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

  • Wrong tax priorities: chasing tradies, not multinationals
    National has got its tax priorities wrong by chasing down Kiwi tradespeople but doing very little to ensure major multinationals pay their fair share, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. "National is desperate to scrape the tax barrel to get… ...
    30 mins ago
  • Big changes needed for prostate cancer patients
    The Government must take urgent steps to improve the survival rates of New Zealand men diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer who are dying at twice the rates of their British counterparts, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “A new report out… ...
    2 hours ago
  • Erima Henare passes away
    “Takitaki ana nga whetu o te kahui o Matariki”  Aue e te motu kua hinga te rata tumaru, te waha kii o Te Tai Tokerau a Erima Henare. ...
    3 hours ago
  • Minister makes meagre effort to fix big problem
    Today’s announcement by Health Minister Jonathan Coleman that Budget 2015 will include $98 million for elective surgery over three to four years should be seen for what it is – a drop in the bucket in an effort to appease… ...
    20 hours ago
  • Treasury forecasts a deficit for next year too
    National has tried to get the bad deficit news out of the way before this year's Budget but Treasury’s warned next year’s books could also be in the red despite Bill English's panicked spending cuts late last year, Labour’s Finance… ...
    22 hours ago
  • OIA chaos in the Ministry of Social Development
    So it turns out yesterday’s story about WINZ cuts to dental care loans was wrong, and through no fault of Radio New Zealand who ran it. The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has today corrected the Official Information Act release… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    24 hours ago
  • First state house sell-off will achieve little
    The first tranche of the Government’s state house sell-off will do nothing to fix the housing crisis or better the lives of vulnerable families, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The Government has just announced the transfer of 1600 state… ...
    24 hours ago
  • Job figures show many missing out
    New Zealand’s “rock star” economy is failing to deliver either a surplus, real wage increases or job growth with unemployment stuck at 5.8 per cent,” Labour’s Leader Andrew Little says. “The Government trumpets the 3 per cent growth rate and… ...
    1 day ago
  • Secret moves could undermine education system
    The Government must explain why it is pushing to open doors to multinational private education providers through a controversial international free trade agreement, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Documents leaked today show our Government is one of a handful… ...
    1 day ago
  • Spotless must now end all zero-hours contracts
    New Zealand’s largest contractor of food, cleaning and hospital staff, Spotless, must now take action to end all zero-hour contracts, Opposition leader Andrew Little says. “Yesterday Labour asked questions of Parliamentary Service and the Speaker after we revealed nine parliamentary… ...
    1 day ago
  • Are we even talking about welfare anymore?
    I’ve worked with children in the slums in India and that experience confirmed my sense of luck that I live in a small, naturally abundant country, which many years ago made the decision to share those resources so everyone had… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 days ago
  • MPs warned off celebrations for fear of upsetting Chinese
    A leaked email that reveals the Government is warning MPs not to attend Falun Gong celebrations and that China will be spying on people who do has no place in a free society, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says.Advice… ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour stands behind Solid Energy miners
    Solid Energy miners will not be surprised at the company’s announcement today of further restructuring but any more job losses will be a shock for West Coast communities, Labour’s MP for West Coast-Tasman Damien O’Connor says. “I have my fingers… ...
    2 days ago
  • TPK unable to deliver on Whanau Ora
    The Auditor General’s report on Whanau Ora highlights what many people knew – Te Puni Kokiri was never designed to be a service delivery agency, said Labour’s Maori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta and Whānau Ora spokesperson Adrian Rurawhe. “In the… ...
    2 days ago
  • Too many Kiwis waiting on waiting lists
    Waiting lists to get on waiting lists are the new norm for thousands of New Zealanders living with chronic health problems, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “The Government’s underfunding of the health sector is forcing district health boards to… ...
    2 days ago
  • Delays in spending damage Whanau Ora
    Criticism from the Auditor General that a greater proportion of Whanau Ora funds could have been directed to families rather than administration is something that needs to be investigated thoroughly, says Social Development Spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “To quote the report… ...
    2 days ago
  • Walking the talk on sexual violence
    Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis is putting election campaign promises into action, organising a hīkoi to raise awareness around sexual violence. The 17-day MASSIVE (Men Against Sexual Violence) walk – from the electorate’s southern boundary to the northern tip… ...
    2 days ago
  • Govt dumps infrastructure costs on Akld ratepayers
    The Government’s failure to invest in infrastructure to service its Special Housing Areas is dumping massive costs on Auckland ratepayers, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. Auckland Council has declined to approve three new Special Housing Areas on the city… ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour reforms encourage bad employers to be bullies
    The Government’s changes to labour laws have created a climate that allows bad employers to bully their workers, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway says. “Tauranga worker Bertie Ratu was threatened by her employer Talley’s for asking her local… ...
    2 days ago
  • Parliament workers on zero-hour contracts
    The Government must take urgent action and insist the contractor who employs workers at Parliament on zero-hour contracts end these unfair work arrangements, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “Speaker David Carter has confirmed in his reply to questions from Labour… ...
    2 days ago
  • RMA: We need to know
    Environment Minister Nick Smith needs to spell out to New Zealanders what they can expect from his substantial reform of the RMA, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods.  In an open letter to the Minister, Megan Woods has urged him… ...
    2 days ago
  • He Aituā! He Aituā!
    “Papā te whatitiri! Hikohiko te uira! Ka wāwāhia ki runga o Hikurangi maunga, o Waiwhetū kainga. “Kua katohia e te ringa kaha o Aituā i tetahi pou whakarae o te reo Māori. Nō reira kei hea taku manu tui… ...
    3 days ago
  • Stratoil – Iwis do what National will not
    Tomorrow, Far North tribal representatives for the Te Hiku o Te Ika tribes will be travelling to the head office of Statoil to discuss the opposition to its oil exploration program in Te Reinga Basin. Statoil have decided to begin… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    3 days ago
  • Mana whenua head North to oppose oil drilling
    It was good to hear the news that a mana whenua delegation is heading north, a long way north, to make their views known about the proposed  oil drilling off the Northland coast. The roopu will be representing iwi and hapu… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    3 days ago
  • Ministers must act on 111 failure
    Lives are being put at risk if the company contracted to manage emergency 111 calls can’t cope with increased numbers, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Saturday’s situation where people calling the emergency services were unable to get through and were… ...
    3 days ago
  • People trying to save lives don’t deserve abuse
    WorkSafe New Zealand staff trying to save lives on farms shouldn’t be subjected to a tirade of verbal abuse from a Member of Parliament, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway says. “Chester Borrows has labelled WorkSafe New Zealand officials… ...
    3 days ago
  • Action on laws needed in Privacy Week
    The Government must speed up promised law changes to reassure the public their private information is in safe hands as the country marks Privacy Week, Labour’s associate Justice spokesperson Clare Curran said today. “The previous Justice Minister Judith Collins announced… ...
    3 days ago
  • Māori Caucus call on iwi leaders support
    Labour’s Māori caucus has sent an open letter to iwi leaders around the country seeking their support for meat workers currently in employment negotiations with Talleys.  “We are aware that when Talleys locked out workers for a period of 89… ...
    3 days ago
  • National still splashing cash on charter school experiment
    New figures confirming that charter schools are still being funded at up to four times the rate of their state school counterparts shows just how desperate the National Government is to make its experiment a success, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris… ...
    5 days ago
  • Regions pay price for inaction on housing
    New figures put the cost of an average Auckland home at $800,000 and show large parts of the country facing stagnant or falling property values, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The QV data released today shows residential property values… ...
    6 days ago
  • Regions pay price for inaction on housing
    New figures put the cost of an average Auckland home at $800,000 and show large parts of the country facing stagnant or falling property values, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The QV data released today shows residential property values… ...
    6 days ago
  • PPP schools not at expense of community groups
    The Government must guarantee community groups will not be the losers out of its signing of a $298 million deal for four more public private partnership (PPP) schools, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Community groups will find it more… ...
    6 days ago
  • Surplus: The biggest broken promise ever
    Bill English has failed to deliver on his double-election campaign promise of a surplus by this year, instead delivering seven deficits out of seven budgets, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government spent seven years and two election campaigns… ...
    6 days ago
  • McDonald’s serves up some McHappiness
    Unite Union and McDonald’s have given New Zealand a perfect way to celebrate May Day by reaching a settlement that strikes another blow against zero-hour contracts, Labour spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway says. “Earlier this week it looked like… ...
    6 days ago
  • Justice delayed and delayed and delayed
    Today we found out that the case of the prominent New Zealander  charged with indecent assault will retain name suppression until the case goes to court in about a year. Putting aside the appropriateness or not of granting name suppression,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    6 days ago
  • No golden age for books
    The ‘indefinite’ postponement of an initiative designed to encourage people to read Kiwi books will be a major blow to local authors, publishers and booksellers, Labour’s Arts, Culture and Heritage spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.News that the annual NZ Book Month… ...
    1 week ago
  • Cracks showing in economy of milk and houses
    Fonterra’s latest cut to its forecast farmgate payout confirms that an economic black hole of $7 billion is opening up that will seriously affect the regions, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The cut confirms the long term trend of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Human Rights – An Issue for Everyone
    This week, the issue of human rights has been everywhere in the news. We have seen John Key prioritise a free trade agreement with Saudi Arabia over all else with no guarantee of human rights clauses being included. We have… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Govt inaction on housing keeping rates high
    The Government’s failure to rein in the housing crisis means the Reserve Bank Governor cannot lower interest rates despite inflation being at 15-year lows, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Inflation is below the target band and the economy has… ...
    1 week ago
  • What do our refugee policies say about us?
    It is my pleasure to share with you a blog from Hester Moore who is currently interning with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees in Cairo, after graduating from the Univeristy of Canterbury. Sometimes, as a nation it is… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Tamaki state housing transfer risky and desperate
    The Government’s transfer of 2800 state houses to the Tamaki Redevelopment Company -- to be announced at 9am today -- shows it's desperation to off-load state houses and show some kind of action against Auckland's out of control housing crisis,… ...
    1 week ago
  • Tamaki state housing transfer risky and desperate
    The Government’s transfer of 2800 state houses to the Tamaki Redevelopment Company -- to be announced at 9am today -- shows it's desperation to off-load state houses and show some kind of action against Auckland's out of control housing crisis,… ...
    1 week ago
  • Woodhouse should close work visa loophole
    The Immigration Minister must revoke the work visas of temporary Chinese engineers working on KiwiRail trains and close the loophole that allows their employers to avoid New Zealand employment laws, says Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues, Iain Lees-Galloway. “New Zealanders… ...
    1 week ago
  • Job losses show folly of Chorus’ copper cuts
    Chorus and the Government are neglecting the copper broadband network, leading to 145 potential job losses at Transfield Services as well as poor services in the regions, says Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran. “Steven Joyce and Amy Adams have made… ...
    1 week ago
  • National quietly ditches its surplus promise
    National has quietly dropped its long-promised return to surplus by this year by removing the date it will get the books back in the black from its online campaign material, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “National’s pledge to reach… ...
    1 week ago
  • Even cheap houses now unaffordable
    New housing affordability data show that now even the cheapest houses in Auckland are unaffordable for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “The AMP360 Home Loan Affordability Report reveals Auckland's lower quartile house price has leapt to… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key’s careless chatter tips off Arabic media
    John Key has shown a frightening lack of judgement in disclosing to an Arabic media outlet that Kiwi troops are in the UAE awaiting deployment to Iraq, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “At the same time the Prime… ...
    1 week ago
  • Child poverty will not be solved by vouchers
    New Zealand has debilitating levels of child poverty, entrenched violence against women and children, and the ongoing effects of colonisation on Maori are brutalising communities. When we dwell on the statistics – which mostly we don’t because it all seems… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Simon Bridges spent over $6500 on Northland
    Transport Minister Simon Bridges spent over $6519 on travel and flights to Northland for the by-election – spending around $1000 a week, Labour’s Acting Leader Annette King says. “Simon Bridges’ desperate dashes to Northland got him in political hot water.… ...
    1 week ago
  • Firing squad deaths deplorable
    The execution of eight men by an Indonesian firing squad is deplorable, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “New Zealanders do not support the use of the death penalty under any circumstances. ...
    1 week ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere