Wednesday, February 08, 2012

National tries to control the media II

Fresh from his attempt to censor programmes likely to embarrass the government during the election, National's hack on the NZ on Air board, Stephen McElrea, is now actually selecting the topics of political documentaries to receive NZ on Air funding:

Seeking expressions of interest from producers last year, New Zealand on Air said it wanted the programmes to “explore aspects of the challenges faced in New Zealand's four main areas of public spending – health, education, welfare and law and order.”

From 62 responses, four projects were selected by a committee comprising McElrea, Hoey, TV3's Sue Woodfield and Glenn Usmar from New Zealand on Air. One, presumably the programme about law and order, has been kept secret because it has not yet been “green lit”. The health system is to be examined in a programme about one hospital, in Queenstown. The “inside story of New Zealand education” will be revealed by televising a year in a high school. New Zealand on Air chief executive, Jabe Wrightson, insists the programme will not be about charter schools. Nevertheless, part of the programme's synopsis has been censored, apparently on grounds of commercial sensitivity.

Potentially the most controversial of all, the programme about social welfare will be about whanau ora - “a behind the scenes look at the roll out of this new initiative that seeks to deliver positive social outcomes for Maori.”

Its amazing how the topics chosen all just happen to align with the government's political agenda. But obviously, that's just a coincidence, and nothing to do with McElrea's involvement. And if you believe that, I have some shiny state assets to sell you...