Saturday, 20 August 2005

One News ditches Exec. Producer

Expect a few changes on State TV's One News over the coming weeks and months, following the news that Executive Producer Melanie Jones has left the building.

According to the papers, Jones finished work at 10am yesterday (Friday), after a meeting with TVNZ's Head of News Bill Ralston.

It follows a slow but steady slide in the ratings for flagship show One News, as viewers moved across to rival 3 News... a rating's slide which has accelerated over the last four months.

Concerns that John Campbell and Carol Hirschfeld's move to their own 7pm show, Campbell Live could hit the ratings of 3 News proved wrong.

Campbell Live has performed better than TV3's initial expectations, while Hilary Barry and Mike McRoberts have proven a successful combination as news presenters at 6pm.

(Maybe TV One could return to a 2 presenter format? What about sitting Simon Dallow beside Judy... a competent presenter and a very intelligent interviewer to boot).

The changes at TV One will also likely impact late night news show, Tonight, which still has ratings problems when pitched against TV3 rival show Nightline, now presented by former reporter Carly Kirkwood.

State TV's move comes just weeks after Prime Television decided to cancel Paul Holmes' weeknightly current affairs show, which had continued to struggle in the ratings after moving to 6pm opposite One News and 3 News.

* NZ Herald: 'One News' chief out after ratings slide

Update: One News presenter Judy Bailey has come out in support of Melanie Jones in today's Sunday Star Times. It says other senior members of the news team were very angry about Bill Ralston's decision, and questions whether Bailey's comments could hint at problems when TVNZ come to renegotiate her contract later in the year.

* Stuff: News star joins fray over axing

* NZ Herald: Speculation grows over Jones' dismissal

[ Right now I'm listening to:
^ Uniting Nations - You and Me
^ Tina Cousins - Wonderful Life ]

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Friday, 19 August 2005

Benson-Pope Encourages Vandalism

David Benson-Pope has resorted to gutter politics in his home electorate of Dunedin South.

Following a recent "Meet the Candidates" meeting in Mosgiel, just south of Dunedin City, Benson-Pope slapped a Labour sticker on the car bumper of National Party candidate, Conway Powell.

Benson-Pope publicly accepted responsibility for the incident on local television tonight, but tried to brush it off as just a harmless bit of fun.

However, many people may remember DBP's own response to people sticking things on other people's property...

During the debate over the Civil Union Bill, protestors pasted spoof-Tui-billboard posters to the window of Benson-Pope's Dunedin South electorate office.

DBP was outraged, even calling on Police to call round to the alledged offenders' home, to collect money to pay for the cost of removing the posters.

Conway Powell is rightly disgusted as DBP's actions, and his arrogant response. Can we take from Benson-Pope's actions that he's concerned his safe Labour seat might be challenged?? He should be having a ball on the campaign trail!?

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Thursday, 18 August 2005

Stop your Balling!

I see the tennis balls theme has made a reappearance in National's new "Taxathon" TV Ads.

I wonder how the police investigations are coming along?...

[ Right now I'm listening to:
^ Daniel Powter - Bad Day
^ Goldfrapp - Ooh La La
^ Sisse Marie - Boom ]

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Have you looked behind the sofa?

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Labour's 0% Tax Pledge discriminates against Singles & Couples without kids

Spend! Spend! Spend! Quickly, before anyone else figures out it's there!!

It's intriguing to see just how many money Labour has managed to "find behind the sofa cushions" since Dr Cullen's Chewing Gum Budget ;-)

Back in May, there was apparently no room for extra spending, but now that we're in election mode, there's billions of dollars spare for items like Free Student Loans, and more Operations.

Now, Labour's announced plans to go even further than the current policy of the ACT Party... apparently slashing the effective PAYE tax rate of people earning under $35,000 a year to 0%.

That's right "at least" 0% apparently (and possible more). Nix. Nada. Not a bean, according to Labour's Family Tax Relief Calculator.

$1.3 billion has been "discovered" for the new policy... However, the catch is, it only applies to people with children... Not for the growing number of single people out there.

According to Labour's calculator, a family with one child earning $35,000 a year would get "tax relief of $7,300 a year by 2007... effectively paying (less than) no tax on their wages/salary.

A single person - or a couple without children - on the same income would pay around $7,245 in direct tax, with little or new relief. Labour's policy would mean the country's single people would be working to subsidise the country's families.

How fair is this? On top of Labour's zero tax plan, many services paid for by the Government out of taxation funds are disproportionately used by families rather than single people or couples without kids (Health, Education, Welfare).

Shouldn't families be expected to make some sort of direct contribution to the Government's coffers, if they want to have the free or subsidised services in return?

I'd be happy for the Government to introduce PAYE tax rates of 0% for the entire population, letting everybody keep everything they earn, and giving them the choice and flexibility to just pay for the services they want and need themselves.

A fair deal for all... not forcing many hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders to totally subsidise the lives of one group.

* Stuff: Labour announces boost in family tax relief

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Thursday, 11 August 2005

Courts decide NZ TV Programming

Today's decision by the High Court to order private broadcaster TV3 to make room for two more minor party leaders in tonight's debate is a little disappointing, and very bewildering.

United Future leader, Peter Dunne, and Progressive Party leader, Jim Anderton, took TV3 to court, after the broadcaster invited just the top 6 polling parties (based on their last TNS poll) to their first election campaign debate. Labour, National, NZ First, Greens, Maori Party and ACT were all invited on that basis.

According to the NZ Herald, expert testimony from the prosecution said the poll that TV3 based its decision on "had a margin of error greater than the margins between the smaller parties".

No further details were given, but I wonder whether those "experts" actually understand what "margin of error" actually means... (ie. A margin of error of + or - 3.2% doesn't actually mean you can add or subtract 3.1% for a party registering, say, 2% support. It's a fatal error many people - including most journos - seem to make).

Justice Ron Young said he was reluctant to tell TV3 how to run its business, but did so all the same. He also admitted "it may not make for ideal television". He may well be right on that count.

Even juggling 6 party leaders in a commerical one hour format was going to be a tough workout for John Campbell. Now that TV3 have to squeeze eight leaders in, the debate could be in danger of being light on informed debate, and high on theatrics.

It also seems unfair to other minor parties who are polling above or around Mr Anderton's party... Destiny NZ polled 0.6% (above Anderton's Progressives on 0.4%), and I'm guessing others around that level could include Christian Heritage, the Legalise Marijuana bunch, and the Liberterianz?

If the judges decision were to be followed further, broadcasters could be forced to have 12-way debates?!

TV3's Director of News and Current Affairs, Mark Jennings, says he's "deeply concerned at the serious precedent this ruling has created... the ruling has significant implications regarding media freedom in New Zealand".

The decision surprised many others in the New Zealand media, and could have wider implications if left unchallenged. (TV3 say they're examining their legal options for challenging the precedent this ruling has caused, and will make a decision over the next few weeks).

I also wonder what this decision (by the same judge that rejected TV3's Corngate appeal last year) means for other proposed leaders debates on TV3 and other channels, many which were set to include just Helen Clark and Don Brash?

See also...
* Sir Humphrey's: Free Speech Is Dead

* DPF's Blog: Did the Judge understand Margins of Error?

* NZ Pundit: Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber v. a Free Press

* TV3 Media Release: Mark Jennings on High Court Ruling

* NZ Herald: MPs win bid to be included in TV3 debate

* Stuff NZ: MPs win case against TV3

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