Defending the inconsistency charge

January 19th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Clare Curran blogs at Red Alert and contrasts two statements from me:

My views are simple. No Government should censor the Internet.

and

”perfectly reasonable for programmes that fund to have small scheduling restrictions during politically sensitive periods.

While Clare obviously disagrees, I don’t regard my views as inconsistent. I don’t think the Government should censor the Internet and I also don’t think the Government (through NZ on Air) should be getting involved in election campaigns. I want the Government to butt out of using its huge resources to tell us who we should vote for.

I have no problem with “advocacy” documentaries. But if the taxpayer funds them, then of course it is sensible to have NZ on Air able to say “Avoid the four weeks before the election as we do not want NZ on Air to be seen as getting involved in an election”.

Think if NZ on Air had funded a documentary on how power prices almost doubled under Labour and how they reaped in $3 billion of dividends from state owned power companies so they could bribe the electorate with KiwiSaver subsidies, and a TV broadcaster showed it the Thursday night before the election? I can only imagine the howls of outrage, and the calls for the NZ on Air Board to be sacked.

Clare’s summary was:

So it’s ok to censor the broadcaster and use the government agency that funds it to restrict New Zealander’s access to well produced evidence-based documentaries that raise legitimate concerns about important issues facing the nation during an election campaign.

That was no evidence-based documentary. It got basic facts wrong. It was partisan advocacy.

Inconsistent. I don’t agree with the scheduling of many programmes on television. I certainly don’t think that politicians should be interferring in, when and if material can be shown on television during an election campaign.

I agree politicians should not get a say on when material is shown. Last thing I want. But the NZ on Air Board is independent from the Government, and if they fund a programme, it is not outrageous that they can say don’t broadcast this show we have funded three days before the election, as that calls into question our neutrality.

Now as many have pointed out, one of the board members is a National Party office holder. He is also a very experienced broadcaster himself with over 20 years experience.  One can have a legitimate view that no one with political affiliations should be appointed to the NZ on Air Board. If Labour wish to promise they will never appoint someone with Labour links to NZ on Air, then I would hope National would agree to do the same.

But regardless, the NZ on Air Board is more than one person. The Board is:

  • Neil Walter – Chair  (former MFAT Secretary)
  • Nicole Hoey
  • Michael Glading
  • Stephen McElrea
  • Caren Rangi
  • Ross McRobie

Yes Stephen has “political baggage”, but that doesn’t mean the Board as a whole is in anyway political. Worth remembering that they are the ones who actually approved the funding for the documentary.

Anyway the most interesting part of Clare’s post is not what she said in the post, but later on in the comments when someone asked why she was blogging on this issue. She said:

His comments on Radio NZ this morning with regard to censoring the broadcast media contradicts his comments on his blog with regard to the internet. I pointed that out. Hypocrisy is important to point out when one is a political commentator in the public eye as Farrar is, and when he is part of a group which is intent on censoring a prominent communication vehicle for the Labour Party.

Well that is a fascinating view of what NZ on Air is for. Truly truly fascinating.

Incidentally Andrew Geddis at Pundit also is critical of what he has amusingly named the Farrar Rule. I won’t respond in detail to Andrew as I have a plane to catch, but he does mention how the Electoral Commission rejected complaints about the documentary.

It is worth pointing out that no matter what the substance of the TV programme was, it is exempt from being considered an election advertisement by virtues of S3A(2)(c)(ii) of the Electoral Act which exempts “the editorial content of a radio or television programme”. It may have issues under the Broadcasting Act however.

 

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70 Responses to “Defending the inconsistency charge”

  1. Zapper (1,031 comments) says:

    This is the same Clare Curran who deletes any non-abusive post which in any way disagrees with her biased and deluded view of the world, and then bans the person who posted it.

    There’s a list of about 10 people in the Labour Party who if they went, the party would be much stronger and would never get a pitiful 26% of the vote again. Curran is top of the list. She’s an embarrassment to Dunedin.

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  2. dog_eat_dog (790 comments) says:

    “I certainly don’t think that politicians should be interferring in, when and if material can be shown on television during an election campaign.”

    And how did Clare Curran vote on the EFA?

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  3. JeffW (327 comments) says:

    This would be less of an issue if there was no such thing as NZ on Air. Remind again why I am forced to contribute to programmes I never watch. I would prefer the tax to be returned to me.

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  4. AG (1,832 comments) says:

    “It is worth pointing out that no matter what the substance of the TV programme was, it is exempt from being considered an election advertisement by virtues of S3A(2)(c)(ii) of the Electoral Act…”

    Right – so when you said in your last post that the documentary “should have had an authorisation statement on it, as it was very partisan against National”, you were being purely rhetorical. Which is cool … so long as you make it clear this is your purpose. As for problems under the Broadcasting Act/with the BSA … maybe. We’ll see what it says. But I assume that if the BSA DOES find problems with the documentary, you’ll then point to these as evidence of why such programmes (at least, taxpayer funded ones … privately funded/overseas documentaries are fine) shouldn’t be allowed in the leadup to the election. After all, the damage is already done – right?

    But here’s the question. In the lead up to the 2002 election, John Campbell conducted an interview with Helen Clark on the “Corngate” issue that the BSA later found to be “unbalanced, lacked impartiality and objectivity and was unfair.” (see http://tvnz.co.nz/content/203195/2556418/article.html) Is this then grounds for stopping journalists from conducing interviews with political figures in the lead-up to elections, given the potential risk to “a fair contest” that they pose? Or, at least, shouldn’t journalists paid for by taxpayers be stopped from such activities? As well as shows like Q&A and The Nation, which are funded by NZ on Air? Which, I guess, is why we need “the Farrar rule” to let us know exactly what sort of broadcaster interference in elections is OK, and what isn’t.

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  5. KiwiGreg (3,260 comments) says:

    @ JeffW agree.

    This would be a non issue if NZ on Air were simply abolished, along with all the anti-free speech election rules.

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  6. emmess (1,433 comments) says:

    I remember reading somewhere at the time the ‘documentary’ was screen that it was Bryan Bruce that demanded the program would be screened just before the election before agreeing to make it.

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  7. AG (1,832 comments) says:

    @KiwiGreg: “This would be a non issue if NZ on Air were simply abolished, along with all the anti-free speech election rules.”

    Really? Why? If there were no election spending rules and TV3 had chosen to fund this documentary itself (or, the CPAG did, or similar), then put it on 4 days before the election, you think DPF et al would have sat quietly and thought “no problem here … happy to see this on TV”? Let’s be honest here – it’s the substantive content of the programme and the fact it appeared right before the vote that has everyone all steamed up. Pretending that this anger is somehow caused by “the rules” is pure displacement.

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  8. JeffW (327 comments) says:

    AG at 10:44

    I wouldn’t like it if TV3 were to spend its own money supporting Labour, but I would accept it. It is entirely inappropriate, however, that taxpayer money is used to support Labour. In my original post at 10:19, I did say “less of an issue”.

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  9. Weihana (4,606 comments) says:

    So this is an issue about NZ on Air’s neutrality. But how can it be if Stephen is on the board? Or is he actually a double-agent? :)

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  10. AG (1,832 comments) says:

    Jeff,

    Sure – accepted. My response was to Kiwigreg, who misinterpreted your position.

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  11. Weihana (4,606 comments) says:

    JeffW,


    It is entirely inappropriate, however, that taxpayer money is used to support Labour

    Yet we already have the taxpayer directly funding the election campaigns of all political parties according to their number in Parliament thus giving National and Labour more money than all the smaller parties. How is this fair? And are we all agreed that this regime should be abolished in favour of people using their own money to fund how ever much adverts on TV they like?

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  12. Dave A (61 comments) says:

    You’re really on the skids with this one David.

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  13. flipper (4,228 comments) says:

    Why do we need NZ on Air?
    Would the World of this little nation implode without it?
    Scrub it.
    Scrub the whole silly business of the State funding of esoteric, left (or right, but when was such a programme aired?) wing wankers.
    Do we need them? No.
    Could the money be better spent elsewhere – or NOT at all ? YES.

    Priority order #1, Bill …. -scrub NZ on AIR.

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  14. ben (2,384 comments) says:

    I tend to think the essential point here is that NZ on Air is politically neutral in its funding rule. If policy says such advocacy 3 days before an election is ok and will be funded, so long as everyone knows this then we should expect National, Labour, Green, etc, advocates to prepare and screen election week docos on things they care about expressly for the purpose of winning votes. The issue is not skewing the election, it is whether week-before taxpayer funded television is ruled in or out of the playing field. I tend to think there is greater danger in stifling such discussion than allowing it. Let the competition be run widely.

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  15. JeffW (327 comments) says:

    Weihana

    Philosophically I agree with you – no state funding of political parties. My point above relates to immoral additional public funding of Labour.

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  16. redqueen (583 comments) says:

    Maybe NZ on Air shouldn’t be funding a political ‘documentary’ at all, thus avoiding the issue. If the Labour Party, or it supporters, want to fund something, why shouldn’t they be free to do so and leave the rest of us out of it? Whether it ‘can’ be shown before an election is a different issue, surrounding freedom of speech, but to say that we shouldn’t show publically funded (biased) material prior to an election (whether it’s pro Labour, National, Green, Act, etc.) is splitting hairs. The problem is that we’re compelling our opponents, no matter where we sit, to fund something which isn’t in the public interest beyond a select groups desire to influence others. That surely isn’t the purpose of a public good.

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  17. Brian Smaller (4,026 comments) says:

    and when he is part of a group which is intent on censoring a prominent communication vehicle for the Labour Party.

    If that statement isn’t good enough reason to scrap Radio NZ, what would be?

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  18. Rob Salmond (246 comments) says:

    So your view appears to be that a private firm screening a documentary it made about a social issue at election time was an example of “the government… using its huge resources to tell us who we should vote for.” Where in this case “the government” was the one being criticized. How Orwellian.

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  19. MikeG (425 comments) says:

    someone said recently “Explaining is losing” – seems to be the case here.

    In this post Farrar has not really addressed the main point of Curran’s post – that is the inconsistency of saying that the Government should not censor the Internet, but at the same time supporting a censorship of TV.

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  20. tom hunter (5,095 comments) says:

    As a matter of interest, was any such documentary equivalent – a view of some issue from a from right-wing perspective – screened during the nine years of Helen’s rule?

    Or were such documentaries all from a left-wing perspective as well, implying that the Labour government was not “doing enough”, or in some other way, not being left-wing enough?

    Because – while not Orwellian – that certainly would indicate locked-in, group-think among the journalists, producers and funders.

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  21. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    The crux if this whole thing is state funding of parties.

    If the supporters of my party have more money bad luck.

    If I am a political party and my ideas are solid and worth while I will attract sensible people with cash to donate. Either left or right

    If I am a party of loonies with nothing going for it except attempting to appease 12 other loonies I won’t have any money and thankfully I will never be a player on the national stage.

    This same principle applies with the making of TV programmes, if I am talented and my ideas have merit I will be supported (venture capital)
    We don’t need a government funded agency who are no good anyway ‘Flight of the Concordes’ anyone, they had to sell their idea overseas. It had merit and hello bigger than the All Blacks

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  22. thedavincimode (6,877 comments) says:

    How Orwellian.

    No Rob. And not even a case of you being clever and witty with a sophisticated little jibe. In reality, its a case of how fucking stupid of you to think that is the point being made here.

    And as for defending charges of inconsistency being levelled by the censoring party hack Curran, why bother? Who gives a fuck what she thinks?

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  23. KiwiGreg (3,260 comments) says:

    @ AG I’d be totally ok with that position. If TV3 wanted to put out some slanted “documentary” with their own money let them. The PSA was advertising essentially anti-National material before the last election, I’m ok with that too. If “big business” wanted to advertise their particular policy platform I’m ok with that as well (perhaps not as a shareholder but at least I could sell my shares).

    If the expenditure of money alone could determine elections there might be some point here but it doesn’t so there isn’t. I just object to the state spending my money on things I wouldn’t pay for (and indeed no one else would either). The policitcal censorship of the electoral laws is a seperate issue but I object to that as well.

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  24. tom hunter (5,095 comments) says:

    Pretending that this anger is somehow caused by “the rules” is pure displacement.

    Nonsense.

    The fact that this piece of agitprop was funded by taxpayers is most definitely part of the anger, and a rational part at that. It might be assuaged somewhat had NZ on Air funded a similar hit-job from the right as described by DPF, but the chance of that happening is close to zero. There might be many right-wingers who would be prepared to shrug their shoulders, declare that balance has been achieved, and let the matter rest. But I think most right-wingers (and certainly all libertarians) would still desire the end of NZ on Air on principle.

    Had the situation you describe exist – that TV3 ran this out of their own pocket – you are correct in saying that the anger would still exist. However, the right would simply acknowledge the same thing we do in cases such as Owen Glenn, that people are free to put their money toward the politics they support. Their loss.

    Moreover, people would be able to make their objection felt by boycotting TV3 as viewers and perhaps advertisers. Whether such a protest would have any effect in such a centre-left country, we don’t know. But people would at least feel that they had some possibility of real control via a hit to the bottom-line of TV3.

    As it is, the protests consist of the farce of “Letters to the Editor” or appeals to some authority that is both toothless and probably consisting of people who are kindred spirits of the producers of the program. TV3 can listen to the complaints with po-faced seriousness, smugly laugh afterwards at the protests of the RWNJ’s (much as you do) and carry on, secure in the knowledge that the money won’t stop flowing.

    In the lead up to the 2002 election, John Campbell conducted an interview with Helen Clark on the “Corngate” issue that the BSA later found to be “unbalanced, lacked impartiality and objectivity and was unfair.

    I find that I can calmly, even happily, watch the ongoing brawls between the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks – whilst still lamenting the fact that my perspective does not gain entry to that debate frame.

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  25. rg (214 comments) says:

    Rules create problems, the fact is that due to the obnoxious electoral finance act which Labour and National have concocted no group can spend any more than $12000 promoting an issue that is an election issue. If this programme is in that category then NZ on air is in breach of the electoral finance act. And so they should be if the exclusive brethren are not alowed to put pamphlets in letterboxes that attack the Greens without authorisation then neither can NZ on air. I did not see the programme so I can’t comment but if it breached the EFA they should be charged.

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  26. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    “Think if NZ on Air had funded a documentary on how power prices almost doubled under Labour ”

    The issue continues to go over your head. The issue isn’t National’s woeful record on poverty, but poverty itself. You are perfectly entitled to complain to the Broadcasting Standards Auhtority.

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  27. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    “As a matter of interest, was any such documentary equivalent – a view of some issue from a from right-wing perspective – screened during the nine years of Helen’s rule?”

    Tom, it sounds suspiciously like you think poverty is a good thing. Why don’t you just come out and say it? You don’t strike me as someone who would use weasel words.

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  28. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    “I remember reading somewhere at the time the ‘documentary’ was screen that it was Bryan Bruce that demanded the program would be screened just before the election before agreeing to make it.”

    That sounds like bullshit. Bruce was interviewed after the programme was shown and said he had no idea when it would be shown.

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  29. Weihana (4,606 comments) says:

    tom hunter,


    The fact that this piece of agitprop was funded by taxpayers is most definitely part of the anger,

    Until the political parties give back the taxpayer dollars given to them directly for their election campaigns then none of them have a right to complain about taxpayers funding campaigns. That’s the system we have!

    JeffW talks about Labour getting “additional” funding yet National and Labour ALWAYS get more funding than any other platform because they are the two main parties. That’s the system we have.

    You can’t talk about such principles as taxpayers not funding election campaigns unless you want to address the overall system we have which is that taxpayers fund election campaigns. Singling out one documentary for partisan advocacy just reflects ones own political bias.

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  30. gravedodger (1,573 comments) says:

    When my compulsory confiscated money is handed to a group of politically motivated artisans to make and have broadcast a documentary such as that on Child Poverty, four days out from a general election then yes I am exercised.
    The Exclusive Bretheren produced a pamphlet outlining their opposition to certain political groups, using their own money, complying with the Law at that time, and what happened.
    How many of the halfwits who see nothing untoward when a group of socialists make a factually incorrect, slanted political promotion with public money and arrange for its screening on one of two TV channels widely accepted as available to all, four days out from polling day, and that is free speech.
    Sheesh

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  31. AG (1,832 comments) says:

    @Kiwigreg: That’s very liberal of you. But I’m willing to bet that there’d still be howls of outrage at TV3’s “blatant” pro-Labour bias, even if there are no rules prohibiting it (or no rules governing electioneering at all). See, for instance, http://karldufresne.blogspot.com/2011/11/whats-going-on-at-tv3.html

    @tom hunter: Sure – you can call for NZ on Air to be abolished entirely. That’s a valid political policy position (albeit one that has close-to-zero chance of being implemented). But as long as we have NZ on Air – i.e. the foreseeable future – it’s going to fund controversial documentaries, and if it tries to protect its “reputation for impartiality” by stopping some such controversial programmes being screened during election time (while allowing others (Q&A, The Nation) to still be screened, it’s on a hiding to nothing. Far better for it to just do its job of giving out money and then let the chips fall where they may.

    @rg: “…the fact is that due to the obnoxious electoral finance act which Labour and National have concocted no group can spend any more than $12000 promoting an issue that is an election issue.”

    That would be a fact, if it were not wrong. The Electoral Finance Act was repealed in 2009. The relevant spending cap on registered promoters is now $300,000. See http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1993/0087/latest/DLM3489721.html?search=ts_act_electoral_resel&p=1

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  32. Scott Chris (6,177 comments) says:

    I think what Farrar might mean is that the internet should not be censored unless:

    The regulation of a lesser freedom safeguards the greater freedom.

    And he’s right imo, even if he’s being inconsistent. Life is full of contradictions.

    Curren and Geddis are merely being petty for one reason or another….

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  33. Weihana (4,606 comments) says:

    AG,

    The spending cap may be higher now but in principle it is still the same. It constitutes a limit on political advocacy and fundamentally undermines democracy and a free society.

    In my ideal world we would be bombarded by partisan documentaries from all corners before an election rather than people having their brains turn to mush while they watch Shortie Street and then on election day they go “What’s everyone else doing? Voting? Ummmm.. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”.

    What people mean when they talk of “fair elections” is they want to engineer the system to produce an outcome THEY desire. So the lefties whinge about Exclusive Bretheren and the Righties whinge about a lefty documentary.

    I don’t want the government to regulate the system to determine who can try and influence me with their opinion. It is up to me to decide what information I will base my vote on and if I want to base it on some partisan documentary then that’s my democratic right. I shouldn’t be denied access to that point of view because some people think it is unfair.

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  34. Weihana (4,606 comments) says:

    Scott Chris,

    Life is full of contradictions? Philosophically I don’t see how anything can make sense unless we accept that A is A. Contradictions exist in the mind, but not in reality. They only exist in reality to the extent that our minds implement contradictory philosophies. So, for instance, we legalize alcohol and incarcerate people for cannabis. But it doesn’t change the actual nature of reality it just means our actions are contradictory.

    Everyone will inevitably hold contradictory views but we should seek to minimize those contradictions. Identifying such contradictions in thought is a critical part of advancing and evolving our ideas to be better than they were before.

    Ultimately David seems to try and rectify this by painting the issue as one about taxpayer funding of partisan advocacy. But it’s a tenuous basis to make a complaint in my view because 1. the board contains a member likely biased towards National rather than Labour and 2. our whole system is based on taxpayer funding political campaigns and limiting how much people can use their own money.

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  35. hmmokrightitis (1,595 comments) says:

    Clare Curran, defender of Free Speech. I lol’d

    Clare Curran, defender of free speech that she agrees with, yes.

    Clare Curran, representing hypocrits everywhere with pride, and fuck all humility :)

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  36. Ryan Sproull (7,286 comments) says:

    Until the political parties give back the taxpayer dollars given to them directly for their election campaigns then none of them have a right to complain about taxpayers funding campaigns. That’s the system we have!

    Was there an authorisation note in the credits of the doco?

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  37. Weihana (4,606 comments) says:

    Ryan Sproull,

    No, because the editorial content of a television programme is not an election advertisement. Refer 3A(2)(c)(ii) of the Electoral Act 1993.

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  38. 3-coil (1,222 comments) says:

    “Hypocrisy is important to point out when one is a political commentator in the public eye as Farrar is, and when he is part of a group which is intent on censoring a prominent communication vehicle for the Labour Party”

    Note to DPF: In the Red Alert comments Curran has since clarified that you were trying to censor Red Alert (the “prominent communication vehicle for the Labou Party”) not NZOA, okay?

    You are very lucky that she is so helpful in Clare-ifying what you were really trying to say :-)

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  39. Ryan Sproull (7,286 comments) says:

    Until the political parties give back the taxpayer dollars given to them directly for their election campaigns then none of them have a right to complain about taxpayers funding campaigns. That’s the system we have!

    No, because the editorial content of a television programme is not an election advertisement.

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  40. BeaB (2,148 comments) says:

    I didn’t realise she was quite so dim.

    Time we had no public funding of broadcasting at all. I get much better news from Sky, BBC, even Fox, and can hardly bear to watch the rubbish news on TV1.

    If Labour want partisan docos let them stump up the cash.

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  41. Graeme Edgeler (3,290 comments) says:

    It is worth pointing out that no matter what the substance of the TV programme was, it is exempt from being considered an election advertisement by virtues of S3A(2)(c)(ii) of the Electoral Act which exempts “the editorial content of a radio or television programme”. It may have issues under the Broadcasting Act however.

    The exemptions are not terribly different. Broadcasting Act 1989, s 70(3):

    Nothing in subsection (1) restricts the broadcasting, in relation to an election, of news or of comments or of current affairs programmes.

    The words “in relation to an election” are odd, but it seems likely to be fine.

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  42. Weihana (4,606 comments) says:

    Ryan Sproull,

    Ok so I’ll have a guess at what your point is:

    The law may draw a distinction between the editorial content of a television programme and an election advertisement. I don’t. It’s all taxpayers money and it’s all directed towards the same purpose. To argue it’s unfair for a television programme to broadcast partisan advocacy because it is funded by taxpayers is specious bullshit. Why is it unfair? Why is fair for National and Labour to get a truckload of taxpayer dollars to fund their campaign but the Legalize Cannabis Party gets a very tiny amount?

    They should all spend their own money and as much of it as they please. THAT is fair.

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  43. tom hunter (5,095 comments) says:

    Until the political parties give back the taxpayer dollars given to them directly for their election campaigns then none of them have a right to complain about taxpayers funding campaigns.

    Eh? I think we may actually be on the same side here but just to clear the confusion: I don’t support the idea of taxpayers funding campaigns but reluctantly accept that it’s what we’ve got.

    But I don’t accept that NZ on Air should form part of an election campaign by producing a documentary that’s entirely slanted to supporting left-wing parties by having, as it’s primary argument, the classic left-wing claim that NZ is not spending enough on our social welfare systems, especially when said doco is screened in the last days of the election.

    AG
    Somehow in that paragraph I saw nothing that responded to my request to identify any similar, but mirrored, documentary screened during the nine-year Labour reign. And I’ve not seen any example from any of the other left-wingers here.

    … it’s going to fund controversial documentaries,…

    Really? You mean we’re likely to see a documentary in the near future that makes the argument that the welfare system is making things worse and should be radically changed, possibly along the lines of the Gingrich-Clinton reforms, or even abolished? Because that would be seriously controversial. Like every-left-winger-with-their-hair-on-fire controversial. It might pull huge numbers of outraged viewers and spark massive debates.

    Okay. We can both stop laughing now, for we all know that NZ on Air will never fund or produce any such documentary. Instead we will continue to be subjected to investigative pieces that tell us we need to spend more money on social welfare to fix our social problems – perhaps implying that there’s a better chance of that happening with compassionate lefties in charge rather than flint-hearted right-wingers. Fresh, hard-hitting and controversial stuff – just like all those Hollywood sequels that people are gagging to see.

    Far better for it to just do its job of giving out money and then let the chips fall where they may.

    Easy to say when the chips always fall on your side.

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  44. Weihana (4,606 comments) says:

    tom hunter,

    Given our reluctant acceptance of spending limits, I tend to think if the taxpayer is going to fund political campaigns then they should go all out and fund documentaries not only slanted towards Labour but also documentaries supporting many different points of view, from climate skepticism to free markets to environmentalism to legalizing cannabis etc. etc.

    The public needs more information not less.

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  45. AG (1,832 comments) says:

    Weihana: ” It is up to me to decide what information I will base my vote on and if I want to base it on some partisan documentary then that’s my democratic right. I shouldn’t be denied access to that point of view because some people think it is unfair.”

    You don’t get to specify what you think a “proper” democratic process looks like and then demand that everyone else agree to provide you with it. What preconditions are needed for a legitimate/acceptable/proper election process is a deeply contested issue on which reasonable people disagree. The present rules on election funding – including the $300,000 cap on registered promoters – came out of a pretty comprehensive public submissions process, and represent something of a compromise between those views. If you don’t like that compromise, you should advocate strongly that some political party adopt your views as its political platform and then convince voters to support it in sufficient numbers to enable its adoption into law. Because simply claiming it is your “democratic right” to have a set of campaign rules you like isn’t really good enough.

    tom:

    The test isn’t “to identify any similar, but mirrored, documentary screened during the nine-year Labour reign.” It’s to demonstrate that someone wished to make such a documentary, but was refused NZ on Air funding. Can you point to such evidence of bias on the part of that funding body? Or is your reason for wanting to abolish NZ on Air simply that those who hold right wing/pro-welfare reform views are too busy/too lazy to make documentaries?

    As for “easy to say when the chips always fall on your side” … absolutely. Just as your call to abolish NZ on Air funding is driven by a desire to prevent information you don’t like being screened on NZ TV channels. So we’re all in the gutter together, right?

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  46. catwoman (123 comments) says:

    Well known saying in Dunners – Labour could stand an absolute fuckwit in Dunedin South and the South Dunedin voters would elect them. Well they have and they did!

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  47. tom hunter (5,095 comments) says:

    Weihana

    Yah. Key word is “should”. Another key word is “won’t”.

    One of our basic problems with modern government is that it’s been captured by people who want it to do more, endlessly more. That’s hardly surprising since it’s a self-fulfilling idea: government spending used to advocate for more government spending, and increasingly directed by people who also want more government spending. What are the chances that the levers of government power and spending will ever by taken over by people who want to reduce both? It’s a nice dream but the reality is increasingly a nightmare – and judging from AG’s most recent response, one that he glories in.

    Tom, it sounds suspiciously like you think poverty is a good thing. Why don’t you just come out and say it? You don’t strike me as someone who would use weasel words.

    Jeez ross, for yapping, leg-humping attention I’ve got the puppy next door. However, I’m feeling in a good mood so am willing to sink, pensieve-like, into your mind and expand on your assumptions.

    Assumption 1: Tom likes poverty since he is a right-wing capitalist, and since capitalists are greedy they want more. Poverty means poor people and more poverty means more poor people.

    Assumption 2: poor people hate those who made them poor and keep them poor. Therefore they’ll vote against Tom’s preferred party (for the sake of argument I’ll accept the amusing notion that this means National).

    Logical conclusion 1: More poor people means fewer votes for National, eventually putting them out of power and removing a vital element from Tom’s control. Logically Tom should want fewer poor people and will try to craft systems to produce that result.

    Logical conclusion 2: More poor people means more votes for left-wing parties, providing the only element of power and esteem that ross has. Logically ross should want more poor people and will craft systems to produce that result.

    Result: Right-wing capitalist Tom would like to see fewer poor people and is therefore a decent and loving human being. Far-left Socialist ross absolutely needs more poor people and is therefore a very nasty, callous, bitter and cynical human being.

    Okay. Time to withdraw from the pensieve and the fetid world of ross’s projections and assumptions and go do some summertime activities.

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  48. AG (1,832 comments) says:

    “It’s a nice dream but the reality is increasingly a nightmare – and judging from AG’s most recent response, one that he glories in.”

    Well – once the very last vestiges of individual freedom have been obliterated from the face of the globe, I’ll permit myself a small smile. Until then … business – always business.

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  49. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    Tom,

    You’re good at creating straw men and red herrings.

    You raised the spectre of Helen Clark and suggested the documentary had been made from a left-wing perspective. I took it that you like the idea of poverty…since the programme was critical of how successive governments have failed to act on the issue.

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  50. Scott Chris (6,177 comments) says:

    Weihana says:- “In my ideal world we would be bombarded by partisan documentaries from all corners before an election”

    I assume that in your ideal world all self interested parties would be proportionately endowed with financial resources..

    >>”Contradictions exist in the mind, but not in reality.”

    Perhaps I should have said “apparent contradictions”. For example, in order to allow for the greatest collective freedom we must regulate individual freedom, assuming an egalitarian and utilitarian premise.

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  51. tom hunter (5,095 comments) says:

    Or is your reason for wanting to abolish NZ on Air simply that those who hold right wing/pro-welfare reform views are too busy/too lazy to make documentaries?

    Oh, so that’s the argument now. Funny, but I recall exactly the same argument being made by many defenders of compulsory student unions. So what if they were dominated by left-wing pricks who ate, breathed and slept politics: it was really the fault of apathetic right-wing students who could not be bothered to fight – or nowadays people who, as described in the Tamahere interview, just want to take their kids to soccer up against people who plot and scheme 24/7 for ways to gain more power over their fellow citizens.

    All for the greater good of course. To paraphrase one of your more illustrious members the shorter AG argument is: we win, you lose, eat that! Your level of smug satisfaction with the current status quo suggests that your comrade Clare may be correct when she says that NZ on AIr is a prominent communication vehicle for the Labour Party.

    Just as your call to abolish NZ on Air funding is driven by a desire to prevent information you don’t like being screened on NZ TV channels. So we’re all in the gutter together, right?

    Mmmm. Cynicism. The tasty, tasty cynicism of the power-obsessed. You’re a microcosm of today’s Labour caucus.

    Of course the implication of your comment is that if NZ on Air did not exist, those who hold left-wing/pro-welfare spending views would be too busy/too lazy to make documentaries?

    As DPF says: interesting, very interesting.

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  52. Graeme Edgeler (3,290 comments) says:

    I don’t accept that NZ on Air should form part of an election campaign by producing a documentary that’s entirely slanted to supporting left-wing parties by having, as it’s primary argument, the classic left-wing claim that NZ is not spending enough on our social welfare systems, especially when said doco is screened in the last days of the election.

    That wasn’t the primary argument of the documentary.

    Among its many suggestions was that we were spending a lot of money on welfare and that it wasn’t working because it was targetted at adults and not children. A fairly large proportion was an argument about how we could spend less. That we should put money into free healthcare for children from an early age so that they don’t get expensive to treat preventable diseases, and about how we should spend welfare money on children, rather than on their parents, by, for example, providing a main meal at school for every child, rather than giving the money to their parents.

    And how did Clare Curran vote on the EFA?

    Certainly not in favour. And when given the option, she voted for repeal.

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  53. tom hunter (5,095 comments) says:

    Well – once the very last vestiges of individual freedom have been obliterated from the face of the globe, I’ll permit myself a small smile. Until then … business – always business.

    But that’s the wonderful aspect of people like you AG, there’s always some type of individual freedom that needs to be crushed somewhere. It’s a sisyphean task. Look at that other thread on outdoor smoking.

    So really it’s politics – always politics – with the tyranny of the majority to be venerated rather than feared. To paraphrase the wargaming AI, Joshua The only losing move is not to play. As with thermonuclear warfare I’d prefer that choice to be the winning move, but it seems it’s not to be. Ironically it may only be the nuclear option of running out of money that will cause real debates to be had.

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  54. mikenmild (11,777 comments) says:

    Tut tut, Graeme, this isn’t the place for discussing the actual CONTENT of the documentary. We ALL know that it was a disgraceful piece of left-wing propaganda, even those of us who didn’t see it.

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  55. Weihana (4,606 comments) says:

    AG,


    You don’t get to specify what you think a “proper” democratic process looks like and then demand that everyone else agree to provide you with it…

    If you don’t like that compromise, you should advocate strongly…

    What do you think I’m doing? I’m not holding a gun to anyone’s head I’m simply advocating my opinion and the rights I think I should have. Of course reasonable people can disagree, don’t be so precious. Oops did I just make another “demand”? Be precious if you like. :)

    People can have any comprehensive process they like and make submissions and make some sort of compromise. It doensn’t make their conclusions valid. It is no surprise that the powers that be (e.g. National and Labour) got together and devised a system that would favour them by giving more money to their campaign while limiting how much people can spend privately.

    My point is simple, that democracy depends on free expression not censorship. What I advocate promotes democracy, what others promote is protecting the vested interests of the two main parties while stifling outside dissent.

    But I’m not demanding change. What powers do I have to demand anything? I am simply appealing to reason and hopefully others will agree that advertising is not a form of mind control.

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  56. Weihana (4,606 comments) says:

    Scott Chris (3,433) Says:
    January 19th, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Weihana says:- “In my ideal world we would be bombarded by partisan documentaries from all corners before an election”

    I assume that in your ideal world all self interested parties would be proportionately endowed with financial resources..

    Nope. Why should they be?

    For the sake of argument, if Brian Tamaki somehow acquired a billion dollars do you really think that if he used all his wealth to bombard the public with his ideas, that his ideas would become popular?

    My aim is to maximize the amount of information available to the voting public. This requires unlimited spending. I do not accept that the market for ideas is a market that can be monopolized simply by being rich. There is plenty of competition for this market to ensure that the public has a healthy choice of different ideas from which to choose.

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  57. tom hunter (5,095 comments) says:

    True mikenmild. We can have a conversation another time about the differences between written arguments and the white-hot emotive manipulation that is the driving force of propaganda images. Images of Mr Savage and company carrying furniture into a brand-new state house in the 1930’s, contrasted with a dirty, damp state house today. In your reading that’s not a powerful argument of how the right-wing run down the social welfare system because the documentary did not actually say that.

    That wasn’t the primary argument of the documentary.

    In the same way that obtaining a really cool artistic image through the use of massed ranks of handsome, well-dressed, orderly soldiers surrounded by patriotically screaming citizens was the primary argument of Triumph of the Will. Nothing more.

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  58. Weihana (4,606 comments) says:

    Scott Chris,


    Perhaps I should have said “apparent contradictions”. For example, in order to allow for the greatest collective freedom we must regulate individual freedom, assuming an egalitarian and utilitarian premise.

    Sorry I take things far too literally some times.

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  59. Pete George (23,687 comments) says:

    @Graeme Edgeler – interesting, I haven’t seen the documentary and haven’t heard much about content, that has been overshadowed by the wider issues.

    Interesting to hear of being able to reduce benefit costs by investing in preventions.

    United Future had a policy like this included in the current Confidence and Supply Agreement:

    Investigate provision of a no-charge annual health-check up for over 65 year olds for implementation when fiscal circumstances allow

    The aim of this is to prevent higher medical costs in a susceptible group by screen for and dealing with problems early.

    A pity it has to wait for fiscal conditions to allow.

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  60. Scott Chris (6,177 comments) says:

    Weihana says:- “do you really think that if he [Tamaki] used all his wealth to bombard the public with his ideas, that his ideas would become popular?”

    No, that only works for Harvey Norman. GO HARVEY NORMAN, GO!!!!!

    But there’s always the art of subtle persuasion. Are you a fan of the early Simpsons? Here’s a 90 second clip from the episode in which Monty Burns runs for Governor:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JmylSHuPvg “Burns’ campaign team”

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  61. Weihana (4,606 comments) says:

    Scott Chris,

    Early Simpsons sure beats current Simpsons.

    But the significant word there is “persuasion”. Seems perfectly legitimate to me. Consider the South Carolina race where Romney has spent more than any other candidate and is leading the field. One might argue that he’s bought the race. Yet Perry’s expenditures are second only to Romney yet he is polling only 5% behind Ron Paul on 16% who has spent about half of what Perry spent. It seems money can’t buy persuasion. It gives you the opportunity to persuade but you can’t turn a dead candidate into a live one just with money. On the other hand Romney has an argument to offer: i.e. the only one who can beat Obama and that’s why he’s leading and it seems legitimate and fair to me that people be able to hear his message if it has the ability to persuade them.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elections/election_2012/election_2012_presidential_election/south_carolina/election_2012_south_carolina_republican_primary

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/01/13/2588924_p2/gop-candidates-spend-113-million.html

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  62. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    The very existence of State broadcasting means a left-wing/socialist bias in its programming…its in-escapable. By default it will attract bludging time servers to it who rely on the stolen tax dollar for their livelihoods. Its like turkeys and early Christmas’s…

    The state has no legitimate business in television or radio….the private sector is well set and ahead in providing plenty of choice in viewing. Anyone who wants it can get it at a fair price.

    All that can ever come of it is for it to be used as a propaganda instrument for the state itself…and that’s wrong and very scary.

    There is no need for this fraudulent farce to continue….end taxpayer funded broadcasting now.

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  63. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    The Scorned,

    Your rant is not much better than David’s. What state broadcaster are you referring to? The programme was aired on TV3 which is a private broadcaster.

    David whines about the factual inaccuracies in the prgramme but curiously cannot point to one factual inaccuracy. If he’d bothered to look into state housing, he’d realise that there are great differences in approach to the issue between Labour and National. As the show correctly noted, Labour for many years has wanted to keep states houses in government hands but National has wanted to sell state houses. National’s policy of selling state houses dates back to the 1950s.

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  64. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/we-call-it-home/the-state-steps-in-and-out

    “Since the 1950s the construction and sale of state houses has fluctuated considerably depending on which of the major political parties has been in power. In general, National governments have encouraged tenants to purchase state houses, while Labour governments have discouraged or prohibited sales in order to conserve state-housing stocks. These trends were especially marked in the 1990s, when the sale of state houses soared under National until a new Labour-led government placed a moratorium on further sales in 1999.”

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  65. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/we-call-it-home/the-state-steps-in-and-out

    Since the 1950s the construction and sale of state houses has fluctuated considerably depending on which of the major political parties has been in power. In general, National governments have encouraged tenants to purchase state houses, while Labour governments have discouraged or prohibited sales in order to conserve state-housing

    Imagine the gall of a government encouraging tenants to take some control of their lives , to take the first steps of responsibility and buy their own propertyand heaven forbid perhaps sell up in a few years and enable their twilight years to be passed with a few extra quid in the bank and not rely soley on the pension. yep Ross you’re right National, satan personified.

    Much better they stay tenants for life beholding to odious little socailists who want to control other peoples lives.

    Thats fucking scary if they think small and petty and bitter like yourself

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  66. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    “The history of state housing has…exhibited cyclical patterns determined by the party of government. Since the 1950s, all governing parties have acted on the presumption that home ownership is desirable and should be promoted. Labour has focused more on retaining the state housing stock and promoting home ownership through finance to buy houses on the
    private market. National, on the other hand, has generally sought to promote home ownership, in part by selling off state rental stock to tenants. In the 1990s, it supplemented this policy with a more general sale of existing vacant state houses on the open market.”

    http://motu-www.motu.org.nz/wpapers/10_13.pdf

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  67. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    “Imagine the gall of a government encouraging tenants to take some control of their lives , to take the first steps of responsibility and buy their own property”

    Paul, you’re shitfting the goal posts. Labour has encouraged home ownership for many years. But that misses the point – the doco claimed that National typically sold state houses which of course is true. Labour is about retaining state houses (with the odd exception).

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  68. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    TV3 might as well be a state broadcaster considering their lefty bias BS from Campbell et el.

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  69. Sublime (295 comments) says:

    Oh Clare knows all about censorship. Oh yes, she does.

    Say something she doesn’t like on Red Alert? You’re a troll.

    Disagree with her? You’re banned.

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  70. Weihana (4,606 comments) says:


    All that can ever come of it is for it to be used as a propaganda instrument for the state itself…and that’s wrong and very scary.

    The point has been made already, but I take it “the state” refers to the Labour party even when they are not in government and curiously even when they are attacking the present government. How very odd that criticism of government somehow morphs into “a propaganda instrument for the state”.

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