Friday, October 24, 2014

Political interference at Maori Television

A government-owned television channel arranges an interview with a former opposition MP, but the government-appointed CEO spikes it. Something from Russia or Cuba maybe? No - according to Hone Harawira its happening right here in New Zealand:

“[Maori TV CEO Paora] Maxwell also gave an undertaking that the changes were purely operational and that there would be no political interference in the decisions made by the News and Current Affairs Division.

“Well … that undertaking has lasted just one month, with Maxwell telling Native Affairs staff that there was no way he would allow me to come onto Native Affairs final show of the year, set to go to air live on Monday 3 November.

I had already been invited by Native Affairs to feature in the show alongside other ex-MPs, Tau Henare and Shane Jones (see emails below), but when Maxwell found out he called in the Native Affairs team and told them point-blank that I would not be allowed on the show. No problems with Henare, no problem with Jones, but no way for Harawira.

[Emphasis added]

Its not the role of the chief executive of a public broadcaster to interfere in editorial decisions. But that's exactly what National's crony CEO is doing, and specifically for political purposes. It appears the concerns about Maxwell - that he was appointed to gut Maori TV and turn it into a cheerleader for the establishment rather than a journalistic watchdog - were fully justified. But its hard to see how Maori, or the public, are well-served by the corruption of their public service broadcaster. Maxwell has to go, before he does any more damage.