Why does the news need a sponsor?
The withdrawal of the major sponsor from TVNZ's "Holmes" programme highlights the absurdity of having the state broadcaster's supposed "flagship" current affairs programme funded by a global corporation, Green MP Sue Kedgley said today.
Mitsubishi Motors said it was pulling its sponsorship of the programme because the views recently expressed by Paul Holmes regarding United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and women journalists were "unacceptable and incompatible" with the company's ethos.
"While we must congratulate Mitsubishi in having the good taste to distance themselves from Mr Holmes' offensive remarks about the head of the UN and about women, we have to ask how a car-maker became so closely associated with an allegedly independent and impartial 'news' programme," said Ms Kedgley, the Green Broadcasting spokesperson.
The TVNZ Charter requires the broadcaster to 'provide independent, comprehensive, impartial, and in-depth coverage and analysis of news and current affairs in New Zealand and throughout the world and of the activities of public and private institutions', Ms Kedgley pointed out.
"What happens if the next sponsor of the programme doesn't like the host's comments on the WTO or on monetary policy?" Ms Kedgley asked. "It is totally improper to have commercial sponsorship of any news and current affairs programme. It inevitably leads to potential conflict of interest issues and undermines TVNZ's legal obligations to provide for impartial and independent news and current affairs."
"TVNZ has been unacceptably silent on the early-morning ramblings of its highest-paid performer," said Ms Kedgley. "But if this scandal leads to a review of its standards and practises, then some good will have come from the whole distasteful episode."
She added that Paul Holmes' recent comments also called into question whether he could any longer be viewed as impartial and objective as an interviewer on TVNZ's flagship current affairs programme.
"If a person has a racist attitude, he would not be able to demonstrate the impartiality and objectivity that is legally required, under the TVNZ Charter, of all TVNZ's news and current affairs programmes," Ms Kedgley said.