Red Alert

Archive for the ‘censorship’ Category

Where are the wise heads?

Posted by on October 9th, 2011

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.

Morality tale #2

Posted by on August 14th, 2011

Social order, corporate dominance vs free speech and the taming of the internet. How important is this?

Can and should governments be able to shut down social media and disable citizens access to the internet during times of social unrest? And if they can do that, what else can they do? Have a read of this:

One of the anti-riot measures recently suggested by British PM David Cameron is to prevent rioters from using Twitter and other social networking websites. Such a tactic, which was slammed as a trick resorted to only by authoritarian governments in the past, has had a great impact on world media.

The bold measure indicates that Britain is at its wit’s end on how to stop the country’s worst riots in decades.

Cameron’s suggestion to block social networking websites smashes basic concepts of freedom of speech in the West, which always takes the moral high ground in criticizing the reluctant development of Internet freedom in developing countries.

The violence has brought a comprehensive and diverse influence on the whole of the West. Created by globalization and the development of the Internet, the headache of governance suffered by developing countries has now spread to their developed peers.

Democracy and freedom of speech should have their pragmatic connotations and denotations. The Chinese edition website of the Financial Times carried an article on Friday titled “What is the bottom line of freedom of speech?” Fanned by the rapid development of the Internet, the requirement for freedom of speech is trespassing the boundaries of the current political system in the West, it warned.

I wrote a post in January about this after the riots in Egypt when the government attempted to shut down the internet. Back then it seemed unthinkable that a western democracy would contemplate such a thing. But in the UK that’s what’s now being discussed.

There is a much wider context to this debate. It’s called net neutrality. And yes, it’s about power and vested interests. So watch out.

Net neutrality is the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet. Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers may not discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies. But all that could change.

I believe any government should be very very careful before it rushes out in the heat of the moment promising to shut down communication channel in order to preserve social order.  Doing that affects all of us. And some fundamental principles upon which our society and our political system is built.

A lot more than twenty questions and still going Part IV

Posted by on May 9th, 2011

1. What exactly did Brash get for his $30k?

2. Did Whale and Hooton get cash?

3. What was Lusk’s role in this?

4. Did Joyce contribute or was he just the fixer?

5. How much of it did Banks pay?

6. Was money only paid into NZ bank accounts?

7. What do Leonie Hapeta and Mark Mitchell have in common?

8. Is employing a specific consultant now a requirement to get a contested National Party selection?

9. Is there transparency during the selection process, ie did all candidates know of the consultant and his assistants roles on behalf of those employing him?

10. Does Whale get paid for all his endorsements of candidates?

11. What do Upston, Gilmore, Woodhouse, Lee Ross, Lotu Iinga, Wagner and Blue have in common?

12. Does Bill English realise that he is being undermined by these processes?

13. Did Goodfellow know his parties party’s consultant was moonlighting with Brash?

14. Has the team offered their services to any other party this year?

15. Did Key know of Joyce’s involvement, and if so did he tell his deputy?

16. What did Joyce say to Lusk last Wednesday night after they were rumbled?

More to come…………

Who feathers penguin’s nest?

Posted by on May 4th, 2011

Been watching political blogs for about 30 months. Pretty interesting – just about always comment on what other parties are doing.

A couple of weeks ago Labour did some Stop Asset Sales signs. Lots of comments. Mainly attack from both the left and the right. Standard, Whale and Kiwiblog all got into it.

About 48 hours ago we did a billboard generator which went wild. 100k page views and over 5k unique addresses within 24 hours. Again the Standard, Cactus Kate and Whaleoil either noted or attacked.

But the blog run by the National Party (or to be more accurate taxpayer funded via the National Party) activist David Farrar decided that no comment would be made on what is a pretty exciting development in online politics in New Zealand.

I wonder if it was his call and if not whether the orders came from Australia or the Beehive.

The power to shut us down

Posted by on January 30th, 2011

Have just come across this piece on NBR where Vodafone NZ has passed on this release on how it has responded to the Egypt telco and internet blackout. And revealed that Vodafone NZ has been affected becasue of the call centre it runs in Egypt.

The ramifications of the shutdown on communicatiosn are huge. It’s led me to ponder how it’s done, and what would be the circumstances that would lead a regime to make the decision to do so. Clearly unlikely here.

No commons twits

Posted by on January 21st, 2011

Silly ruling from Westminster forbidding tweeting from the House.

I don’t twit yet but banning it doesn’t make sense.

From stuff :-

The deputy speaker of Britain’s House of Commons has asked lawmakers not to use Twitter while sitting in the chamber.

Lindsay Hoyle intervened after Kevin Brennan, a Labour lawmaker, noted midway through a debate on education that two other lawmakers there were tweeting about the debate on Twitter.

Brennan complained the lawmakers should have voiced their arguments in Parliament so other lawmakers could have a chance to rebut them, instead of making comments online.

Hoyle warned Wednesday that lawmakers should not use Twitter to update followers while they sit in the Commons.

Post # 5 from Cancun: Groser the Censor

Posted by on December 8th, 2010


I was going to use this post to give a general update on progress here, and to respond to one commenter’s request for a summary of the general position taken by China in the negotiations to date.  I thought it would also be useful to talk about the position of other key nations or blocs, although no single country is as important on the climate issue as the US , which is why I devoted the entirety of post #4 to America.  But all that will have to wait, perhaps until tomorrow, except to say that things are chugging along.  Expectations for a deal are so low that ironically, the best outcome will be things ending not with a bang (ie superpower walkout – threat receded; Japanese now apparently unwilling to support the US in such a move), but a whimper (series of low-level technical agreements which will hopefully enable some further progress at COP17 next year in Durban).

Instead, I am going to respond to a NZ Herald report today – – of a tetchy reply from our Climate Negotiations Minister, Tim Groser, to my criticism of his dogged insistence that New Zealand should remain a member of the US-led “Umbrella Group” in climate negotiations.  Groser says that “no-one has seen much of me” at the talks, that I have breached a convention not to criticise the Government while overseas, and that I am wrong about the policy.

If the first point were a simple personal attack then I would do what I normally do in politics – yawn and ignore it.  But I think it’s actually quite revealing about how out-of -touch a minister – even one whose ego leads him (unwisely) to blur the line between the political and the diplomatic – can get at talks like these.  I’ve been here since last Monday when the talks began.  Groser got here on Wednesday.  As in Copenhagen last year,  I am not a member of the official NZ delegation, and I paid my own way to get here.  Like last year, I’ve been spending a lot of my time at the venue where most of the NGOs are based (“Cancun Messe”) – or at ‘side events’ put on off-site around Cancun by various expert interested groups or by countries with a particular perspective to put forward.  Groser’s been at the Moon Palace (I kid you not – it is really called that), the resort where the national delegations are conducting the actual talks.  I get a  bus here  (pictured) and back every day from my hotel, or to the side events.  There is always a lively discussion on the buses of the issues.  Not sure of the level of majesty (or silence) in which Groser is daily conveyed.


Open Government – Not!

Posted by on December 6th, 2010

An interesting piece on Radio New Zealand this morning:

The Government is refusing to release information about how individual departments and agencies are coping with continuing restrictions on their funding.

Radio New Zealand News asked all Government ministers for the advice they had received about how their agencies planned to meet the tougher spending restraints placed on them.

The requests were transferred to Finance Minister Bill English meaning the specific information requested had not been made available.

Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem says under the law she cannot require that the requests be referred back to individual ministers, but says the Law Commission recommended in its review of the Official Information Act that the anomaly be closed.

In other words, Ministers and departments transfer OIAs to English.  he uses a technicality to refuse to release normal budget documents.  Ombudsman says she cannot intervene.  Law Commission says it stinks.  Which it does.

Labour should support the Law Commisssion’s proposal to remove this anomoly. 

In the meantime it has to be asked – what is it that English and Co. don’t want the public to know?

How deep are those cuts that they say they will inflict on the country?  How are the tradeoffs being managed?

Enough of deliberate secrecy, of government in the shadows.  This is not democracy as it should be.

Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill

Posted by on October 28th, 2010

I understand that the Employment Relations Bill is not available on line.

Link is to pdf – no doubt government will get it’s act together sometime and better quality will be available.

Gee the Aussies actually think ICT issues matter

Posted by on July 26th, 2010

The key ICT political figures in the Federal Election are expected to go head to head in a debate at the National Press Club on 10 August.

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) has extended invitations to communications minister, Stephen Conroy, the Opposition shadow communications minister, Tony Smith, and Greens ICT spokesperson, Scott Ludlam to take part in the event.

Computerworld Australia will seek to clarify each party’s policy commitments on the following ICT-related issues in the lead up to the vote:

  • The National Broadband Network (NBN);
  • e-Health
  • Digital education (computers in schools)
  • Gershon Review changes
  • Government 2.0
  • Security and cyber crime
  • The Internet filter
  • Defence cyber capabilities and oversight
  • ICT skills development
  • ICT innovation
  • Privacy Act changes
  • Sustainable ICT
  • Smart grids, transport and environment systems
  • Online piracy and copyright protection
  • ICT advocacy
  • Online services
  • Departmental IT transformation program

I wonder whether Steven Joyce (the Minister of Communications and many other things)  could have a debate with me on any of these issues (other than broadband).

21st century bookburning

Posted by on July 1st, 2010

The parliamentary library did a paper on National Standards.

Anne Tolley didn’t like it. She forced them to take it down.

That they did is a disgrace and a poor reflection on the speaker who is meant to provide them with protection.

But this millennium the internet works in wonderful ways and the old burn the copies of the papers you don’t like approach is no longer effective.  In fact her intemperate outburst has given the analysis a much wider circulation.

 National Standards cache

A welcome review

Posted by on June 13th, 2010

Last week Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy announced a tightly focused review of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 to reduce the cost burden on industry. I think this makes a lot of sense. A few months ago I spoke to someone working in the industry and was surprised to learn how crazy and outdated some of the regulations in this area are.

For example, if you’re importing a bunch of DVDs, you have to manually place a classification label on them, even if the classification label has already been printed on the packaging. Removing this compliance cost could save film and video game importers up to $2.4 million a year.

It’s important to note that while the review will look at timeframes around classification, with many feeling it takes too long, the classifications themselves are not up for review. Overall, this review looks like a pretty sensible thing to do. I’m interested in any comments…

Edwards says TVNZ suppressed Serepisos story

Posted by on May 2nd, 2010

Pretty serious allegation on Brian Edwards blog that TVNZ Close-Up held back a story on Terry Serepisos debts because it would hurt the TVNZ Apprentice programme.

Sir Robert Jones has his say in SST.  Does seem to be a bit strange that someone claiming to have net worth of $140m doesn’t pay the rates bill or the guy who installs the TV set.

Hat tip Kiwiblog.

Chicken shanks

Posted by on March 10th, 2010

Shanks Poll - National Standards

Within ten minutes of the Red Alert post on her poll show 85% opposed Tolley’s lowering of standards going up Katrina Shanks took it down and even deleted it from her archives.

Talk about dishonest. Goebbels would be proud of her attempt to rewrite history.

We are working to get a screen shot of the survey result.

Racism & Hate – Remove it from FB or I’m Gone..

Posted by on January 25th, 2010

I’ve just discovered this group has been established on facebook. What’s interesting is that it’s been set up to pressure the Facebook administration into removing FB Groups that incite Racism & Hate of any kind. Consumer pressure. Wonder if it’ll have an effect.

The blurb states that such FB groups have been allowed to grow unchecked. The threat is that people will leave if these groups are allowed to persist. I haven’t come across any myself.

But I think it’s interesting, especially in light of Hillary Clinton’s speech on internet freedom delivered last Friday morning where she said:

Some countries have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world’s networks. They’ve expunged words, names, and phrases from search engine results. They have violated the privacy of citizens who engage in non-violent political speech. These actions contravene the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which tells us that all people have the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” With the spread of these restrictive practices, a new information curtain is descending across much of the world…

…all societies recognize that free expression has its limits. We do not tolerate those who incite others to violence, such as the agents of al-Qaida who are, at this moment, using the internet to promote the mass murder of innocent people across the world. And hate speech that targets individuals on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation is reprehensible. It is an unfortunate fact that these issues are both growing challenges that the international community must confront together.

Wonder what Facebook has to say about this?

More on Hillary’s speech coming.

Hillary Clinton major address on internet freedom

Posted by on January 21st, 2010

Just received this notification:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver a major policy address on Internet freedom live from the Newseum in Washington, D.C. January 21, 2010, 9.30am EST, Friday 3.30AM NZ time.  Secretary Clinton will lay-out the Administration’s strategy for protecting freedom in the networked age of the 21st Century.

Following her speech, there will be a panel discussion on this issue. To participate, either by watching a high quality video stream of the speech and panel discussion or by submitting questions and comments while viewing go to: From here, you may choose the high quality video option or the interactive CO.NX room. As always, no password is necessary. Enter as a guest and type the username of your choice.

For further information please visit

Information is also available at’s feature page on Internet Freedom. You can also follow the speech on Twitter:

When released, a transcript of Secretary Clinton’s remarks will be available at

Google threat on China gets Clinton support

Posted by on January 14th, 2010

This is interesting. Just discovered this piece in The Australian about US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “please explain” to the Chinese Govt over Google allegations that it’s been the subject of cyber attacks resulting in the theft of intellectual property.

The Australian reports that:

The attack was also made on about 20 large corporations operating in China and the company says it has evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

Hillary is looking for an explanation from the Chinese government. She says:

The ability to operate with confidence in cyberspace is critical in a modern society and economy.

I will be giving an address next week on the centrality of Internet freedom in the 21st century, and we will have further comment on this matter as the facts become clear.

That’s interesting, as she’ll be here around that time. The whole internet censorship issue is one that we need to pay close attention to.

Update: a quick google search shows this is a developing story. Interested in your thoughts as it means a pullout of China will have implications for the Chinese internet users.