Reporters and other staff at TVNZ's long running and popular consumer affairs show Fair Go were recently instructed not to produce items that would offend advertisers, Labour claims.
TVNZ chairman Sir John Anderson and management appeared before Parliament's commerce committee this morning where Labour broadcasting spokeswoman Clare Curran sought and received assurances that the state owned commercial broadcaster placed high value on the integrity of its news and current affairs programming.
"How then can you explain reports that TVNZ head of programming called a meeting of Fair Go staff, including all reporters together in the last couple of weeks and instructed them not to produce programmes that would upset advertisers?" she asked.
TV ONE and TV2 head Jeff Latch said he was invited "as a guest" to the meeting of Fair Go staff "to share my views as to the essence of that programme and what would make it successful going forward".
"The key points I made at that meeting were the fact that the heart of Fair Go for the last 20 plus years that it's been on New Zealand television, is that it represents the underdog and the small guy and stands up for them and that's what's made it a special programme for New Zealanders for a large period of time.
"I also made the observation that we operate in a commercial environment and that Fair Go like all our programs needed to exercise care in terms of the way they handle stories, they need to make sure they're always balanced because in a commercial environment a story that is not balanced could be something that we would not want to run on this network."
However he denied instructing them not to upset advertisers.
"It wasn't an instruction per se. I asked them to contemplate and think about when you're looking at stories it's very important that they're balanced and we actually show both sides of the story and I think Fair Go does."