Hard News by Russell Brown

88

Big Norms

This week's Media7 brought together Broadcasting Standards Authority chief executive Dominic Sheehan, Catholic Church spokesperson Lyndsay Freer and Alt TV shareholder and creative director Oliver Driver to discuss what's fit to screen and what are really community norms.

The result was a very lively discussion, which can be viewed on TVNZ ondemand here; as Windows Media clips here; as a podcast here and in available-worldwide YouTube style here.

I had not previously met Lyndsay, and it was a pleasure to do so. I might disagree with her on number of issues, but she's a good sport, who undoes assumptions about who people on her side of the social debate should be. She also rather disarmed Oliver by congratulating him on the spanking review of his performance in Pinter's Betrayal that had appeared the previous day in the Herald.

Putting the programme together also involved me viewing Alt's Naked Newsflash, which is the subject of at least two BSA complaints currently resting with Sky TV (to be considered under the pay-TV code). I think it's a given that, considered in context, the complaints will not be upheld.

It would be another matter were there a standard relating to utterly embarrassing programming. It's terrible. Lisa Lewis can't read, it's not funny, and, to be perfectly frank, her overstuffed, sore-looking augmented breasts aren't even very attractive. As devilish satire of the media discourse, it sure ain't Jonathan Swift.

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I missed Drinking Liberally in Wellington last week, when they pulled a swifty and changed the day on me, so I'm delighted to see that Drinking Liberally comes to Auckland next Wednesday, July 2 (funny press release!) and the guest speaker is our own David Slack. It kicks off at 7.30pm in the London Bar, corner Queen and Wellesley Streets, Auckland City. Further events will take place on the fourth Wednesday of every month.

And, rather belatedly (alright, very belatedly, allow me to commend to you a survey posted by Andrew Cushen as part of his research toward a Master of Arts in Political Studies at the University of Auckland. It is aimed at readers of blogs "related to political news, discussion and debate in New Zealand politics."

Oh, and you might wish to check out Parliament TV at 5.30 today for Nandor Tanczos' valedictory address. I've noted in the past that I have a lot of time for Nandor (and not just because I like the idea of showing this picture to foreigners and pointing out that the guy is member of Parliament) and I'm sorry to see him go. He did pop in to our discussion of the Drug Harm Index yesterday -- and he can regard this as an open invitation to guest-post on Public Address any time he likes.

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The issue of whether the referendum on the smacking petition law should be held concurrently with general election voting was discussed here at remarkable length yesterday. I don't have much more to add, beyond noting that both Labour and National clearly have pragmatic political motivations for their principled stances; as if that weren't obvious already.

I did think Bill English, so able all year, suffered an uncharacteristic arse-kicking from Annette King on Morning Report today. His point that Labour, leaning on official advice in this instance, had been happy to ignore officials over the Electoral Finance Act simply begged for King to lean in and say "Yeah. And look where that got us."

That, of course, wasn't going to happen in the real world. But English did make an interesting point. The referendum is not a vote on the law passed by Parliament removing the Section 59 defence for striking a child.

It is, in fact, another work of weasel words apparently aimed more at sentiment than a useful conclusion. Were a majority of voters to vote to the question "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?" the next government could quite easily declare that the law serves such concerns quite well as it is.

So amid all the talk of wasted money, might I ask that the likes of Larry Baldock stop wasting everyone's time and money with bullshit referendum questions? Granted, there is some amusement to be had in reading Baldock's mad press releases -- see Outrageous arrogance! and NZ Herald editorial reeks of arrogance! (yeah, yeah, film at 11) -- but I'd rather spend my discretionary income on comedy and leave my taxes for something more sensible.

But one more act of raging numptyism warrants mention: Scott Campbell on 3 News this week, pronouncing portentously on "Labour's anti-smacking law". That would be the private member's bill from a Green MP for which both major parties, and , indeed, most of Parliament, voted. You'd think a political reporter might know that.

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