Wednesday, April 07, 2004


Cease to listen. If you thought the smugness of polling at 50% was bad try the desperation of political reporting and discussion when Labour is in trouble.

Dismal. So I ceased to listen.

Although it would be a shame to miss out on the good stuff - I remain an unhappy fan of National Radio - of which there is much. But you know, the market will provide you with what you want and need if you only look far enough:

Take Blogs for example:
Interactive media.
Many 'channels' of content.
A way of escaping the bias of NZ media

All gloriously provided by people doing their own thing. I celebrate and salute them. Some are even run by collectives - but I predict that the most common form of 'organisation' as in the wider economy will be either the individual or the company.

But sorry folks, I am enjoying my sabbatical from this particular niche and will not tune in to the polluted, captured, and damaged treasure that is National Radio.

Not yet.

Maybe after Easter.

Enjoy your break.

Thursday, February 12, 2004


We are social and economic liberals. We like to read people like Adam Smith and Milton Friedman. We have spelling difficulties too. Sometimes.


"Do not ask what you can do for your country, ask what's for lunch"
- Orson Welles

A contributor has made some great points. The one above, not the least of them!


Respondents have had us on about our throwaway comment on the media ban at Waitangi... they have a point: This deserves further attention, and better writing and thinking than we have so far given the subject. So here is a taste of it...

One of us likens it to this situation in the UK: The Carlton Club in London has a membership policy: only by invitation. The effect of the policy is this: only men get full membership, a very few women get 'associate membership' (Margaret Thatcher was offered one of these).

Just because they deny many men membership, and 'admit' a very few women, does not make their membership policy 'not sexist' - it plainly is sexist, and stupid... this walks and talks a lot like the structure of the media ban mentioned at Waitangi - hence our comment.

The media ban maybe entirely defensible if it was solely on the ground of Te Reo speakers only... Journos at mainstream media that are Te Reo speakers remain banned however... so that disproves that.

We suspect this is the root of the problem. They might not be as sympathetic as the
organisations 'selected' by the criteria.

But we are happy to be pulled up: we should not make such statements without providing our reasoning. So here is our reasoning, what do you folk out there think?

Monday, February 09, 2004

Why do you use a psuedonym?

I/we/the computer consists of a few people. But politics can get nasty, we have day jobs and children and we are not running for public office – so we don’t have to tell you. We don’t have to be accountable – because we don’t spend your money doing this. RNZ on the other hand, they are spending your money…my money... money that could buy better things... roughly 1000 heart bypass operations for example. But we are big on bias - and we must declare it: we are social and economic liberals in the Adam Smith / Milton Friedman tradition.

Why don’t you refer to specific broadcasts? Or be specific other media?

Well, I have had a look, and often the reference has been a casual ‘the 6 pm news yesterday’ or the ‘a programme with race relations conciliators from SA, Australia etc.’ - which we did in our last post – sufficient to reference the actual programme. However, nice to know you are reading, and we will make an effort to be precise. I have been flamed by other media for bringing their commentary into the column but I should not let that put me off! As a general rule the alternative commercial radio channel being referred to ZB. Likewise I will make an effort to be more specific with these references as well.

Is your perception of imbalance just because the views do not fit your own?

Maybe. See comments about accountability above. However, a big piece of research was done and is available here: www.act.org.nz/radiobias. Think what you like about the authors… before you dismiss it, read it.

Are you unfair just looking at one or two broadcasts – shouldn’t you look at the breadth of the output?

True. The report above does that in a much more scientific way than I have time for. All we can do is provide a forum to discuss possible bias. On balance, we find that bias exists, you may not – but you should look at the evidence first.

In essence - RNZ may be balancing up too much ‘pro-market’ coverage in commercial providers, so aren’t your comments unfair?

The report above found that commercial providers generally provided a mix that more or less reflected the electorate – understandable in a small media market where you have to try and please everybody (unlike the UK where you can make enough money pandering to one political group or another and therefore tend to get papers of the left or right). RNZ therefore doesn’t have to be more left-wing to compensate.

You appear to have a thesis that RNZ is too pro the current government…

Actually my main concern is that state-owned media can never be considered entirely free from its masters. So the state should not own it.

Regardless of the stripe of government and the care of management problems arise.

The post below on the BBC covers this well.

However, RNZ would tend to be more left-wing in its bias because it represents a form of state intervention in the radio media market. In order to preserve their livelihoods RNZ’s people must therefore be broadly in favour of this form of intervention. This would mean that their views would tend to greater concordance with a government of the left than of the right.

That’s how it appears to us.

Why do you discuss subjects only distantly related to RNZ…or they are a bit sparse…is bias hard to find?

Sometimes to bring up a subject that we think is not being covered – omissions being part of possible bias. Sometimes because its nice to think about how an issue could have been covered. At other times because we get bored (hey I’m not spending your money remember). Generally we have no difficulty in finding something to post. But, as www.nzpundit.com said “some masochist is blogging Radio New Zealand”.
Occasionally, I get sick of the pain.

We also just have to have a break and earn our keep. So as not to be a burden on you hard working taxpayers…

For the man who posted these questions and the vigorous answers to some of them. We loved your mail. We have readers! Yay!

Sunday, February 08, 2004


Amongst strenuous attempts by media to 'prove' that Maori do not get more than their fair share - which may or may not be true, and is completely beside the point - ...

...if targeting by need rather than ethnicity would generate the same results: why don't we do it that way and get rid of the slur of race-based funding?

...if the proposed solution to the foreshore and seabed issue will really result in no gain for Maori, why not accept simple, straightforward public ownership?

...and if all this is true, what, then, is the role of the Ministry for Maori Affairs?



Saturday, February 07, 2004


Email us on: radionzbias@yahoo.co.nz


For clarity let us refer to a dictionary for a definition of racism:

"Race hatred, rivalry, or feeling: belief in inherent superiority of some races over others, usually with implications of a right to rule: discriminative treatment based on such a belief." (Chambers).

I quote from Don Brash's speech: "National will focus its welfare reform efforts on the areas of need. Skin colour is irrelevant. New Zealanders who are in need will get assistance because they need it, not because they are Maori."


You could grab dozens of such points from Brash's speech. None of his detractors use his actual words because, unhelpfully, they do not paint the speech as racist.

So Radio New Zealand continues this approach with an achingly left-wing debate hosting current and former race relations conciliators from Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand.

The continuously repeated question was: "Was Don Brash being racist?". Any twelve year-old could read his speech, and the definition of racism from all but the weirdest dictionaries and come to that conclusion.

So was there bias in the RNZ piece?

Yes; To demonstrate that point, let us consider an alternative show, where we repeat the question: "Is Titewhai Harewira a racist?" or how about: "Is John Tamahere a racist?". Repeat this often enough, and you would be subject to a deluge of criticism.

At least RNZ possessed some subtlety. One commentator simply falls to lumping National, Act, and NZ First together, accusing them all of 'playing the race card'. Anyone remotely interested in politics will spot this for what it is - a desperate attempt to deligitimise a sensible question by linking it with the loony right (sorry Winston, but thats how we see you).

Labour has introduced the most restrictive immigration regime in years as a response to Winston's successful playing the race card. It is awful. Anyone that cares about human liberty would consider the rules a racist disgrace. Lots of research in New Zealand and overseas shows the powerful net contribution overall of migration - with or without the higher levels of attainment in English now required. But most kiwis are happy to limit Asian migration, and thus approve. There is a concordance of interest with extreme Maori concerned at increased migration threatening their view of New Zealand as a bi-cultural state - when in fact it is multi-cultural.

Next up, is that Labour has itself very successfully played the race card. It has hoovered up votes from Maori and Pacific Islanders as it has increasingly spent more more and more on ethnically targeted spending. As revealed in recent reviews of spending by Government by ACT.

Any disproportionate pay-off to a special interest group needs scrutiny - not withstanding that it may pass that scrutiny, since there is clearly a strong link between ethnicity and need.

Radio New Zealand is clearly incapable of being part of that scrutiny - it has too much to lose if the current system changes, because it is a special interest group fed by the same system. So if it cannot participate in national debates of this kind, what use is it?

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Lessons from Auntie Beeb

State ownership creates a fundamental conflict of interest. You may be unaware of the storm of criticism of the BBC because of - to put it kindly - the narrow reporting in local media. If you have been dreamily marching along thinking the Hutton report was a big problem for Tony Blair, well, it remains a bigger one for the Beeb.

Not just Bombs

It turns out that, wrong though it may seem now, Kelly believed that weapons of mass destruction could be ready quickly for use in war. The Beeb ran a story that was too good to check properly, and did not investigate it thoroughly enough in the following weeks. That excuses Tony's crackerjack style of government not one jot. Lets just stick with the Beeb.

Now they are in trouble over:
* Editing an interview to make it look like a police chief had walked out.
* Beating up on the Catholic Church
* and an old favourite... their suspension of Robert Kilroy-Silk for comments on Arabs, but their retention of Tom Paulin in spite of his comments on Jews.

The bad news just keeps coming.

Lessons for us?

One day someone will crawl all over our state-controlled media and find it every bit as torn between slavish adherence to the party line and cavalier disregard for supervision. Suspicion will continue to grow, as it has in the UK, building up pressure against the myth of a 'reputation for unbiased coverage'. When the pressure becomes too great, the damn will burst.

Our day will come RNZ... TVNZ... MTS...


So, after a four point lift in the polls: is Don about to get a swatika tattoed on his forehead in the hope that it will carry him all the way? Helen Clark wishes.

RNZ was almost breathless with delight at the machinations at Waitangi. Perfectly delightful for the state-controlled media. Don gets mud thrown at him, and this is referred to as 'controversy'.

Curious choice of word. It's quite uncontroversial in fact... the mud that is. It is incontrovertible that it happened. It did. A man is being charged with disorderly behaviour, it was reported in commercial media.

For a media watcher what was interesting today was the treatment of media.

Non-Maori media were banned from the Te Tii Marae.

This is racist. It is also perfectly OK. Its their Marae, and if they want to ban non-Maori media they can. Lets just call it what it is: racist and stupid.

If a large corporate bans media at its AGM, we generally assume something fishy is going on (sorry, Winston).

If they were to ban all black media there would be an outcry.

It would be decried as racist and stupid. Likewise the decision at the Te Tii Marae is racist and stupid. The "Mainstream" media, usually so keen to have a crack at anyone who denies their God given right to rake muck at will... was pretty coy about this one. They all coyly referred to the ban as being on 'mainstream' media. But this is a fig leaf. It is a ban on non-Maori media. RNZ... hardly mentioned it at all.

Don did. Good on him.


A swift survey of the world shows that there is a strong correlation between monopoly state-control of a nation's media and the wealth of that nation. The news for the hard of thinking among you is not good. The line of best fit indicates that life expectancy, health, and wealth, are generally much worse the greater the state control of your media.

For those complete dolts that don't understand why this is, I am going to spare you a 101 level lecture on freedom of thought and initiative being a key component in wealth creation.

If Maori are a nation, and most of their media is state-controlled, then the prognosis is not good. For the sake of their culture, their nation, and - lets face it - all our pockets (thank you John Davey, Tuku Morgan, Derek Fox and co.) I call on Maori entrepreneurs to come up with a decent alternative to the ill-fated MTS.

Oh, except they'd be nuts to bother, because the state is competing unfairly... happily losing money so that real capacity in the community cannot make it.


Which brings us back to our dearly beloved state-controlled broadcaster of choice. RNZ. Describing MTS as "a business"? Come, come. State-owned, without even the pretence of a profit objective. An individual may have 'business', a trade or work - but 'a businesss' is usually a commercial endeavour... if only it were.


So the O'Herald is in hot water with the unions for not 'stating clearly its conflict of interest' in the matter of its editorial on employment law proposals.

A statement of conflict of interest by Radio New Zealand would have been good. But thinking again, it would have had to precede some actual, meaningful, coverage of the subject.

Sunday, February 01, 2004


Only Play on Home Ground

Radio New Zealand gave us two stories out of six on America in recent news broadcasts. What is this - the Voice of America?

No. The reason we get so much of this stuff is because it is relatively easy for the lefties at RNZ to snipe at the US. It is a handy way of filling space that might be filled with more difficult local issues such as: the treatment of the needy, what the limits of settlements of treaty grievances should be, whether people should be free to swap holidays for money, other employee / employer issues, what we should be spending surpluses on... the list of no go issues for Radio New Zealand is long.

Meanwhile, private media spent a lot of time on New Zealand. Choosing to focus on the speech by Don Brash to Orewa Rotary, including the poll follow-up, or on the allegations made against the recently appointed assistant police commissioner.



On Radio New Zealand's Mediawatch the question was framed as "What does this mean for the BBC?" and quickly - in discussion with a media academic - what it means for press freedom.

What I find extraordinarily interesting is what it reveals about the relationship between the government and a state-owned media company.

Consider that the BBC did not take anything like the stance on the war in Iraq that some privately owned media did. Consider media at opposite ends of the spectrum: The Guardian, and Fox News. These two organisations took strong views, backed often by more slender 'evidence' or lack of it, than that which has ended the careers of three people at the BBC.

The fact is that media owned by the state cannot, ever, act without fear of the response of it's owner: government. That does affect its behaviour. Binding it to standards that may be considered by people such as Russell Brown as limiting journalistic freedom, or they may proceed down a track which people such as Lord Hutton may consider to be too loose.

In short - state owned media cannot win. Whereas the Guardian and Fox News can cheerfully present the case as they see it - and only need to worry about the ramifications of that in two ways: losing or gaining audience, and being sued. That is as it should be. State owned media will never have that clarity of purpose or allegiance - charter or no charter.

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