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More political interference in State Broadcasting

Written By: - Date published: 1:49 pm, June 23rd, 2015 - 43 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, Andrew Little, broadcasting, Media, national, Politics, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: , , , ,

From the Government that brought you Mike Hosking on prime time TV and an array of right wing guests on Radio New Zealand and from the movement that got rid of John Campbell and brought back Paul Henry comes more deeply concerning evidence of interference in journalistic and editorial independence.

Recently Labour’s Clare Curran released emails suggesting that the Minister in charge, Te Ururo Flavell through his office tried to influence editorial decisions made by Maori Television.  Specifically his office tried to persuade Maori TV to not include a New Zealand First representative on a panel discussion about Whanau Ora on the basis that they would not add to the discussion.  Then at the last minute the idea was shelved.  This happened a couple of hours after Flavell met with Government appointed head of Maori TV Paora Maxwell and although Flavell denies that the subject was even discussed you wonder what happened to make this result occur.

Curran believes that section 10 of  the Māori Television Service (Te Aratuku Whakaata Irirangi Māori) Act 2003 has potentially been breached.  The section states that the Minister of Maori Affairs “or any person acting by or on behalf of or at the direction of [the] Minister … or a director acting without the authority of the board, must not direct the Service, or any subsidiary of the Service, or any director, officer, or employee of the Service in respect of … the gathering or presentation of news or the preparation or presentation of current affairs programmes.

The Minister has said that no such breach has occurred.  It seems that the particular form of nudging and winking did not comprise a direction, at least as far as he is concerned.

Andrew Little smells a rat.  From Stuff:

I think Te Ururoa Flavell should not only explain to the Government, he should explain to the public at large about what happened in that meeting, and to the best extent he can, why that debate on Whanau Ora was cancelled.

In the absence of explanations about what happened in the meeting, and in the absence of an explanation about why the debate on Whanau Ora was cancelled, we are entitled to draw inferences – I have, and I smell a rat.

Until he explains what happened in that meeting with the head of Maori TV and we get an explanation about why the programme was cancelled, it’s hard to be conclusive that he’s broken the law.

But if those explanations, if he gives them, are not satisfactory, then it is reasonable to at least suspect that he has broken the law, and it is for that reason I think he should have the responsibility for Maori TV taken off him.”

Little is certainly correct that responsibility for Maori TV should be passed onto the Minister for Broadcasting.  Giving the Minister of Maori Affairs power is providing too much temptation to Flavell to interfere.

And it is no wonder that Mihingarangi Forbes left if this is the level of managerial interference that is going on.

When the Government changes there needs to be an urgent investigation into broadcasting with a view of establishing a state owned broadcaster with editorial independence.  A revamped Radio New Zealand with stronger independence and a video channel along with  be a start.  Because otherwise we can kiss goodbye to any concept of independent main stream media reporting of local issues.

43 comments on “More political interference in State Broadcasting ”

  1. rob 1

    it’s clear he is only following what the Nat party hacks are doing.
    sad pack of rats the lot of them.
    i feel this country has taken a bad turn under this govt. the media is being stacked for the right.
    how they can get away with is beyond me!

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      They can get away with it because it’s not illegal per se. Sure, it’s immoral but it’s not illegal.

    • Clemgeopin 1.2

      Flavell has brought a huge disgrace on to himself, on to the government, on to the Maori party, on to Maori TV, on to Mihi, and on to Maori themselves and therefore should resign or be sacked immediately. Shame on him. If he has any mana left in him, must resign. A weak link! If he doesn’t resign, then deserves to be fired.

    • Clean_power 1.3

      Where is the proof, rob? The article says ‘Little smels a rat” and so on. He can smell whatever he wants, but where are the facts to accuse Flavell?
      I suspect Mr Little has misfired on this one.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.3.1

        I don’t think the issue will be covered in any depth if you have NZ First on it, for example…I’m just not convinced that you’ll enlighten your viewers by having a panel of politicians talking about Whanau Ora.

        I suspect Clean Power is a sycophant who will fail in the attempt to excuse the criminal behaviour of his team.

        • Clean_power 1.3.1.1

          No, it is not by calling me names that you will succeed, OAB. My original question: what proof does Andrew Little have? It is easy to accuse and smear someone, but where are the facts to substantiate the accusation? Opposition for opposition sake is doing him no favour. Labour must lift the quality of its game.

          You said: ‘criminal behavour of his team’. What are you talking about?

          • One Anonymous Bloke 1.3.1.1.1

            Ministerial interference being something that’s actually against the law, I’m couching the criticism in the sort of terms centre-right sycophants use to describe a Labour Prime Minister sitting in the back of a car.

            If you can’t figure out how the emails I quoted answer your questions, I won’t be at all surprised.

  2. shorts 2

    I’m not sure I would be comfortable with Maori TV being put under the minister of broadcasting – especially under the current govt

  3. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    How can we Tory-proof any future broadcaster – we’ve seen their gutter ethics.

    The only way that occurs to me is to set up massive endowment capital so they can work without ongoing government funding, and provide for no ministerial interference.

    However, the centre right will always find a way to smash the things people build. It’s what they do.

    • Colonial Rawshark 3.1

      part of it is bringing back independent regional broadcasting under democratic regional control

      newspapers and webnews too

      Labour has to be willing to let go of control as will the wellington bureacracy

      • dukeofurl 3.1.1

        What does regional mean in terms of maori broadcasting.
        Surely that would 10 times as bad, with say 10 regions all trying to have a say.

        • adam 3.1.1.1

          dukeofurl what are you saying? I can read what you said, but it really is open to multiple interpretations. So please, clarify what your saying.

        • Charles 3.1.1.2

          Currently Maori TV broadcast “elders views” from as many different regions as there are, some of them actively hostile to the next. It’s interesting to watch, how one pro-government tribe still hates the other opposition tribe because of betrayals and local hi-jinx that happened locally so many years ago. It’s honest, I’ll give it that. Pakeha TV tries to homogenise everything into horseshit cultural myth. What doesn’t fit is ignored.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.2

        “democratic control”

        aka, the National Party will destroy it at the first opportunity.

        This Arts In Public Places trustee knows the score:

        Decisions are always going to be made that people do not agree with.”

        He said the trust, which serves as a buffer between artists and the council, would not consider consulting the public before embarking on future projects.

        “It’s just not a realistic expectation.”

        Trustees had been selected on the basis of their business smarts and their involvement in the arts world, he said.

        “We were not chosen to be on the trust randomly.”

        Same with ‘state’ broadcasting – only complete independence from Parliamentary or other elected body interference can assure that democratic values are upheld. Paradox 101.

      • Ron 3.1.3

        +100. Doesn’t anyone ever wonder why Auckland the largest urban area in New Zealand does not have a community TV station. TVNZ spent heaps of taxpayers funds to buy out Auckland stations as soon as they came on air. Remember Horizon TV, MAXTV to name a couple. But them out and close them down.
        Unfortunately since the demise of VHF/UHF TV anyone wanting to start a TV station is forced to purchase digital slots from Kordia who price small channels out of the market. Remember Triangle who could not get a channel at a decent price and were forced to rely on SkyTV . This immediately removed Triangle from many of the people that wanted to watch it.
        Labour needs to come up with a Broadcasting Policy that can remove all the defects in the current system and build a system that cannot be easily ripped apart by future governments. Maybe something along the lines of The Guardian Trust

      • millsy 3.1.4

        TV3 was originally planned to be regionally based when it was planned back in the mid-late 1980’s. Unfortunately, the crash of 1987 and Prebble’s broadcasting laws intervened.

    • maui 3.2

      We need someone with too much money that has strong morals and ethics who could setup an independent private broadcaster that couldn’t be tampered with by the state or it’s funder. Actually the Government would just tamper with it anyway by passing requirements into law on what you have to broadcast, but worth a shot.

      • Charles 3.2.1

        “…someone with too much money that has strong morals and ethics…”

        This is actually one of the only good things about having a middle class and inheritance laws. History shows us that social progressives who grew up safe, and who also by chance were particularly bright, escaped the pitfalls of trauma-induced bias, and made use of a better postion to set up a neutral format/system.

  4. tc 4

    Maxwell was appointed by the nat stacked MTV board because he will do the bidding of his political masters.

    Flavell shows his ineptitude in making a pigs ear doing what Joyce and others have managed to do alot more subtely through the management/boards of RNZ/TVNZ/Mediawonks.

    Be careful though as the nats would relish MTV going under Adams having shoved Fossy the bear aside from broadcasting as there’s work to be done.

    • Ron 4.1

      Not so sure it was doing the political will more likely doing the tribal will.

      Maxwell was appointed by the nat stacked MTV board because he will do the bidding of his political masters.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    What we’re seeing here is the reason why every single meeting a minister has needs to be recorded in both an audio/visual format and an unexpurgated transcript.

    We need to know that our elected representatives are acting with honour and the perception is that they aren’t.

  6. ianmac 6

    A word with Mihi about the canned program would be good?

    • tc 6.1

      Have a look at the one that went to air last week and in particular Parata’s weasling about under Mihi’s focused and persistent questioning about the trust.

      Derek Fox came across as an A grade trougher covering up what prima facie looks like a few in the loop benefitting from taxpayer funds/related parties/dodgy service contracts.

      It has a stench about it that seems to go pretty high up to a minister with links to the largesse of Whanau ora perhaps.

      • Skinny 6.1.1

        Your reading this rort spot on tc. There was a lot of sceptical views within broadcasting circles at the appointment of Maxwell. His meeting with Flavell was a wink wink nudge nudge say no more job done excise.

        Neither the Tory-Maori party or the Nats want adverse bad publicity surrounding the TM’s flag ship Whanau ora racket. Keep the acid on by poking around Tova O’Brien and put Maxwell to the sword, he damn well needs to front media and public scrutiny!

    • Anne 6.2

      +1 ianmac

  7. rod 7

    Flavell is only doing what he is told to do, by his tory masters. Nothing to see here.

    • Anne 7.1

      Flavell is only doing what he is told to do, by his tory masters.

      Agreed. But all the more reason to investigate and find out what’s really going on because something is…

    • Foreign waka 7.2

      He will be jumping out the window on the 3rd floor if told to I suppose…

    • miravox 7.3

      I’m pretty sure Flavell is quite capable of being a tory all by himself and in discussion agree with what other tories want to happen.

  8. In Vino 8

    “Until he explains what happened in that meeting with the head of Maori TV and we get an explanation about why the programme was cancelled, it’s hard to be conclusive that he’s broken the law.”

    Klutzy English – almost calling for the opposite of what I assume he wants. Inserting ‘not’ before “broken the law” would fix it to my mind. Or: ‘… it’s hard to be certain about whether he’s broken the law.’

    But as is, it sounds like “he” would be better off not explaining, because at present one cannot conclude that “he” has broken the law.

    I shudder at the way Key mangles our language. I hope that this is just a minor slip by Little. He has been pretty good so far. We need clarity rather than confusing bumbles.

    • Anne 8.1

      It sounds to me he was using the expression it’s hard to be conclusive that he’s broken the law.” in a negative sense. That is, we can’t assume he’s broken the law until all the facts are on the table. Not a very good way of putting it maybe, but no-one can get everything right all the time.

      • In Vino 8.1.1

        Fair enough, and I also slip up at times.

        I forgive spelling errors, odd wrong word, ‘I’ or ‘myself’ when the correct word is ‘me’, etc, but it bugs me when people slip into saying the opposite of what they mean.
        To my mind that really is dumbing us down, and encouraging Orwellian Newspeak…

        Worst is ‘We cannot underestimate’ instead of either ‘We must not underestimate’ or ‘We cannot overestimate’.

        Mind you, David Lange was pretty sharp on language, and look at what his lot did for us…

        • Anne 8.1.1.1

          There’s a bunch of ‘political speak’ pollies of all persuasions use all the time. The one that riles me the most is:

          “we are looking at a range of options”.

          What is that supposed to mean? What sort of options? Put a bomb under anything or anyone you don’t like? Yeah… I can think of a few people I’d like to put a bomb under. No surprises for guessing who is no.1 on the list.

          Hold on… there’s someone at the door. “Oh hello Mr Policeman, what can I do for you”. What? You’re arresting me? What for?

          😈 If you don’t laugh at yourself sometimes…

  9. Clemgeopin 9

    Do you want to see how this government’s porkies, lies, spin, crap and BS look like?

    Watch this!
    http://www.inthehouse.co.nz/

  10. Adele 10

    Kia ora

    Having met Te Ururoa a number of times, i can comfortably say, that he is not the sort of bloke to pander to aristocracy or entitlement. The Maaori Party constituency is made up of the poor, downtrodden and the discriminated against.

    The issue was originally exposed by kohanga themselves – who are also a huge constituency of Te Pati Maaori.

    • Clemgeopin 10.1

      kia ora.
      Are you saying Flavell did not influence and had nothing whatsoever to do with the sudden canning of that investigative programme which was supposed to include Mr Winston Peters as a participant?

      • Adele 10.1.1

        Kia ora Clemgeopin

        I am saying that. It would not be in his best interests or the interests of the Māori Party to influence programming decisions at Māori TV especially in relation to Kohanga Reo or Whanau Ora.

    • Marvellous Bearded Git 10.2

      @adele
      But here Flavell suffers from a convenient brain fade.

      http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/te-ururoa-flavell-changes-maori-tv-story-2015062318#axzz3dv5ZpQpL

      Flavell’s sycophantic support for Key even extends to copying his brain fades, otherwise known as lying.

      • Adele 10.2.1

        Kia ora Marvellous Bearded Git

        All I can say is that Te Ururoa has more integrity than Winston Peter’s who knows he can grab easy headlines and airspace by bashing on Asians and Maori.

        Andrew Little should stop sniffing on rats and Clare Curran and Winston should give up on trying to build a maunga from a rat dropping.

        And Te Ururoa is not a sycophant.

  11. Smilin 11

    Yeah right hit me with your rhythm stick dadida
    FLAVELL give me strength who made up this pack of lies you must be really on thin ice now How much more fascism are we going to endure from this govt

  12. Karen 12

    The real problem at Maori Television is CEO Paora Maxwell. He was put in that position largely thanks to board member and ex National Party cabinet minister Georgina Te Heuheu, against the advice of many people who had worked with Maxwell previously and the majority of staff at MTS. As a result, MTS have lost their best staff and there has been obvious political interference.

    Had Jim Mather or Julian Wilcox still been at MTS then Flavell and his secretary would have been told very politely that interference in the content of current affairs programmes is unacceptable.

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