NZ on Air criticism sounds familiar

With all the furore over the NZ on Air issue and the silly claims about censorship it twigged a few memories.

I seem to remember how “Locked Down” wasn’t screened in 2008 because it wasn’t flattering to the government in an election year?

TVNZ is facing claims it dropped a prison reality TV show amid fears it would show viewers how “cushy” prison life was in an election year.

The state broadcaster commissioned Locked Down, a 13-part series on life at Wellington’s Rimutaka Prison. It was to have started screening in April, the Dominion Post reports today.

The 30-minute programme, made by Screentime production company, features interviews with inmates about prison life, the crimes they committed and their rehabilitation.

The shows also outline prison conditions, including inmates having televisions and stereos in their cells.

But TVNZ has delayed the series’ debut several times and there are now claims it is due to concerns it shows how “cushy” prison life is in the run-up to the general election.

Locked Down director Sean Duffy said he could not understand why the series had not screened.

“The bottom line is if they’re not putting something to air because of an election … I don’t think that’s right.

“Has the Government suggested that they wouldn’t want it to go to air — or is it TVNZ taking it upon themselves to act in an incredibly paranoid matter about it? I don’t know.”

And Labour never told broadcasters what to fund with Government money intended for programming did they? Trevor Mallard was front and centre on that political control over funding.

Television New Zealand is to be stripped of the power to decide how it spends more than $15 million in charter funds after angering its government bosses by using the money to subsidise its Olympics coverage.

It will instead have to apply to funding agency NZ On Air programme by programme, with no guarantee it will get the full amount in any one year.

TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said the company had planned to use charter money to contribute towards the “absolutely enormous” production costs of broadcasting the Beijing Olympics.

Direct Government funding had not been used in the bid for the actual rights to screen the Olympics, which was negotiated as part of a three event deal spanning the 2000, 2004 and this year’s competitions. Bidding for the rights was conducted “many years ago,” Ms Richards said.

TVNZ was “comfortable” with the Government’s proposal requiring NZ On Air to approve funding on a per programme basis. Such a move would add “clarity” to the funding process and the state broadcaster was already discussing the proposal internally, Ms Richards said.

Broadcasting Minister Trevor Mallard told The Dominion Post yesterday that he was preparing a Cabinet paper to make the change, because he believed it was inappropriate use of charter funds – provided through the Culture and Heritage Ministry genre by genre – to subsidise the successful bid for the Olympics.

The move followed “dissatisfaction with TVNZ and a question about whether it’s good value for money or a common understanding of the purpose of the charter”.

Right can we have Labour STFU with the whinging now please. Labour and their lap-bloggers have been all indignant about some National flunkies laying complaints and following process. Their party simply changed laws or worse actually had a show put on ice, kind of make a complaint to the Electoral Commission pale into insignificance.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.