Herald supports call for broadcasting law change

August 14th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The editorial:

How absurd that radio programmers cannot play a song that mocks John Key because it may breach the Electoral Act, and how ironic that the singer has been gagged by an act of the previous Labour Government. Darren “Guitar” Watson’s song contains a lyric that, in the words of the Act, “appears to encourage voters to vote or not to vote for a political party or candidate”.

News bulletins on radio and television are exempt from the restriction on “third party advertising” and no doubt by now most people will have heard Mr Watson’s voice and seen an accompanying video that its creators consider more “subversive” than the song. But it is simply silly that the song and video cannot be given airtime in their own right to enliven the election campaign.

Helen Clark’s overreaction to the Exclusive Brethren seven years ago has created a regulatory minefield for anyone outside a political party who wants to inject some argument or entertainment into a New Zealand election.

National shares the blame. It reviewed the advertising rules when it came to office but made only minor alterations to them.

This restriction can’t be blamed on the Electoral Finance Act, or its successor. The restriction on any political programme being broadcast has been in the Broadcasting Act for decades.  The Broadcasting Act gives the state a monopoly on political broadcasting – nothing can be broadcast that isn’t funded by the allocation given out by the Electoral Commission.

5 Responses to “Herald supports call for broadcasting law change”

  1. insider (938 comments) says:

    I suspect this is a subtle effort by EC staff to get some traction on some changes they have been suggesting. It looks like there has been a deliberate lack of official judgment applied in true Yes Minister fashion

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  2. Redbaiter (11,656 comments) says:

    What this means is that any opinion broadcast anywhere by anyone on who to vote for is a breach of the Broadcasting Act.

    So unless they’re likewise accompanied by the legally required disclaimer, anyone on talkback radio can be silenced using the same regulation.

    This is just idiocy of the worst kind and that such a regulation was passed in 1989 is a disgrace in a free country. And that National did NOTHING (again) to repair the situation is even worse.

    Let’s face the truth. Both National & Labour are peas in a pod. Hostile to liberty and partners in fitting the voters up in regulatory chains.

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  3. Nigel Kearney (1,988 comments) says:

    Yep, a disgraceful attack on freedom of expression. But if the broadcast was paid for by someone spending their own money, the Herald would switch high horses and gravely inform us it’s all a necessary restriction to prevent the corrosive influence of money on politics.

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  4. RRM (12,574 comments) says:

    Come gather ’round people
    Wherever you roam
    And admit that the waters
    Around you have grown
    And accept it that soon
    You’ll be drenched to the bone.
    If your time to you
    Is worth savin’
    Then you better start swimmin’
    Or you’ll sink like a stone
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    Come writers and critics
    Who prophesize with your pen
    And keep your eyes wide
    The chance won’t come again
    And don’t speak too soon
    For the wheel’s still in spin
    And there’s no tellin’ who
    That it’s namin’.
    For the loser now
    Will be later to win
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    Come senators, congressmen
    Please heed the call
    Don’t stand in the doorway
    Don’t block up the hall
    For he that gets hurt
    Will be he who has stalled
    There’s a battle outside
    And it is ragin’.
    It’ll soon shake your windows
    And rattle your walls
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    Come mothers and fathers
    Throughout the land
    And don’t criticize
    What you can’t understand
    Your sons and your daughters
    Are beyond your command
    Your old road is
    Rapidly agin’.
    Please get out of the new one
    If you can’t lend your hand
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    The line it is drawn
    The curse it is cast
    The slow one now
    Will later be fast
    As the present now
    Will later be past
    The order is
    Rapidly fadin’.
    And the first one now
    Will later be last
    For the times they are a-changin’.

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  5. Frustrated (12 comments) says:

    I was interested to see that the song has been banned, and yet this book by Hager isn’t banned (I assume). I know there are a lot of differences in terms of media type – music/video v book, one is broadcast one is sold in a shop or where ever.

    But if you ignore the format etc. and look only at the fact that both are politically biased products available to voters, should they not be treated the same way?

    Or am I missing the point, it is just the ‘broadcasting’ that is banned, so would a broadcast of an extract from the book be banned?

    If they had/could choose one, my guess is JK/National would prefer Hager’s book to be banned rather than the video.

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