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NZ: Judge bars TV3 from screening MP's trial over 'earwax footage'

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The controversial TV3 "earwax" broadcast clip of John Banks on trial. Image: YouTube

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Item: 8628

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch / New Zealand Herald):  A major New Zealand television station has been barred by a High Court judge from broadcasting a trial of member of Parliament John Banks after screening footage which apparently shows Banks picking his ear then eating the earwax.

Justice Edwin Wylie first "summoned TV3 to explain the use of the footage", the New Zealand Herald newspaper reported, then revoked TV3's right to shoot or broadcast the rest of the trial and the delivery of the verdict.

Critics say it is not clear how it is in the public interest to prevent TV3 viewers from watching the trial of Act Party MP Banks, a former mayor of Auckland, over political donation allegations.

The NZ Herald quoted Wylie, saying that "the footage was used in a way that I do not consider to be fair and balanced, and it seems to me this footage was used out of context".

According to the conservative British newspaper Daily Mail, Wylie also said screening the earpicking footage had exposed Banks to "ridicule and derision".

This, although Banks was filmed picking his ear in an open court, and although he is already facing charges of filing a false electoral return after allegedly lying about donations to his failed 2010 political campaign for the Auckland mayoralty.

Banks also demanded an apology from TV3.

New Zealand has no constitution guaranteeing freedom of the media and its courts have often been criticised for ordering the media to withhold information about trials, particularly with regards to granting name suppression to accused persons.

The New Zealand courts are also permitted to suppress evidence in cases for the purpose of protecting 'the right to a fair trial'.

Television stations must abide by the Broadcasting Act of 1989, which stipulates that all broadcasts must observe "good taste and decency".

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Pacific Media Watch

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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