So I am not surprised Labour are upset:
Labour is crying foul over a TVNZ promotional advertisement in which Finance Minister Bill English appears as the poster boy for a series of programmes on the economy. …
The aim is to draw attention to a series of economy-focused programmes on Freeview Channel TVNZ 7 next month.
Labour’s finance spokesman David Cunliffe has questioned whether it is appropriate for the state broadcaster to use one of its shareholding ministers in what amounted to a party political broadcast. It also raised questions of editorial balance.
“It is not OK to give the Minister of Finance 135 minutes of free air time, completely coiffed and scripted, with no balancing comment.”
Even though they are advertisements, I can see Labour’s point. I doubt Nats would have enjoyed a couple of hours of ads with Michael Cullen.
He also queried whether it was appropriate for Mr English to have agreed to do the promo, given the need for ministers to adhere to strict conflict-of-interest rules. …
A spokesman for Mr English said he was invited to do the promo. He was not paid and had not scripted it himself, but had seen it and some minor adjustments were made for accuracy.
“We exerted no influence over the process.”
Oh it is silly to suggest Bill has done anything wrong. Hell what politician would turn down 135 minutes of free TV time. It would be like turning dowm Christmas.
A TVNZ spokeswoman, Andi Brotherston, said it was not considering pulling the advertisement, which is due to run until November 21.
She said the creative unit at TVNZ chose Mr English partly because of the pun on his name in the series’ title “Plain English”.
The promo went through internal approval channels, which “are set up to consider all aspects of programmes”.
When asked if it conflicted with TVNZ’s own editorial protocol, she said there was a clear delineation between news and promotions at TVNZ and the promotion had “nothing to do with news and current affairs”.
“We are not within an election time frame, so there isn’t a requirement on us to give equal time to specific parties.
“The other thing is while other parties might think it’s an ad for Bill English, if we consider it from the viewers’ point of view, they see it as the Finance Minister.
“The series is about demystifying the economy. Viewers might see it differently and they’re the people we have in mind.
“Those people may not care about the other politicians and the time they have on television.”
Yes the average person won’t care. Having said that, I do have some sympathy for Labour’s concerns. At the minimum you wouldn’t want this to become a habit.