John Drinnan

John Drinnan is the Media writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Chapman should not present Back Benches - TV3 boss

TVNZ admits slip-up after placing an ad for Cadbury's "Extra Mile" commercial campaign on its news website.  Photo / Ross Setford
TVNZ admits slip-up after placing an ad for Cadbury's "Extra Mile" commercial campaign on its news website. Photo / Ross Setford

TV3 news boss Mark Jennings says Wallace Chapman should not present the new series of Back Benches after making advertorial plugs for TVNZ clients under its "Extra Mile" ad series.

Chapman said this week he was "a broadcaster not a journalist' and there were no ethical problems conducting interviews with advertisers for the new style interview ads while preparing for a new series of Back Benches.

"I've heard that view of being a broadcaster and not a journalist before and I don't agree with it,'' said Jennings, adding that it was a rewarding approach for the broadcaster because it meant they earned more money.

"If you are presenting a show like Back Benches people believe you are a journalist,'' he said.

Jennings said Wallace Chapman was in the same situation as Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking who was criticised for his role working for Sky City casino while presenting the Newstalk Breakfast show. Hosking has also said he is a broadcaster and not a journalist.

Yesterday TVNZ said that the first ad in the series that debuted on Sunday - in which Chapman interviews Cadbury executives about the company's approach to Fair Trade - should have been labelled as "paid content'' or advertising feature on its website, so it was more clear.

Spokeswoman Megan Richards said that the ad reflected a new approach to advertising, but insisted it did not reflect a change in the approach. The proximity of the Cadbury advertorial to genuine current affairs shows was not an issue, she said.

"There is nothing new - it's drawing a long bow to say we should not have interviews in ads - advertising is changing," Richards said.

Chapman has been presenter for Back Benches for several years, but TVNZ scrapped the show when it lost funding for the public service channel TVNZ 7. However, TVNZ received $629,000 of taxpayer funding to make the show for Prime, with Chapman in an interviewing role.

The Cadbury ad this week was part of an ad campaign marketed as "The Extra Mile'' which was made by Black Sand, a joint venture between TVNZ and the private company
Brandworld.

TVNZ has admitted it slipped up putting an advertorial commercial onto its news website, but says it is looking for ways to get "paid content" included on its news wesbite.

The "Extra Mile" material was distinct from editorial and advertising and blurred the lines.

But Richards acknowledged that at heart the Cadbury advertorial was still an ad.

Journalists are traditionally barred from making commercials because it reflects on their independence, but Chapman has no issues. "I'm not a journalist and I have never said I am one," he said. The Cadbury ad was about Fair Trade and he had always supported Fair Trade.

"I'm a broadcaster with a background in advertising, and I've been involved in advertising for a long time," he said.

- NZ Herald

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