Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter

Edwards takes another swipe at Fair Go

Media commentator Brian Edwards says his criticism of Fair Go includes the time when he was on the current affairs programme. Photo / APN
Media commentator Brian Edwards says his criticism of Fair Go includes the time when he was on the current affairs programme. Photo / APN

Fair Go founder Brian Edwards has rejoined the war of words he started over the TVOne consumer affairs show.

Edwards slammed Fair Go last week, criticising its "out of control'' journalists and investigative methods, saying it lacked balance.

In today's New Zealand Herald, former Fair Go frontman Kevin Milne blasted his ex-colleague for the criticism, saying: "I don't know if there is word for people who attack their own babies.''

That prompted Mr Edward to return to the subject with another post on his website today.

The new blog, entitled, 'I return reluctantly to the topic of Fair Go and reply to a friendly critic', further impales the modern version of the show, fronted by presenter Ali Mau.

Edwards argues that in the early days of the show, its complainees were encouraged to present their side of the story in the studio live broadcast.

He says that the live, or recorded as live, format meant the respondents' comments went unedited, resulting in the viewer being aware of "everything the interviewer asked and everything the interviewee replied''.

"Though appearing live on television is incredibly frightening for most people, the transparency which it offers is a major protection for the interviewee.

"As I said in my original post, `what you see is what you get'.

"That transparency no longer exists on Fair Go. A complainee may be interviewed for half an hour or more, but the viewer will see only a fraction of the interview on air. `What you see' is what the reporter or producer `allows you to see'.''

Edwards, now a media consultant, says the Fair Go he worked on "felt nicer'' than it does today.

"It was fun to work on and to watch. It had less of the grim intensity, the Inquisition quality that it has today,'' he says.

"Our aim was to put things right, not to destroy.''

He also responded to claims by Milne that he now makes "an extremely good living'' in advising "big business'' how to deal with Fair Go.

"In the 28 years that Callingham and Edwards has been around, the company has acted for less than a handful of 'big business' companies in a matter involving Fair Go.

"And, to put it 'into focus', Kevin, the total amount we have earned in those 28 years from Fair Go accused, would be a fraction of what you earned in just one year as the programme's host.''

Edwards concludes by saying that neither TVNZ, of any of the programme's producers, have identified "a single inaccuracy'' relating to his first blog.

Edwards originally accused the programme of minimising issues by forcing them into an allocated timeframe.

He also claimed the show's targets were too harshly treated by the reporters, who he said saw themselves as "society's avenging angels''.

Milne replied: "Brian's comments are outrageous and criticism about the show from day one is just nuts. He started an amazing programme that has been hugely popular for 30 years and I think he knows that.''

- APNZ

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