Minister must explain Maori TV interference

Te Ururoa Flavell must explain why he told Maori TV staff all complaints about the CEO must come to him – months before he became the Minister responsible for the broadcaster, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says.

“Sources have told me that Mr Flavell rebuked staff for signing a petition against Paora Maxwell’s appointment and insisted all complaints about the CEO must be made through him, in a speech made in May 2014 welcoming Mr Maxwell to the organisation.

“At the time the speech was made, Mr Flavell was not the Minister responsible yet told staff not to go to media or sign petitions, but to only talk to him about the CEO.

“If this was the instruction before he was the Minister, he must answer questions as to whether this instruction still applies now that he is.

“We have been told that Mr Flavell said he was angry that a majority of staff had signed a petition against Mr Maxwell’s appointment and that going to media was not how staff should act.

“Twelve months later Maori Television’s top journalists have quit in frustration at political interference in their newsgathering, and we know a sensitive news panel discussion on Native Affairs was cancelled within two hours of the Minister meeting with the Chief Executive.

“The public interest is not served by the Minister interfering in journalism, especially at a taxpayer funded broadcaster. He must front up and explain his actions,” Clare Curran says.