV2. Why on earth would TVNZ  encourage people to switch to it? That would be commercially irresponsible. It’s also a dilemma the network faces every time it puts a public service programme to air, which is why most of them are broadcast in the dead of night or on Sunday mornings. The programmes that make up good public service broadcasting are in the main programmes that networks believe would spell death to the ratings. Read the rest of this entry »


Why Fair Go must never be afraid to bite the hand that feeds it.

I probably should have commented on this story earlier, but the repossession of Q and Livy’s car, sold to them by an unlicensed dealer on Trade Me with a $7,000 debt owing to Pacific Dawn Finance, rather took precedence over everything else.

But this story is important. It strongly suggests improper editorial interference by TVNZ management in its high-profile consumer protection programme Fair Go.

The issue was brought to light by Labour Broadcasting spokeswoman Clare Curran when TVNZ management appeared before Parliament’s Commerce Committee.

Curran asked: ‘How can you explain reports that TVNZ’s Head of Programming called a meeting of Fair Go staff, including all reporters, together in the last couple of weeks and instructed them not to produce programmes that would upset advertisers?’

TV1 and TV2 head, Jeff Latch, said he had been invited ‘as a guest’ to the meeting. He went on:

‘The key points I made at that meeting were the fact that the heart of Fair Go for the last 20 plus years that it’s been on New Zealand television, is that it represents the underdog and the small guy and stands up for them and that’s what’s made it a special programme for New Zealanders for a large period of time.

‘I also made the observation that we operate in a commercial environment and that Fair Go like all our programs needed to exercise care in terms of the way they handle stories, they need to make sure they’re always balanced because in a commercial environment a story that is not balanced could be something that we would not want to run on this network.”

‘It wasn’t an instruction per se. I asked them to contemplate and think about when you’re looking at stories it’s very important that they’re balanced and we actually show both sides of the story and I think Fair Go does.’

This is a fascinating reply. Read the rest of this entry »


Who won, who lost in the first television leaders’ debate? I name the biggest loser.


Well, I won’t keep you in suspense. It wasn’t Goff. And it wasn’t Key. It was you and me – the voting public. We were conned by Television New Zealand into thinking that for an hour-and-a -half last night the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition would debate the serious issues that confront this country, the channel’s Political Editor, Guyon Espiner, would keep order and, by the end of the 90 minutes, we would all be better informed.

We should have learned from history not to trust that promise. Television New Zealand has never treated the Leaders’ Debates as anything more than an entertainment. Its remit to sell audiences to advertisers, its suspicion that viewers are fundamentally uninterested in politics, its conviction that the attention span of the average television consumer is seven minutes tops and its paranoia about doing anything that might bore that viewer into switching channels, all contribute  to the entertainment ethos that drives the Leaders’ Debates.

‘Debates’ is of course a misnomer. A real debate requires an extensive exchange of views between the parties. Three or four minutes on a topic, some part of that time spent in an undecipherable cacophony of moderator and leaders talking at once, cannot be called a debate. But that is precisely what TVNZ wants and the programme is structured to ensure that result.  Read the rest of this entry »


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 »


The Curious Case of Close Up’s Controversial Cloning

Have a look at this:

There’s very little, well, actually no doubt at all that this Close Up item on how many things in an average New Zealand home are actually Kiwi made, is an almost exact facsimile of an ABC America story on how many items in an average US home are actually made there. The idea is the same, the storyline is the same, the direction is the same, the graphics are the same, the commentary is the same. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Close Up version is a clone of the American story.

Plagiarism? Well, it depends.   Read the rest of this entry »


Who gets the dough when you take part in a TVNZ/TV3 text-in poll? I find out and it ain’t pretty!

'How come there was no Guinness ads in the final? Sure it must be rigged.

You may have noticed that text-in polls are becoming increasingly popular with the major television networks. And you many have wondered just why it costs so much to text one of their programmes, why the charge varies substantially from channel to channel and programme to programme, and just where the money is going.

Leaving aside for the moment that these polls have zero statistical value, you might think that by getting free programme material, paid for by viewers,  they are on a much better deal than you and me. And it might occur to you that if there has to be a charge, that charge should be a) reasonable and b) consistent. So far as I can see, it’s neither.

In recent weeks I’ve seen ‘text-in’ charges of 50 cents, 75 cents and 99 cents.  This week, for example,  it would have cost you 50 cents to answer ‘Campbell Live’s question: ‘Who is to blame for The Hobbit fiasco –  a) the union or b) the film studio?’

But if you watched the Fair Go Ad Awards on Wednesday and wanted to vote for the worst and best television ads, you’d have had to pay 99 cents … twice!

So my first question is: Since the most you can pay to send  a text internally in New Zealand is 20 cents – and considerably less if you’re on a plan –  why does it cost two-and-a-half times that much to send a text to Campbell Live, and why does it cost five times that much to sent a text to Fair Go? Fair Go of all programmes!

My second question is: why should there be any difference in the cost of sending a text to different channels or different programmes?

And my third question is: how much money are we talking about and  where is it all going?    Read the rest of this entry »


Still Not Time to Go, Paul? Still Not Time, Rick Ellis?

“Is [Anand Satyanand] even a New Zealander? Are you going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time? Are we going to go for someone who is more like a New Zealander this time?”

And to add insult to injury:

“The audience tell us over and over again that one of the things they love about Paul Henry is that he’s prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud.”

 - TVNZ  spokeswoman Andi Brotherston

And if you thought it impossible to make things worse by offering an apology, check out this quite extraordinary performance by Henry on this morning’s Breakfast.

Update: TVNZ has suspended Paul Henry from Breakfast for two weeks without pay. He may also be replaced as frontman for This Is Your Life.



The Apprentice File – A Little Bird Told Me…

Now here’s a mystery which has just been drawn to my attention by an eagle-eyed little bird high up in the journalism tree. Last Tuesday, April 27, TVNZ’s Close Up programme ran a story on small businessman David Henshilwood who, since July of 2009,  had been owed $3680 for work he’d done installing television screens in the Century City Hotel, owned by multi-millionaire businessman and host of TVNZ’s  The Apprentice, Terry Serepisos. 

It was quite a gritty little story. And, in the best traditions of Fair Go, it had yielded a result. On the previous day, Monday, April 26, Close Up had contacted Mr Serepisos’ office and outlined the basis of the story they were about to run. And, lo and behold, a cheque for the full amount owing was already in Mr Henshilwood’s hands. Hurrah! Well done Close Up.

But the eagle-eyed little bird had spotted something strange in the Close Up story. In it reporter Daniel Faitaua interviews David Henshilwood and his wife Sally about their problems with Serepisos. Referring to the interview, Faitaua says in voice-over, ‘That was them four weeks ago when they told us of their frustration trying to get paid for installing screens in Terry Serepisos’ Century City Hotel.’

Whoa there! Four weeks ago! You interviewed the Henshilwoods four weeks ago, but you only approached Sereposis’ office yesterday to seek a response. Isn’t that just a little strange?  Read the rest of this entry »