Parliament voted 108-12 yesterday to end the political party broadcasts that clogged up prime time TV and radio for little useful purpose. NZ First opposed.
I have tried to watch a few and they were hard going and I think largely ineffectual.
Newstalk ZB: Prime-time party election broadcasts axed
MPs voted last night to get rid of the wildly unpopular compulsory party television broadcasts at election time.
Parliament heard the final reading on the Broadcasting and Electoral Amendment Bills yesterday evening, voting 108-12 to axe the messages which air around four weeks out from the election on state-owned networks TVNZ and Radio New Zealand.
The 12 against were the NZ First MPs.
Justice Minister Amy Adams pointed out that the opening statements which aired on TVNZ before the 2014 General Election saw the channel’s viewing figures drop by 25 percent.
They were not popular with viewers as well as parties.
The Labour Party’s Chris Hipkins told the House the broadcasts were outdated, too long, and expensive to produce.
“The idea that we should lock that into law, and lock political parties into spending some of their broadcast allocation to do that simply doesn’t make sense,” he said.
The law change means political parties will be allowed to spend their campaign budgets on other platforms, including online.
It’s significant that parties chose more choice and flexibility over prime time broadcast opportunities.
Denis O’Rourke from NZ First disagreed:
I really want to spend most of my time on the Broadcasting (Election Programmes and Election Advertising) Amendment Bill, because claims that the broadcasting of the opening and closing addresses have become unpopular are grossly exaggerated.
The truth is that TV ONE and Radio New Zealand have been lobbying for years so that they do not have to perform their public duty of broadcasting these opening and closing addresses free of charge. No doubt they could get a bigger audience if they were free to broadcast something else instead. That is not the issue.
The issue is that they are public broadcasters and they have a public duty to do this. Many people, in fact, still so watch those, especially people who are not much interested in the digital media. So that should still happen.
…the other reason why New Zealand First opposes this particular bill and that is that the Minister and the Government have chosen not to review and change the criteria for the allocation of those funds, and they should have done so.
The Minister wrote to all of the parties asking whether they supported her proposals. New Zealand First said it would not do so unless those criteria were, in fact, reviewed and, hopefully, changed. There was no effort put into doing that at all, therefore, there is no consensus, as Mark Mitchell claimed, no consensus at all, because New Zealand First is very definitely opposed to the proposal, unless those criteria have been changed, because they are quite simply unfair to smaller parties.
There is no problem, I guess, for the National and the Labour parties, but they are unfair to the smaller parties, and I want to explain why that is.
All other smaller parties voted for ditching the broadcasts.
There is no consensus. This bill should not be proceeding, for those reasons, and New Zealand First will therefore definitely vote against it.
No consensus, but a large majority – all parties other than NZ First, voted to scrap the compulsory broadcasts that turned viewers off.