NZ On Air's neutrality questioned
The political neutrality of NZ On Air has been questioned.
Labour Party broadcasting spokeswoman Clare Curran said she understood that the independent government broadcasting agency was considering adding a clause to its covenant that would ban broadcasters from screening programmes likely to be an election issue.
“This is a knee-jerk reaction which sets a most concerning precedent,” Ms Curran said.
“The decision results from unhappiness within the National Party after TV3 screened a fact-based documentary on child poverty in New Zealand four days before the general election.
“Surely we want voters to be as informed as possible. NZ On Air should actively encourage broadcasters to screen programmes with political implications, as long as the programmes are balanced and allow the different sides of the debate to have their say.
“Given that NZ On Air is supposed to be a politically neutral agency, we are concerned that John Key’s electorate chairman was the board member to raise concerns about the documentary.”
That board member and electorate chairman is former TVNZ executive Stephen McElrea.
“If Stephen McElrea gets his way, the number of election-related TV programmes could decrease. This can only be bad for the state of our democracy,” Ms Curran said.
“The broadcast media has a crucial role to play in communicating with the public during election campaigns, and Labour does not want to see that role undermined by politically-motivated interference.”