TVNZ has been accused of using the police hunt for Aisling Symes to promote its psychic-based entertainment show Sensing Murder.
The state broadcaster has received hundreds of emails since TV One reporter Amy Kelly asked police if they would investigate a tip from medium Deb Webber.
Webber said she had information on the case during an interview with Paul Henry on Breakfast on Wednesday.
"I was walking past the television and [Aisling] popped up, and I went 'oh, she's in a ditch, hole, in West Auckland," Webber told Henry. "That's what I got, instantly."
At a police press conference later that day, TV One news reporter Amy Kelly asked if they would follow up Webber's lead.
Former policeman Dan Thompson of Paragon Investigations said he was appalled that the broadcaster appeared to be using a criminal investigation to promote the stars of an entertainment programme. "I'm totally aghast - it seems like a totally commercial play," he said.
TVNZ spokeswoman Andi Brotherston denied the claim: "We're not trying to push a psychic message to make money and get ratings."
Brotherston was not aware of any formal complaints about Webber's comments but said the broadcaster had received hundreds of informal emails.
Webber said the story had been "blown out of proportion".
"It hurts because I am interested in finding a little girl, not me. Every time I say something it seems to be twisted around to not the truth."
Webber said she had been contacted by the Symes family after appearing on Breakfast but didn't know whether Aisling was alive.
Investigation head Inspector Gary Davey said all information given to the inquiry team was assessed and prioritised.
While Webber's comments were not being written off, her vision was vague and of little use at present.
"If she's said there's a body in a ditch in West Auckland, there are plenty of ditches and we can't do much with that information.
"With psychics, if they have information we feel we can check out, then we will."
Thompson said police were obliged to follow all information offered, and feared Webber's claim could divert resources from more realistic leads.
"This isn't 600,000 people sitting at home watching an entertainment show ... this is a little girl missing - let's get serious about it."By Matt Nippert