Martyn Bomber Bradbury has been banned from Radio NZ for criticising John Key.
Media Watch (about 26 mins into the programme) this morning confirmed the was banned for an unacceptable breach of Radio NZ’s editorial policies of fairness and balance.
What did he do? On Thursday’s The Panel segment on Jim Mora’s afternoon show, he criticised John Key for appearing as host on Radio Live for an hour at their invitation pretending it wasn’t political. He also criticised the Prime Minister for his behaviour in parliament this week in blaming Labour during the well publicised incident where a man tried to jump from the public gallery into the House. Both issues have been widely reported in our media.
Bomber is a bit out there.
Like other commentators across the political spectrum he tends to speak his mind rather freely. He’s a “left” commentator. Not attached to Labour or any other party directly that I know of (maybe Mana).
He expresses his views stridently. Presumably that’s why he’s on the programme regularly. Along with others who are also fairly strident at times.
I’d like to know what editorial policy was being breached? And who made the decision to ban Bomber Bradbury?
And to be reassured that there was no external influence brought to bear on Radio NZ management and editorial staff to make that decision.
I think it’s valid to ask that if they can make this decision how come commentators from the Right haven’t been banned on a regular basis for regularly criticising Phil Goff on the Jim Mora Show, on Nine to Noon’s political slot and other RNZ shows? If I trawled through Radio NZ’s afternoon show I wonder how many times I’d find a commentator who lambasted Phil Goff and the Labour Party for this or that action or policy.
I’m not suggesting other commentators should be banned. Yes I’d like to see more commentators on Radio NZ and other media who didn’t regularly bash the Labour Party. But I’m not complaining about it because it’s Radio NZ’s right to choose their commentators. And all NZ should trust them to do so with fairness and balance.
But once they choose the commentators, banning one for criticising the Prime Minister is a bit rich.
As we head into the election it’s important that the coverage is fair and balanced. But that doesn’t mean media outlets should prevent criticism. Especially shutting down criticism of the government of the day.
Our state broadcaster should know better than that.
The Radio NZ charter includes these principles:
Programmes which provide for varied interests and a full range of age groups within the community, including information, educational, special interest, and entertainment programmes; and
Comprehensive, independent, impartial, and balanced national news services and current affairs, including items with a regional perspective;
What Bomber Bradbury said was not news. It was commentary, on a programme, on a section called The Panel where people are invited to vent their spleen about an issue they care about and is bugging them.
Wisdom and experience is what’s needed by our media organisations during an election period. We need to know it’s there. And to trust the judgement calls being made.
PS: Why has the relevant part of The Panel been removed from the Radio NZ website? It’s ironic because the Prime Minister’s spot on Radio Live got taken off Radio Live’s website last week after a complaint was made to the BSA and the Electoral Commission.