John Drinnan: Bumbling TV company escapes serious criticism

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TVNZ had suffered major problems in the recent past under Shane Taurima's predecessor, Paora Maxwell. Photo / APN
TVNZ had suffered major problems in the recent past under Shane Taurima's predecessor, Paora Maxwell. Photo / APN

The Taurima Inquiry has not taken Television New Zealand to task for its biggest failing yet as a news operation with an oversight of politics.

National politicians would have pounced had any bias been found. Chief executive Kevin Kenrick blames Taurima for not making declarations.

But what were news and current affairs bosses doing?

Taurima missed out on the Ikaroa-Rawhiti candidacy, came back to TVNZ and later started working towards standing for the Tamaki Makaurau electorate. He led a small cell of Labour Party people in the department and even tried to talk others into joining the party.

Taurima's second candidacy was common knowledge to many in the media but nobody at TVNZ.

Worse, TVNZ had suffered major problems in the recent past under Taurima's predecessor, Paora Maxwell.

TVNZ will tighten rules for staff declaring political affiliations involving party membership and activism, said Kenrick.

But the changes around staff declaring conflicts of interest will not require any declaration to the political bent of presenters with no party affiliation.

Kenrick said the issue is over TVNZ staff involvement in political parties and not their voting preference or political stance.

"We accept people have an interest in things and that is human," Kenrick said.

The distinction will be increasingly important for the news and current affairs department in election year.

- NZ Herald

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John Drinnan has been a business journalist for twenty years, he has been editor of the specialist film and television title "Screen Finance" in London, focussing on the European TV and film industry. He has been writing about media in New Zealand since the deregulation of the television industry in the late 1980s.

Read more by John Drinnan

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