Media must be seen to be free from political interference

The appointment of Richard Long to the board of TVNZ might look good on paper but his links to the National Party could create the perception of political interference, says Clare Curran.

Richard Long was Chief of Staff in the National Leader’s office to Bill English and Don Brash from 2003-2005.

“At one level, the veteran journalist has all the qualifications for the job.  But I think Kiwis are wary of even the perception of political influence at any level of our media organisations.

“The public must be able to rely on an independent media that is willing and able to discuss the issues of the day without fear or favour - regardless of the Government’s view.  As a state broadcaster, TVNZ is particularly vulnerable to accusations of political interference.

“The appointment of Stephen McElrea, John Key’s electorate party chairperson to the board of New Zealand on Air, and his subsequent actions, should be a lesson to New Zealanders and the Government.

“Stephen McElrea clearly demonstrated by his complaint about Bryan Bruce’s Child Poverty documentary that he is unable to separate his political views from the responsibilities of his position.

“I trust that Richard Long will do better than that, and maintain political neutrality in his new role,” says Clare Curran.