Friday 14th October 2011
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Prime Minister John Key didn’t breach the Broadcasting Act in relation to electioneering by hosting an hour-long show on the Media Works station Radio Live, the Broadcasting Standards Authority has ruled.
The BSA was responding to a complaint from the opposition Labour Party that the Sept. 30 show, airing less than two months before the general election, amounted to an election programme. Key said at the start of the show that he wouldn’t talk about election issues.
On the show, ‘The PM’s Hour’, Key interviewed guests including Richard Branson, Peter Jackson and Richie McCaw, commented on music and the weather and briefly discussed the European economic situation and the Standard & Poor’s credit rating downgrade of New Zealand. He also commented during the show that he was “working for the nation.”
“We do not believe that on this occasion the mere presence of the prime minister made the programme into an election programme,” the BSA said in its decision.
“We can of course see that some political advantage will accrue to the prime minister and the party to which he belongs from exposure of this kind,” the BSA goes on to say. “It is not for us to say whether this should or should not be permitted. We are required to deal with the law as its stands.”
The BSA said comments the Key made including the ‘working for the nation’ quip were “the sorts of light flim-flam and frivolity that are to be expected on this type of entertainment show.”
The BSA also rejected Labour’s complaint that the show denigrated the opposition party by saying it was “furious” not to have been invited to host its own show.
“We can understand that Labour is not happy about this but it is another thing altogether to say that what has happened has breached broadcasting standards,” it said.
The government was criticised earlier this year when it helped the unprofitable MediaWorks by allowing it to pay $43 million owed for radio frequencies over time rather than making an upfront payment.
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