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NZ: Taurima fiasco pushes Māori TV takeover claim


Resigned TVNZ broadcaster Shane Taurima ... controversy over his opposition Labour fund-raising conflict of interest. Image: TVNZ

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Item: 8483

John Drinnan

AUCKLAND (The New Zealand Herald/Pacific Media Watch): COMMENT: The fiasco of broadcaster Shane Taurima using state television's Māori and Pacific unit for opposition Labour Party fundraising will hasten calls for Māori Television to take over the unit.

Taurima - a former interviewer on the Television New Zealand current affairs programme Q&A - stood down from his role as general manager of the unit during the candidacy for the Labour nomination for the Ikaroa Rawhiti by-election.

TVNZ's re-appointment of the political wannabe is another example of loose oversight at TVNZ - the same sort of management style led to last year's debacle at SevenSharp.

In my opinion, the Labour meeting revelations - aired on 3News - has damaged TVNZ's integrity at the start of an election year,

The debacle should lead to a revival of calls for Māori TV to take over funding and operation of the Māori and Pacific unit and with an agreement to feed some content back to TVNZ.

It is understood these plans were advanced in 2011 but TVNZ pulled back for unexplained reasons. Now - with TVNZ headed by former Māori TV chairman Wayne Walden - it may be time for a rethink.

Taurima has apologised for the damage he has caused and the Labour Party is distancing itself from the organisation of a party political meeting at a state media company.

TVNZ is expected to make a statement later today about its processes including those that saw Taurima reappointed to a role with editorial influence after revealing political aspirations.

Taurima should have returned to a purely administrative role. The TVNZ head of news and current affairs, John Gillespie, said he accepted Taurima's assurances that he would not be standing again for Labour.

But given the integrity of of the TVNZ news and current affairs is at stake, he should have asked more questions and taken more interest in the rumour mill around Māori politics and Taurima's role.

The Māori and Pacific unit has become a forgotten part of the diminished news operation at TVNZ. Over the years it has delivered some of TVNZ's best content.

It has been allowed some freedom and escaped cuts.

But it is 100 percent taxpayer funded and does not deliver profits.

With the profit focus at TVNZ the Māori unit has been cut of from the rest of the news operation is largely irrelevant to corporate bosses. Now at the start of an election year TVNZ is wallowing in a quagmire of its own making.

John Drinnan is media affairs editor on The New Zealand Herald.

Taurima denies political aspirations had impact on editorial decisions

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Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

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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