Radio NZ well off compared to the ABC

May 20th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Coalition for Better Broadcasting (aka the Coalition for higher taxation) has said:

The Coalition for Better Broadcasting is disappointed at the lack of recognition for Radio NZ in the 2014 Budget. In fact the Budget represents a drop in funding for the public broadcasting sector in general, delivering gains to Sky TV in the process.

Radio NZ must survive another year on 2008 budget levels.

Sure budget restraint is tough. But look at what has happened in Australia with the ABC losing $120 million of funding. Now’s that worth whining about. And there is a link – if you don’t get spending under control, then you eventually do have to do major spending cuts to balance the budget.

Who does this favour? Commercial radio networks such as Mediaworks, the company partly established by Cabinet Minister Steven Joyce. 

This shows the leanings of the CBB, which recently defended the right of TVNZ staff to be Labour Party activists. First of all, so what if Steven Joyce founded Mediaworks. He sold it years ago in a hostile takeover. But the CBB shows their total lack of understanding how hard it is for broadcasters who do not get funded by the taxpayer.

Mediaworks made a loss of $318 million two years ago and $90 million last year. And the CBB has the audacity to complain commercial broadcasters are being favoured.

Mediaworks would love a sugar daddy that can guarantee them the same income as 2008.

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The Snowdon costs

May 20th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Lynne Snowdon’s husband has spoken of the heavy psychological toll of her 11-year battle against former employer Radio New Zealand, which cost the couple about $3.5 million.

“Litigation destroys people – there are no winners in litigation,” said John Hickling, a lawyer who spent years working on his wife’s long-running case.

So why did you pursue it? Radio NZ did not sue you. You sued them?

His comments come as figures released under the Official Information Act show the publicly funded state broadcaster spent more than $2m fighting the employment case after it sacked Snowdon as managing news editor in 2005, including nearly $1.3m in legal expenses.

By the time Snowdon was dismissed, she had already been on sick leave for more than two years.

That’s all taxpayer money wasted.

He said a relatively straightforward employment dispute seemed to have spiralled out of control, involving 23 preliminary hearings, and 70 formal minutes, orders and rulings even before the 47-day full hearing began last year.

It is understood RNZ is now seeking costs of about $1.1m from Snowdon.

Good. Not to be vindictive, but because we need to discourage this from happening again.

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Radio NZ gets the Hukas mixed up

April 26th, 2014 at 1:08 pm by David Farrar

Radio NZ reported (now removed):

The Huka Falls Resort is for sale, just months after New Zealand First leader Winston Peters claimed it was being sold to foreign buyers.

In February in an address to Greypower in Auckland, Mr Peters claimed that Prime Minister John Key had promised the buyers a smooth ride through the Overseas Investment Office process.

At the time, Huka Lodge said Mr Peters was not correct.

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson also said the claims were not true.

The property is advertised for sale in The Dominion Post, with tenders due to close on 15 May. It was last sold in 2003.

The sale includes 3.8 hectares, buildings and the Huka Falls Resort conference centre and a cafe business. The advertisement says 27 of the 34 villas are leased to the business.

A big fail for Radio New Zealand. Huka Falls Resort is a different property to Huka Lodge.

The Huka Falls Resort is at 56 Huka Falls Road. The iconic Huka Falls Lodge is 271 Huka Falls Road. They’re not even that close to each other.

Rooms at HFR start at $135 a night.

Rooms at Huka Lodge starts at $1,386 per night.

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Finally an end

April 2nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Former Radio NZ news manager Lynne Snowdon has lost her marathon employment dispute with the state broadcaster.

In a decision issued today the Employment Court has scored the legal battle – believed to be the longest running employment dispute – at 3-0 to Radio NZ.

Judge Tony Ford said it was a rare case where Radio NZ had been able to establish on “entirely convincing facts” that Snowdon was substantially responsible for the irreconcilable breakdown in the employment relationship.

Snowdon went on sick leave in January 2003. She was dismissed in April 2005.

It’s insane that this case has dragged on for ten years. Hopefully this brings it to an end. I’ve followed the case for many years and had little doubt it would end this way.

Judge Tony Ford dismissed grounds claiming Snowdon had a disadvantage grievance, was unjustifiably dismissed, and that Radio NZ had falsely represented the financial situation at the heart of Snowdon’s complaints.

He said it had been a relatively straightforward employment dispute that had spiralled out of control.

Snowdon’s husband, John Hickling, told the court last year that it had cost Snowdon and her family more than $3.5 million to fight at that stage.

Snowdon let her grievance become an obsession. Off memory it all began as a dispute with then CEO Sharon Crosbie over the budget for the news division. If you don’t like the budget your boss gives you, then go find a new job – don’t turn it into a ten year dispute. If they really have spent $3.5 million on the fight, then that is even sadder, No one forced them to do so.

Since then the case has consumed another 47-day hearing.

Again, insane.

The judge said Radio NZ was entitled to costs and if the parties could not agree between themselves they would be decided by the court.

As a taxpayer, I want them to recover as many of their costs as possible.

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Espiner to co-host Morning Report

December 30th, 2013 at 1:42 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Political journalist Guyon Espiner has been announced as Geoff Robinson’s replacement on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report.

Robinson announced his retirement on-air in November, after more than 30 years in journalism.

Espiner has a 20 year career in journalism, working in both print and broadcast media.

He has previously held roles as the political editor for Television New Zealand and, earlier, the Sunday Star Times.

More recently he has worked as an anchor and journalist on TV3′s 3rd Degree and The Vote.

Espiner will begin presenting Morning Report in April.

I think this is an excellent appointment. Espiner is a formidable interviewer, and has a good breadth of knowledge on politics and current affairs.

What is unknown is how he will gel with Simon Mercep, but I don’t see any major difficulties there.

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BSA upholds complaints against Radio NZ over three strikes coverage

November 25th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

David Garrett complained to Radio New Zealand and then the Broadcasting Standards Authority about a Nine to Noon item on 29 May 2013 regarding the three strikes law. The BSA has ruled that the item was both unbalanced and inaccurate. Their ruling is here.

David has provided Kiwiblog with a guest post about the ruling:

“Three Strikes”, Radio New Zealand and the Broadcasting Standards Authority

 On 29 May Radio New Zealand’s “Nine to Noon” featured what was supposedly a panel discussion about how the “three strikes” (3S) law  was working, almost three years after its passing.  The only problem – or at least the  most obvious one – was that the panel consisted only of Professor John  Pratt,  who had voiced his strident views against the law from well before it was passed, and the lawyer for one Elijah Whaanga,  a man with 20 odd convictions as an adult, two of them  “strikes” for aggravated robbery.

 And of course there was the supposedly neutral  presenter, one Lyn Freeman, filling in for Kathryn Ryan, who in all fairness would probably  have done a much better job. As the recently released Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) determination on my complaint about the programme makes clear, while nominally presenting the programme – and supposedly acting as devil’s advocate :

“…the presenter appeared to largely adopt the position of the interviewees without any real challenge….[her questions] were insufficient to provide balance on the topic under discussion, especially considering the broadcast involved two people strongly opposed to  the law” (at para. [25])

The programme began with a major  inaccuracy: that persons on their third strike “had no possibility of parole”, when in  fact  the “no parole at strike three” provision  will  not apply if the Judge finds it to be “manifestly unjust” in the circumstances of a particular case. The insertion of this proviso occurred after Judith Collins took over negotiation of the contents of the 3S  law from then Justice Minister Simon Power, and the Nats stopped playing games.

It is an important qualification – and gives the lie to the oft repeated claim that the law removes judicial discretion.  ACT readily agreed to this provisio being included. Radio New Zealand simply ignored its existence in Freeman’s introduction. Things got much worse from that point on.

Throughout the discussion, Elijah Whaanga, the second strike aggravated robber whose lawyer was a panelist, was referred to constantly  as “Elijah” and “a playground bully ”, presumably because his second strike aggravated robbery was of a skateboard and a hat. What wasn’t  mentioned was that the robbery occurred  in the street not a playground; that the victim was “only” robbed of a skateboard and a hat because he had no money; and that in Whaanga’s first strike – also an aggravated robbery in the street – the victim had all his money taken, and his head  kicked in.

As the BSA puts it in its decision:

“The offender on his second strike…was referred to throughout the discussion and  used as an example of the type of people  targeted by the law , without balancing comment to challenge this…Given the participants strongly held views that the law operated in a way that was unjust and unfair, and out of proportion to the crime committed, there was a clear requirement of the broadcaster to ensure the discussion was balanced” [paras. 19 -20]

The BSA concluded that the programme was one to which the “balance” standard applied,  that  RNZ “…did not include sufficient balance on the issue”, and therefore upheld the  first limb of  my complaint.

Inaccuracies

My second complaint was about the many inaccuracies the programme contained, none of them corrected or challenged by the presenter.  I identified a lengthy list of statements – mostly by Professor Pratt  – (see para. [37] of the determination)  which were inaccurate or misleading.

The BSA found that the programme was misleading in two crucial respects: firstly by its  many completely inaccurate comparisions with California’s “three strikes” law; the second  was the way “playground bully” Elijah Whaanga was “portrayed and used as an example of the type of criminals (sic.)  targeted by the law “ (See para. [43] of the BSA decision).

The first  point  is of course indeed  crucial. From the outset, opponents of 3S have attempted to use the indisputable   excesses of the law in California as it was originally enacted   as a reason not to enact  a law with the same name here.

In 2007, Garth McVicar and I went to California specifically to find out whether the “life for stealing a chocolate bar” stories were true (we never verified  that one, although there were others which were clearly unacceptable and unjust) and if so, to work out how to draft our  3S law so  injustices like them  couldn’t happen here.

California recently modified its law to make it much more like ours: no more “technical felonies”, and much more prosecutorial and  judicial discretion. Rather than make those points, Freeman talked about California “backing away” from 3S, and rhetorically asked “What does that tell you? ” Professor Pratt obliging leapt on his soapbox and gave his version of what the changes in California meant, untroubled by any dissenting voice.

The BSA was perhaps  harshest on this point, saying:

“…comparing the legislation in this manner, without any countering views, and in particular the presenter’s unequivocal statement that California had started to ‘back away’  from the legislation, would have misled listeners as to the nature of New Zealand’s ‘three strikes’ law  and any comparison with California.” (see para. [42] )

The BSA concluded its decision on the balance and accuracy complaints thus:

“The programme omitted any alternative voice to counteract the one sided statements  made by the panelists, and the presenter failed to adequately challenge those statements. Compounding this, the panelists also made statements which created a misleading impression in the absence of any balancing comment.” (See para. [49] )

As I did on the morning  I heard this travesty of journalism unfolding, I have offered to  appear as “balance” for any future programme on 3S. Somehow I don’t think I’ll be getting a call, but at least after receiving  a spanking from the BSA like this one, they might be a bit more careful next time.

Well done to David for getting a successful ruling, and hopefully Radio NZ will be more balanced in future on this topic.

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Who might get Radio NZ Sundays

November 17th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Broadcaster Mark Sainsbury is eyeing Radio New Zealand’s Sunday Morning slot following presenter Chris Laidlaw’s resignation.

The former Close Up presenter said he had yet to lodge a formal application, but was certainly interested in the Sunday Morning job.

“It’s a great gig that Sunday morning one, and there’s a huge amount of potential to do something with it. But I also know there are a lot of very well qualified people interested in it as well.

Sainsbury would be a very strong contender.

Broadcaster Bill Ralston said if it were his choice, it would be between Mark Sainsbury and Noelle McCarthy.

“Mark is not bad at the human interest interviews. He’s got a great strength in those, but Noelle is very bright as well.”

Someone under 40 would be novel!

Long-time broadcaster Bill Ralston speculated on a good pick for the show. Applications close on December 2.

Fill-in radio host Noelle McCarthy: Definitely, I would think a very serious contender.

Media3 host and blogger Russell Brown: Possible. He would be a contender, but I would certainly put people inside the shop ahead of people outside the shop.

Mark Sainsbury: A really good choice.

Anna Guy: Yeah, nah.

Radio hosts John Tamihere and Willie Jackson: Non-starters.

Jim Mora: Yeah, if he wants to retire back to one day a week, and he might do, in which case that would open up his shift to someone like Mark Sainsbury or Noelle McCarthy. He would be ideal in some respects.

3rd Degree host Guyon Espiner: I somehow doubt it. Don’t see him as a serious contender, although he could do it well.

Blogger Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury: He’s too Left even for National Radio.

Broadcaster Susan Wood: Definitely. They need more women on air, to be honest . . . I would see her as a better than adequate person to do it.

Ex-TV reporter Richard Langston: Has a lot of ability, but I don’t see him necessarily as a primary contender.

Back Benches host Wallace Chapman: If they wanted someone younger, hipper, cooler, groovier, he’d be a guy to look for.

I can’t see it being Anna Guy!

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Which former Labour MP will replace Laidlaw?

November 13th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The competition is already heating up to replace Chris Laidlaw as host of National Radio’s Sunday morning show. He will present his last show on December 22, it was confirmed yesterday.

Radio New Zealand networks manager John Howson said Laidlaw had signalled before last month’s elections that he would retire if elected to both the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Capital & Coast District Health Board, as he subsequently was.

At least two high-profile journalists with radio experience had expressed interest, he said, and it was hoped that a replacement would be named by the time the show resumed after the summer break, on January 26.

Former TVNZ head of news Bill Ralston said he expected a lot of hands would be high in the air from both inside and outside RNZ. “It’s an opportunity to inject some life into the show . . .”

Laidlaw had been labelled a “leftie”, and his departure was a chance for the network to shift toward the centre of the political spectrum.

Mr Howson said any suggestion that the show was “left-leaning” was only public perception.

Only public perception? You must be kidding!!

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The Wireless

November 2nd, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Toby Manhire at The Listener reports:

On Labour Day morning, Ben Uffindell, the wunderkind behind the Civilian satire website,tweeted that he was about to appear on Radio New Zealand.

Which, he added, “I find is always sort of like visiting your grandparents”.

And that somehow encapsulates a strength and weakness of RNZ: a cosy familiarity, something reliable, but also undeniably, how to put it, mature.

For some some the challenge for the national broadcaster has been how to attract younger listeners. The proportion of the audience under 30 is said to be puny.

The idea of a “youth” station has long been mooted, with some arguing it should replace Concert FM.

But years of discussion have at last borne fruit.

The Wireless is the boldest innovation from the cash-strapped grandparent for a long time, probably since the RNZ website added news and audio in 2005.

Crucially, however, this is not an online radio station: more a digital magazine, with features, blogs and plenty of video, aimed chiefly at 18-30 year olds.

And it looks very promising indeed. Each month will be themed, the first of which is “Free”, starting with a feature by Megan Whelan about personal finance, majoring on, unsurprisingly, debt.

The site looks really well designed and the articles well aimed for their target audience of under 30s. Radio NZ has a fixed budget so this initiative is not costing us any extra money, and it is good to see a focus on people who don’t just listen to Concert FM!

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Down the List

June 24th, 2013 at 12:48 pm by David Farrar

I only discovered Down the List today as I do not normally listen to Radio NZ on weekends.

If this week’s episode is typical, it is well worth listening to. Involves two Labour List MPs talking about what is going wrong.

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The new Radio New Zealand CEO

June 13th, 2013 at 4:11 pm by David Farrar

I understand that the new CEO of Radio New Zealand is Paul Thompson. This has not yet been announced publicly.

Paul is currently the Group Executive Editor of Fairfax New Zealand. He has been a journalist basically all his adult life, starting as a cadet reporter at age 17. He has been Editor of both the Nelson Mail and The Press.

I predict the appointment of someone with such a strong media background will go down well with Radio New Zealand staff. My congratulations to him on the appointment.

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The Panel

November 14th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I enjoy being a regular guest on Radio NZ’s Panel with Jim Mora and initially was surprised at how many people would mention they hear me on it. Some taxi drivers even recognise me just from my voice. So I’ve always figured it must rate fairly well.

Just been told that The Panel is not only the number one rated talk hour in New Zealand (and has been for some time), it is the number one rated show on all radio for the 4 pm to 5 pm slot. It now ranks ahead of all the music stations.

I understand the latest survey has it with 162,000 listeners on an average weekday. That is pretty massive.

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Gillard in danger

May 28th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

news.com.au reports:

Prime Minister Julia Gillard will have her hands full when parliament resumes this week, fending off fresh leadership speculation, facing a potentially heated caucus meeting and bracing for a new opinion poll.

Newspapers said Joel Fitzgibbon, the government’s chief whip, was openly canvassing caucus for votes to return Kevin Rudd to the top job.

When the Chief Whip starts lobbying for change you have real problems. The challenge for Labor is deciding between the leader the public hates and the leader the caucus hates.

Incidentally I was staggered to be listening to Morning Report this morning, and hear an interview between I presume one of the hosts and the RNZ Australian correspondent. The host said something like:

“So Kevin Rudd will just be getting on with the job of Foreign Minister” and the correspondent said “That’s right”.

Rudd resigning as Foreign Minister and challenging Gillard for the leadership earlier this year was a rather major news story.

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Collins taking defamation action against Mallard, Little and Radio NZ

March 29th, 2012 at 10:05 am by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

ACC Minister Judith Collins is taking defamation action against two labour MPs and a news organisation, her spokeswoman says.

I understand the MPs are Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little, and the media organisation is Radio New Zealand.

It will be fascinating if it proceeds, to see the proof Trevor and Andrew have to back up their assertions.

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What you didn’t hear from Radio NZ

March 13th, 2012 at 10:22 am by David Farrar

Whale Oil has the audio of a Cecil Walker on Morning Report yesterday slagging off Ports of Auckland, talking about how he is forced to walk work 16 hours a day and how the 10% offer from POAL is not worth losing his family over, and how he used to work long hours and almost lost his family over it as he was working 80 hours a week. He even said how one of his kids said he never sees him as he is always at work. He concludes his family is more important than money.

This makes POAL look like a heartless employer, with no consideration for families. However an e-mail to Whale (I presume it is accurate) paints a very different story of POAL, of how they gave Walker 21 weeks off on full pay when his wife had cancer, how they had a limo pick them up from their house to take them to and from Christmas in the Park to meet Frankie Stevens, and even how when he had a baby, The company tracked them down to where they was staying and sent a 5 tiered baby gift basket to him.

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Radio with Pictures

August 15th, 2011 at 2:55 pm by David Farrar

David Beatson blogs at Pundit:

I welcome the proposal that John Barnett from South Pacific Pictures has pitched to the board of Radio New Zealand for “radio with pictures”. …

Barnett told us he had been given a positive reception by the RNZ board and outlined some of the arsenal of new media technology that he proposed using to add the necessary visual enrichment required by the television audience.

He saw scope for including original productions currently provided to TVNZ 7 by independent producers – and was confident that he could deliver 18 hours of programming a day on a public broadcasting channel at a cost that is considerably less than the $13 million a year TVNZ was paid to produce TVNZ 6 and 7. My own analysis of the concept indicates that he is right.

That is not an unreasonable sum.

I have blogged previously several times that the Government should sell TVNZ, which is a fully commercial broadcaster, and put the proceeds from the sale into a trust to fund a full public service broadcaster, such as Radio New Zealand with pictures.

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Willie Jackson on National Radio

July 12th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Willie Jackson writes in the NZ Herald:

Radio Waatea was contracted to provide daily news bulletins during the week of approximately two and a half minutes in duration four times a day. For that we were paid $280,000 a year which covered four journalists and our admin costs. And that was our national broadcaster’s commitment to the indigenous people of this country during the working week.

Let’s do the sums on this. 10 minutes a day times 250 days a year is 2500 minutes a year of headlines, or around 42 hours of news bulletins. For $280,000 that is an hourly rate of $6,720 an hour.

Now that has to cover reporting, editing etc but I’m pretty sure that that hourly figure is higher than most broadcasters.

With no more than 10 minutes of Maori stories a day, that equated to 0.1 per cent of National Radio air time. That’s about as close as you can get to nothing, zero, bugger all. But, hey, they were giving us 0.8 per cent of their $36 million annual budget, so I guess that’s something!

Well yes, it suggests to me that if they bring it in house, they may be able to afford to do more than 0.1%.

But even that figure is misleading. National Radio is not 24/7 news stories. Most of it is interviews, talk etc.

Their actions and attitude towards Maori is nothing short of shameful. Successive Governments have allowed National Radio to treat Maori in this way. And, sure, they can pat themselves on the back because Simon Mercep and Katherine Ryan are able to pronounce a few basic Maori words, but the Government really needs to intervene to ensure that a Maori voice is heard on a station that is meant to reflect this country’s identity.

Surely National Radio giving Maori only 0.1 per cent of the programming time requires some response from the Government?

This is presuming that Maori are not interested in any of the other programming,. It would be interesting to see what Radio NZ’s listening demographics are.

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