Has Radio NZ misled listeners through failure to disclose conflicts of interest

Yesterday Radio NZ ran a piece about electricity prices.


It was promoted likes this:

The former head of the country’s biggest power company says electricity prices will fall to a third of their current level in a little over a decade because of the spread of solar power.

Keith Turner claimed in that interview that very soon a combination of solar power and batteries would be cheaper than grid power.

That may well be, but I am reliably informed that solar power currently costs about 20 cents/kWh and, further according to recent NZ research, it costs more than 50c to store surplus energy in batteries.

There is currently no technology on the horizon that can reduce the cost of solar power by a factor of 4 and battery storage by a factor of more than 10.  

Like most of the touted green energy projects around the world the solar power industry exists mainly because of massive subsidies paid by the poor gullible taxpayer.

But here is the key thing with this interview. At no time did Radio NZ disclose that Keith Turner had been founding chairman of SolarCity for three years and is now a key advisor. If Keith Turner did disclose it to Radio NZ they certainly didn’t disclose it to listeners.

So what came across as the independent views of a respected industry figure were, in fact, the views of a person who has had a direct financial interest in promoting solar power for a number of years.

According to the Solar City website:

Key advisers
Dr Keith Turner
Keith was the CEO of Meridian Energy for nine years from its establishment in 1999. He is now the Chairman of Fisher and Paykel Appliances, Deputy Chairman of Auckland International Airport, and a director of Chorus. Keith served as Solarcity’s Chairman for its first three years.

Solarcity also claims they are New Zealand’s leading supplier of solar power systems.

Keith Turner clearly has a substantial interest in promoting solar power. That was precisely what he did during the interview with Eric Fryckberg.

I think that the substantial interest should have been revealed during the interview. He can still make the claims but at least we could then judge for ourselves what weight to put on those claims given his interests.

The way it was touted it made Keith Turner sound like he was knowledgeable but neutral commentator, when the reality is he is conflicted and Radio NZ should have disclosed that conflict.

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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.