Māori TV editorial interference scandal deepens

The Maori Development Minister has misled a select committee and appears to have broken the law through editorial interference in Māori Television, Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran said today.

Labour has released emails between Te Ururoa Flavell’s press secretary and Maori television that show the Minister's press secretary tried to alter the format of a proposed Native Affairs debate on Whanau Ora and attempted to dissuade Māori Television from inviting NZ First to appear on the show.

“The Minister told the Maori Affairs Select Committee this morning that neither he nor his office expressed a view about what should be screened or who should be approached to comment on the Māori TV show.

“Te Ururoa  Flavell’s answers today raise serious questions about the interference by a Minister in a programme his press secretary appears not to have wanted screened .

“Editorial interference is a clear breach of Section 10 the Māori Television Service (Te Aratuku Whakaata Irirangi Māori) Act 2003 which states that ‘the responsible Minister, or any person acting on behalf of or at the direction of any Minister ... must not direct the service or any director, officer, or employee of the Service in respect of ... the preparation or presentation of current affairs programmes.’

“After organising the participants for the debate, and beginning the filming of segments, on the afternoon of May 20, the producers of Native Affairs subsequently cancelled the debate on Whanau Ora due to a ‘change in programming strategy’. Coincidentally, that same morning, the Minister met with the CEO of Maori Television, Paora Maxwell. 

“Despite weeks of claims of editorial interference emerging from within Māori Television regarding the Native Affairs programme and the resignation of its host Mihirangi Forbes, the Minister has not bothered to investigate.

“His defensive, clumsy and inadequate responses speak volumes.

“The Government should be asking itself whether he’s fit to hold the Ministerial warrant,” Clare Curran says.