By WARREN GAMBLE
Auckland evangelist Brian Tamaki will make his television debut on Saturday with another programme, after Television New Zealand pulled the original opening episode of his series.
The broadcaster said the original lead-off for the Higher Ground series, scheduled for 7 am last Saturday, had language and phrases that did not meet industry standards of accuracy, fairness and balance.
TVNZ spokesman Liam Jeory would not be more specific yesterday, saying that having stopped the breaches occurring, it would be counter-productive to publicise them elsewhere.
TV One general manager Shaun Brown said if the offending elements were removed, the episode would be re-appraised for screening. "It is not unusual for broadcasters to make scheduling or programming changes such as this in order to comply with the code."
Mr Brown said the second episode had been assessed and was perfectly acceptable.
He strongly rejected suggestions from Christian Heritage party leader Graham Capill that political pressure from the offices of Prime Minister Helen Clark or Broadcasting Minister Marian Hobbs had led to the withdrawal.
Mr Tamaki, a senior minister of four churches, including the Destiny Church in Pakuranga, caused controversy last month when talking on one of the topics of the new series, the fatherless generation.
In an interview with the Catholic Challenge Weekly, he said the fatherless generation "is even reflected in the fact that we have a female Prime Minister and a female Leader of the Opposition."
"Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against women. It is just that this is a reflection of what is happening in society - a lack of men in leadership and sky-high divorce rates.
"This is the Devil's strategy because you can't have sons and daughters without a father."
Mr Jeory said those comments had nothing to do with the decision to stop the original episode screening.
He said part of the debate was whether Higher Ground should be treated as a programme under Broadcasting Standards Authority guidelines, or as an infomercial using advertising standards.
TV One decided to treat it as a sponsored programme.
Mr Tamaki's church has paid for the series.