MediaWorks banned from Reserve Bank media conferences

By Jonathan Underhill

NewsHub reporters are not welcome at Reserve Bank media conferences. Photo / Mark Mitchell
NewsHub reporters are not welcome at Reserve Bank media conferences. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Reserve Bank has banned MediaWorks from its media conferences until further notice as punishment for its journalists leaking sensitive market information from the Official Cash Rate cut decision in March.

The bank hired Deloitte's forensic unit to investigate the leak after details were posted by a blogger.

That investigation found that a Newshub Mediaworks reporter secretly sent details of the decision to workers in the Newshub office from the RBNZ lockup, where journalists had long been allowed to view the monetary policy statement under embargo provided they surrendered their phones and honoured the arrangement.

Staffers in the Auckland newsroom openly discussed the embargoed decision and informed a blogger and former Reserve Bank official, Michael Reddell, that a cut was soon to be announced.

There is no evidence of money market trading as a result of the leak, but with an average of more than $100 billion in foreign exchange transactions involving New Zealand dollars daily, the central bank reacted by stopping embargoed lockups for media and analysts for both the MPS and financial stability reports, falling into line with most other central banks around the world.

The central bank is scheduled to publish its six-monthly financial stability report on May 11 and will post the document on its website, with a link from its Twitter feed, at 9am. A media conference with governor Graeme Wheeler and deputy governor Grant Spencer will then be held at 11am, live-streamed on www.rbnz.govt.nz.

An advisory from the bank says representatives "from Mediaworks news outlets are excluded from Reserve Bank media conferences until further notice" as a result of the March 10 leak.

MediaWorks' former chief executive Mark Weldon said at the time that the company "unreservedly apologises" to the bank for the incident.

He quit the company on Tuesday, citing the pressure of the role, which included downsizing the company's content production and using the same resource across various platforms.

- BusinessDesk

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