Red Alert

Archive for the ‘media’ Category

Media freedom an “endangered species” in NZ

Posted by on May 9th, 2013

Last Friday was International Press Freedom Day. To mark the occasion, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance which represents journalists in New Zealand and Australia, produced a publication on media freedom. I was asked to submit a contribution. Here it is:

The fundamental role of the news media is simply to report fair and balanced information to citizens. In doing so the news media acts as a ‘watchdog’ or power check, protecting the rights and interests of citizens. While factors such as entertainment undeniably hold some importance to the news media, it is the watchdog function of the news media that is fundamental to the workings of a democracy.

The democratic functions of the media to educate and inform citizens, and to act as a power check to the state has been overridden by content that is focussed on producing profit.

Democratic functions have therefore fallen on the shoulders of public service broadcasters.

In New Zealand, a shrinking media environment, under-resourced watchdogs such as the Ombudsman, the Office of the Auditor General and the Privacy Commission and an unrelenting move away from the notion of public media to commercial media in the broadcasting environment has eroded our ability to uphold these fundamental principles.

The ability of the print media to withstand the pressure of the online environment shows the power of disruptive technology on a business model which is rapidly becoming stressed and replaced with news being gathered online. The big question for our print media is how to make that pay. A discussion on this would require another whole piece, but contributes to an environment in which instability and restructuring are the norm and the craft of “good journalism” is under high stress.

A 2010 report by the UK media academic Chris Hanretty ranked New Zealand’s TVNZ as 19/36 for perceived independence. Australia’s ABC was ranked 5th and the BBC 6th.

Since then the situation has significantly deteriorated. Our only (small) public television broadcaster TVNZ7 was axed by the conservative National Government in 2012. The state owned broadcaster TVNZ  had its public service charter removed in 2011 and has been forced to become fully commercial.

New Zealand is now the only country in the OECD (bar Mexico) which does not fund a public television broadcaster.

Our public service radio broadcaster Radio NZ has had its funding frozen for more than three years. It has become lonely and increasingly isolated as the beacon of media freedom in a commercialised and cynical media environment.

The past four years has seen the steady decline in the news media’s effectiveness to report fair and balanced information on news and current events. Government policy has created a media environment in which the news media cannot function efficiently, increasingly leaving citizens in the dark about decisions that affect their everyday lives.

Market pressures force the news media to focus on ‘infotainment’ or the sensational in order to keep costs low and profits high. This has led to an environment where reporting standards continue to slip leaving significant events and decisions with little or no coverage.

Government policies have also included a deal between TVNZ and Sky TV (Igloo) which essentially maintained Sky TV’s monopoly of the pay TV market, and the failure to reserve spectrum for public service broadcasting after the digital switch over.

The Government’s support of commercial media and continual disregard for public service content can also be seen in the recent funding decisions of NZ on Air (NZoA) which acts as the Government’s broadcasting funding mechanism, supporting locally produced free to air content across all broadcasting mediums. NZoA’s annual statement of intent must be approved by the broadcasting Minister and Government, which means the Government of the day has a direct influence on it.

Recent NZoA funding decisions certainly reflect the Government’s priorities and ethos regarding the media. TVNZ 2’s reality television show NZ’s Got Talent recently received $1.6 million, and while the show arguably does show young New Zealand talent it is certainly questionable whether the commercially-attractive formulaic programme should have been considered for arts and culture funding.

Despite public concern, NZoA recently announced that it would spend another $1.6 million to fund TV3’s The X Factor NZ, another talent show based on a similar format. Rather than producing cultural content that genuinely would not be produced without funding, NZoA has continued to support major broadcasters through the funding of commercially viable content.

NZoA has based its funding decisions on dividing funds equally between major broadcasters rather than in the interests of the public. Whilst these foreign formatted reality television shows have received $3.2 million out of the tax payer’s pocket running on prime television at peak times attracting advertising dollars, local current affairs shows and unique locally conceived drama and factual shows are nearly at the brink of extinction.

These decisions made by NZoA reflect the Government’s stance on a free, fair, and balanced media. NZoA funding is only one example among many in the Government’s support of commercial broadcasters at the cost of citizens.

TVNZ has recently replaced its log running current affairs nightly programme Close Up with 7 Sharp which can at best be described as infotainment rather than investigative journalism, and fair and balanced information.

Perhaps the most bizarre event recently in the New Zealand media is pay-TV provider Sky TV announcement that it will air a public service channel. Beginning in February Sky TV is airing Face TV, a public service channel dedicated to screening local and international news and current affairs.

Whilst some could argue that this is an instance of the market filling a gap, this argument is deeply flawed as the channel is behind Sky TV’s pay TV wall and therefore is not accessible to all New Zealanders. This move by Sky TV reflects that New Zealanders not only need but also but want public service content, and signals the Government’s blatant disregard of non-commercial broadcasting in New Zealand.

The New Zealand media truly is in dire straits. Government policy and direction has created a media and political environment that is simply unable to provide the information that citizens need to make informed decisions leaving dominant powers unquestioned and unchecked. The rights and interests of the citizen are no longer protected. This boils down to whether democratic processes can work without an effective and efficient news media. Perhaps ironically, if the news media had been functioning properly these issues may have already been addressed.

Filed under: media

David Parker on media independence and freedom

Posted by on March 11th, 2012

David Parker writes a guest column in NBR on the importance of media independence and freedom.

It’s worth a read:

Media freedom and independence under threat

David Parker | WEEKEND REVIEW |

The SFO issued that order against the NBR with no outside oversight.

NBR was right to inquire into what had gone wrong. The SFO interference in the NBR proved beyond doubt that the SFO powers are excessive and undermine the important role of a free media.

OPINION: Media freedoms are absolutely essential to the long-term health of any democracy. New Zealand is no exception.

The production order used by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) against the National Business Review demanded that NBR give up their records, including sources, of the NBR inquiry into the South Canterbury collapse.

That collapse caused hundreds of millions of dollars of cost to tax payers. The huge losses led to allegations of improper behaviour by South Canterbury Finance.

Serious questions were also raised about incompetence of the Government and its Ministry (the Treasury).

They allowed the size of that risk to grow by hundreds of millions after the Crown guarantee was granted, and rejected alternative ways of solving the problem which may have saved tens if not hundreds of millions.

Read the rest of the article here

A free, independent media. What’s it worth?

Posted by on March 11th, 2012

If you believe NZ should have a free and independent media, and that this is being eroded surely but steadily under this government, then it’s worth having a look at Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss’s responses to this question in the House last week.

I wasn’t inspired by the answers. Neither should any New Zealander be. Keep watching this space.

The Law Commission’s recent  and important report on the regulatory gaps in new media had this to say about the importance of free independent media:

An independent and free press, unfettered by political interference, was seen to be a necessary embodiment of an individual’s right to free expression and an essential condition for democracy.

Here’s the transcript for those who can’t access the video clip:

Questions for Oral Answer
Thursday 8 March 2012

Press, Free—Government Broadcasting Policy
12. CLARE CURRAN (Labour—Dunedin South) to the Minister of Broadcasting: Is he confident that current Government broadcasting policy upholds the standards of an independent and free press; if so, why?

Hon CRAIG FOSS (Minister of Broadcasting): Of course I have confidence in this Government’s policy, which upholds the standards of an independent and free press as established in the  Broadcasting Act 1989, and which provides a robust broadcasting standards and compliance regime.
Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Well, it is a primary question and it does have two parts. The second part was not addressed by the Minister.

Mr SPEAKER: The member raises a fair point. It is a primary question that was asked, and the Minister answered the first part—that he is confident—but he did not actually say why.

Hon Phil Goff: Because he doesn’t know.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I invite the Minister to clarify that part. The party asking the question did not perceive that to be answered, and I must confess I did not either.


The New Watchdogs

Posted by on February 19th, 2012

A documentary film just released in France, titled Les Nouveaux Chien de Gard (or The New Watchdogs) outlines how most newspapers, radio and television stations are owned by industrial or financial groups closely linked to power.

The film is based on an essay by Serge Halimi about media , published in 1997. The book was made ​​into a film in France in January 2012. It sets out the collusion between government media, political and economic, focussing on television and major French newspapers.

It could translate into pretty much any country around the world. I understand it also sets out a challenge to journalists to not be tame and to stand up for their craft.

Perhaps you’ll find it odd that a politician would care, let alone write about such things. As a former journalist I care strongly about the importance of good journalism, the ownership structures of our media, the lack of investment in public broadcasting and the growing concerns about political interference that is daily undermining the craft, putting more pressure on individual journalists and treating news as a commodity.

Isn’t it time we stood up for independence, more objective reporting and pride in the craft of journalism?More distance between media and governments (any government). The media was named as the fourth pillar of democracy for good reasons. Can we fight for it in this country too?

The promo clip below for Les Nouveaux Chien de Gard is in French. But you might get the gist.

Who are our new watchdogs?

Hat tip: BE


Posted by on February 17th, 2012

Source: Twitter via abc730

Key’s worst day ever ? Runs away from the media.

Posted by on November 16th, 2011

Filed under: media, national

Cuppa Tea gone sour

Posted by on November 14th, 2011

On the Stuff website last night:

Key, campaigning in Hawke’s Bay, said he wasn’t in the “slightest bit concerned” about what was on the tape. He said the conversation was “bland” – but has refused to make public what was said.

I don’t know all the circumstances of the taping of John Key’s and John Bank’s cuppa tea conversation. But I make these points:

  • The event was stage managed by the National Party. It was a hyped up event. Media were invited to film the meeting of Key and Banks, but not the actual conversation. There was an enormous amount of spin around it.
  • National’s intention was for Epsom voters to know that John Key thought they should vote for Banks.
  • The meeting was recorded without their knowledge. The journalist responsible owned up and fronted the media himself.
  • The Herald on Sunday did not publish the contents. They reported they had the tape.
  • John Key is now spinning it as News of the World tactics. He asserts that the journalist deliberately set out to covertly record a conversation. That’s a big accusation. I’d like to know if he wants the journalist charged? What about the Herald on Sunday?
  • Key says the conversation was bland.  But he won’t provide the nation with the contents.
  • There is enormous public interest in this issue. It could result in an Act/National coalition arrangement.
  • If National allowed the cameras and the media part way in for their own ends, then they’ve now got to front up and tell the nation what was said.
  • I cannot fathom what the privacy argument could possibly be that outweighs the public interest on this. There’s an election in 13 days time. These two men were discussing an arrangement between their respective parties. Surely the public has a right to know what it is.

A private conversation is held privately. Not stage managed in public. Tell us what you promised John Banks, John Key!

A new public broadcaster

Posted by on November 1st, 2011

1. There is no public television broadcaster in NZ. Our public broadcasting environment is depleted. Labour believes a strong, independent, free public media service  NOT driven by commercial interests is essential to an informed democracy.

2. A Labour Government will immediately start a debate to establish a new non-commercial public broadcaster. It will include the functions of Radio NZ and TVNZ7. It will consider other functions. So to be clear we will keep TVNZ7. Radio NZ will retain its autonomy. We will strengthen them and may add services. We will ensure the governance of the new broadcaster is more arms length from government.

3. It will exist in the digital environment. Therefore it spans the traditional broadcasting telco industry and internet realms. This is called convergence. Labour has already signalled a converged regulatory environment for broadcasting and telco sectors.

4. A public and industry (broadcasting and telco sectors) debate will take place on the final shape and funding mechanisms. There are a range of options to be canvassed. The debate is important because it will be a New Zealand broadcaster that belongs to all of us and is about us. The lack of a public broadcaster has been debated. The shape of a future one has not. That debate has been sorely missing.

4. We don’t anticipate any extra cost to the taxpayer. We will asking the sectors how they think it should be funded. The outcome could be a mix of options. We are not prejudging or anticipating the outcome of this. The debate hasn’t been had. Many stakeholders are keen to have it.

5. The debate will be concluded within a year and it is anticipated that decisions will be made and any regulatory and other changes underway.

This is a significant policy. It marks an important change towards a contemporary Kiwi approach to protecting and promoting our culture in the 21st Century. It’s a commitment not made lightly and it’s a commitment we will see through.

I hope you agree.

Even the cheerleaders are turning on Key

Posted by on October 13th, 2011

Transtasman today :-

Govt agencies seemed slow to react to the ship running
aground on the Astrolabe reef. They did not appear to spring
into action, nor anticipate worst case outcomes. Local
residents, understandably appalled by the sight of toxic oil
sludge washing ashore, have complained of a lack of leadership.
They were incensed when Ministers said the salvage and cleanup
should be “left to the experts.”

Filed under: media, national

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.

Crossing the line

Posted by on October 5th, 2011

Popularity and power go together. I think we all know it. Whether it’s in the school playground, the boardroom, the big screen or the bear pit of parliament.

If you have the gift of the gab and a brain, then you’ve got an “x factor;” something that others want to be near and have a part of.

But with power comes responsibility and judgement. The more popularity, the more power, and the risk that good responsible judgement goes out the window.

That happened last week I believe, when the Prime Minister was a DJ on an hour long show with no editorial control on Radio Live interviewing celebrity guests and generally chatting about (supposedly) nothing to do with the election.

It was less than 8 weeks before the election. he is the Prime Minister. A politician. His Party wants to be returned to power. It was an opportunity not offered to the Leaders of other parties.

The National Party’s election strategy is based around John Key’s popularity. Brand Key. All its election hoardings bear his picture. Activists and candidates wear t-shirts with “I’m a Key person” on them.

An hour long show on Radio Live in a prominent Friday afternoon slot was about cementing Brand Key in the minds of listeners. It was a clever marketing idea. It was not a clever political strategy. And it was not “fair”.

Radio Live is owned by Radioworks, which is part of Mediaworks. In 2009 the National Government provided Mediaworks with a $43 million loan to defer payments for their radio spectrum licenses.

This issue has been covered extensively in the media since March this year when it came to light. There is, at the very least, a perception that Mediaworks was provided favourable treatment by the government. In that case it is even more important for Mediaworks to ensure they are extremely balanced in their election coverage.

On Monday, Labour submitted a complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority over the PM’s show. Another complaint was lodged with the Electoral Commission.

Labour contends that the New Zealand electoral system is based on fairness, responsibility and impartiality to order for Kiwis to make their voting choices without pressure or misleading information.

We believe the show breached the Broadcasting Act and the Electoral Act.

I was completely gobsmacked when I heard that Mediaworks had given the Prime Minister a free hour. I believe, as I think all new Zealanders do that we are all entitled to a fair trial if we are accused of something and charged. I also believe that New Zealanders are entitled to a fair electoral system.

It doesn’t matter how popular you are. None of us are above the law. There’s always a point when the popular guy crosses the line and takes too much for granted.

The right to a fair go is a deeply held belief in our country. It doesn’t matter what side of politics you’re on. I think that’s the test here.

It has resonance for all our media and I reckon they aren’t happy at being put in this position.

Where’s your socialist streak?

Posted by on August 26th, 2011

I bet you didn’t know that New Zealanders are really just a bunch of socialists.

John Key said we are, so it must be true.

According to Wikileaks cables in the media today John Key met with visiting charge d’affaire Glyn Davies in 2008 and told him National could not adopt conservative policies because a “socialist streak” runs through all New Zealanders.

Next time Alan Peachy rails against Labour as “those socialists” in one of his raving speeches in the house (which always reduce me to fits of laughter), I will enjoy reminding he has a socialist streak too.

More on wikileaks in the media here.

Filed under: media, politics

Politics should be about ideas

Posted by on August 23rd, 2011

Politics should be a contest of ideas. Increasingly it’s becoming more and more focused on tactics and personalities. More column inches have been devoted to analysing whether Labour’s tax policies have moved our poll ratings than have been devoted to detailing what the policies actually are and whether they’re a good idea or not. Plenty of publicity has been given to John Key’s Rugby World Cup forays, much less attention to the fact that under his watch unemployment has sky-rocketed and the cost of living is rising at the fastest rate in over 21 years.

But that’s the reality. We can complain about it, or we can get out there and redouble our efforts to promote the ideas we believe in. I want to be part of Labour government after this year’s election because I think we’ve got the best ideas for turning our economy around, giving hard-working Kiwis a break, and securing a brighter future for our country.

I hate comparisons between politics and sport, but there is one analogy with sport that I do find useful from time to time. In politics, as in sport, it’s important to “leave it all out on the field”. We compete fiercely with our opponents, we think our ideas are better, and we think we’re better able to manage the challenges we face. But we should never forget that our opponents are also driven by decent intent, however misguided we may think that they are.

Nobody is entitled to power, or to claim ownership of a particular constituency. In a democracy, it’s a right that has to constantly be earned. Likewise, I think it shows total contempt for voters to declare the electoral race all but run before the starting whistle has even been blown. There are still three months to go before polling day, and I, along with my colleagues, intend to campaign for the ideas and values that Labour represents right up to the last hour. This one is too important.

Can of worms

Posted by on August 16th, 2011

Breaking news:

Phone hacking: News of the World reporter’s letter reveals cover-up

Disgraced royal correspondent Clive Goodman’s letter says phone hacking was ‘widely discussed’ at NoW meetings

The claims are acutely troubling for the prime minister, David Cameron, who hired Coulson as his media adviser on the basis that he knew nothing about phone hacking. And they confront Rupert and James Murdoch with the humiliating prospect of being recalled to parliament to justify the evidence which they gave last month on the aftermath of Goodman’s allegations.

Filed under: media

Tweet of the Week

Posted by on July 24th, 2011

Moana is unable to post this week. I am the ring in. So I shall start with a King and end with a Queen (yes I will)

PS: I don’t think my layout is as good as hers

These words give us all strength and courage

NorwayUN NorwayUN

King Harald of #Norway: “when the nation is tested, the strength, cohesion and courage of the Norwegian people becomes evident.” #Utøya

15 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply

and these

@andy_williamson Andy Williamson

RT Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg: “The answer to violence is even more democracy. Even more humanity” Hope our world leaders are listening

23 hours ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

Retweeted by Roselady64 and 100+ others

and these

olavkjorven Olav Kjorven

Deeply saddened by senseless attacks in Norway. Thanks for outpouring of support from around the world to a hurt but sturdy people.

17 hours ago Favorite Undo Retweet Reply

then there was this. Not so good

homebrewcrew Home Brew

‘Key uses Norway massacre to justify NZs military involvement in Afghanistan’. Can we please do something bout this guy in November people?

9 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply

and the clash of stories

mingyeow Ming Yeow Ng

Via @dcurtis: Norway was attacked, Amy Winehouse is dead, Greece has defaulted, the US is about to, and New York melted. What a week :(

7 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply

Billy Bragg had this to say about the 27 club

billybragg Billy Bragg

It’s not age that Hendrix, Jones, Joplin, Morrison, Cobain & Amy have in common – it’s drug abuse, sadly #27club

14 hours ago Favorite Undo Retweet Reply

and the final word goes to Her Majesty about “that other story” which, am pretty sure, won’t go away easily

@Queen_UK Elizabeth Windsor

No, Mr Murdoch, you cannot “pop round” after you’ve finished at the Commons.

19 Jul via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

Diversion: that hacking thing is a beat up (says Fox)

Posted by on July 18th, 2011

Fox News’ take on the the News of the World hacking scandal.

Hacking is a big problem they say, but it’s foreign govt hacking that we should worry about not Murdoch empire hacking (ie a US media empire hacking into citizen’s phones to get stories)

They say it’s the hacking that’s a problem, protection of privacy. Well yes that is a problem, but the fact that a media empire is seriously implicated in a phone hacking scandal is and remains very serious.

Fox found a PR guy to create a diversion.

He says that for some reason the public keeps going over it again and again…. And we should now move on and talk about the important topics of the day. Yeah right

We’ll see.

Breaking News: Rebekah Brooks is arrested in London

The slippery slope

Posted by on July 13th, 2011

Public television broadcasting ended in NZ last night. The TVNZ Amendment Bill passed which kills the TVNZ Charter. TVNZ is now required to be a commercial broadcaster. it remains State owned for now but is likely being prepared for sale by a government that has no commitment to public broadcasting.

While the National Govt axes the Charter and drives a stake into public TV broadcasting,  there’s a mounting crisis in the media world; in the relationship between media and politicians which could severely impact on the Murdoch media empire and the UK Govt.

The News of the World phone hacking scandal has reverberated around the globe. The Murdoch empire has tentacles in many countries.

There’s some important lessons here.

Independent public media, not captured by vested interests is critical to the health of a nation. The public needs to know that politicians and media aren’t in bed with each other, that there’s standards that media adhere to and lines that wont be crossed. If they are crossed, that the judicial system will investigate and prosecute. And wont be captured and muzzled by fear of powerful media.

But the passing of this Bill takes NZ on a slippery slope to a place where vested interests rule our media. Hopefully not our politicians.


We’ve already seen the government fork out $43 million to bail out Mediaworks. It’s pretty clear that TVNZ is being prepared for sale and meanwhile Sky gains a bigger slice of the unregulated broadcasting sphere. Unfettered. Not good.

Labour is committed to a strong independent public media. If you have had any doubts about the need, just look across the hemisphere.

All governments are susceptible to media influence. Especially big media empires. Which makes for a compelling case for independent publicly funded media which is arms length from government.

Damage control

Posted by on July 9th, 2011

Just watched an Australian (part Murdoch-owned) Sky News report where The (Murdoch-owned) Australian newspaper is forced to “deny” phone hacking activities aka those undertaken by the (Murdoch-owned) News of the World (NotW) newspaper.


And think I agree with the Telegraph editor David Hughes (did I say that?) who thinks that the decision to close News of the World is not only about protecting News International’s chief executive Rebekah Brooks:

“Most of all, this move is designed to ensure that News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB goes ahead. That is at the heart of Murdoch’s strategy, not the fate of Britain’s best-selling red top.

The BBC has gathered a series of opinions on it which is worth a look.

Murdoch’s decision to close NotW is all about damage control. It’s certainly a disaster for him re NotW. But there’s a much bigger play happening. UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s response today yesterday to call an inquiry into the phone hacking shows just how big that play is.

David Cameron is now very exposedAndy Coulson, his former press spokesman, has been arrested  in connection with allegations of corruption and phone hacking.

Cameron has been busy covering himself. Shows what can happen when those with the levers of power over-reach themselves.

It appears the NotW demise is the fall guy. I believe they will attempt to ensure that the BSkyB network remains in Murdoch hands , but events may overtake.

Chickens coming home to roost.

Makes you wonder about our patch.

Update: And this just takes the cake. Cameron, calling for an inquiry into the phone hacking, calls for the end of close relationship between politicians and the media. Only when it doesn’t suit!

What we’re missing out on…

Posted by on June 26th, 2011

Statistics before culture….

The Chaser’s War on Everything has been cutting edge TV in Australia since the mid 2000s. It’s stopped for now though they tried to bring it back during the Royal Wedding (got squashed by the BBC).

It’s irreverant, it pisses off politicians, celebrities, people in high places. But it’s comedy, it’s clever, it’s out there and it’s taking the piss.

We used to be funnier here. We used to do this sort of stuff. But we seem to have lost our ability to do it. Or pretty much.

Why? We’ve got to sort this…

The inequality of news

Posted by on June 18th, 2011

Came across this just now on Twitter. From the UK’s Financial Times. It seems relevant.

Two extracts below and you can read the whole piece here

Now the rich are always with us …

By Simon Kuper

Published: June 17 2011 22:14 |

Forty years ago, the typical person in the western world read the local newspaper. It told you which local butcher was retiring, who had celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary, and it covered the local politicians, athletes and business owners. Twenty years ago, the typical person read the national paper. It covered the national elite. Today that person gets news or Twitter feeds from websites that cover the global elite: everyone from Lady Gaga to Barack Obama.

This shift – from local news to global – is well-known. Less well-known is one of its consequences: news has become news about rich people. Today’s economic inequality is reflected and driven by inequality of news.

and this:

The daily focus on the rich has two consequences. First, these people become part of our own imagined peer group, and so we grow dissatisfied with our own income. It was more soothing to read about the local butcher than about the commodity trader Ivan Glasenberg and his £5.8bn.

Second, we forget the poor. They may always be with us, but not in the media. The perhaps 2.5 billion people with less than $2 a day get ignored, due to the triple whammy of being poor, non-white and non-Anglophone.

For instance, there’s a new treatment that stops the spread of Aids, but rich countries are reluctant to fund it. This has generated a few worthy editorials in highbrow publications, but otherwise is considered too boring to tweet.

In this country we know there’s need and that the cost of living is way too high for vast numbers of us. Not just the people who are described as the traditional poor. But the new poor; the people who have lost incomes, houses and quality of life and are struggling for their very existence. They are growing in number.

Let’s not hide the increasing desperation and hardship many people are feeling. And when considered ideas and solutions get put up, let’s not brush them aside and hide them behind a slogan put up by the other side.