Why are taxpayer funded Maori TV journalists on a flotilla?

June 30th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Two New Zealanders have reportedly been detained by the Israeli military after the ship they were on attempted to break a blockade on Gaza.

Maori Television reporter Ruwani Perera and cameraman Jacob Bryant were aboard one of the ships in the Freedom Flotilla III, when it was boarded by Israeli forces, One News reported.

It’s understood the ships are carrying solar panels, medical supplies and other aid items.

The flotilla was trying to breach Israel’s exclusion zone on Gaza, and take supplies to residents on the Gaza Strip. The Israeli blockade has been in force since 2007. 

What has this got to do with Maori TV? Shouldn’t they be spending their money on shows like Native Affairs, not being activists in the Middle East?

Maori TV is funded by the taxpayer. They risk a backlash if they spend their funding on stunts like this.

A reader has sent me a summary of what no less a person that Sir Geoffrey Palmer found over the Gaza blockade:

The UN-commissioned ‘[Sir Geoffrey] Palmer Report’ regarding the Gaza Flotilla Incident of 2010 deemed the naval blockade by Israel to be a legitimate security measure to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and to protect the Israeli population. The report stated that “people may, of course, freely express their views by peaceful protest. But to deliberately seek to breach a blockade in a convoy with a large number of passengers is in the view of the Panel a dangerous and reckless act. It involves exposing a large number of individuals to the risk that force will be used to stop the blockade and people will be hurt.”

 The Palmer Report goes on to recommend that “Attempts to breach a lawfully imposed naval blockade place the vessel and those on board at risk. Where a State becomes aware that its citizens or flag vessels intend to breach a naval blockade, it has a responsibility to take pro-active steps compatible with democratic rights and freedoms to warn them of the risks involved and to endeavour to dissuade them from doing so.”

So a state owned television station is sending its staff into a highly dangerous situation.

Some issues for Maori TV:

  1. Māori TV has put its staff’s lives in imminent danger. Māori TV staff are on-board the Marianne av Göteborg on official Māori TV business. Deliberate attempts to breach a lawful blockade represent dangerous and reckless acts that could result in people being hurt. A previous attempt to breach the naval blockade of Gaza resulted in nine deaths;

  2. Māori TV’s participation in the flotilla likely breaches its obligations under both the current Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and the proposed Health & Safety Reform Bill exposing its directors and the company to unnecessary risk and exposure;

  3. Māori TV’s participation in the flotilla is inconsistent with Māori TV’s stated purpose. There is no clear link between the flotilla and Māori language or culture.

  4. Māori TV staff risk breaking international law through its willing participation in an illegal act. The United Nations has declared the naval blockade of Gaza as being legal and legitimate. Under international law, violation of a lawful blockade constitutes unlawful activity.

I’be long been a supporter of Maori TV and their funding. If they keep doing stuff like this, I’ll be joining the ranks calling for their funding to be diverted elsewhere for public broadcasting.

Labour’s Flavell smears still lacking the vital element – proof

June 24th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little has called for Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell to be stripped of responsibility for Maori TV after questioning whether Mr Flavell put pressure on the broadcaster to scrap a debate.

Stuff reports:

Calls are coming for the Maori Development Minister to resign, as it emerges he met with the Maori Television chief executive less than two hours before a contentious debate was canned.

This is just getting pathetic. Now Labour thinks Ministers should be sacked on the basis of a conspiracy theory with no proof.

I blogged on Monday on the issue of the e-mails from his staffer. They are quite mundane and if Labour think it is now illegal for a press secretary to negotiate details of a press appearance with media, well there won’t be any left in the building. That is their job. And Flavell’s staffer was quite explicit that Flavell would appear regardless of whether their views on other participants were taken on board.

The latest element is that Flavell met the Maori TV Chief Executive a couple of hours before the decision was taken to scrap the debate. Now certainly if Flavell and the CEO came to an agreement to cancel the debate, that would be outrageous. But the Herald reports:

However, the show was cancelled on May 20 and those involved were told two hours after Mr Flavell had a meeting with Maori TV chief executive Paora Maxwell.

Mr Flavell said that was coincidental and told Radio NZ he had not discussed the programme with Mr Maxwell at that meeting.

A file note from the meeting between Mr Flavell and Mr Maxwell provided to the NZ Herald contains no specific mention of Native Affairs or the proposed Whanau Ora debate.

However it does mention Maori TV plans to increase advertising revenue through the Ministries of Health and Education and “partnership with Whanau Ora Commissioning Agencies re: future growth of services.”

Mr Flavell said it was a regular quarterly meeting which was set up back in February.

So Labour are basically claiming both Flavell and the CEO are lying, and the file note deliberately incomplete. And their proof for this …. well, nothing at all.

A spokeswoman for Maori TV said the planned debate was cancelled because of low ratings on public holidays. “It was a format change because of ratings. Previous ratings for panel shows on public holidays were low.”

Seems pretty logical. And I’m sure Maori TV will have many debates about Whanau Ora over the next year.

Mr Little acknowledged he did not have firm evidence of any interference by Mr Flavell but the press secretary’s concerns and timing of the cancellation did raise questions Mr Flavell had to answer.

“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.”

Translation: I made it up with no proof at all.

Allegations of Flavell interference in Maori TV clearly wrong

June 22nd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour have been alleging that Te Ururoa Flavell has been interfering with Maori TV and released some e-mails to back up their claim.

The Maori Party has now released the full e-mails, and it is quite clear there was nothing even close to inappropriate there.

It is absolutely routine for staff to give views back to media on an intended programme their MP has been invited on. In fact often there are intense negotiations around an appearance.

In this case the e-mails are very mundane. In summary they are:

  1. Maori TV invites Flavell on for discussion about Whanau Ora with MPs from Labour, National, Greens and NZ First
  2. Flavell staffer asks for purpose of discussion and queries NZ First being included
  3. Maori TV reply explaining purpose
  4. Flavell staffer explicitly says Flavell will appear, but also says that Maori TV would do better to have some whanau, providers, commissioning agencies on also, not just MPs
  5. Maori TV confirms Flavell will appear, and says they are intended to talk to some of the other groups mentioned
  6. Flavell staffer asks for a phone call to clarify format further
  7. Maori TV tells Flavell office that there has been a scheduling change so have had to cancel and apologise to Flavell

Labour can look like the boy who cried wolf with these false allegations of improper interference.

The Kohanga Reo story

June 16th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The controversial episode of the current affairs show that reportedly cost Maori Television its star broadcaster has aired – with new reports of misspending by Kohanga Reo officials.

Those reportedly tied up in the financial mismanagement include the Maori king, King Tuheitia.

Executive interference in the Kohanga Reo story, and another on Whanau Ora, was believed to be a factor in Mihingarangi Forbes’ resignation from Native Affairs earlier this month.

Today’s piece focused on misspending at the Te Kohanga Reo National Trust Board and its wholly-owned subsidiary Te Pataka Ohanga Limited, a follow up to an earlier investigation by the show.

It’s good to see Maori TV continue its fine tradition of investigative journalism and run this follow up story. The fact it has run the story does make me wonder about the unsourced claims that the resignation of Forbes was because the CEO did not want the story to run.  It would be nice to have an authoritative statement on what did happen.

However Native Affairs tonight reported that a review into Te Pataka Ohanga by Internal Affairs had found wrongdoings it described as “gross mismanagement”.

These included paying $111000 in directors fees to Kingi Tuiheitia – the Maori King – when he was not a director. That issue had now been referred to Inland Revenue, Native Affairs said.

Te Pataka Ohanga also paid themselves bonuses including koha not approved by the board, and used credit cards to purchase personal items.

It had also allowed board members to take personal loans.

Ousted board member Toni Waho, who spoke exclusively to the programme, said he had one of the loans, which he now agreed was “not a good look”.

Native Affairs reported that since then, Te Pataka Ohanga had cancelled credit cards and suspended loans, among other measures to ensure financial accountability.

It’s really simple.

  • Don’t pay director’s fees to someone who is not a director
  • Don’t use work credit cards for personal items
  • Don’t pay bonuses not approved by the board, or by management with delegated authority
  • Don’t ever lend money to anyone – you are not a bank

It was now on an Inland Revenue watch list, and had been given a formal warning.

The show also revealed the trust had made two payments totaling $800,000 for termination fees in 2007.

The trust appointed a new chief executive last month, a former Ministry of Education official named Kararaina Cribb.
Education Minister Hekia Parata appeared on the show, to say she continues to want a change in governance on the board, to a more modern alternative.

The status quo is unacceptable.

Is Maori TV self-censoring?

June 5th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Maori Television’s star broadcaster Mihingarangi Forbes has quit the company after complaining of management interference in the popular Native Affairs current affairs show.

Forbes resignation came as a shock to many at Maori Television today but was the result of long-running tensions between the news team at Native Affairs and chief executive Paora Maxwell, appointed after a tumultuous process.

Forbes was unavailable for comment but confirmed the resignation on Twitter, saying: “I’ve resigned. Thank you those who shared stories.”

The Herald has been told Forbes’ resignation came after the Native Affairs team were told they were not to run a story on Te Kohanga Reo National Trust, planned for Monday.

If this is correct, it is appalling. Media should be about exposing wrong-doing, not covering it up.

Mihi Forbes is an excellent reporter and interviewer, and I don’t blame her for quitting if management were interfering in editorial decisions.

The Native Affairs team’s investigation into management and spending at the Kohangareo trust was considered by Maoridom’s old guard as a disrespectful way to probe an establishment organisation led by matriarch Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi.

But there were also those who championed the team for having the courage to raise questions about powerful establishment figures.

Respect runs both ways.

If Maori TV isn’t willing to scrutinise Maori organisations that are behaving inappropriately, then what is the point of having them?

Wilcox says no to Labour

May 19th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Maori TV’s Julian Wilcox has quashed speculation he will stand for Labour in the coming general election.

Wilcox has long been rumoured to be a potential candidate in Tamaki Makaurau, with speculation strengthening after the Labour Party council refused a waiver to allow ex-TVNZ presenter Shane Taurima to stand.

Maori Television issued a statement today saying Wilcox, the station’s general manager for news and current affairs, would not be standing for Labour.

“To clarify his position Julian Wilcox has made an unequivocal statement to Maori Television that he is not seeking political office for any political party in the forthcoming elections and remains committed to his job as GM of news and current affairs at Maori Television,” the statement said.

Not seeking political office, but was reportedly a member of the Labour Party last year.

I’m pleased for Maori TV. I’m not sure how Wilcox is doing as News GM there, but he did very well as host and interviewer on Native Affairs.

This does make Tamaki Makaurau more interesting. A high profile candidate such as Taurima or Wilcox would have been more likely to win it for Labour. This must improve the Maori Party’s chances of holding it. The first polls in the seat after candidates are selected will be interesting.

The Kōhanga Reo National Trust

October 15th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Maori TV report:

Over the last 20 years, 1 billion taxpayer dollars has been directed towards Kōhanga Reo. 

For seven weeks Native Affairs has investigated allegations of financial mismanagement by some at the very top of the Kōhanga Reo movement.

For seven weeks the Kōhanga Reo National Trust has refused to answer our questions about how it’s managing taxpayer money meant for mokopuna.

Not only did it refuse to answer the questions raised by our investigation, it went to the High Court to try and stop us broadcasting our report.

On Wednesday the Trust backed down, but by taking court action, Trust officials were ordered to make sworn statements about the spending.  Those affidavits raise serious questions about the use of public funds and they’re contained in our report.

Native Affairs pursued this story because the Kōhanga Reo Movement is recognised as one of the single most powerful forces in reviving te reo Māori me ōna tikanga. 

30 years ago, the Kōhanga Reo Movement sowed its first seed at Pukeatua near Wellington.  From there language nests spread reigniting our peoples passion to regenerate our native tongue.

Not only did the language nests provide learning, Kōhanga often double as a place of refuge for our tamariki, a place where they can be fed kept warm and nourished.  

Last month Native Affairs reported how the Trust has $13mil in the bank while Kōhanga Reo around the country struggle to get by.  How the Trust extends personal loans to its staff and directors.

This special report takes us further into the personal expenditure of two people at the top of the Kōhanga Trust and its wholly-owned subsidiary,Te Pātaka Ōhanga.

They are Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi and her daughter in-law, Lynda Tawhiwhirangi.

It details spending never normally seen by anyone outside the Kōhanga elite.  The records cover only a 15-month period – it’s a snapshot of what appears to be a culture of extravagance.

Bravo to Maori TV for fine investigative journalism and not allowing legal threats to stop them.

The well financed trust has a self-perpetuating board, with effective life-time appointments. This has no doubt led to a culture of entitlement and a lack of recognition about the boundaries between trust and personal finances.

The Herald reports some details:

Two leaders of a state-funded organisation whose objective is to help children learn te reo Maori have been accused of using charity credit cards for personal spending, including on a wedding dress and gifts.

Ministers said last night they would meet the Kohanga Reo National Trust over allegations raised in a Native Affairs investigation into the spending by board member Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi and daughter-in-law Lynda Tawhiwhirangi.

The Maori Television show detailed thousands of dollars of spending, including Lynda Tawhiwhirangi’s purchase of a wedding dress for her daughter in 2011, a Trelise Cooper dress in 2012, and withdrawals that included $1000 for a hui that she did not attend.

The women defended their spending in sworn affidavits as either justified purchases or genuine mistakes.

Lynda Tawhiwhirangi, who is the general manager of the trust’s charity-status subsidiary Te Pataka Ohanga (TPO), said the $1000 koha was still in a safe, and she had repaid the money for the dresses later.

An educational trust is not a bank for personal loans.

Maori TV wrangles

September 11th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Those of us who have been around for a while recall the disaster that was Aotearoa Television. It may have done some worthwhile things, but it was remembered only for the scandals – Tuku’s underpants and many more things like that.

For many years Maori Television has done an excellent job of not being like its predecessor. They’ve been almost controversy free and they’ve done really well on the programming side. Native Affairs is a top class current affairs programme. They do ANZAC Day proud, they shared broadcasting for the Rugby World Cup, and many of their documentaries are also excellent.

So this has created a climate where there isn’t wide-spread opposition or resentment to their funding, which is considerable – tens of millions of dollars a year from the taxpayer. But it don’t take a lot to poison the well, and the appointment of the new CEO appears to be on the way to doing that.

Stuff reports:

One of the pioneers of New Zealand’s animation industry has quit the board of Maori Television over his concerns about the recruitment process for a chief executive.

Ian Taylor, founder of Dunedin-based Animation Research – famous for the 3D graphics it develops for sports such as the America’s Cup and Formula One – said he felt he had no choice but to resign in protest.

Losing a board member is a bad sign. Having half your staff sign a petition against one of the applicants is also a bad sign.

Maori TV announced yesterday that it was suspending the process of recruiting a new chief executive, because its board could not decide on a replacement for Jim Mather.

That is also a concern, because boards should be able to agree. Even if different directors have different preferences, the job of the board is to have a process and a discussion that can lead to a decision all directors can agree to.

The remaining board members need to focus strongly on how to proceed, and do it in a way that is suitable for a taxpayer funded organisation.

Maori TV bonuses

December 21st, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

James Ihaka at NZ Herald reports:

Many Maori Television staff will start the Christmas break with an extra $500 in their pockets at a cost of $78,000 to the taxpayer-funded station.

The station’s chief executive, Jim Mather, said the decision to award 156 staff the extra payment was “a statement of appreciation” and made smart business sense despite figures released to the Herald showing viewership ratings are poor.

I’m sorry but I think this is a non story. A $500 Xmas bonus is hardly over the top, and Maori TV is not designed to be a commercial channel. The viewership ratings are abysmal, but they actually produce some great shows such as Native Affairs.

The station reported a surplus of $775,000 for the last financial year to June 30.

So they are living within their means.

Maori Television receives $16.6 million in direct state funding and $16.1 million from Te Mangai Paho.

It also receives about $20 million via the Te Mangai Paho contestable fund, which is paid directly to independent producers.

So the $78,000 of bonuses is around 0.15% of their revenue.

Maori TV

February 24th, 2012 at 3:58 pm by David Farrar

Maori TV has in many ways been a success story. They have managed to avoid the culture of excess that their predecessor Aotearoa TV had. They have managed to capture ANZAC Day in a way no other broadcaster has. They had some of the best debates in the election campaign, and I understand their election night coverage was very good. Native Affairs is a must watch show for those interested in politics, and they had great Rugby World Cup coverage.

But there is one big elephant in the room. The elephant is that almost nobody is watching them. And when we invest $50 million a year into them, it is an elephant that should not be ignored.

Generally broadcasters who have very small audiences use figures such as weekly cumulative, monthly cumulative or even annual cumulative. This means that if you watch one show for 10 minutes in a month, you are counted as a viewer. I do not find these stats very useful or informative.

There are two stats which give a far better idea of how a channel and how a programme is doing. The first is the AUD% which is how many people out of the approx 4 million 5+ NZers watched a show. From that AUD% figure you can work out how many people were tuned in at a particular time.

The RWC Final against France in October had the highest AUD% ever – around 50%. One News typically is at around 13% and Shortland Street around 12%. The Prime Evening News is around 4%.

The other figure is SHR%. This is the percentage of people watching television (including Sky) at that pont in time – so effectively the market share. So outside of prime time, the AUD% will be lower, but the SHR% may stay the same.

Now I have an extract of the Neilsen data for earlier this week. Here is the AUD% and SHR% data for Maori TV for prime time for the half hour spots starting at the times shown:

  • 6.30 pm – 0.0% and 0.0%
  • 7.00 pm – 0.0% and 0.1%
  • 7.30 pm – 0.1% and 0.2%
  • 8.00 pm – 0.0% and 0.0%
  • 8.30 pm – 0.0% and 0.1%
  • 9.00 pm – 0.0% and 0.1%
  • 9.30 pm – 0.0% and 0.0%
  • 10.00 pm – 0.1% and 0.5%

A 0.1% AUD means around 4,000 people were tuned in. A 0.1% SHR means only 1 in 1,000 people watching TV during that half hour, were watching Maori TV.

This was Wednesday this week. Yesterday was a but better with one show getting a 0.7% audience at its peak and a 0.5% audience overall, which was 19,100 viewers.

But in my opinion that isn’t good enough, for the investment that the taxpayer puts in. Especially when you consider 15% of New Zealanders are Maori (not that it is for Maori only – I watch several shows on it).

This post isn’t to knock Maori TV. As I said at the beginning I think they do some great stuff, and they should be applauded for it. But they do need to do something about their viewer stats, rather than rely on the false comfort of cumulative stats.

I was hoping that after the RWC, Maori TV would rate better. Part of the idea of their hosting bid, was to get people used to tuning into Maori TV. And it did work for the RWC. Since then though, people have gone back to not tuning in.

I don’t have the magic solution for increasing ratings. If I did, I’d be rich. But it is a shame to see $50 million being spent on a channel which produces some really good programmes, but gets viewed by so few people. It is good to have a quality public broadcaster, but it would be better to have one that was watched regularly by more than 0.1% of the population.

The triumph of Maori TV

October 22nd, 2011 at 1:53 pm by David Farrar

Joseph Romanos writes at Stuff:

A second Rugby World Cup has been playing out behind the scenes in New Zealand, and it’s been just as torrid as the one that has so engrossed us since September 9.

Rugby fans have been able to watch key World Cup matches live on no less than five New Zealand channels – TV One, TV3, Maori (English version), Maori (Maori language version) and Sky.

The battle for viewers has been fascinating.

TV One began sensationally, drawing 1.015 million viewers for the first match, New Zealand against Tonga. This immediately followed the opening ceremony, also a TV One triumph.

For that first match Sky had an audience of 442,000 and Maori Television, 177,000.

As the tournament has progressed, however, the big mover has been Maori Television.

By the quarterfinals, Maori Television was the most popular of the free-to-air channels. At times its audience was virtually the combined viewership of TV One and TV3.

For the New Zealand v Argentina quarter-final, Maori Television drew 501,000, behind Sky (628,000), but well ahead of TV One (420,000) and TV3 (236,000). It has continued to rate extremely well.

Maori TV have done an excellent job with their coverage and viewers have voted with their feet. The fact they started off with 20% of the audience of TV One, and at the quarter final had more viewers is a huge tribute to them. They are showing that in many ways they are becoming our national public service broadcaster.

Tahu Potiki, a director of Maori TV, also writes:

I recall the many sceptical, sometimes scathing, comments when it was announced Maori Television was to be the lead broadcaster for the Rugby World Cup, and the political stoush that surrounded the bidding process, but it certainly seems to have been a good choice. It is unclear what the differentiating factor is, but the uninterrupted broadcast is most likely playing a part.

I know I got home late one day and turned television on just in time to catch the last bit of the national anthems. Immediately the teams had finished singing the coverage halted and we crossed to an advertisement or a promotion. I realised then I was watching the wrong channel and changed quickly to Maori TV.

I’ve watched some on Sky Sports and some on Maori TV. Have not decided yet for the final but will probably be Maori TV to hear Keith Quinn hopefully declare the All Blacks the World Champions!

Young on Key

October 15th, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young writes:

Prime Minister John Key has just shown why he is Prime Minister.

His intervention yesterday in the debacle over the Rugby World Cup was perfectly timed.

It could not have come any later without the issue getting completely out of control.

But it probably could not have come any earlier, either.

It would have been nicer if it hadn’t become necessary.

Mr Key’s late leadership on the issue stands in marked contrast to his ministers, many of whom have contributed to the chaos.

Labour is pointing the finger largely at Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully over the saga, not least because he gave the Te Puni Kokiri chief executive a burst at a Beehive meeting. Mr McCully carries a fair degree of blame but more for what he hasn’t done than what he has.

He has been absent as Foreign Minister for a large amount of time and neither his World Cup deputy, Gerry Brownlee, Mr Coleman, or Mr English have taken charge.

That leadership vacuum was exacerbated when Mr Key was absent during some critical stages of the MTS bid.

Dr Sharples is not blameless, either. It is clear that he and Te Puni Kokiri kept knowledge of the $3 million TPK commitment to themselves. And when Dr Coleman asked Dr Sharples about the bid, he dissembled, saying he didn’t know much about it.

Hopefully a lesson learned for everyone.

Maori Television has been given a reprieve from being gazumped by a higher bid. But its celebration should not be too premature. In a sense it has been returned to the position it found itself in after the TPK funding had been revealed.

Maori Television have a great opportunity ahead of them. The challenge now is to deliver high quality coverage.

Finally co-operation not taxpayer funded competition

October 14th, 2009 at 3:12 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key has intervened in the rugby television rights row, issuing a directive that Maori TV will be the lead bidder.

In a major u-turn for the Government, Mr Key’s directive means the competing TVNZ bid backed by Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman will be taken off the table.

Mr Key and Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples today said Maori TV, TVNZ and TV3 were meeting in Auckland this afternoon to sort out the bid.

This sounds greatly preferable than having rival taxpayer-funded bids ratcheting the price up. A pity it has taken Prime Ministerial involvement to bring this about – it should have never gotten to this stage in the first place.

What a mess

October 14th, 2009 at 10:48 am by David Farrar

My God, the Rugby World Cup free to air rights issue is a mess, to put it kindly. A fiasco maybe.

I’m someone who actually is supportive of the ambition of Maori TV to be the free to air broadcaster. But the sticking point is the only 90% coverage. Having 10% of New Zealanders not able to get free to air coverage of the Rugby World Cup we are hosting was never going to be acceptable.

If Pita Sharples had talked to other Ministers on the (laudable) ambition for Maori TV, they may have been able to actually help with the bid, by asking the right questions. Instead, we now have two different parties in Government appearing to back competing bids by taxpayer funded stations.

So what do the media say. The Herald reports:

Maori TV chief executive Jim Mather says the channel will continue to fight the Government for the rights to screen the Rugby World Cup, and will use money from wealthy iwi and corporate groups to outbid it.

Well that I approve of!

IRB spokesman Ross Young said the board would be open to increased bids.

I bet they are. They must be laughing all the way to the bank.

The Herald understands the Government’s concern about Maori TV’s coverage relates to fears about small crowds at the tournament, already expected to make a $40 million loss.

The Government and Rugby Union can make money only from ticket sales, and are worried about how these would be affected without the hype TVNZ can generate.

Well then TVNZ should have put in a bigger bid initially – possibly with support from the Rugby Union.

But Mr Mather said this was “throwing Maori TV the crumbs” and there was little chance of it being involved. The value to Maori TV was in having the exclusive rights, requiring viewers to switch over, rather than staying behind the major networks.

And this is the big pay off for Maori TV. It can take years for people to get used to checking a channel out. A month of people swapping to Maori TV for the RWC would probably leave them with a lot more viewers after the cup.

So what is the so called Govt plan:

– TVNZ leads bid to show the 16 most important games live and free-to-air, backed by Government money.

– TVNZ will show six games – two of the All Blacks’ pool games, the semi-finals, final, and third/fourth play-off.

– TV3, which has put up some of its own money, will show six games – the two other All Blacks pool games, the semi-finals, final and third/fourth play-off.

If it wants, Maori TV can put up money and simulcast the games TVNZ and TV3 are showing. It can also show the balance of the 16 games that the networks do not want.

The challenge for Maori TV is how they can do a bid that covers more than 90% of NZ.

Patrick Gower writes:

Remember the utter shambles as the All Blacks bombed out of the last Rugby World Cup because they could not organise a simple drop-goal in Cardiff?

If the failure to do the strikingly obvious that day left you horrified, then best to cover your eyes before watching the Government’s bungling of the free-to-air television rights for the next Rugby World Cup. …

TVNZ’s involvement is necessary because it has the reach and numbers to hype up the tournament over the next two years and get people through the gates, with ticketing the only way the Government and Rugby Union can make money and stem losses.

Maori TV can offer unique cultural and language elements as well as the flexibility of scheduling to be able to show wall-to-wall coverage without having to break for regular programming like the nightly news.

Surely getting the two together as co-broadcasters months ago and bargaining with the IRB was the obvious solution?

That would have been nice.

Audrey Young chips in:

The political debacle over the Maori Television Service bid for Rugby World Cup coverage rights has soured relations between National and the Maori Party more than anything else in their one-year partnership.

Yep, and it was al avoidable if Ministers talked to each other earlier on.

The Herald editorial proclaims:

The saga of Maori Television’s bid for the Rugby World Cup’s free-to-air broadcasts has taken a bizarre turn with the Government’s decision to fund a higher bid by TVNZ. The International Rugby Board, seller of the broadcasting rights, must be wide-eyed in wonder and glee that it stands to gain from a contest between two bids financed by New Zealand taxpayers. …

But it has taken a quite disturbing degree of fright at the prospect of Maori Television winning the free-to-air rights. Certainly, the Government had a right to be aggrieved that its coalition partner, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, did not consult National ministers before approving $3 million from his department, Te Puni Kokiri, to finance the bid.

The general rule of thumb is you should consult your colleagues on anything you would expect to be consulted over.

But if the taxpayer must contribute, why not through Maori Television? It is building a strong presence as a public channel for ceremonial events such as Waitangi Day and Anzac Day. Its coverage of the funeral for Sir Howard Morrison was deeply admired by all who caught it. TVNZ seems no longer interested in this sort of occasion either.

Maori Television was offering World Cup commentaries in English and Maori, from familiar faces and new. It aimed to popularise some Maori phrases through the English telecast, meeting its state-funded mission. On recent evidence it would do a conscientious and fine job. Surely a free-to-air partnership can be forged that would meet all concerns and save the taxpayer this ridiculous double bid.

I agree.

And Tracy Watkins:

In effect, we’ve got government ministers bidding against each other – and ratcheting up the cost for taxpayers as a consequence – to suit their own political purposes.

On the one side is Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples who gave Maori TV the green light for a $3 million-plus bid in a nod to his Maori constituency.

On the other are senior ministers Bill English, Jonathan Coleman and Murray McCully, who’ve given TVNZ and TV3 a nod and a wink that the Government will step in with whatever it takes to win the bid over Maori TV – presumably after concluding that their own constituency won’t take kindly to having to tune into Maori TV to watch world cup games.

I don’t think that is the issue. If done in the right way, I think one could have got the Government quite supportive of the bid. The bigger issue is achieving greater than 90% coverage, and also using TV to boost ticket sales.

The script writers for Yes Minister couldn’t have come up with a more absurd plot.

It would be a great script!

Ali Ikram’s satirical piece on Maori TV

October 8th, 2009 at 10:37 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Maori TV has accused its rival TV3 of racism after it broadcast an item lampooning what its coverage of the Rugby World Cup would look like.

The TV3 Nightline parody showed an All Black diving for the winning try in the final, with the broadcast interrupted by a public service announcement, saying: “Pakeha. It’s time to talk. There’s a few things we need to sort out and you won’t get to see the rest of the game until we have.”

The reporter for Tuesday night’s item was Ali Ikram, who is well-known for his satirical streak.

And this is key. Ali takes the piss out of everything and everyone. I’m reasonably supportive of the Maori TV bid, but really they need to lighten up.

But Maori TV spokeswoman Sonya Haggie said it was “basically racist” and it would be laying a complaint with the Broadcasting Standards Authority. The item also showed a match referee calling on the video referee, which turned out to be the Waitangi Tribunal, with Ikram warning “this could take a while”. There was also a “compulsory haka” for which the French did the can-can.

You can watch the clip for yourself here. I don’t think anyone is really going to think that the Waitangi Tribunal will be the video referee!

Ikram ridiculed Maori TV presenter Julian Wilcox, saying he presented virtually every show on the channel. …

TV3 received a number of complaints, including from its own staff, including Campbell Live reporter Mihingarangi Forbes who told the Herald it was disappointing and embarrassing.

“Given that it was supposed to be satire I didn’t find anything funny about it at all,” she said. “I think Ali [Ikram] would have hoped it was funny and clever but unfortunately for him and everyone else it was not.”

Ms Forbes said the jibes against Wilcox were hurtful.

“We have the utmost respect for Julian and it was unfair to pick him out like that.”

If the item was having a go at Wilcox, that would be regrettable. Wilcox is highly respected. But I didn’t see the clip as that. I actually thought it was paying Wilcox a subtle compliment by mentioning the large number of shows he presents.

Humour is always a challenge. Almost all humour can offend someone. My preferred Southpark type humour offends almost everyone :-). There is a difference between humour for humour’s sake, and using humour to attack or ridicule someone. I didn’t see anything in Ali’s item that suggested it was anything beyond his normal humour for humour’s sake.

My advice to Maori TV. Do your own satirical response! Fight humour with humour.

Maori TV and the Rugby World Cup

October 3rd, 2009 at 8:50 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A taxpayer-funded Maori Television Service bid to screen free-to-air Rugby World Cup matches has been described as “plain stupid” by the Labour Party.

“It sets a precedent for an incoherent and almost unbelievable broadcasting policy,” Labour’s Rugby World Cup spokesman, Trevor Mallard, said yesterday.

“It would see public money used to up the bidding war and the coffers of the International Rugby Board will reap the benefits.”

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples is backing the $3 million bid, reported to be higher than those put in by TVNZ and TV3.

I share the discomfort that a taxpayer funded bid may be higher than what is commercially sensible.

However I can understand the rationale from the Maori TV point of view. If they did win the free to air rights for NZ for the Rugby World Cup, it will give them a huge increase in viewers, and they are probably calculating that they would keep a proportion of those new viewers once the Cup ends.

Overall I am not convinced though it is a justifiable investment, and TV3 especially would have the right to be very concerned that they are competing with a bidder that can draw down Government funding.

At least the cost is a small fraction of the millions wasted on the charter!

UPDATE: The NZ Herald editorial backs the Maori TV bid and ambition:

Te Puni Kokiri has backed other major Maori Television local programming initiatives without controversy. These have proved highly successful in extending the channel’s profile and viewership. So much so that more than two-thirds of Maori Television’s audience is now non-Maori. Sporting coverage, such as that of the Breakers in the Australian basketball league, has been part of the attraction. Everything suggests the channel would make a good fist of the World Cup.

Home Grown Talent

June 18th, 2009 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Lindsay Mitchell blogs:

Don’t miss this. On Friday nights we always watch Homai Te Pakipaki on Maori Television. Last Friday I was floored by this kid. I wrote to Maori TV suggesting they get him up on YouTube – who needs Susan Boyle – and just got a reply saying done, already. I’ve just watched it again and it had the same powerful effect. Made me cry.

He is great – well worth a watch.

Waitangi Day and Google Earth

November 29th, 2008 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Maori Television has a nifty idea for Waitangi Day:

New Zealand’s national indigenous broadcaster, Maori Television, is putting out the call for all New Zealanders to come home for Waitangi Day 2009 but forget the planes, trains and automobiles you would usually rely on. This year, the only travel required will be in a virtual sense.

The broadcaster has created its own layer on Google Earth to collect messages from anywhere in the world devoted to the question: ‘Where on Google Earth will you be on Waitangi Day?’

Pictures, videos and text can all be uploaded into the page – from Aotearoa-New Zealand and beyond – to appear on the specially-created layer as a pin on the spinning globe. Anyone can upload material, ranging from a simple text message to photos, via Google’s photo sharing service, Picasa, or for the more tech-savvy among us, videos via YouTube.

‘Where on Google Earth will you be on Waitangi Day?’ is the question but also the concept that will underpin the channel’s broadcast dedicated to New Zealand’s national day, Waitangi Day, on Friday February 6 2009. The most inspiring, fun and heart-warming messages will be played throughout Maori Television’s programme, KOTAHI TE RA: WAITANGI DAY 2009.

“For anyone who has ever been away from home on our national day – or even if you’re at home but feeling that tug of national pride – this is the chance to connect to something special,” says Maori Television chief executive Jim Mather. “We believe this is something new and unique for an indigenous broadcaster, or indeed any broadcaster, to connect with its people via the internet.”

The technology used is essentially a specially-created layer visible on Google Earth which allows New Zealanders, their friends and families all around the world to create a message and load it into the space, marked by a map pin. “The beauty of the concept is its simplicity,” says Mr Mather. “It is easy to use, people can be as interactive as their abilities allow. It is all about the feeling.”

To see the short demonstration, or if you want to post a message, go to www.maoritelevision.com and follow the Google Earth link. Google Earth can be downloaded at earth.google.com.

Nice to see innovative thinking at Maori TV. They provide by far the best ANZAC Day coverage, and I suspect will do the same with Waitangi Day.

And hey we’ll have a Prime Minister next year who isn’t afraid to spend Waitangi Day at Waitangi!

MPs survey of the media

September 29th, 2008 at 3:20 pm by David Farrar

Last week I set up an online survey for MPs, asking them to rate various media organisations and senior gallery journalists on a scale of 0 to 10. Just under one quarter of MPs responded, and the results are shown below.

As the media often rate how well MPs are doing, I thought it appropriate to reverse this and ask the questions in reverse. The media are a hugely powerful filter, and it is appropriate (in my opinion) to have some focus on how well they are perceived to be performing.

The questions were:

  1. For each media organisation please give them a rating from 0 to 10 for how well you think they do in their parliamentary reporting. This should take account of all relevant factors – accuracy, fairness, thoroughness, relevance, substance etc.
  2. Now for some individual senior members of the press gallery, please rate from 0 to 10 how well you think they perform at proving fair, accurate, unbiased and informative reporting on Parliament. You can skip any that you do not feel able to rate.
  3. Finally can you indicate your party grouping as National, Labour or Other. Your individual identity is not sought by us, and we have no way or interest in identifying individual respondents. However we would like to summarise results for all MPs and by the three groupings to see if they vary by party grouping.

It is important that these be read in context, so make the following points:

  1. This is the opinion of MPs only. It does not set out to be an objective rating, and should not be seen as such.
  2. MPs get reported on by the gallery. While this makes them the group of NZers potentially best able to have an informed opinion on the media (which is why I surveyed them), it also gives them a conflict of interest. MPs may score journalists lowly due to personal run ins with them, or the fact they are too good at their job! This should be borne in mind.
  3. I only e-mailed the survey to the 121 MPs, but it is possible that one or more responses was filled in by a staff member who has access to the MPs mailbox. I think this is unlikely, as most staff are very professional. However MPs were not required to prove their identity to vote, as confidentiality of individual responses was important. You need to know the Survey URL to be able to vote.
  4. National MPs made up 43% of responses, slightly above their numbers in Parliament. Minor Party MPs were also slightly over-represented, Labour MPs under-represented and some MPs did not give a party identification.
Media Mean Median Mode Minimum Maximum Range
NZ Press Assn 6.1 6 6 4 9 5
Newsroom 5.8 6 5 1 10 9
Trans-Tasman 5.5 6 6 0 8 8
NZ Herald 5.3 6 6 0 8 8
Scoop 5.2 5 5 0 10 10
Newstalk ZB 5.1 6 7 1 8 7
Listener 5.0 5 3 1 8 7
NBR 4.9 4 4 1 8 7
Radio NZ 4.8 6 3 1 9 8
Radio Live 4.4 5 1 1 8 7
Sky/Prime News 4.3 5 5 0 7 7
The Press 4.2 5 1 1 7 6
TV Three 4.1 5 6 0 8 8
Dominion Post 4.1 4.5 1 1 7 6
TV One 3.9 5 5 0 6 6
Maori TV 3.7 4 5 0 6 6
Herald on Sunday 3.5 3.5 7 0 7 7
Sunday Star-Times 2.7 3 3 0 5 5

NZ Press Association tops the rankings with a mean or average 6.1 rating – and received no very low ratings from anyone. The two Internet agencies were in the top five, indicating MPs like the fact their releases are carried in full. Trans-Tasman also does well.

Television generally gets ranked lowly with all four stations in the bottom half. Sky News actually ranks highest.

Radio is middle of the field with NewstalkZB being the highest ranked radio broadcaster.

The newspapers range the spectrum. The NZ Herald is up at 5.3, Press at 4.2 and Dom Post at 4.1. I would have them all higher, but this is a survey of MPs, not of my views.

Now the sample sizes are of course very small (but of a limited population) but let us look at how National MPs ranked media compared to all the other MPs:

Media All Mean Nats Mean Others Mean Difference
TV One 3.9 6.3 2.2 4.2
TV Three 4.1 6.2 2.6 3.6
Maori TV 3.7 5.2 2.5 2.7
Sky/Prime News 4.3 5.5 3.3 2.2
Sunday Star-Times 2.7 3.5 2.1 1.4
Radio Live 4.4 4.8 4.2 0.6
Radio NZ 4.8 5.0 4.6 0.4
Dominion Post 4.1 4.2 4.0 0.2
Herald on Sunday 3.5 3.5 3.5 0.0
Newstalk ZB 5.1 4.8 5.4 -0.6
The Press 4.2 3.8 4.6 -0.8
NZ Herald 5.3 4.2 6.1 -1.9
NBR 4.9 3.3 6.1 -2.8
Listener 5.0 3.3 6.3 -3.0
NZ Press Assn 6.1 4.3 7.4 -3.1
Trans-Tasman 5.5 3.3 7.1 -3.8
Scoop 5.2 2.8 7.0 -4.2
Newsroom 5.8 3.0 8.0 -5.0

National MPs ranked the four TV channels much higher than other MPs did. Maybe this is minor parties upset that they do not get on TV much?

Despite the generally accepted lean to the left of Radio NZ, National MPs ranked Radio NZ higher than other MPs did. And while some on the left attack the NZ Herald at favouring National, National MPs actually ranked them lower than other MPs did. The Listener and NBR also get accused of leaning right, but again get ranked lower by National MPs.

The Nat MPs also rated the online media very lowly.

Now the journalists. I decided not to list all members of the press gallery, but only those who are relatively senior, and are more likely to have a reasonable number of MPs have formed opinions about them. Looking back I could have included more.

If any journalist is unhappy about being missed out, happy to include you next year. Now again it is worth remembering these are only the opinions of those MPs who responded to my survey – it is not an objective rating.

Journalist Mean Median Mode Minimum Maximum Range
John Armstrong (NZH) 6.4 7 2 2 10 8
Peter Wilson (NZPA) 5.8 5 5 3 8 5
Audrey Young (NZH) 5.7 6.5 7 0 10 10
Ian Templeton (TT) 5.6 7 7 0 9 9
Jane Clifton (Listener) 5.6 6 6 2 9 7
Barry Soper (Sky & ZB) 4.9 5.5 7 1 9 8
Ian Llewellyn (NZPA) 4.9 5 5 1 8 7
Vernon Small (DP) 4.6 5 6 1 8 7
Colin Espiner (Press) 4.5 5 6 0 8 8
Guyon Espiner (TV1) 4.4 5.5 7 0 7 7
Tim Donoghue (DP) 4.1 4.5 2 1 9 8
Brent Edwards (RNZ) 4.1 4 4 0 7 7
Tracy Watkins (DP) 3.8 4.5 6 0 7 7
Duncan Garner (TV3) 3.7 3.5 3 0 8 8
Gordon Campbell (Scoop) 3.6 5 5 0 7 7
Ruth Laugeson (SST) 2.7 2.5 2 0 6 6

John Armstrong tops the ratings, followed by the NZPA Political Editor Peter Wilson. Generally MPs ranked journalists slightly higher than media organisations. As can be seen by the minimum ratings showing, some MPs were very harsh handing out zeroes. Did WInston multiple vote? 🙂 (Note I have no idea if Winston did vote)

And once again we compare responses between National MPs and other MPs.

Journalist All Mean Nats Mean Others Mean Difference
Laugeson 2.7 4.2 1.6 2.6
Clifton 5.6 7.0 4.5 2.5
Soper 4.9 6.2 4.0 2.2
Campbell 3.6 4.8 2.8 2.0
Edwards 4.1 4.8 3.5 1.3
Llewellyn 4.9 5.2 4.7 0.5
Young 5.7 6.0 5.5 0.5
Garner 3.7 3.5 3.9 -0.4
Espiner G 4.4 4.2 4.6 -0.4
Wilson 5.8 5.5 6.0 -0.5
Armstrong 6.4 6.0 6.8 -0.8
Watkins 3.8 3.0 4.4 -1.4
Donoghue 4.1 3.2 4.9 -1.7
Small 4.6 3.2 5.6 -2.4
Espiner C 4.5 2.8 5.8 -3.0
Templeton 5.6 1.8 8.5 -6.7

Again very interesting. The SST is generally seen as hostile to National, but Ruth Laugeson is ranked much higher by National MPs, than by other MPs. Likewise the Gordon Campbell and Brent Edwards (both left leaning) are ranked higher by National MPs than other MPs.

Also for some reasons National MPs ranked Ian Templeton very lowly. Maybe they don’t like his weekly chats with Clark and Key, ignoring the lesser MPs?