This from Radio NZ:
"It is not appropriate for
on Air to stop programmes from being broadcast during an election campaign. New Zealand
The broadcast funding agency is considering the move and has received legal advice after a programme about child poverty which it funded was broadcast days before the election on 26 November last year.
NZ on Air chairperson Neil Walter has said the agency only found out a couple of days before the programme was screened that it would be broadcast so close to polling day.
Mr Walter said the agency has to protect its reputation for political impartiality. "Personally, I don't believe the
public would expect or want to see their funding put into a politically charged scenario like that." New Zealand
's Checkpoint programme on Wednesday that poverty is not a particularly politically-charged issue. New Zealand
"We should never afraid to talk about what is the reality for some of our families and the situations they are in.
"Poverty has been an issue that all governments - and I mean all political parties that have been in government - have shied away from." Said Mrs. Turia [Maori Party Co-Leader]
Labour Party broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran has questioned whether the National Party is interfering in NZ on Air. Ms Curran says Prime Minister John Key's electorate chairman is on the agency's board and was the one who first raised concerns about the poverty documentary. "Surely it's a good thing that during an election campaign for there to be robust political discussion about issues." Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss has declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate to get involved. [Why]
The Screen Directors Guild says broadcasters could be deterred from screening documentaries that are political if NZ on Air interferes with what can be aired during election periods. The guild's acting executive director, Janette Howe, says the screening of the child poverty documentary was excellent timing because it received maximum viewer-ship and sparked a healthy debate on the issue.
Ms Howe says it is the role of the Broadcasting Standards Authority to look at when a particular programme is aired and whether it is politically biased.
Electoral law specialist Graeme Edgeler believes NZ on Air should steer clear of this issue if it wants to be politically impartial. Mr Edgeler says the agency risks losing its political impartiality by getting involved and should remain at arms-length when it comes to programme scheduling during an election campaign.
He says NZ on Air would be better off making sure the programmes it funds are balanced.
The programmes maker says the documentary was relevant and important and did not support any party. Bryan Bruce says moves to restrict when programmes are played are an affront on democracy and a dangerous step towards a very controlled environment. [In other words a dictatorship]