What the Commission said – Key on RadioLive

Written By: - Date published: 3:30 pm, October 11th, 2011 - 62 comments
Categories: brand key, broadcasting, election 2011, election funding, john key - Tags:

The level of outrage about brand Key’s freebie ad on Radio Live hasn’t died away. Tapu Misa wrote about it in yesterday’s Herald. Bomber Bradbury was sacked from RadioNZ for mentioning it.  Key’s staff spun to media that the show was ok if he didn’t discuss politics, saying the station had received advice from the Electoral Commission that “political content” could breach rules. That didn’t sound right to me, so I asked the Commission what they actually said.

They supplied the advice given to Radio Live, and at Radio Live’s request  to Willy Trolove in John Key’s office promptly [Download PDF]. As the programme had not been broadcast, they could not give an opinion on it.  They provided general advice about the rules. They quoted the law, which defines election advertisements and election programmes as “anything which may reasonably regarded as encouraging or persuading voters” to vote for a candidate or party. That’s been the law for a long time. The Commission didn’t say anything about whether talking politics or not made any difference. They didn’t clear the programme either as the Prime Minister’s office apparently said to a journalist.

The first and most important piece of their summary advice  was that:

“In the Electoral Commission’s view broadcasters need to exercise a high degree of caution with regard to party leaders and/or candidates hosting radio shows in the lead up to a general election. The broadcaster will be responsible for the content of a broadcast made with its authority.”

Secondly, they advised that Radio Live must ensure that the programme is not an election programme for the purposes of the Broadcasting Act as such programmes are prohibited before writ day.  They noted that there are serious penalties for broadcasters that breach these rules, and went on to say:

The Prime Minister hosting a show of this nature is likely to attract close scrutiny at this time in the electoral cycle. If Radio Live was to proceed with the broadcast it would need to be confident it could put in place adequate controls to ensure that the programme did not breach the election advertising rules in the Electoral Act or the rules regarding election programmes in Part 6 of the Broadcasting Act.”

The Commission’s general advice to Radio Live was that:

“Whether a radio programme is an election or electoral advertisement under the Electoral Act and/or an election programme under the Broadcasting Act is a question of fact which has to be determined on a case by case basis.”

They outlined a number of factors the Commission would consider in determining the issue on the facts, including whether the format is chosen by the broadcaster; the extent to which the broadcaster retains control over the content of the programme; are candidates and political parties subject to question and challenge; is the reporting objective and impartial; does the programme aim to inform the public by presenting a range of viewpoints (not encourage or persuade).

Download the Commission's letter

The programme’s purpose was advertising; in the words of Jana Rangooni, General Manager for Brands, “it is a programme we hope will encourage more listeners to our brand.”  Numerous commentators in the media have noted how the Prime Minister’s brand is the centrepiece of  National’s election strategy. The programme in my opinion also encouraged voters to support the John Key National brand in the election due in less than two months.

The Electoral Commission advised Radio Live to make sure that they had controls in place to make sure the rules were not breached. So what did Radio Live do? Send in Paul Henry. Henry is to rules as petrol is to fires. A week earlier, Henry attacked the Commission in interview with Matthew Ridge about a billboard with a “don’t vote Labour” message about which they had received a complaint. Ridge and Henry described the billboard as “advertising gold”. In the “Prime Minister’s Hour”, Henry gave John Key the opportunity to defend the controversial credit downgrade before Key signed off the inaugural Prime Minister’s Hour. Key did talk politics anyway.

If it walks like a duck etc it is a duck. If it is brand advertising for RadioLive it is brand advertising for the Prime Minister. I have put in a complaint about it to the Commission [Download PDF]. It is a serious matter; RadioLive will have computed the value of the encouragement to its brand and it will be considerable. It should serve as a benchmark for assessing the value of free and in my opinion unlawful advertising to the John Key National brand.

62 comments on “What the Commission said – Key on RadioLive”

  1. johnm 1

    Radio Live, an outrageous right Wing propaganda spieler.
    1. Michael Laws professional beneficiary basher
    2. Willy and John pathetic apologists for the Key rip off
    3. Paul Henry Drive a fantasist and Banana state U$$$$$$$$$$$$ enthusiast, lives in his own RWNJ fantasy world
    4. Maggie Barry couldn’t wait to cash on on her right wing sychophancy and become a National MP

    Radio Live is RUBBISH OF COURSE THEY WOULD GIVE KEY A BIG FREEBY.

    • Akldnut 1.1

      You missed Leighton Smith or is he not on Radio live anymore?
      I just don’t listen to it anymore because of them.

  2. Daveo 2

    I read the pdf and it looks like Key’s basically lied to journalists about what the electoral commission said. It’s a very similar situation to the Standard and Poors lies.

  3. ianmac 3

    Should the Commission rule that Key’s program was OK, then any subsequent similar exposure will also be OK. How about Phil hosting a similar program? Something about “balanced reporting/debate?”

    • Daveo 3.1

      The commission said it couldn’t okay the show and offered some very strong cautions. Key’s office told journos it had been pre-approved – a situation that the advice clearly shows would be impossible.

  4. I dreamed a dream 4

    Let’s hope the MSM picks up on this, to add to the list of John Key lies.

    Also, maybe the Election is going to make the MSM more balanced (hopefully) — check out this cartoon on the Rena disaster: Key dodges Astrolabe oil spill

    I must say I am feeling a flicker of hope for this Election. A few more own goals by National may do the job!

    • Ross 4.1

      I can’t say I share your optimism. Key can do no wrong. I was surprised he took a helicopter out to the Rena and simply didn’t walk to the vessel.

    • Vicky32 4.2

      I must say I am feeling a flicker of hope for this Election. A few more own goals by National may do the job!

      I hope your optimism is justified!

  5. freedom 5

    i am getting a big dejavu moment
    but cannot put my finger on what recent debacle this whole mess reminds me of

  6. Cin77 6

    Gosh, ole Key gets deeper and deeper every day. The medias starting to pick up on it too, finally.

  7. Great Yarn!

    A most excellent Scoop Mike.

  8. Thomas 8

    Yawn. Another meaningless post on the (double) standard. Every other day there is a post on Whale Oil about Labour putting up ads that it shouldn’t.

    By now it should be abundantly clear that neither National nor Labour nor the minor parties listen to what the electoral commission says. They are all the same. And one side acting high and mighty when the other slips up is hardly convincing.

    • Lanthanide 8.1

      Running ads that don’t have the proper authorisation is a little different from:
      1. Going onto a radio show for an hour
      2. Pretending that you’re not being political when doing it
      3. When questioned about #2, insist that the electoral commission has already given approval, when no such thing has actually happened

      • Thomas 8.1.1

        The electoral commission tells Labour “don’t do A” and tells National “don’t do B”. Labour does A and National does B.

        I don’t particularly care exactly what A or B is or the excuses given. And I don’t want to get into an argument about which is worse.

        The point is that neither party listens.

        We should either give the commission some bite or do away with the laws we aren’t enforcing anyway.

        • Lanthanide 8.1.1.1

          Yeah, silly me, thinking that the extent and gravity of a breach of any law actually mattered for anything.

          Lets just give all prisoners 1 year sentences regardless of the crime and call it a day.

          • Thomas 8.1.1.1.1

            For the record, I think Labour is worse than National when it comes to breaking electoral rules. But I don’t want to get into arguing about that, because it is irrelevant.

            Both parties repeatedly break the electoral rules. Again and again and again they break the rules. They are told again and again and again that they shouldn’t. And they keep doing it again and again and again. And what happens? Either whaleoil or thestandard blog about it. And then… nothing.

            Your analogy to prison sentences is wrong, because we aren’t giving everyone a 1-year sentence, we’re giving everyone a 0-year sentence.

            So let’s stop blowing hot air left or right and actually address the problem: we have stupid laws that aren’t being enforced.

            • Lanthanide 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Please show where the same individuals in Labour have made the same mistake more than once after they were alerted to the problem.

              • davidc

                Goff said he would keep using the stop signs after being told they were illegal.

                • bbfloyd

                  but did goff lie about being told they were illegal davey? no,as you well know…..

                  did key lie about having approval for his little self promotion gimmick? YES!!!!

                  thomas….i feel a bit sorry for people who can’t break the chains of emotional reaction to every perceived threat to their world view….you have my sympathy…

                  quick!, back to cam’s dysney world for you, before they find out you’ve slipped your leash…

                  • Thomas

                    Sigh. You keep bringing up technicalities about how A and B are not exactly the same, as if somehow that matters. Once again, politicians of all colours lie. Do I need to remind you about Goff forgetting about the SIS briefing or Labour contradicting Owen Glenn?

                    Come on. Break your emotional chains. Stop trying to claim the high ground on Labour’s behalf. Both sides are up to their eyeballs.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Thomas trying to equate Labour with National when it is clearly Key’s aura which is not covered in a fine sheen of glistening diesel.

                    • bbfloyd

                      at least your consistent little tommy…. shame it’s all specious drivel… you are an obvious key clone… and as such, have displayed the requisite inability to do anything more than attack the messenger, rather than the message….

                      your hero is a nothing who hasn’t got the first clue what real leadership is,, and so are you…… no surprises there….

                      and i will keep claiming the high ground, because keys incompetence, duplicity, and utter lack of empathy with his own people hands it to me on a plate….

                      so whine away,,, young chimp….. you make me look good doing it…..and you have my permission to attempt to use my own words against me… that makes me look good too…

    • Draco T Bastard 8.2

      Ah, the old RWNJ they did it to excuse for their corruption which ignores completely the fact that “they” didn’t.

  9. Craig Glen Eden 9

    Is that the best you can do Thomas? Oh and its rhetorical please dont even try and do better I am sure you will only get worse.

  10. r0b 10

    Looks like Key’s staff knew full well about this advice.  Surely it would have been negligent of them not to have discussed it with Key, to make sure he was briefed.

    But Key claims this never happened (and in fact that he is “not concerned in the slightest” about possible breaches of electoral law).  I reckon he’s lying again. 

    • freedom 10.1

      Still flabbergasted Key was not wanting the assurance that all was okeydokey. I mean if you were the PM and were going to pull this stunt in the middle of a RWC at the start of an Election campaign, wouldn’t you kinda be checking that people had the ok to do it.

      if you were the Prime Minister being the important bit to remember there.

      • Anne 10.1.1

        I mean if you were the PM and were going to pull this stunt in the middle of a RWC at the start of an Election campaign, wouldn’t you kinda be checking that people had the ok to do it.

        Nah freedom. Key is narcisstic – among other things – and believes he is invincible. I mean the polls tell him so. He’s going to get away with it for a while yet because the thickos out there in voter-land will let him.

  11. John 11

    interesting reading more so that Paul Henry jumped in and mary putham’s henry’s parther

  12. randal 12

    Looks like the key brand of jerkey is due for a permanent recall.

  13. The Voice of Reason 13

    If this is found to be an election advert, does it get charged against National’s allowed electoral spend? Anyone out there know what RadioLive charges for a 30 second ad slot? Times 120?

    • Thomas 13.1

      The standard response is a “you shouldn’t have done that” from the electoral commission. Then nothing.

      • IrishBill 13.1.1

        Actually it would breach the broadcasting act which carries greater penalties than an unauthorised election advertisement would under the electoral act. I’d imagine it could come off National’s broadcasting allocation if it was ruled to be an advertisement before that was all used.

        • IrishBill 13.1.1.1

          Of course the really interesting thing here is the fact Key’s office lied to journalists about what the electoral commission advised.

          • The Voice of Reason 13.1.1.1.1

            Indeed, IB, indeed. Back in the day, journalists used to take against that sort of thing and get quite indignant about it in their columns. Nowadays all it means is the Press gallery can expect a classier vintage when the PM slips them this Xmas’s gratis bottle of Châteaux PinoKeyo. 
             
            Or is there life in the media yet?

  14. V Batim 14

    Prime Minister John Key said that “85,000 international tourists would be in New Zealand during the RWC”. For the same period in a normal visitor/tourist season. 70,000 visitors! – Pinocchio just can’t stop telling lies!!
    PINOCHET KEY: ” But I will say this: when Standard and Poor’s was giving a meeting in New Zealand about a month ago, what it did say was that there was about a 30 percent chance that we would be downgraded. That is what happens when one is on a negative outlook. It did go on to say, though, “that if there was a change of Government, that downgrade would be much more likely”. – Verbatim. Hansard Journal. Lair lair more pants on fire!!
    ‎…he didn’t say it!! And Tui isn’t a brand of beer! Yeah Right!! – Good one Pinochio!!

    ‎….. his clothes allowance must be running pretty high lately with all of his pants fires!!

    • felix 14.1

      You know what’s really funny?

      When Key lied in the house about S&P, he said “when you’re on negative outlook.” But now the Hansard reads “when one is on negative outlook.”

      The pompous tit had the Hansard edited to make it look like he knows how to talk proper!

    • Colonial Viper 14.2

      PINOCHET KEY

      I think I would prefer Pinocchio Key to Pinochet Key…

  15. randal 15

    Hey they lie all the time. Only they have convinced themselves that whatever they say is the truth. This election is turning into a madhatters tea party.
    Hubris will get ’em though. They are about to get unluckey.

  16. prism 16

    If it is brand advertising for RadioLive it is brand advertising for the Prime Minister.

    Is this what is called ‘riding on the pig’s back?

  17. Oliver Ibb 17

    Any linked to the full text and conclusion? or is it all just cherry picked?

    [Are you asking for the full text of the letter to Mike? Do you know what a hyperlink is? try reading the post again. Eddie]

  18. mike 18

    People should read Mike Smith’s pdf in the OP. Well done Mike.

    My hot pic for this election: dirty tricks and smear campaign against Labour on a scale not seen before in NZ.

  19. Ross 19

    I take Key’s appearance on Radio Live as Media Works’ way of saying thank you for the $43 million handout it received from this government. Interestingly, Key lied about not having met with the boss of MW before signing off on this handout. It turns out that Key did meet Brett Impey and that the issue of funding MW was discussed.

  20. C.Stanford 20

    Congratulations The Standard. You’ve discovered the truth everyone else already knows: Politicians lie. Relevance to the real world? Nil. How do I know? People keep voting. See-sawing from one bunch of liars to the next, they know they’re liars, but the alternative is hopelessness. These intrigues are irrelevant to anyone outside the blogosphere or those who are not journalists with personal agendas.

    What is relevant is that no matter what Key, Goff or anyone else says in the House, no matter who is taking back-handers from whom, no matter who wins the RWC, people will be voting on whether their kids have shoes in the rain and full bellies before school, whether they can pay the electricity bill and whether they can afford medication to fight off 19th century diseases. This, unfortunately, is the growing majority of voters. Even the lies of statistics can’t lie about that. Not surprisingly, those who aren’t voting for basic need will be voting to remove reminders of basic need from their immediate vicinity. That will be the election.

    So what did I get in my letter box yesterday? A pamphlet from Labour outlining their policies to confront these very real issues. Will they follow through on them? Despite their previous history of lying, these new claims match whatever larger strategy to ruin NZ they might have, so I’m confident that they aren’t lies. They’re more likely to be convenient co-incidences. The thing about Labour is that some of the honest steps towards the stuff they will lie about at least solve an immediate need. Desperation for power may have forced Labour to put some social concern back into Socialism, but who cares what motivated it if the results are the same? It’s the only option voters have to buy some time. The alternative is rapid demise, which while it may sound principled and heroic, the reality of it is uglier, smellier and more painful than you might think.

    So please, don’t waste too much campaign energy jizzing over intellectual intrigues. The effect on the election outcome will be almost nil. If there is one thing that is true for the cyber/media world is that no is ever convinced by an argument. The message contained in the flyer I got is far more important, far more accessible. That is where efforts should be.

    • lprent 20.1

      So you’re advocating letting them lie with impunity? Eventually that leads to politicians socking away the governments wealth in Swiss bank accounts while letting the countries infrastructure decay around them and those things you say are important become the aspirational goals of the middle incomes groups.

      I suspect you are confused or are too blinded by short term priorities to think outside the ephemeral election cycle.

      I don’t think that we waste much “campaign energy” here. For me that is a seperate activity of meetings, data and code that gets stuck between work and living. The Standard is something that can be done anywhere anytime and largely gets done in coffee breaks and relaxation times like watching the idiot box. The activity it most displaces in my life is reading books.

    • aerobubble 20.2

      Key is desperate to be seen everywhere, and so convince the “he must be nice because
      his all over our TV”. Its not about actively promoting policies that will help the
      economy, and businesses and their employees who want profits are likely to
      be push aside. That’s why we have regulations, to downplay and inhibit, the
      short changers, the short cut takers, those who have no message but the brand.
      If I buy a brand I want it to do more than smile and wave. Why do you hate you
      country, your economy, your future, that you’d be so willing to defend our clown
      PM.

    • prism 20.3

      CStanforth You state politicians lie. Result nil. And people keep voting. What do you think people should do about it? Stop voting? Wash their hands of the whole political process because it is imperfect and full of problems, mostly caused by faulty human impulses? Then what happens to the running of the country, its direction, and the results for the people’s future?

      There is no easy way to keep a democracy functioning and only dedicated people with a vision of inclusive policies and effective ones for well-being of all, keep a country from ending up just providing greenfield financial largesse in a kleptocracy for the self-centred and unprincipled moneyed class. The Standard uncovers the faults, discusses the problems and is part of those working to keep our democracy on track, available to all people the many low-income and the wealth accumulating minority.

    • mike 20.4

      So you’re telling me that when I see my PM lying, being a hypocrite, or generally acting like a sociopath, I should just shrug my shoulders and have another swig of beer? Coz they all do it anyway so what’s the point?

      And then you’re telling me that you are going to vote for a party that you believe has a larger strategy to ruin the country? Because it’s the lesser of two evils?

      Call me one of those naive types with ‘principals’ if you want, (and no one can blame you for having qualms about the truth-telling propensity of politicians), but this kind nihilistic cynicism is probably a bigger evil than Dick Cheney. And that’s quite evil. This is how con men or, in desperate times, fascists get elected.

      The implication that there is no rational alternative to this way of thinking shows a lazy lack of imagination, (and possibily a narcissistic “I’m smarter than most” kind of personality).

      “If there is one thing that is true for the cyber/media world is that no is ever convinced by an argument.”

      What? I’ve had my opinions altered by argument on the internet. Some of us actually seek out opinions that are different from our own, and welcome them playing devil’s advocate to us. If my belief system has a flaw in it, I’d like to know. And I do my best to put my ego aside and admit when someone has a point such that I need to alter my thinking on some matter.

      Perhaps you need to alter your opinion regarding things you think are obvious.

      Troll grade: B. Not bad.

    • Vicky32 20.5

      I find it very sad, C Stanford that you believe as if it’s established fact (like gravity, maybe?) that “politicians lie”. That’s nonsense. (It’s a viewpoint I associate with the American right.) But politicians are no more likely to lie than any other professionals.. 🙁

  21. Which way does Radio NZ comment really lean? Farrar tries an interesting list.

    • Colonial Viper 21.1

      PG quotes Farrar as some sort of authoritative source. Why am I not surprised.

      • Pete George 21.1.1

        I said it was interesting, that’s quite different to “authoritative”, and if you read the comments on it you will see it obviously wasn’t authoritative.

    • McFlock 21.2

      Before I click on the link, are you suggesting that we’ll get a guaranteed impartial evaluation of RNZ partiality from a national party pollster?

      • Pete George 21.2.1

        No, I just said it’s interesting.

        It’s also intersting that there are complaints here about media bias against the left, and there they complain about media bias against the right.

        Maybe people just don’t hear what they want to hear. Is there such a thing as an audio mirror?

        BTW, United Future policy is to not allow Radio NZ to be sold.

        • McFlock 21.2.1.1

          I was last interested in something Farrar had to say several weeks ago, if not longer. It turned out to be crap, again. The man has nothing of interest to say.

          In case you haven’t noticed, the right love appropriating the language of oppression and victimisation, when it’s generally them doing it. Millionaires are “punished for success”, VSM is a major step for “freedom”, and so on. One from Farrar I do recall was cherry-picked data to claim that unions funded labour more than tories funded National (which is of course why National is cash-strapped). Fox has been claiming a leftist bias in the media for years, with absolutely no sense of irony.

          So Farrar thinks RNZ has a pro-labour bias? Big surprise. He’s got a significant motive to say the grass is blue and the sky is green, and no evident affection for the truth.

  22. deemac 22

    meanwhile a Labour MP has been required to remove a photo of himself (no wording included) from the window of his electorate office on the grounds that it is an election advertisement!

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