Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Satirical election song Planet Key banned

A scene from the video for Planet Key.
A scene from the video for Planet Key.

Soul and blues star Darren Watson's satirical song Planet Key appears to have been banned from being broadcast.

Guitarist singer and songwriter Mr Watson's song and its animated video by Jeremy Jones released last week pokes fun at the Prime Minister and his Government.

It features Mr Key playing a stinging blues guitar solo on an endangered Maui's dolphin while an oil rig explodes in the background. It also depicts Finance Minister Bill English carrying Mr Key's golf clubs and the Prime Minister plays golf with Barack Obama.

But Mr Watson posted on Facebook this afternoon that he had just had a "super interesting chat with The Electoral Commission just now".

"It appears we may be gagged."

He later posted that "the story is the Electoral Commission have advised a Access Radio station not to play Planet Key as it may be a contravention of the act."

The commission this afternoon confirmed it had banned television and radio broadcasts of the song and said it was also considering whether it was an election advertisement which would require a promoter statement to be carried in online video versions.

Hamilton's Free FM station manager Phil Grey told the Herald the station had played Mr Watson's music before but when it recently received a copy of the song, because of its content, the station's programme director asked for the Electoral Commission's opinion on whether it breached electoral rules.

"She got a communication back saying that outside of a topical news item about the song, airplay of that song would be considered to cross the threshold to be considered an electoral programme."

Mr Watson told the Herald the programme director at Wellington's Radio Active had also phoned him to apologise "beause they had to stop playing it as well? their license was on the line".

Station manager Dave Gibbons did not wish to comment until he'd heard back from the Electoral Commission this afternoon.

Mr Watson said he had spoken with the Electoral Commission this morning and they had indicated they believed the song crossed the line into being a political advertisement.

However the woman at the commission he spoke to had admitted "she hadn't actually heard the song, this was all based on hearsay".

The commission has yet to respond to the Herald's request for comment.

Mr Watson believed the commission's initial decision was coloured by the subversive quality of stop motion artist Mr Jones' video.

"Without the images overlaid, it's nowhere near as slanted, if you want to use that word - as it may be when you see it with the video. I think they've been influenced by their eyes rather than their ears really."

Mr Key said he'd seen the video.

"It was quite professionally done. It was anti-us but as a parody it was ok.

"I take all that sort of stuff in the spirit it's intended, it's certainly a lot more professional than the Dotcom video of people screaming and chanting at me."

He indicated he was confident the Electoral Commission was applying the law correctly by ruling radio stations couldn't play the song "in the same way that if we did one that was pro the Government it would be seen as electoral advertising".

- NZ Herald

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