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Monday, October 10, 2011

Radio New Zealand needs to clarify position on Bomber ban

In what has been an appalling week for freedom of press in New Zealand, it is almost unbelievable that Radio New Zealand would ban Martyn 'Bomber' Bradbury from one of our only public broadcasters. The suicidal man in Parliament has ignited debate over freedom of press, with Speaker Lockwood Smith originally banning Herald reporters for ten days from Parliament grounds, a ban that would include accessing their offices. Smith came under heavy fire from media over this move, with many arguing that the ban, while reflecting guidelines on behavior on the floor, was completely outrageous and excessive. This cued Smith backing down somewhat. Banning a newspaper six weeks out from the election is entirely dubious.

Radio New Zealand's Editor in Chief Peter Cavanagh seems to have topped Smith's stupidity this week however by handing down a ban that calls the whole rationale for public broadcasting into question. Whatever your opinion on Bomber, the basic fact is that we should have a balance of perspectives in the media, and this includes encouraging debate. Not inviting someone on again because you don't believe that they were constructive to the forum is completely different to handing down a ban. And Radio New Zealand should be more aware of the territory that they are operating in here.

Initially, Radio New Zealand on MediaWatch claimed he had violated their standards of objectivity, an editorial standard that they claim to have worked hard for. However, this is absolute rubbish as they frequently feature partisan guests including Sue Bradford and Matthew Hooton, whom I would be stretching it to say they had 'objective' opinions. In fact, as a panelist there is absolutely nothing that he said wrong under the BSA's current guidelines for radio. The basic fact is that all politics are partisan regardless of your perspective - the day we all agree, we can abolish MMP or any other electorate system of choice and live in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers-type perfect unison. They are required to reflect all sides of debate by including guests from all sides, which they already do.

According to 'Bring Back Bomber's comments on The Standard, Bomber was banned for making defamatory comments:

I just spoke to RNZ CEO’s PA who put me through to John Houson (she said he was responsible for the banning) who told me Bomber was actually banned for making defamatory statements about the prime minister, and that Key might sue Bomber for defamation. He couldn’t tell me what statements were defamatory, told me to look at the script.

The Standard is now saying that Key may sue Bomber for defamation. If this is true, I fail to see how the comments can be construed as defamatory. Parliament's Standing Orders apply to the gallery and the forecourt, not to the filming or debate of politicians' actions, otherwise we would simply not have Parliament TV. They are designed to stop the public grandstanding over issues, not politicians (anyone who has watched conduct in the House would have to argue it is pretty clear that grandstanding is one thing that politicians are particularly proficient in). Key is already in the public domain, and should know well enough by now in his role as Prime Minister that his actions are under scrutiny. It is clear to see how edgy media were over Key's actions - first TV3 post them, then they edit the tape to exclude the throat-slashing, then they post grainy close-ups of the video with a forum for people to debate. I would personally rather debate policies, but there is simply no argument that this is defamation, especially as it already in the public domain. Defamation is actually pretty hard to prove under New Zealand law, and indeed there is the precedent that political commentaries should not be subject to laws of defamation as they may have the end result of stifling political debate, a judgment that was ruled during the lengthy case of Lange v Atkinson. If this defamation ruse is true, then both Radio New Zealand and Key should be looking to find a better legal team.

To put it simply, Radio New Zealand have absolutely no justification in placing a ban, and in doing so have opened themselves up to debate over the validity of public broadcasting as a model due to failing to uphold the mandate for their existence. That this is six weeks out from an election is ridiculous, and let's hope Radio New Zealand actually answer to some of the very valid questions of their current management.


At 10/10/11 2:14 pm, Blogger Frank said...

Bugger this!

If New Zealanders don't stand up for freedom of speech, then we damn well don't deserve it!

So far I've written to RNZ directly; sent a letter to the Dompost; and left comments on RNZ's Facebook page.

Jeez, I even visited Kiwiblog to leave a post. (I need a shower after that experience.)

Next, my street theatre outside RNZ's Wellington studio.

It doesn't take much, folks, to make a noise! So make a noise!!

At 10/10/11 4:55 pm, Blogger Tim said...

I'm really surprised at Cavanagh - I never realised he was such a nambie pambie little pratt. Still, I've been equally surprised at Chris Finlayson - another that's opted for nambie pambie status rather than principle. I suspect there are quite a few RNZ staff too that are just as surprised. It is the shape of the furture though dont forget...there's a Ralston implementing an agenda (who I always recall referring to TVNZ as "State TV" until it was convenient for him to get an earn from it).

What's freaky is that RNZ is often thought of as "left wing" and of "lefties".
Kathryn Ryan?...that luvly, uncontrovertial-friend of everyone-try-hard Jim Mora? There's the weekday mornings and afternoons for you!
Actually its got a fair share of out-of-touch, comfortably-off, self-serving wankers and those that have earned their positions and "guest spots" on the basis of what might be termed cronyism ("networking").

Don't be surprised if the best of their staff start to wonder whether its all worth it.
RNZ...Public Service Radio for the new Max Headroom hosts.
Jonkey, Stevie Joyce and Phil Istine must be creaming themselves.

At the moment, the only RNZ that's worth listening to (with some exceptions) is on weekends and at night.
Strange thing is that if they ditched those of the crew that offend me - they could actually operate on budgettry cutbacks (including Cavanagh and Ralston). The place would still run quite well.

For a start...please Kathryn - it's obvious you have isssss youse...be sick more often and take more leave owing, the replacement fillin is far superior.

Jim - as long as its not that same plagiarising bich-try-hard....same applies

At 10/10/11 7:15 pm, Blogger Nitrium said...

The way this Government is going, I will not be at all surprised if there are inexplicable "voting irregularities" that remarkably end up being in National's favour post election.

At 11/10/11 8:42 am, Blogger countryboy said...

I watched as the Listener was castrated . I watched as Kim Hill was relegated to virtual oblivion . I watched as our standard of living was eaten by the cancer of greed and privileged position . I see those few politicians prance about gloating ' Yeah , I'm rich and you're poor ! So what ! What are you going to do about it ? Now , fuck off , you're putting me off my lunch . '
When all's said and done ... ? Get out of debt , get into the country , get learned on chicken growing . I see a shit storm coming to use a common parlance . However , If you want to topple a corrupt empire , you have to start by loosening it's foundations . To do that you must go back in to history and understand where this fucking mess originated from and start by picking at the lose ends that are inevitably left lying around . I clearly remember sitting in the back of the family car and listening to a man from the NZBC leaning through the drivers door window and telling dad that they , the NZBC reporting staff , had been warned from Wellington that if their interview was aired , he and his colleagues would lose their jobs . My father was gaining notoriety as a rebel , pro union farmer trying to break away from the Good Old Boys network that is still known as Federated Farmers because my dad believed they were a corrupt institution then and probably still are . That was in 1968 ! Forty Three years ago ! New Zealand's political / business relationships are corrupt , both historically and currently so be careful that you may get too close to the truth . It's my belief that things can and will get fucking ugly !

At 11/10/11 1:45 pm, Blogger Tim said...

Wouldn't Jonky & Joyce LOVE an NZBC that they could play Muldoon with.
Btw...WHERE is Jim Mora in all of this? Probably trying to figure out how he can remain a sage and a friend to all! (It ain't possible Jim)
... and HOW is this any different from the oft 'close to the wind' Hooten antics on "from the left xxx and from the right xxx" segment on Kathryn Ryan's Nine-to-Noon? Actually WHERE THE FUCK IS SHE? (aside from this morning's tame little media analysis segment. Kathryn: you have isss youse!
Has Hooten ever been warned or indeed BANNED? The latter - I think not even when his comments are so outrageous I feel embarassed for the guy!
No...Cavanagh fucked up, and he probably knows it given the pathetic backpeddling after the elapse of 24 hours.
What is it that they say in the political arena? Something like that when you FUCK UP, best policy is to admit it and apologise.
Cavanagh?...Jim?...Bill? - no, I bet NONE of you! Limp frikken Biskets the lot of you.
We've yet to see though whether he's (Cavanagh) man or mouse. I imagine a comfortable salary (not unlike Ralston's) causes a temptation towards mousehood, but also a target for hatred - hope the money'; worth it fellas - when the shit hits the fan. (oops - that mite be construed as a "threat", when in reality it's merely a natural progression).
People NEVER learn from history do they!. Perhaps the most appropriate cliche here is that "the harder they rise, the harder they fall". It may be 2 elections away (during which time the apathetic, the sleepy hobbits, the disenfranchised, youth, solo-mums, beneficiaries generally, et al) get increasingly pissed off.
They're not yet awake - and this gubbamint is banking on it - not consciously because most of them haven't the intelligence to look ahead long term - despite "going forward".
What is it about NZers that think what is happening elsewhere couoldn't happen here? And what is it about "authorities" that assume they can CONTROL everything?
I am however increasingly of the view that people get the gubbamint they deserve - and right now they deserve the smile and wave, gutless, unprincipled, celebrity status, bullshit-oriented load of pillocks currently in power.
What I do find surprising is the number of relatively OK people in this NACTIONAL 'shitheap' that appear to have given up - Finlayson was one of them. (Shit!!! Now I'm struggling to think who the others were - most of them left in the last round).

At 11/10/11 2:03 pm, Blogger Frank said...

The really bizarre thing about this is that by banning Bomber, the Establisment have simply given him even more publicity. Christ-on-a-stick, he's the #1 topic on most blogs!


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