Media law expert and Press Council to examine effect ‘dirty politics’ scandal could have on media regulation.

Defamation and media standards expert John Burrows, QC, is to meet with the Press Council to examine the implications for media regulation of the "dirty politics" scandal.

Last year Burrows led a Law Commission review, "The News Media Meets New Media", which looked at issues facing media regulation in the digital age, including the role of "news" blogs.

Recommendations included blogs joining a voluntary regulatory regime with ethical guidelines, rewarding them with protections that apply to journalists. Both the Press Council and the Online Media Standards Association are opening their doors to bloggers.

The proposals would have ended the Wild West status of blogs, which can attack individuals, leaving their victims with a defamation action as the only option if they want to defend their character.


The Law Commission's recommendations were shelved by former Justice Minister Judith Collins. She was at the centre of allegations in the book Dirty Politics about an unhealthy relationship between National and her friend Cameron Slater, owner of the Whale Oil Beef Hooked blog.

Prime Minister John Key dropped Collins from the Cabinet pending a government inquiry into her conduct, amid suggestions that Whale Oil was used to mount an attack on the Serious Fraud Office.

Collins denies any wrongdoing on that occasion.

But in her role as Justice Minister she appears to have worked against even voluntary regulation of blogs. Her intervention killed the development of a regulatory regime and ensured it could not be in place during election year.

Now the election is over, the heat has been taken out of the debate until the inquiry is up and running.

But some in the public relations and media industries are embarrassed by revelations about their links with Whale Oil and the way extreme views became incorporated into mainstream media.

Advertisers also found themselves unexpectedly linked to Whale Oil. Automated digital media ad-buying technology meant they were associating their brands with the blog, sometimes without their knowledge.

Slater has previously denied that he provides comment for cash, but has also declined to specify the business plan for his business.


One of the major protections for blogs - as opposed to mainstream media sites - is that they make no money and people who believe they have been defamed would recover nothing if they sued for defamation.

The allegations against Whale Oil suggest the role of public relations attack blog may offer a viable business plan and a solid source of revenue for that sort of site.


Maori broadcasting organisations are at loggerheads over a change to funding contracts and the dispute has placed several Maori TV programmes on hold. The reasons for the issue are complex, as Maori broadcasting disputes often are, but they are linked to a clash of personalities between Paora Maxwell, chief executive of Maori TV, and Larry Parr, an executive at funding agency Te Mangai Paho, who oversees TV contracts.

Recently, TV programme-makers were told: "Please be advised that the commissioning team at [Maori TV] have some concerns surrounding some of the amendments Te Mangai Paho has adopted in its latest Television Production Funding Agreement. Having provided broadcaster commitments to these productions on the basis of existing TMP contractual arrangements, we are unable to proceed until the areas of contention for the channel are resolved."

Bizarrely, Te Mangai Paho initially said it was not aware of the issue this week, then said it had been resolved. Maori TV refused to comment. But the Herald understands there is still ill-feeling.

The row centres on new funding contracts imposed by Te Mangai Paho with no consultation with producers, nor with Maori TV. According to one producer, Te Mangai Paho was giving producers the right to exploit shows for overseas sales, while holding on to the New Zealand rights after they had been played by the original broadcaster.

The arrangement reflected the increased importance given to digital rights, and would ensure that Te Mangai Paho could show programming on, say, a Maori version of NZ on Screen, said one source.

Another said this made some sense. Maori language programming was more valuable if it could be shown again and again, and there was an argument that since TMP shows are 100 per cent taxpayer funded, they should be retained by the Crown. The criticism is that TMP introduced new rules without consultation and that there is an element of institutional power play between the funding body and Maori TV.

Under Maori Party proposals - which may or may not go ahead under the new Government - TMP, Maori TV and the Maori Language Commission would be controlled by an iwi-based organisation, "Te Matawai".

John Bishara, chief executive of TMP, said this was not about institutional rivalry. The aim was to ensure content, especially Maori language content, was available for repeat viewing.


Herald publisher APN News & Media and its radio division, The Radio Network, changed names this week to NZME., with a swish new image. The company will be able to show off its new livery soon as a finalist at the New Zealand Advertising Effectiveness Awards (The Effies) in Auckland on October 9.

TRN - now NZME. - enjoys the rare distinction of being a finalist without being an advertising agency. Even better, the campaign in question is a promotion for itself, for the digital iHeart Radio campaign.

There are numerous marketing and advertising awards, but the Effies are the most prestigious for advertisers and ad agencies alike. And it is a way for the agencies to sell themselves as delivering the best campaigns - for both marketing clients and agency execs.

The finalists were named yesterday and, notably, some agencies are multiple finalists for individual categories. FCB was the most successful, taking 23 of the 113 finalist positions. Colenso BBDO has 18 finalists overall, and both agencies dominate some individual categories. Among the standouts:

In the category for campaigns of less than $300,000, the most prolific agency, with four of the 12 finalists, was FCB, for Brothers in Arms Youth Mentoring, JR Duty Free, Noel Leeming and Sony Consumer Electronics.

• In the category for most effective integrated campaign, Whybin TBWA has two of the seven finalists, both for ANZ Bank.

• Colenso BBDO has three finalists for most effective digital/social media campaign, for Burger King, Heart of the City and Mars.

• Colenso BBDO also has three finalists for most effective PR and experiential campaign, for Burger King, DB Breweries and Samsung.

• In the category for best strategic thinking, Saatchi & Saatchi has four finalists, for ASB Bank, Coca-Cola Amatil, DB Breweries and NZ Defence Force.

• FCB has three finalists in the most progressive campaign category, for Brothers in Arms Youth Mentoring, Noel Leeming and Sony Consumer Electronics.

• In the category for social marketing and public service, FCB has three finalists, for Health Promotion Agency, Maritime NZ and Statistics NZ.

• In Retail and e-tail, DDB and FCB both have two finalists: DDB for two Warehouse campaigns, and FCB for JR Duty Free and Noel Leeming.

• In the fast-moving consumer goods category, Colenso BBDO dominated with four finalists: DB Breweries, Fonterra, Fonterra Tip Top and George Weston foods.

• For the consumer services category, Saatchi and Saatchi has three finalists, two for ASB and one (with Dynamo) for Telecom.