web analytics
The Standard

The Chairman doth protest too much

Written By: - Date published: 2:57 pm, February 17th, 2012 - 1 comment
Categories: accountability, broadcasting, democratic participation, Media - Tags:

Peter Radich, Chair of the Broadcasting Standards Authority, seems to have had a Hamlet moment at the Commerce Select Committee meeting yesterday, absolutely rejecting  “any kind of improper influence” over his controversial decision on the PM’s Hour. He apparently saw that accusation made on a blog.

All I have stated here is that he is a National government appointee, which is a fact. I wouldn’t accuse him of being improperly influenced, rather of lack of  competence. In deciding the PM’s Hour was not an election programme his judgement went way outside the Authority’s brief.

Section 80A of the Broadcasting Act makes it absolutely clear that the Electoral Commission is charged with any decision as to whether a broadcast breaches the Section 70 prohibition of election programmes other than those authorised by the Act.

The Broadcasting Authority’s role is to judge whether any legitimately broadcast programme breaches its code of election standards. These differ from other standards in that

There is one exception to this: the requirement to present a range of significant viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance does not apply to election programmes (see section 79 of the Broadcasting Act).

Section 79 makes it clear that the Authority’s role refers to programmes broadcast pursuant to the Act, that is legitimately. The BSA’s own code makes it clear that these programmes can only be broadcast within an election period as defined in the Act, which commences after writ day.

Peter Radich notes that no-one appealed his unusual decision to the High Court. It is hard to see why anyone would, given that the matter is properly decided by the Electoral Commission and they had not issued their decision prior to the expiry of the one-month limitation on such appeal.

Had Peter Radich said that any complaint directed to the Standards Authority failed because the programme in question was not one to which broadcasting standards applied he would have been absolutely correct. The issue at stake was not any breach of a standard, but a breach of the prohibition in the Act.

So in my opinion it is fair  to question why the Chairman felt so incumbent upon him to delve into matters so far beyond the legitimate brief of his Authority. He offers his opinion that the Broadcasting Act is outdated – but the Act is very clear about how it can be breached. The Electoral Commission, which does have the charge under the Act,  has now referred the matter to the police as it is required to do. We can at least be certain that the Electoral Commission is  independent of any influence, improper or otherwise.

As for any influence on Peter Radich, we know that he sought comment from the Prime Minister’s office prior to issuing his decision. The letter from Wayne Eagleson dated 5 October, PM response to RadioWorks complaint John Key’s Chief of Staff, addressed to him in response to his minute of 4 October, advises him that the Prime Minister’s office initiated the suggestion that Radio Live “sought and obtained advice from the Electoral Commission.”  Given this notice, one assumes that Radich obtained a copy of the Commission’s advice and if so it is astonishing that he proceeded to his own decision  issued on 14 October. It wasn’t secret – I obtained it under the Official Information Act.

Wayne Eagleson was certainly keen to assist Peter Radich. He writes: “If you have any questions of would like any further input from the Prime Minister’s office, please call me on 04 817 9365.”

There are two important issues at stake here. One is referred to at paragraphs 32 and 33 in the Electoral Commission’s decision on the complaint made by me and others.

The question is how the definition of election programme is to be applied to such a case. It is clear that the motivation of the broadcaster in broadcasting the programme or the politician in participating in it is irrelevant. The test in Section 69 is objective. What matter is whether objectively a listener would regard the programme as encouraging or persuading or appearing to encourage or persuade voters to vote for or against a party or candidate.

Given the novel circumstances in this case, it is appropriate to consider what we understand to be the policy behind the broadcasting regime. The legislation imposes strict restriction on the broadcast of election programmes because of the supposed power and influence of broadcasting compared to other media. The objective is first, to provide candidates and parties with a fair opportunity to present themselves to the electorate and secondly, to avoid candidates, parties and third parties, particularly those with deep pockets, obtaining unfair levels of access through the broadcast media. Importantly, media freedom is protected through an exemption for news, comment and current affairs broadcasts relating to an election.

This policy means New Zealand does not see $millions as in Australia or $billions as in the US spent to influence political opinion.

The second issue relates to political influence on our media. TV7 is on the way out, Sky is on the way up, with Australian political coverage looking more and more like Fox News by the day. Here the police have been called in to prevent the publication of the tea party tapes. It is time the rest of our media woke up and took and interest. As the Electoral Commission says, media freedom is crucial.

One comment on “The Chairman doth protest too much”

  1. tc 1

    Open wide and place foot in mouth, is this the best they could find to fill what’s essential an authority that hands out wet bus tickets……dork would do better to just shut up and do lunches till his times up, pretty much what the BSA do anyway.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • The Grinch that stole the Waitangi Day public holiday
    It’s been a busy summer for AFFCO Talley’s as they toil away tirelessly in their attempts to bust the union at their Rangiuru site in Wairoa. Not content with locking out some of their employees who belong to the Meat… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    4 days ago
  • Waitangi 2016
    I have been to Waitangi every Waitangi Day except one since 2000. As usual, the good news and positive political events were ignored by many media. The Greens, for example, had a very good reception at Te Tii Marae. We… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    6 days ago
  • Waitangi 2016
    I have been to Waitangi every Waitangi Day except one since 2000. As usual, the good news and positive political events were ignored by many media. The Greens, for example, had a very good reception at Te Tii Marae. We… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    6 days ago
  • TPPA people power protests
    It was great to see such a big turnout – at least 15,000 in Auckland by some estimates. That’s a lot of people not buying the National Government’s spin on the TPPA. I was at the Auckland protests along with… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Ten Ways We can Honour Te Tiriti
    1. Learn about our history and current issues – Te Tiriti education is powerful, inspiring and available! 2. Learn about where you live and who the manawhenua are and what their issues in rebuilding their culture are. 3. Support manawhenua… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • “Not one more acre”
    The Public Works Act has too often been used to confiscate Māori land, and Members of Parliament will soon get a chance to vote to stop this. The original Public Works Act was developed in the 1860’s to facilitate… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Rules needed so we can swim in Canterbury rivers
    First published in The Press on 1 February 2016 A work colleague recently asked me which rivers and lakes I’d recommend she take her son and nephew swimming during an upcoming visit to Christchurch, somewhere handy to the city. I… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Rules needed so we can swim in Canterbury rivers
    First published in The Press on 1 February 2016 A work colleague recently asked me which rivers and lakes I’d recommend she take her son and nephew swimming during an upcoming visit to Christchurch, somewhere handy to the city. I… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Vulnerable women the victims of Govt inaction
    The Government’s failure to address the housing crisis and its refusal to steps to raise wages have led to vulnerable women being exploited, Labour’s spokesperson for Women Ruth Dyson says. “Reports today that women are being offered free rent in… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Vulnerable women the victims of Govt inaction
    The Government’s failure to address the housing crisis and its refusal to steps to raise wages have led to vulnerable women being exploited, Labour’s spokesperson for Women Ruth Dyson says. “Reports today that women are being offered free rent in… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Vulnerable women the victims of Govt inaction
    The Government’s failure to address the housing crisis and its refusal to steps to raise wages have led to vulnerable women being exploited, Labour’s spokesperson for Women Ruth Dyson says. “Reports today that women are being offered free rent in… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Vulnerable women the victims of Govt inaction
    The Government’s failure to address the housing crisis and its refusal to steps to raise wages have led to vulnerable women being exploited, Labour’s spokesperson for Women Ruth Dyson says. “Reports today that women are being offered free rent in… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Vulnerable women the victims of Govt inaction
    The Government’s failure to address the housing crisis and its refusal to steps to raise wages have led to vulnerable women being exploited, Labour’s spokesperson for Women Ruth Dyson says. “Reports today that women are being offered free rent in… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Vulnerable women the victims of Govt inaction
    The Government’s failure to address the housing crisis and its refusal to steps to raise wages have led to vulnerable women being exploited, Labour’s spokesperson for Women Ruth Dyson says. “Reports today that women are being offered free rent in… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Arms Control a priority for the Pacific
    Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio and Chair of New Zealand’s Parliamentarians for Global Action says his priority will be getting the Pacific to sign up to the Arms Trade Treaty after being appointed by the PGA as… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Arms Control a priority for the Pacific
    Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio and Chair of New Zealand’s Parliamentarians for Global Action says his priority will be getting the Pacific to sign up to the Arms Trade Treaty after being appointed by the PGA as… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Arms Control a priority for the Pacific
    Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio and Chair of New Zealand’s Parliamentarians for Global Action says his priority will be getting the Pacific to sign up to the Arms Trade Treaty after being appointed by the PGA as… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Arms Control a priority for the Pacific
    Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio and Chair of New Zealand’s Parliamentarians for Global Action says his priority will be getting the Pacific to sign up to the Arms Trade Treaty after being appointed by the PGA as… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Arms Control a priority for the Pacific
    Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio and Chair of New Zealand’s Parliamentarians for Global Action says his priority will be getting the Pacific to sign up to the Arms Trade Treaty after being appointed by the PGA as… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Arms Control a priority for the Pacific
    Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio and Chair of New Zealand’s Parliamentarians for Global Action says his priority will be getting the Pacific to sign up to the Arms Trade Treaty after being appointed by the PGA as… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National must listen to Maori TPPA concerns
    The National Government must listen to the widespread opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) if it is to retain credibility with Māori, says Labour’s Maori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The Iwi Leaders Forum met with Trade Minister Todd McClay… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National must listen to Maori TPPA concerns
    The National Government must listen to the widespread opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) if it is to retain credibility with Māori, says Labour’s Maori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The Iwi Leaders Forum met with Trade Minister Todd McClay… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National must listen to Maori TPPA concerns
    The National Government must listen to the widespread opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) if it is to retain credibility with Māori, says Labour’s Maori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The Iwi Leaders Forum met with Trade Minister Todd McClay… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National must listen to Maori TPPA concerns
    The National Government must listen to the widespread opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) if it is to retain credibility with Māori, says Labour’s Maori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The Iwi Leaders Forum met with Trade Minister Todd McClay… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National must listen to Maori TPPA concerns
    The National Government must listen to the widespread opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) if it is to retain credibility with Māori, says Labour’s Maori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The Iwi Leaders Forum met with Trade Minister Todd McClay… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National must listen to Maori TPPA concerns
    The National Government must listen to the widespread opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) if it is to retain credibility with Māori, says Labour’s Maori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The Iwi Leaders Forum met with Trade Minister Todd McClay… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bob Tizard’s passing an end of an era
    Labour Leader Andrew Little has expressed his deepest condolences to the family of former Labour MP and Deputy Prime Minister Bob Tizard who died this afternoon. Robert “Bob” Tizard was a Labour MP for 30 years, representing the seats of… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Bob Tizard’s passing an end of an era
    Labour Leader Andrew Little has expressed his deepest condolences to the family of former Labour MP and Deputy Prime Minister Bob Tizard who died this afternoon. Robert “Bob” Tizard was a Labour MP for 30 years, representing the seats of… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Bob Tizard’s passing an end of an era
    Labour Leader Andrew Little has expressed his deepest condolences to the family of former Labour MP and Deputy Prime Minister Bob Tizard who died this afternoon. Robert “Bob” Tizard was a Labour MP for 30 years, representing the seats of… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Bob Tizard’s passing an end of an era
    Labour Leader Andrew Little has expressed his deepest condolences to the family of former Labour MP and Deputy Prime Minister Bob Tizard who died this afternoon. Robert “Bob” Tizard was a Labour MP for 30 years, representing the seats of… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Bob Tizard’s passing an end of an era
    Labour Leader Andrew Little has expressed his deepest condolences to the family of former Labour MP and Deputy Prime Minister Bob Tizard who died this afternoon. Robert “Bob” Tizard was a Labour MP for 30 years, representing the seats of… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Differing view on TPPA agreed
    Opposition Leader Andrew Little has given dispensation to MP Phil Goff to take his own position on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement due to his historic involvement in negotiating its predecessor, the P4. “Phil has had a longstanding involvement and… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Differing view on TPPA agreed
    Opposition Leader Andrew Little has given dispensation to MP Phil Goff to take his own position on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement due to his historic involvement in negotiating its predecessor, the P4. “Phil has had a longstanding involvement and… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Differing view on TPPA agreed
    Opposition Leader Andrew Little has given dispensation to MP Phil Goff to take his own position on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement due to his historic involvement in negotiating its predecessor, the P4. “Phil has had a longstanding involvement and… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Differing view on TPPA agreed
    Opposition Leader Andrew Little has given dispensation to MP Phil Goff to take his own position on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement due to his historic involvement in negotiating its predecessor, the P4. “Phil has had a longstanding involvement and… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Differing view on TPPA agreed
    Opposition Leader Andrew Little has given dispensation to MP Phil Goff to take his own position on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement due to his historic involvement in negotiating its predecessor, the P4. “Phil has had a longstanding involvement and… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Differing view on TPPA agreed
    Opposition Leader Andrew Little has given dispensation to MP Phil Goff to take his own position on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement due to his historic involvement in negotiating its predecessor, the P4. “Phil has had a longstanding involvement and… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Scandalous Saudi sheep saga rolls on
    It is scurrilous that the Government is pushing ahead with plans to spend many millions of taxpayer money on an abattoir in Saudi Arabia without knowing who’ll end up owning it, Labour MP David Parker says. “More than $12 million… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Scandalous Saudi sheep saga rolls on
    It is scurrilous that the Government is pushing ahead with plans to spend many millions of taxpayer money on an abattoir in Saudi Arabia without knowing who’ll end up owning it, Labour MP David Parker says. “More than $12 million… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Scandalous Saudi sheep saga rolls on
    It is scurrilous that the Government is pushing ahead with plans to spend many millions of taxpayer money on an abattoir in Saudi Arabia without knowing who’ll end up owning it, Labour MP David Parker says. “More than $12 million… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Scandalous Saudi sheep saga rolls on
    It is scurrilous that the Government is pushing ahead with plans to spend many millions of taxpayer money on an abattoir in Saudi Arabia without knowing who’ll end up owning it, Labour MP David Parker says. “More than $12 million… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Scandalous Saudi sheep saga rolls on
    It is scurrilous that the Government is pushing ahead with plans to spend many millions of taxpayer money on an abattoir in Saudi Arabia without knowing who’ll end up owning it, Labour MP David Parker says. “More than $12 million… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Scandalous Saudi sheep saga rolls on
    It is scurrilous that the Government is pushing ahead with plans to spend many millions of taxpayer money on an abattoir in Saudi Arabia without knowing who’ll end up owning it, Labour MP David Parker says. “More than $12 million… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Joyce destroys Government rail link certainty
    Infrastructure Minister Steven Joyce has destroyed the certainty the Prime Minister gave private sector investors in his State of the Nation announcement on the City Rail Link, Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says.   “Steven Joyce has again poured… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Joyce destroys Government rail link certainty
    Infrastructure Minister Steven Joyce has destroyed the certainty the Prime Minister gave private sector investors in his State of the Nation announcement on the City Rail Link, Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says.   “Steven Joyce has again poured… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Joyce destroys Government rail link certainty
    Infrastructure Minister Steven Joyce has destroyed the certainty the Prime Minister gave private sector investors in his State of the Nation announcement on the City Rail Link, Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says.   “Steven Joyce has again poured… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Joyce destroys Government rail link certainty
    Infrastructure Minister Steven Joyce has destroyed the certainty the Prime Minister gave private sector investors in his State of the Nation announcement on the City Rail Link, Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says.   “Steven Joyce has again poured… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Joyce destroys Government rail link certainty
    Infrastructure Minister Steven Joyce has destroyed the certainty the Prime Minister gave private sector investors in his State of the Nation announcement on the City Rail Link, Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says.   “Steven Joyce has again poured… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Joyce destroys Government rail link certainty
    Infrastructure Minister Steven Joyce has destroyed the certainty the Prime Minister gave private sector investors in his State of the Nation announcement on the City Rail Link, Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says.   “Steven Joyce has again poured… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Pasifika caucus visit as Kiribati water crisis deepens
    Water supplies are deteriorating in Kiribati as Labour’s  Pasifika climate change task force prepares to head there and Tuvalu, says Labour’s Pacific Climate Change Spokesperson Su’a William Sio.  “There is a growing crisis on the atolls due to water supplies… ...
    3 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere