An odd ‘panel of experts’ for media review

There’s a number of curious aspects to this story at NZ Herald: Campbell Live axing prompts review

A group of Kiwi movers and shakers will undertake a review of New Zealand public broadcasting in the wake of Campbell Live’s axing.

Campbell was axed from a commercial television programme that had nothing to do with public broadcasting.

Why the focus on one media presenter? John Campbell left his TV3 show a year ago, so why now?

Community campaign group Action Station is concerned about the decline of public-interest journalism since TV3’s flagship news magazine show was canned last year, amid a public outcry.

The panel’s findings will be presented to the Government in the run up to next year’s General Election.

So it is timed to be used as an election campaign next year.

It has enlisted a panel of experts – including economist Shamubeel Eaqub, singer Lizzie Marvelly, former MediaWorks news boss Mark Jennings, TV and film director Kay Ellmers and policy analyst Wendy McGuinness.

What is singer Lizzie Marvelly an expert on? “She is best known for her career as a classical crossover vocalist and her many performances of the New Zealand national anthem at rugby games” (Wikipedia).

Where is Eaqub’s media expertise? Elmers? She works for Maori TV. McGuinness? Mark Jennings is the only one who appears to have notable media experience.

Action Station spokeswoman Marianne Elliot said “People are very worried that this kind of campaigning is disappearing from television in particular.”

Action Station organises petitions, social media swarms and mass emails to decisions makers. It also creates crowd-funded creative campaigns and offline actions like creative stunts, vigils or hikoi.

The not-for-profit organisation was involved with the Save Campbell Live campaign and teamed up with Auckland teacher Virginia Woolf and policy analyst Fiona Gordon to help stop the trade of ivory in New Zealand.

I think that Action Station has had some close connections with the Greens. They don’t appear to be politicallybalanced or  non-biased.

Here are some of Action Station’s current campaigns:

What is Action Station? According to their website ‘About’:

ActionStation is an independent, member-led not-for-profit organisation representing over 100,000 Kiwis holding power to account, standing for a fair society, healthy environment & economic fairness.

ActionStation is a vital piece of democratic infrastructure for Aotearoa in the 21st century, here to reinvigorate our proud tradition of participatory democracy and people power, using the potential of new technology. 

While they may try to keep a separation they were set up by people closely involved with the Greens, and their campaigns are closely aligned to Green campaigns. The above list of campaigns would not look out of place on the Green website.

To all intents and purposes Action Station looks like an activist arm of the Green Party.

So an odd panel for a media review that is timed to coincide with the next election, run by the very Green-like Action Station. It may not be very politically balanced, nor does it appear to be a very vital ‘piece of democratic infrastructure’.