TVNZ now lets petitions decide what programmes they air

July 3rd, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

TVNZ have responded to a petition with over 10,000 signatories and ditched plans to screen a controversial British reality TV show in which participants had sex during the programme.

Sex Box,  a Channel Four show in which couples have sex inside a screened box before a studio audience then step out to discuss the experience, was due to air on TV2 next month.

But the network confirmed today they had dropped it from schedules. 

“The series was initially considered to form a part of our July line-up but given the feedback we’ve taken the time to re-look at it,” said a spokesman. “On reflection, we agree it is not the right fit for inclusion in the TV2 schedule.”

“We typically get a range of viewer opinions expressed about our on-air and online content. Not everyone will agree with every decision we make but we do listen,” the spokesperson added.

TVNZ said that they were “responding to the feedback” the network had received about the show, and agreed that after “taking a closer look at Sex Box” the show was not “the right fit” for the public broadcaster.

An online petition launched by petitioner Ann-Maree Quinn to see TV2 axe the show launched on community website CitizenGo in early June, and has since garnered 10,184 signatories, with a goal to eventually reach 20,000.

The show sounded terrible and exploitative. Just like almost every other reality TV show.

But they purchased the rights to it, and have decided not to show it because of an online petition. That is the wrong decision.

We have scores of channels people can watch. If people didn’t want to see it, they can choose another channel. Instead we have censorship via petition.

“Yet another bizarre reality TV show to occupy our screens, but this one is particularly troubling on a number of levels,” the petition read.

“It is not prudish to object to Sex Box. Some things ought not to be for sale, ought not to be promoted with evocative storylines, solely to grow viewership,” Quinn continued.

“Some things simply require a level of good taste and decency.  Sexual intimacy is not just a recreational activity to be viewed, scored and analysed in such a public setting,”

Quinn’s anti-Sex Box petition deemed the series “a new low” in our “flash in the pan, celebrity-seeking culture.”

Quinn, who is currently based in Australia, said the purpose behind starting her petition was to “maintain high community standards on public TV.”

So a petition stated by someone not even in New Zealand gets TVNZ to change their broadcasting decisions.

No TVNZ Mediaworks merger

June 16th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Television New Zealand and TV3-owner MediaWorks would not likely be allowed to merge, Prime Minister John Key has indicated.

Key appeared to confirm there had been interest in a transaction short of a merger, after a report of talks between TVNZ and MediaWorks in the Australian media.

“What I am aware of is a bit of discussion that there might have been some interest on the TVNZ side in relation to some of the assets owned by MediaWorks,” Key said. TVNZ spokeswoman Georgie Hills would not identify the “assets” Key was referring to.

Key said a merger was “very unlikely to happen”. 

“I don’t think there is a great deal of support around that on the government side, which is a critical part of it as the Government would have to allow that to happen on the TVNZ side,” he said.

“We like the concept that there are competing networks.”

I like having competing networks also.

However I suspect there is not a very bright future for TV channels. The money is in producing shows, not being a channel. I doubt TVNZ would be worth much in a few years, so I’d sell it while we can, and let the Commerce Commission decide on competition issues.

Put the opening broadcasts on You Tube!

May 12th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

Television New Zealand says it should be allowed to drop some of its election coverage because of terrible ratings.

The broadcaster has long been required by law to broadcast political parties’ opening and closing election addresses.

But it says viewing patterns have changed and a sharp fall in ratings during the presentations – once central campaign events – justifies a change.

During the last election the opening addresses had ratings that were 38 per cent lower than the average for the six previous Saturday evenings.

Who watches them? People now have a choice of channels and they wisely choose to change the channel when they come on.

Rather than require TVNZ to broadcast them, just have the parties release them on You Tube, and those who want to watch them, can do so.

The rise of the internet and social media has diluted television’s role as the key method of communication with voters, TVNZ notes, and audiences are increasingly uninterested in the opening and closing statements, the spokeswoman said.

Yep. And taxpayers have to pay TVNZ for the statements. Let’s save money and scrap the requirement.

Labour leader Andrew Little said TVNZ’s position confirmed the need for a genuine public service broadcast channel.

Television still carried a large audience and the addresses were part of a healthy democracy, Mr Little said.

By health democracy, Andrew means taxpayers should be forced to fund and broadcast propaganda for his party!

However, Steven Joyce, campaign manager for National during the last election, said he would be open to the addresses being scrapped.

There was a significant production cost, Mr Joyce said, and perhaps parties could be given additional advertising if the addresses were to go.

Or one could save money and get back into surplus quicker.

UPDATE: Corrected by AG that taxpayers do not reimburse TVNZ for the opening statement. However I guess we still pay for it, as the get reduced advertising revenue which impacts overall government revenue.

Seven Sharp soaring

June 17th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

campbell-live-vs-seven-sharp-week-20-2014 Seven Sharp on One is killings its timeslot. Throng reports:

Year on year, Seven Sharp continued to improve on 2013 with a 25% increase on the same period as last year while it was down 33% for John Campbell and his team.

It seems obvious that Mike Hosking and Toni Street are a winning combination. At the rate Campbell Live is going, more people will be tuning into Whale Oil every day than watching Campbell Live!

The Banks trial

May 30th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

John Banks made every effort to keep “politically sensitive” donations to his failed 2010 Auckland mayoralty bid secret, the Crown says, but Banks’ lawyer argues the politician had nothing to gain from that and is a victim of Kim Dotcom-orchestrated lies.

The nothing to gain is a significant aspect to this. Banks was the loser, not the winner, of the campaign. When he filed the return he was not planning a political future. Revealing the Dotcom donation and the Sky City one would not have damaged him in any way.

Mr Jones pointed out inconsistencies in prosecution evidence ? Mrs Dotcom said she was present when donations were discussed, Mr Dotcom said she was not.

Now the pair were separated, Mr Dotcom couldn’t rely on her to support him so took her out of the picture, Mr Jones said.

But Mrs Dotcom went along with the earlier agreed version of events and that “proves the lie”.

And former Dotcom accountant Grant McKavanagh originally said he travelled down to Queenstown and posted the cheques there, when they were actually deposited into Banks’ account at a North Shore Westpac.

When that was pointed out Mr McKavanagh couldn’t explain his “fairytale” evidence, Mr Jones said.

That piece of evidence is bizarre. How could you get wrong a claim that you travelled to Queenstown to post the cheques?

The Crown had failed to put forward a motivation for Banks to falsely declare donations and Mr Dotcom wasn’t even on the public radar in 2010.

Mr Jones said Banks’ campaign was financially transparent.

His team had chosen not to use a secret trust to channel payments, as was allowed, and on one occasion when Banks was handed a cheque, he banked it and informed Mr Hutchison of the situation.

Banks should have done what Len Brown and David Cunliffe did, and set up a secret trust. However he didn’t, and he should have taken more care with his donations return. It isn’t good enough to rely on someone else, when you are the guy who signs it.

Also of interest is the court judgement against TV3. Extracts:

In the present case, I am in no doubt that the footage of Mr Banks broadcast by TV3/Media Works in the 6 o’clock news bulletin on 22 May 2014 was neither fair, nor balanced. It did not respect Mr Banks’ rights. It was gratuitous and tasteless. The justifications advanced by Ms Bradley were, in my view, disingenuous. The footage broadcast did not show Mr Banks’ reaction to the interview being played in court. Rather, it was a sideshow broadcast seemingly to entertain. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the broadcast was intended to expose Mr Banks to ridicule and/or derision. There was, in my judgment, no news value in the footage at all, and no public interest was served by broadcasting it. In my judgment, TV3/Media Works’ decision to broadcast the footage was irresponsible and it reflects no credit on the organisation.

What makes this worse for TV3 is the decision was not taken by some junior staff member. The decision was made the the general counsel and the deputy head of news and current affairs.

It seems TVNZ may also be in some trouble. They were responsible for the camera and it was meant to be turned off after the first 15 minutes of the day. The Judge has asked TVNZ to also explain why it was left on.

The Taurima report

May 13th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The TVNZ report is quite damning of Shane Taurima. While it clears him of political bias in his interviewing and editorial decisions (which I never thought there was a case for), the damning part is how he ran a Labour Party branch from within TVNZ for many months.

Labour has declined to give him a waiver to stand for Tamaki Makaurau. This is the right decision, as a failure to do so would have been a de facto endorsement of his activities at TVNZ. These activities were not coincidental – but designed to win him the nomination for Tamaki Makaurau.

The report is here. Some key aspects:

  • A TVNZ meeting room was used to host a Labour Party meeting – just five weeks after the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election which he had sought the Labour candidacy for. This is quite damning, as it shows an almost immediate commencement of activities for Labour – not a gradual decision to get involved again.
  • Four TVNZ staff sent or received “hundreds of e-mails” from or to their TVNZ accounts, related to the Labour Party.
  • Taurima recruited three TVNZ staff members to join the Labour Party less than one week after the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election. The timing is daming, as well as any boss pressuring staff to join a political party – let alone staff at the state broadcaster
  • One staff member said she found it hard to complete her TVNZ duties due to the requests from Taurima to do Labour Party business
  • Taxpayers, through TVNZ, paid for someone to fly from Gisborne to Auckland to attend a Labour Party meeting at Taurma’s home
  • In a number of areas, the panel casts doubt on Taurima’s version of events
  • Less than a week after returning to TVNZ Taurima was being e-mailed about how to win Tamaki Makaurau. These e-mails do not come unsolicited.
  • The most damning evidence in my eyes is that he did nto set up one branch for Labour – but three branches!! I’ve been in party politics a long time, and let me tell you there is no reason you set up multiple branches – except to win a nomination. You might help set up one branch to help the party grow, You set up multiple branches to win a nomination. Taurima consistently claims he only decided to stand for Tamaki Makaurau six months later in February 2014. I do not believe he is telling the truth. All his activities from the week he returned to TVNZ were what you would expect from someone seeking a nomination – and using their employer’s resources to help gain it.
  • Taurima became the Electorate Chairman for Labour in September.
  • In January 2014 he hosted a hui attended by David Cunliffe on how Labour should win the Maori vote
  • Both Taurima and the other TVNZ staff who were active in Labour actively worked to keep their activities secret from TVNZ
  • Taurima was asked by the Herald on November if he was standing for Labour. He told them “categorically” he would not be standing and told his TVNZ boss abotu the denial and the media speculation on him (based on a tweet from Julian Wilcox) was “mud-raking”. As it happens, the speculation was entirely correct and Taurima deceived when he ruled out standing.

As I said above, the setting up of multiple branches is a very strong indicator of a desire to be the candidate. The very small period of time between returning to TVNZ and preparing the way for his candidacy is, in my opinion, proof of very bad faith on the part of Taurima.

Now it will get interesting. Presumably Julian Wilcox will enter the race. I rate Wilcox based on his skills as the former host of Native Affairs on Maori TV. However I do wonder what, if anything, a well targeted Official Information Act request to Maori TV may turn up regarding the Labour Party! Hopefully Julian kept his Labour Party involvement (he was a member last year) away from his work!

Meanwhile the PSA is campaigning for the rights of TVNZ political journalists to be activists within a political party. Not the finest moment for the PSA who should be supporting political neutrality.


Another TVNZ staffer seeking a Labour job

March 1st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

TVNZ does seem to be turning into a recruitment pool for the Labour Party. Fran Mold became Chief Press Secretary. Kris Faafoi is now an MP. Shane Taurima sought nomination and helped run a branch for them while working there.

The latest is Tamati Coffey who is seeking Labour’s Rotorua nomination.

Labour Party general secretary Tim Barnett said two nominations had been received, with a possible third nomination coming late Friday.

Mr Barnett said the names of all nominees for the party’s Rotorua candidate would be released on Monday with the selection process to take up to a month.

If selected, Mr Coffey would replace former Labour Party cabinet minister and new mayor of Rotorua Steve Chadwick as Rotorua’s Labour candidate to contest November’s general election.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay said he didn’t focus on what the Labour Party were doing.

“I believe I have a good track record of working hard for local people and have delivered some important wins for Rotorua and the wider electorate over the last six years.”

Mr McClay said this would be his third election campaign and he looked forward to making his case to continue to be Rotorua’s MP and represent its views in Parliament.

I hear there may be another broadcaster soon to also declare they will stand for Labour.

Enough real abuse that TVNZ staff don’t need to make more up

February 27th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Television New Zealand has apologised for a Breakfast stunt after discovering two of their staff had made up abusive messages to them that were read on air.

The programme two days ago had eight staff read out messages of abuse in the wake of the weekend death in Sydney of television presenter Charlotte Dawson.

But this morning the programme apologised saying that broadcaster Peter Williams and Seven Sharp reporter Dean Butler had made up their messages.

In an on-air statement the show said the two had misunderstood what they had been told to do, and believed it was a “light hearted parody.” The other messages were genuine, Breakfast said.

“TVNZ is taking this matter very seriously and will be dealing with it appropriately,” Breakfast said.

Williams and Butler have had their parody messages removed from on-line.

The message read out by Williams, now known to be made up, said: “My mother always told me that people who talk slowly think slowly. You talk slowly, Peter Williams.”

Butler’s said: “Don’t take this the wrong way but I hope someone punches you.”

In the genuine messages reporter Brooke Dobson was told to “shave off” a moustache, Seven Sharp co-host Toni Street was criticised for her “disgusting flabby arm skin” and co-host Jesse Mulligan was labelled “thick as a plank”.

That is a huge fail. Even if one generously accepts it was a misunderstanding, then it was a huge communications failure for a broadcaster that is meant to be good at communications. There is some real hideous abuse of those with a high profile, and highlighting it was a great idea. But having two of them as invented undermines both what they did, but also the two staffers involved.

The TVNZ inquiry

February 25th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A review into the misuse of TVNZ company resources and alleged political bias will get underway this week with the involvement of media law expert Steven Price and respected broadcasting figure Bill Francis.

Shane Taurima, head of the state broadcaster’s Maori and Pacific unit, resigned last week over his ties to the Labour Party.

The panel will investigate the inappropriate use of TVNZ resources for political means over the last year, and also determine whether any “obvious political bias” can be identified in the department’s programmes or in Q+A interviews conducted by Taurima.

I hope the investigation is thorough.

The e-mails showing the activities of four or more staff to assist Labour were revealed only because an external recipient presumably leaked them. The first thing I want to know is how many more e-mails were sent from or between TVNZ staff discussing how to help Labour.  The inquiry should at a minimum inspect all e-mails to and from those staff over the last year.

I understand that TVNZ has a rule that staff in their news and currents affairs section can not be a member of a political party. This seems a sensible rule. Will the inquiry look at how many staff are in breach of that rule?

Taurima only told TVNZ in the last week or two that he was considering standing for Parliament again. Is there any evidence to show that he has intended standing for long before he declared his intention?

How did such a high proportion of the Maori unit end up active members of a political party. Did Taurima recruit them?

It is rumoured another TVNZ news and current affairs staff member is about to declare their intention to be a Labour Party candidate. Are they currently a party member?

Dom Post on TVNZ

February 19th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

State broadcasters are like Caesar’s wife: they have to be above sin and seen to be so. That is why Shane Taurima had no choice but to resign as head of TVNZ’s Maori and Pacific Unit. He had used the broadcaster’s buildings for a Labour Party meeting, and its email to organise a Labour meeting held elsewhere.

He broke the rules that require taxpayer-funded broadcasters to be politically neutral. State broadcasters must not use their position to promote the interests of any political party of whatever kind. Mr Taurima sought the Labour candidacy at the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election last year, but the actual party brand is irrelevant. He would also have had to resign if he had held an ACT party meeting at his workplace.

It is not clear which other TVNZ staff members were involved in the meeting or in other party activities. The company’s internal inquiry will find out and then TVNZ managers will have to decide what to do. Mr Taurima knew he could not defend himself and did the honourable thing. 

The honourable thing would be to not have done it in the first place. According to TVNZ management Taurima told them when he was rehired that he would not stand again.

Mr Kenrick said TVNZ had sought commitments from Mr Taurima after his tilt for Labour at the Ikaroa-Rawhiti candidacy before restoring him to his role heading the department. “The key focus was to get him to make an explicit choice between journalism and politics, and to make commitments around that. We relied in good faith on those commitments.”

Did he lie, or just a few weeks later change his mind and not bother to tell them?

Whether other sackings are called for is a matter of judgment.

The staff in that unit are all basically taxpayer funded, as it is not a commercial unit.

State broadcasters have a special duty to be politically even-handed. This does not mean, as some believe, that the journalists should have no views of their own. Every sentient human being has certain political beliefs or attitudes, and journalists are no different. But state journalists must be professional and not push any party’s barrow.

Mr Taurima insists that he has never allowed his personal politics to influence his work as a journalist, and it is interesting that the prime minister has not claimed any political bias at TVNZ. In fact he thinks they are fair.

The PM has been very nice, when he could put the boot in. For my 2c I don’t think Taurima’s interviews showed political bias. He pushed David Shearer hard when he interviewed him. The issue is his breach of ethical standards, not his previous interviewing.

Mr Taurima was allowed to return to the company after he failed to win candidacy, and this is a defensible decision. Again, the expectation was that Mr Taurima, once he had taken off his Labour Party hat and put on his broadcaster’s one, would act in a professional and politically neutral way.

However, it is now reported that in January he facilitated a Labour meeting – held on a marae and not on TVNZ property – on how to win the Maori vote. This meeting was also attended by Labour leader David Cunliffe. Mr Cunliffe says he strongly supports a politically neutral state broadcaster. Did he ask himself, then, why Mr Taurima was running this highly political meeting?

I’m amazed warning bells did not go off.

Will Taurima still seek the Labour nomination for Tamaki Makaurau? Will they select him?

An appalling breach of neutrality at TVNZ

February 17th, 2014 at 10:27 pm by David Farrar

Patrick Gower at 3 News reported:

3 News can reveal state broadcaster TVNZ is being used as a campaign base by Labour Party activists.

They’ve even held a meeting in TVNZ’s Maori and Pacific Unit aimed at fundraising for Labour.

The unit’s manager, Shane Taurima, has held ambitions to become a Labour MP and his staff have been arranging Labour Party business, using TVNZ facilities like email.

Mr Taurima has resigned following the revelation.

Mr Taurima’s a Labour Party activist. He could be standing as a Labour MP this election.

Documents obtained by 3 News show the state broadcaster is being used to help Labour’s cause.

Labour’s electorate committee for the Auckland Maori seat Tamaki Makarau has been using TVNZ as a base.

Last year, a meeting was held at the Maori and Pacific unit’s Hobson headquarters, next to TVNZ’s main building, with Labour Party activists swiped through security.

On the agenda was “fundraising” – making money for the Labour Party.

This is appalling and there must be a full independent inquiry into how this happened. Having the resources of the state broadcaster used to help the Labour Party fund raise and campaign plan is not far off political corruption.

This is not about the actions of Taurima alone. He was a known Labour Party aspiring candidate. TVNZ hired him back after he sought Labour’s nomination for Ikaroa Rawhiti. They knew his affiliations when they hired him back. Did they explicitly tell him he could not remain politically active?

There are so many questions about this, I don’t know where to start. Here’s a few.

  • How did TVNZ become aware of Labour Party use of their facilities?
  • Did they only take action once they became aware it would become public.
  • Why was Taurima not sacked, and allowed to resign?
  • Who at TVNZ knew about the Labour Party campaign meeting held at their offices, and who swiped all the activists through?
  • Who decided to rehire Taurima, after he quit to try and be the Labour candidate for Ikaroa Rawhiti?
  • Was Taurima explicitly warned or counselled about political activity?
  • How many TVNZ Maori unit staff are Labour Party activists? At least four are known of, which destroys any notion that the TVNZ Maori Unit is delivering politically neutral programmes.
  • Did any Labour MPs attend the meeting at TVNZ premises? Did they not think this was wrong, if they did attend?
  • Was Labour Head Office aware that TVNZ was basically the host for their Tamaki Makarau branch?
  • Did David Cunliffe not think there was anything wrong with attending a sesssion on how to win the Maori vote, run by the head of the TVNZ Maori Unit? Should this not ring warning bells?

There must be a full external inquiry into this. Either the TVNZ Board must commission an independent inquiry into how this occurred, and how to prevent it happening again – or the Auditor-General should be asked to investigate.

UPDATE: A further story in Stuff reveals:

  • TVNZ only found out about this due to the TV3 story.
  • Taurima only resigned once the story came to light
  • TVNZ knew that Taurima wanted to seek Labour’s nomination for Tamaki Makaurau

This is a really bad call by TVNZ. They hired someone who had just weeks earlier been a Labour Party candidate, and who wanted to stand for Labour again at the next election. They never should have hired Taurima again. By doing so, they turned their Maori unit into a branch of the Labour Party.

No one would say that you can never return to broadcasting after being a candidate. Paul Henry stood for National in 1999, for example. But that was in his past when he went onto TVNZ. It is very different to hiring someone weeks after they have been a candidate – and when they are still planning to run again.

UPDATE2: Taurima has put out a press release:

It is with immense regret and sadness that I have resigned as General Manager of Māori and Pacific Programmes at TVNZ.

I love and respect the work of all my TVNZ colleagues and regret any damage that my actions may have had on them, and the incredibly important and quality work they do.

I have been a member of the Labour Party since I contested the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti candidacy in 2013.

I have attended party hui and fully accept that some of my actions in supporting Labour may be seen to have crossed the line and I apologise unreservedly.

I categorically deny that my political affiliations have had any influence on any editorial decision that I have made during this time or at any time in the more than 12 years that I have been honoured to work in many roles at TVNZ. However, questions have been raised that have brought into question the integrity of the crucial work of my colleagues at TVNZ. This is unfair and unacceptable and as a result I have resigned.

I respect that an internal investigation is underway into the actions of three of my former colleagues and my heart goes out to them at this time..

I have seen the word activist used to describe my now former work colleagues. They are not activists. They are passionate friends and people that I love and respect who committed to provide some support to me. They are wonderful people whose enthusiasm led to some poorly considered decisions. Decisions that were not to benefit them individually.. I do hope their actions do not impact on the passion, commitment and loyalty they each provide as valued employees of TVNZ.

I have made no decisions around my future and will be making no further comment at this time.

I apologise again for any damage or upset that my actions may have caused.

Taurima made some very bad judgement calls, as he admits. For me the real issue is that of TVNZ management. Did they hire him back without asking if he planned to stand again?

TVNZ loses BSA case re Colin Craig

December 17th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

TVNZ has been ordered to broadcast an apology to Conservative Party leader Colin Craig over an item it ran on Seven Sharp.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority says an item from April 24 – a short skit “lampooning” Mr Craig over his threat of defamation against a satirical website – was “childish and unfair”.

The BSA says while it recognises the value of satire and free speech, the BSA found that the comments about his personal character and attributes went too far.

It says Mr Craig was given no opportunity to defend himself.

Seven Sharp is meant to be a current affairs programme. You can probably get away with what they did on 7 Days, but not on Seven Sharp.

The key paragraph is:

However, Mr Mulligan’s remarks, “I think Colin Craig is a nutcase; I feel Colin Craig is a doofus; I believe Colin Craig is a smarmy rich prick”, had no bearing on Colin Craig’s political views. These comments offered no constructive comment on the underlying issues, but were simply personal abuse masquerading as satire. The comments, combined with Ms Mau’s introductory statement that “most of us would like to have a go at Colin Craig”, the concluding remarks from Ms Mau and Mr Boyed about Colin Craig lacking a sense of humour, and the laughter from all three presenters, turned the item into a sustained personal attack against Colin Craig that was childish and unfair, in circumstances where he had no chance to defend himself.

Note Colin Craig was not one of the four complainants.

TVNZ’s social media rules

June 14th, 2013 at 11:30 am by David Farrar

Rachel Glucina writes at the NZ Herald:

Ex-BBC consultant Michele Romaine, on contract with TVNZ’s news and current affairs department until the end of the month, has this week installed a rigid social media policy, dubbed “The Rules”, which has some journalists and presenters claiming it’s censorship gone too far.

TVNZ stars have been put on notice: follow The Rules or suffer the consequences.

So what are they?

But The Diary has obtained a leaked copy of the document in which staff are expressly forbidden from “expressing personal opinions that could compromise NCA’s [News and Current Affairs’] objectivity and independence”.

Online observations or anecdotes by reporters must be “confined to matters of intelligent insight”.

How silly. I like tweets from journalists that reveal a bit of their personality. It humanises them.

But Twitter should only be used for “newsgathering, showcasing our news and current affairs content, and promoting TVNZ and your own professional profile”. In other words: plug, plug, plug.


However, former head of news and current affairs Ross Dagan, who left TVNZ in March, was in favour of reporters and presenters showing more depth and personality by sharing personal opinions on Twitter and conversing with One News viewers.

He told The Diary that Seven Sharp journo Heather Du Plessis-Allan had found the right mix – strong reporting on the issues and fun, personal revelations on Twitter.

Yep, Heather rocks. Her tweets are great.

Ruth Wynn-Williams was told off after filing personal holiday snaps from Rarotonga on her private Instagram page.

The striking blonde posted holiday pics, including bathing in a bikini and drinking cocktails with her boyfriend Matt Gibb, host of TVNZ’s U Live.

Ruth was disciplined for that? How disgraceful. As an indirect shareholder in TVNZ I protest!

“The use of profanities,” say The Rules, “are not acceptable”.

How about when trying to get Winston to agree to an interview? 🙂

UPDATE: Someone has a sense of humour at the Sunday Star-Times. The official SST twitter account tweeted (since deleted):

For clarification, the @SundayStarTimes twitter account operates outside The Rules #fucktherules



Kenrick is right

March 11th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

When he was hired last May, Television New Zealand chief executive Kevin Kenrick rebuffed putative interviewers with the words “not until I know more about it”. …

“Most people think of TVNZ as being a TV business,” he begins. “Not surprisingly, I guess; we’ve got it in our name.” He goes on to explain they are now delivering 2.5 million online video streams a month and the number is growing at 30 per cent a year. “It has gone beyond a toe in the water to a really significant part of what we do every day.” …

He says people in the business don’t think of themselves as working in television any more – I suspect that would surprise some of them – but as being “in the video content business”. Would he change their name, then? He ponders this – “what would you call yourself?” – and settles for saying they will change people’s perceptions. He talks about giving people content when and where they want it. So one day, then, there might be no TV1 or TV2? He doesn’t know, doesn’t care much.

As an involuntary shareholder in TVNZ, I’m pleased to see this statement from Kenrick because I agree that the future is not necessarily in channels.

Traditionally there are three segments in broadcasting. Producing the content, playing it on a channel and distributing the content.

The future is more and more about the first and third segments. There will be money in producing content and money in distributing content. But not a lot of money in channels per se.

I watch very little live TV. I set My Sky to record programmes that interest me over around 20 different channels. I hardly even notice what channel they were originally on, and don’t really care. I care about content, not about channels.

Some viewers are different, especially older ones. But the world is changing and channels will become less valuable – especially as on demand content also increases in popularity.

Seven good and bad on Seven Sharp

February 6th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

A press secretary commented to me yesterday that I seem to be the only person in the country who liked Seven Sharp. By coincidence Heather DPA walked past at that point!

Anyway it is fair to say that almost all reviews and comments online have been critical, including of course those written before it aired!

But I thought this post by Toby Manhire is pretty well balanced. The summary is:


  1. The tone
  2. The personnel
  3. Ali Mau
  4. The set
  5. The John Key office item
  6. The Afghanistan and post-traumatic stress disorder item
  7. No pratfalls


  1. The lack of live-news content
  2. Interactivity
  3. The tone
  4. The tone cont’d
  5. The timing of the John Key office item
  6. Some of the jokes
  7. The absence of studio guests

Tuesday’s night show was a bit different to the first night. One thing which would improve things for me is having them say at the beginning of the programme what they’ll be covering. If you know what is coming up, you are more likely to stay past the jokes.

The naturist item was quite interesting. A good example of meeting someone behind the headline story. I had some sympathy for him up until the point he compared himself to Martin Luther King.

Had to laugh at the position of the boom mike in the interview 🙂

Not quite so many items as the night before, which was good in my opinion.

And a mini coup with getting Karen from the Rachel v Karen phone call on screen. Not as exciting as one would have thought though from the phone call.

The Richie McCaw item was very boring, but I guess rates well with hormonal women.

So after two nights, I’m still in the liking it category. But no, I won’t be doing daily reviews. After this I’ll give a month before blogging again on it.

Seven Sharp

February 4th, 2013 at 9:52 pm by David Farrar

Well I have to say I liked it. Highlight was the suggestion that the person who accompany the PM onto the Waitangi Marae was Karen from Stokes Valley. One of many times I had a good laugh.

The three hosts had good rapport with each other and the items were interesting. Obviously enjoyed Heather DPA’s tour of the PM’s Office and how he has a sword instead of a panic button.

No it wasn’t in-depth critical analysis of the day’s issues. It was never going to be that. There are other shows for that. But I think a bit of humour isn’t a bad thing to get people watching.

It is of course one day only. The real challenge is to still be fresh and interesting a month down the track. It’s certainly done well enough that I’ve set it down as a series record on My Sky – something I had never done with Close Up (or Campbell Live).

TVNZ loses executive after nine months

January 16th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Television New Zealand’s head of news and current affairs Ross Dagan has resigned after less than nine months in the job.

In an email to staff, Dagan said his departure was for personal reasons and he was heading back to his hometown of Brisbane to take up a job at Seven Network.

It is highly unusual and almost unprofessional to quit an executive role in less than two years, unless there is something wrong at work. I’d heard Dagan wasn’t very popular – but that is not unusual for people in his role.

Seven Sharp

January 9th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

TVNZ have announced:

TVNZ has announced that Ali Mau , Greg Boyed , and Jesse Mulligan will host TV ONE’s new 7pm show, Seven Sharp.

I’m a big fan of Ali Mau’s work, and Greg Boyed has been solid on Q+A.

I love 7 Days and enjoy Jesse Mulligan on there. I understand the strategy has been for Seven Sharp to be more chatty and light hearted, and hence why they have gone for someone best known as a comedian. But Mulligan is also a well known left-winger (he has been a panelist for Locally Left) who has taken part in fund-raisers for the Labour Party. It is hard to imagine that his natural sympathy for Labour is not going to colour his comments on air. Can you be seen as neutral on the Leader of the Opposition when you have done fundraisers for him and endorsed him as “brilliant”?

This show is a replacement for Close Up. Would it have been acceptable for Susan Wood or Mark Sainsbury to do fundraisers for the National Party? Would John Campbell do fundraisers for the Greens? And we’re not talking years ago, but just four months ago.

Nothing personal against Jesse, who I am sure will try his best not to let his support for Labour affect his on air comments. I certainly am not advocating that those with political leanings should not be on the air. I’ve sometimes been a panelist on TV and radio. And I try to be fair with my comments when I am on air. However of course my overall worldview influences my comments. And there is a huge difference between being an occasional panelist and being employed by state broadcaster TVNZ as a daily host and journalist.

So it will be very interesting to see how Seven Sharp goes. I hope it succeeds in that I think we need more  current affairs on television, and I’m all for a bit of humour mixed in with that. Politics is often best viewed with a sense of humour. But I do hope it is fair and balanced.

Throng on Igloo

December 10th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Regan Cunliffe blogs at Throng:

On monday, Sky and TVNZ launched their hardly anticipated new subscription television service.

Here’s our list of reasons why it shouldn’t be under your tree this Christmas or anywhere else in your house for that matter.

10. It’s probably still broken.  

The custom built platform was supposed to be launched months ago but has been delayed due to “technical problems”.  Is the launch simply exploitation of the spending season or a Christmas miracle?

9. TVNZ are involved.

Remember when TVNZ said “TiVo transforms television“? How are all those customers feeling today?  How long before Igloo too melts down?

8. A comparable Freeview box is less than half the price.

There are a number of basic models of DVB-T receivers which also have the ability to record to a connected USB storage device.

7. Sport is ultra-expensive.

The base “30 day channel pack” plus purchasing every Super XV match The Chiefs play during that period would cost you up to $99.74. On Sky this would cost $72.46 and include more channels, every Super XV game and a lot more sports besides.

6. Paying for content that used to be free.

Two of the eleven Igloo channels feature content that TVNZ used to broadcast for free:  Kidzone24 and TVNZ Heartland.

5. All Igloo content is Standard Definition.

The only content that you’ll be able to view in High Definition is from any of the free-to-air channels that broadcast in HD.  All of the extra content you’re paying for is delivered in standard definition.  This includes movies and sport.

4. High per channel price.

The “Sky Basic” package costs approximately $1.36 per premium channel compared with $2.27 per premium channel on Igloo.

3. Igloo is not a middle option.

Currently, a new 12 month “Sky Basic” package (~63 channels) with 3 months free sport and SoHo and free installation costs $553.44.

A new Igloo box (~34 channels) which you install yourself and a 12 month subscription costs $478.05

A new Freeview box (~29 channels) which you install yourself costs from $99.

2. Two thirds of the channels you can already watch for free.

That’s right.  They’re already free.  And also the most watched.

1. You’re not an Eskimo.

They’re the only ones who should have an igloo.

Those are our top 10 reasons why you shouldn’t get igloo and now we want yours.  We’ve got a brand new Samsung MyFreeview HD digital TV recorder (BDE-8500) worth $649 to give away.

In addition, if anyone reposts this on their own blog, we’ll include any comments made there in the draw. Have at it.

So if you comment below on Kiwiblog why you think people shouldn’t get Igloo, you can win a Samsung MyFreeview HD digital TV recorder!

Will Paul Henry return?

October 2nd, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Close Up’s replacement will be a magazine show with two presenters – and Pippa Wetzell and Paul Henry are understood to be the hot favourites.

A confidential brief circulating at TVNZ says the focus will be on the “talking point of the day” and a mixture of news and entertainment.

But a journalism commentator said it would be “Breakfast at dinner-time” and showed the broadcaster’s lack of commitment to strong current affairs.

It is no secret within TVNZ that the network has been courting Wetzell and that it wants to give her a prominent role next year.

It is understood she has had meetings with TVNZ executives.

I think Paul Henry could do well in the role, so long as he doesn’t do any brain farts. Sure, on Breakfast he is the rogue, but it is worth considering that he can actually do decent interviews. Also he is majorly interested in politics, so if he is the host the focus might be more on “hard news” than “light news”.

The new format is understood to be much like The Project, which airs on Australia’s Channel 10 and is hosted by comedians presenting news stories.

Dagan was behind the show before he moved to TVNZ.

“It’s the news – but not as you know it,” Channel 10 says in a description of the show on its website.

“Guaranteeing no miracle diets, no stories that ‘no parent can afford to miss’, and virtually no dodgy plumbers, The Project is a TV show joining in the conversations going on in living rooms around the country.”

The Project is on each weekday at 6pm and its three hosts “dissect, digest and reconstitute each day’s news” in a style “not afraid to be serious, but not a satirical newscast,” Channel 10 says.

I actually predicted on radio that the new format would be a panel, dissecting the day’s news. The key would be who is on the panel.

Close Down

September 28th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

From Close Up to closed down, it’s the end of an era for a New Zealand television staple and its current frontman, Mark Sainsbury.

TVNZ announced a proposal yesterday to switch off the programme by the end of the year, with 16 staff going through a consultation period until mid next month.

Sainsbury said he would have preferred the programme and his role to continue but ultimately he accepted the broadcaster’s decision.

“I’d love to keep going until I drop dead. But let’s be real, it is the end of an era,” he said yesterday after six years with the show and 31 years at the network.

“They’ve been looking at the programme for most of the year – we’d made a huge effort – but they want to make changes.”

Last night, on signing off for the night on his programme, Sainsbury said the Close Up format “as we know it” was ending after 23 years.

“But a new different programme will emerge next year.

“It’s an exciting time in this business when change happens, whether you want that change to occur or not, and the feeling is that it’s time for change,” he said.

Sainsbury stopped short of saying he was leaving TVNZ but said he had no regrets over his 31-year career.

A long-time commuter to Auckland, he is expected to return to his Wellington home when the curtain falls.

Former TVNZ broadcasters said they had concerns the proposal to pull the plug on Close Up was another step towards dumbing down content.

Former TVNZ news and current affairs executives Bill Ralston and Paul Norris said they had fears the programme might be replaced with an even more lightweight “info-tainment” show designed to draw in larger audiences while neglecting serious analytical stories.

I may be wrong but I suspect it will head to more info-tainment. My guess is a couple of stories per show, with a panel talking about them, and soliciting viewer feedback through social media.

The big question is will this see the return of Paul Henry? He’s guaranteed to see huge interest, initially anyway.

Backbenches to return in 2013

September 13th, 2012 at 9:09 am by David Farrar

Sky TV has announced that Backbenches will return in 2013. It will be primarily funded by NZ on Air, part-funded by Sky, produced by TVNZ, broadcast live on Wednesday evenings by Prime TV and shown delayed on TVNZ Heartland channel.

A great collaborative effort, which should mean it is seen by far more people than was the case on TVNZ7.

Funding at this stage is for 20 one hour shows.

As I said when Backbenches finished on TVNZ7, I’ve been a big fan of the show. However there are some format changes they should consider to make it better when it relaunches.

Will Backbenches be saved?

July 6th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

John Drinnan writes at NZ Herald:

Plans for TVNZ to make Back Benches for Prime TV will deliver good public relations results all round and a pleasing result for the show’s loyal audience.

The politics programme, which is one of the last vestiges of television in Wellington, has screened on TVNZ 7 until it was discontinued last week.

It does not fit with TVNZ’s aims of making profit at all costs, so TVNZ is not interested in picking up the niche-interest show for TV One.

Prime TV is prepared to run a weekly 10.30pm show – a time when it should not be too encumbered with advertising.

So now TVNZ, which owns the intellectual property, has sought taxpayer funding from New Zealand On Air to make the show in-house and sell it to Prime.

This is a win-win-win. Worthy souls will applaud the survival of Back Benches. TVNZ and New Zealand On Air will do something to keep the legacy alive.

NZ on Air has to agree to the funding request, but I certainly hope they do.

As I understand it the bid is a co-operative exercise between TVNZ and Sky, and it would probably also show on a TVNZ channel at a delayed time spot.

The good thing is this bid, if successful, will open up viewership to a potentially much larger audience than TVNZ7 had.


April 17th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I’ve blogged at length before on TVNZ7. I have praised a number of programmes on TVNZ7, but noted that their audiences were miniscule (seem to range from 0.1% to 0.4% of the population) and that trying to make TVNZ both a commercial and a public service broadcaster is doomed to failure (as former CEO Ian Fraser has noted).

I’d like to see other broadcasters (including Sky) apply to NZ on Air to broadcast some of the better shows that were on TVNZ7 such as Court Report, Media 7, Backbenchers and The Last Word. But at this stage I’ve not heard any are.

Clare Curran has blogged a number of things:

I am drafting a private members bill which would ensure TVNZ7 had adequate funding to continue. But a private members bill goes into a ballot with around 60 other bills and it’s the luck of the draw as to whether it gets pulled out. If it did, it would be interesting to see the support for TVNZ7 and public service television across the House. I think the government might find itself outnumbered.

The bill has no chance of achieving anything, and is a last minute publicity stunt (nothing wrong with those, but let’s not pretend it is something different). The bill hasn’t even been drafted yet (most MPs draft the bill then announce it), and could not possibly be passed by 30 June. Hell even it was drawn out of the ballot, I doubt it would even have its first reading by 30 June.

There are two schools of thought. The government’s view  is that public service television can continue to be funded by NZ on Air funding programmes on commercial channels. The problem with this is that the most interesting programmes are not shown in prime time.

True, but with the growing use of PVRs and TV on demand on the Internet this is less of a problem.

There’s a strong argument for a complete revamp of the sector and the Broadcasting Act. For a  new independent public service TV channel separate from TVNZ. For requiring commercial channels, including the pay TV channel Sky to contribute. For even a small levy on internet connections to enable a new service to embrace the broadband environment and develop more Kiwi content that is accessible to Kiwis.

I really do hope Labour adopt this Internet tax as policy and campaign on it.

I am not against there being a public service television broadcaster, but the appropriate funding mechanism would be taxes – just as Radio NZ and Maori TV are funded. And no I do not advocate increased funding in these tight fiscal times. I think one could seriously look at a ABC or BBC style combined radio and television broadcaster within the current Vote Broadcasting.

There’s a strong view that if TVNZ7 was able to continue, and however it is funded, it should be completely separate from TVNZ control and influence.

I agree with that. You can not be a public service broadcaster and a commercial broadcaster. Choose one, not both.

Clare quotes Judy Callingham:

The channel itself should be a  totally separate entity, run by a separate organisation. Whether that’s a trust, a government entity or a company is a detail that can be worked out later. What is important now is to remove the channel from the control of TVNZ  altogether – mere editorial independence isn’t enough.

The separate entity could still use TVNZ studios and staff and equipment if need be.  It would hire them, just as private companies do. It would, and should, expect mates’ rates, but it shouldn’t expect to use the facilities for nothing, although perhaps the cost could be absorbed and become a paper addition to TVNZ’s annual dividend.

This would never work long-term in my opinion. TVNZ would always prioritize itself and other customers over an entity paying very little for its facilities.

Also this model overlooks one of the reasons why TVNZ7 had such dismal ratings. TVNZ never promoted TVNZ programmes in prime time on other channels. Trying to run a stand-alone broadcaster on $15m a year would inevitably fail. This is why the model of a larger combined pubic service broadcaster is better. One could promote the better TV programmes on radio, and vice-versa. There would also be synergies where (for example) something shown on the Court report could be followed up on Radio NZ the next day. When did you ever see One News follow up something from TVNZ7? Very rare.

Going on about “saving” TVNZ7 sounds good, but it was always a flawed model. What the debate should be about is how to best get quality public service programmes onto television. Is it purely NZ on Air or should it be all through a dedicated public service broadcaster or something inbetween? And how do you make it affordable in our current fiscal environment.

Fair go being pressured?

March 4th, 2012 at 12:06 pm by David Farrar

Steven Price blogs:

So the head of TVOne and Two, Jeff Latch, asks for a powwow with Fair Go staff. Labour broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran asks whether, at that meeting, he asked them to go easy on TVNZ’s advertisers.

Latch said he just stressed the need for balance. Price comments:

It does make sense. So much sense, in fact, that you have to wonder why Jeff Latch had to organise a meeting with Fair Go to tell them that. Did he also mention that they should try to be accurate? Not defame people? Latch should know that Fair Go are probably the TVNZ reporters best versed in broadcasting standards and media law, since they deal with them every week.

Then the key part:

Asked if he was instructing Fair Go not to produce programmes that upset advertisers, he said “it wasn’t an instruction, per se.”

Not per se? This sounds weasily to me. Was it a hint, Mr Latch?

Any suggestion that advertisers on TVNZ should be treated differently to non-advertisers by Fair Go, is abhorent.

Price concludes:

Because actually, Fair Go has a pretty good track record in its broadcasting standards complaints. It has not been listed in the BSA’s “Most complained about” shows for at least the past three years, despite the fact that it often makes serious accusations against people with the resources to sue. Likewise, there haven’t been any reported defamation cases against them in the last few years, as far as I can tell. Was there a big secret settlement recently?

If not, Mr Latch – how should I put this? – you should stay the fuck away from the Fair Go staff. It’s their job to tackle TVNZ’s advertisers when that is merited, and it’s your job to hire good journos then leave them to get on with their job.

A fair conclusion.