Commercial Interests Beat Public Interests

Dear Sir
It was with some frustration that I had to watch CUE TV’s Election Special and not be able to be present myself as the Invercargill, Green Party candidate. The Green Party do not have the the corporate support that some other parties do and have to run a smart but fiscally responsible campaign on a tight budget (this is actually not the reason for our limited advertising budget it is because of a cap to spending dictated by law see later comment). We have committed television and radio spending on our national campaign and relied on the fact that most regional broadcasters do not charge for candidates to appear on candidate forums.

I was surprised when CUE TV informed me that I would have to pay to take part in their “Election Special” as I thought that it was in the public interest to provide a balanced and representative programme. I was grateful to have three minutes of free air time as part of a news item but it is hardly enough to provide much detail from our comprehensive policies. I recognize that CUE are a private company and are free to treat the election as a commercial opportunity but there is also a case for displaying a community conscience when decisions around who should govern our country are being made.

For those people who wondered what happened to their local Green candidate and wish to read my views on topics such as economics, good governance and the state of our environment you can visit my “Local Bodies” blog (easily found through Google).

Your thoughts and comments would be most welcome.

Yours sincerely

Comments

bsprout said…
My fight with CUE TV resulted in an article today titled "Greens too broke for TV special". Ignoring the fact that the Electoral Act puts a cap our ability to pay for extra advertising, not that the Party itself is broke. I explained this to the reporter and this is what we get.

My next letter:
Dear Sir
I wish to correct an unfortunate title that headlined Alex Fensome’s article in Thursday’s paper and also amend my own lack of clarity around a complicated situation. My non appearance was nothing to do with the party being broke but because of limitations on advertising imposed by law. All political parties are provided with set funding, related to the size of their party, that constitutes the total amount they can spend on television and radio advertising. The Green Party made a strategic decision to spend all of that fund on a national advertising campaign. All green candidates have been instructed by our party that it is illegal for them to use their local campaign funds to pay for radio and television advertising as this would push the party beyond the spending cap.

Other candidates interviewed quite rightly stated that if we were asking for the party vote only, as many smaller parties do, that we can only pay for such appearances if there is money set aside from this fund. Candidates who are also asking for the electorate vote can use their local campaign fund.

It was unfortunate that Cue TV chose to charge for their “Election Special” as although they claimed it was “a paid advertorial and should not be confused with election debates seen on other channels” it would not appear so to many viewers. I have already taken part in local candidate “debates” that followed a very similar format. Although there is the possibility that I could be elected as an MP and would work very hard for the people of Invercargill I was not able to use the only televised candidates forum to present myself to the voters. It was a pity that Cue TV chose to see this as a commercial opportunity rather than to provide voters with a balanced presentation.

Yours sincerely

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