Monday, 23 October 2006

State Radio forced to pay costs for Tennisgate IV

State radio broadcaster, Radio NZ has been ordered to pay $7000 in costs, after the Broadcasting Standards Authority upheld a complaint by MP David Benson-Pope that an interview they carried was "unfair".

Radio New Zealand broadcast an anonymous interview with a former Bayfield High School student, who alleged Benson-Pope - a former Associate Minister of Education - bullied students while working as a teacher at Dunedin's Bayfield High School in the 80s.

Benson-Pope asked for over $20,000 in costs, but the BSA ordered the State radio broadcaster pay $5,000 to the Government MP, plus another $2,000 to the Crown.

The anonymous interview with a male student was broadcast on the Radio NZ's "Nine to Noon" show. The man alleged Benson-Pope enjoyed giving corporal punishment, laughing as he caned students until drawing blood. The former pupil described Benson-Pope as a "nasty bastard" and "a liar".

Many other students came forward with similar allegations of bullying, including Benson-Pope's unusual tennis ball fetish... the former teacher used to throw tennis balls at his students, and jam tennis balls in their mouths as punishment.

It was also alleged he taped students' hands to the desk, and smacked one student in the face so hard he made their nose bleed.

The allegations came to light following the launch of an "anti bullying campaign" by the then-Associate Minister of Education.

However, the BSA didn't uphold the complaint that the Radio NZ programme was unbalanced, and declined to determine whether the programme was inaccurate.

Dunedin Police last year found a prima facie case against the former teacher-turned-politician for at least two bullying events, but announced they wouldn't be prosecuting the Labour MP.

Meanwhile, the BSA declined to uphold a second Benson-Pope complaint against State TV broadcaster, TV One. It said an item screened on One News alleging Benson-Pope had treated female Bayfield High School students inappropriately was not unbalanced, unfair, or inaccurate.

Those allegations included the former teacher staring at female students' legs, and making them stand outside at night during a school camp, wearing just nighties. Benson-Pope had no comment to make about either BSA decision.

* Stuff: Radio NZ 'unfair' to Benson-Pope over bully allegations

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Tuesday, 17 October 2006

24 Clocks out for Kiwi viewers

Boo sux to the programming boffins at TV3, who've pulled action drama series 24 from their Friday night schedules from this week, replacing it with repeats of House.

24 was this year's most Emmy-award winning television series, with five Emmys including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama for Kiefer Sutherland.

However TV3 claims the current series of 24 "hasn't drawn a large enough audience to justify its primetime slot".

Season 5 of the show, starring Kiefer Sutherland, has been coming second in its Friday 8.30pm timeslot (in TV3's 18-49 demographic)... slightly behind State TV2's The Closer, but well ahead of the offerings on State TVOne.

It's hardly a ratings bomb though, which makes the decision to pull the show a little surprising. TV3 plan to screen the rest of this series in a late Saturday night timeslot, following their movie (they previously had repeat screenings of 24 in this slot).

I wonder whether the reason 24 has slipped slightly in the ratings here this time around has more to do with TV3's scheduling of the show, than the show itself.

In most markets, 24 is a male-skewing show. 24's poorest week here recently coincided with the launch of the female-skewing America's Next Top Model as its lead-in... and competition from an Air NZ Cup match between Canterbury and Wellington over on Sky.
However, in the United States, the latest series has recorded its best ever ratings. After being moved away from the female-skewing American Idol to a new Monday night slot, 24 saw overall ratings go up by 16% overall (with a 14% increase in viewers 18-49).

Fox are planning to launch Season Six of 24 in January next year for US viewers, with double episodes over two nights. Hopefully TV3 will look for a more suitable show to pair it with, and a different timeslot here in New Zealand next year.

* FOX TV: Watch the Official Trailer for Season 6 here...

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Thursday, 12 October 2006

Labour finally gives in; Minors still defiant

Public pressure this afternoon forced the Labour party to finally agree to pay back $824,524 in taxpayer funding that it unlawfully spent during last year's election campaign.

Auditor General Kevin Brady's report was released this afternoon, and revealed Labour were by far the biggest culprit in misspending parliamentary funds on electioneering.

The majority of Labour's dodgy spending went on a glossy "pledge card" and brochure featuring leader Hillin Cluck, which was delivered to households around the country.

The party, which normally relies on the country's unions for funding support, will tithe its MPs, as well as asking supporters to dip into their pockets to help out. Labour has already set up a donation website and 0900 phoneline ;-)

The Labour Party Cake Stall... Coming soon to a town near you

However, PM Cluck still refuses to accept the Auditor General's report is the correct interpretation, and doesn't believe that misappropriating three quarters of a million dollars of taxpayer funds is in any way "corrupt".

National ($11,912) and the Maori Party ($54) have already repaid their misspending, while ACT ($20,115) and the Greens ($87,192) say they'll do the same.

But Labour's lapdop support parties New Zealand First ($157,934) and United Future ($71,867) say they don't plan to write any cheques at this stage. (Admittedly, neither party is particularly wealthy, and Winston First may find his supporters reluctant to donate, given his refusal to back Rodney Hide's bill to limit local rates increases).

* NZ Herald: Labour supporters to be asked to pay back election spending
* Kiwiblog: Stolen Money per vote (a couple of interesting breakdowns)
* Whale Oil Beef Hooked
* Hat tip: Generation XY

(17/10 Update: United Future has now agreed to pay back the money they owe)

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Wednesday, 11 October 2006

$11.5 Billion, and not even a Stick of Gum?

The international media have quickly picked up on the news that New Zealand's Labour-led minority coalition government ran a record $11.5 billion operating surplus for the year to June... but still refused to consider any sort of tax cuts.

Finance spokesman for the National Party, John Key says New Zealand is now running the second biggest surplus in the developed world (after Norway). He believes "the greedy Labour-led government should apologize for gouging New Zealand taxpayers."

* Houston Chronicle: New Zealand Records Biggest Surplus
* Huge surplus shows Labour has gouged taxpayers

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Wednesday, 4 October 2006

TV's High School Musical breaks more records, and goes Bollywood

The smash hit Disney Channel TV film High School Musical has set a new Guinness World Record for the "Most successful songs from a Soundtrack". No less than 9 songs from the multi-million selling soundtrack cracked the US Top 100 chart earlier this year.

And now the teen phenomenon has finally hit British shores, with almost 2 million people watching High School Musical's debut on the UK's Disney Channel late last month. The BBC have also picked the made-for-tv movie up for its Christmas schedule, and the track Breaking Free is currently #9 in the UK singles charts.

The TV musical has even made it to India... The dialogue and hit songs of the High School Musical soundtrack have been re-recorded in Hindi, with Indian instruments added for the authentic Bollywood sound ;-)

Meanwhile, Zac Efron (Troy) has confirmed recent reports that he didn't entirely sing all his songs on the High School Musical soundtrack... He apparently sings "like the beginnings and ends of all of the songs", but a chap named Drew Seeley sings the rest, including all those high bits ;-)
A sequel to the Emmy Award-winning musical is on the way - High School Musical 2: Sing It All Or Nothing! - featuring the original cast as well as the talents of Director Kenny Ortega. (A third movie is also likely, although may not feature all of the original cast).

* High School Musical - Online Store

* Digital Spy: High School Musical (Interview with Cast)

* DNA Mumbai: Disney presents High School Musical, Bollywood style

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Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Great Middle Eastern Quandries...

- This Week's Question...   Is Llama Bad?

(Gag shamelessly stolen from Kelsey Grammar's Sketch Show ;-)

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Monday, 2 October 2006

Kazakh Press Secretary denies he's an Imposter ;)

Kazakhstan Press Secretary, Roman Vasilenko, is denying claims by famous globe-trotting TV reporter Borat that he is an "Uzbek imposter". Vasilenko told reporters, "Borat is not a Kazakh. What he represents is a country of Boratastan, a country of one".

Borat Sagdiyev (British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen) is perhaps not the best advertisement for Kazakhstan. He informs reporters that his country is changing with the times... "Women can now travel on the inside of buses, and homosexuals no longer have to wear blue hats".

Borat is now preparing to release his first "movie-film", a mocumentary with the catchy title of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan...

Kazakhstan President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is currently visiting Washington for talks with George W Bush. His country's trying to counter Borat's satire by launching a publicity campaign in magazines and on TV, to try and present the central Asian nation in a better light.

The Kazakh government's also funding their own movie - a $53m tribal epic called Nomad - the most expensive film the country's ever made.

Borat gave a media statement in front of the Kazakh embassy in Washington this week to bemused American journalists, where he insisted the President had travelled to the US to help promote his film.

Borat was later turned away from the gates of the White House, after trying to invite "Premier George Walter Bush" to a screening of his movie (along with "Mel Gibsons," O.J. Simpson and other "American dignitaries").

Kazakhstan's largest cinema chain has no plans to screen Borat's new movie, calling it "offensive, a complete lie and nonsense". However, Otau Cinema's distribution manager is probably bang on the money when he notes, "It's a shame that some Americans will probably believe what they see there." ;)

* Stuff: Kazakhstan's Borat damage control
* Zap2it: Mr. Borat Goes to Washington
* Official Borat Homesite

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Waiting for the big story to break

Former Detective Sergeant Lew Proctor has told the NZ Herald he's preparing to release shocking revelations about a certain person (or persons), which he claims will be "the biggest story in 20 years".

It's believed Proctor and other private investigators (including Wayne Idour) have been following PM Mrs Peter Davis and her husband around for the last few months, as well as other "high-ranking MPs".

Proctor told the paper his targets were people who "have a lot to hide". The investigation is continuing, but he expected to received the final pieces of information on Wednesday this week.

He claims he's been contracted by a member of the Exclusive Brethren church to do the digging, with some of the information coming from outside New Zealand, including the United States.

PM Hillin Cluck described Proctor's comments as "close to blackmail", and has already threatened an inquiry into private investigators.

Proctor says he has already been followed this week... he believes by the Security Intelligence Service. He told the NZ Herald, the public would see "the reason why members of a certain party are just little wee bit upset ... about these private investigators who have been let loose on them".

Labour are dismissing the claims as "fanciful", with Party president Mike Wulliams insisting he has "no concerns whatsoever".

* NZ Herald: Brethren spy comes in from the cold
* NZ Herald: Private eye's tale 'fanciful'
* Generation XY: Questions that will bring down a government
* On the Right: Peter Davis Coverage

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