Friday, December 8, 2006

The New Zealand National party is asking state owned entity TVNZ (Television New Zealand), why they broadcast the coup threats the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, made live to the world.

“The question that TVNZ must answer is was this a legitimate media conference, or were they acting under the instruction of Frank Bainimarama. Be it inadvertent or not, the New Zealand public broadcaster has become a tool of the coup leader,” Gerry Brownlee, state owned enterprises spokesman for the National party, said.

“Television New Zealand news is run by professional journalists and has a duty to cover news of major significance,” Andrew Little, national secretary of Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union which represents journalists, said.

During question and answer time in Parliament on Thursday 8 December, Mr Brownlee asked Dr Michael Cullen if the broadcasting was consistent with government public services policies. Dr Cullen did not answer the question as he said that there was no evidence or reports and Dr Cullen does not trust Mr Brownlee’s word.

“This is not a question about whether the Commodore’s threats were news. They were. This is a question about whether, without TVNZ’s satellite assistance, the Commodore would have been as effective in his campaign of fear,” Mr Brownlee said.

“[The journalists] and they alone should decide what should be covered. The day that a politician decides what the state broadcaster covers will be a sad day for the integrity of New Zealand democracy,” Mr Little said. The union seeking insurances “The union is seeking an assurance from the National Party that media censorship is not National Party policy.”

Mr Brownlee commented: “I for one don’t want to see TVNZ becoming the Al Jazeera of the South Pacific…”