Can TV3 keep Colin Craig out of its debates? Maybe, or maybe not.

From TV3's website:

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig is threatening legal action against TV3 after he was left out of a minor party leaders debate on the channel’s public affairs programme The Nation.

3 News says Craig’s party does not meet the criteria to be included in the debate, due to screen tomorrow morning at 930.

Party leaders from ACT, United Future, the Greens, the Maori Party, New Zealand First and Mana are scheduled to appear.

Lawyers for the Conservative Party are expected to go to the High Court later today seeking an injunction preventing the programme from airing unless Craig is included.

Quick thoughts on this:

1. It's not a completely hopeless case - Jim Anderton and Peter Dunne won a similar challenge back in2005.

2. However, that decision was remarkable for the fact that it failed to consider the NZBORA rights of the broadcaster to make their own editorial decision as to who they do/don't include in their debates - which then has flow-on effects for how much time each participant gets to speak (it's a zero-sum game), as well as how much time the broadcaster has to commit to the exercise. There's other discussions/criticisms of it by Dean Knight and Steven Price that might interest you.

3. Attempts by other candidates to use the Anderton & Dunne decision to force their way into debates/to challenge coverage of their campaigns by the media have been unsuccessful, largely because they were such fringe individuals that the courts were happy to accpet that the broadcasters could (in effect) ignore them. This also (I think) reflects a real judicial reluctance to get involved as the referees for how broadcasters do their job.

4. You can read all about this issue, and others of equally interesting and important matters of electoral law, in this remarkably accessible, well written and very insightful work of staggering genius. Go on - treat yourselves!!!

Comments (9)

by Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere on August 08, 2014
Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere

"It's not a completely hopeless case": if only that were the threshold for an interim injunction. His case is stronger than those have since followed Dunne v CanWest (poor old Michael Appleby never got this sort of coverage!) but will lose for the same reason: the precedent was unfortunate and the Court is surely reluctant to use it again. What do you think of the suggestion of a Debate Commission to sort this out? 

by Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere on August 08, 2014
Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere

(Hat-tip to Dean Knight, by the way!)

by Dean Knight on August 08, 2014
Dean Knight

He got the injunction... sigh

by Dean Knight on August 08, 2014
Dean Knight

And now TV3 have apparently cancelled the debate?

by BeShakey on August 08, 2014

MediaWorks confirmed that rather than scrap tomorrow's debate, they would include Mr Craig.

"We'll have to somehow squeeze him in," said director of news Mark Jennings.

by Alan Johnstone on August 08, 2014
Alan Johnstone

To a casual outsider it would appear that natural justice has been served, Colin Craig is polling a minimum of 800% of United Future.  To deny him a pulpit whilst giving one to Peter Dunne seems wrong.

Of course, no one watches "The Nation" anyway apart from political anoraks who have probably made their minds up long ago.

Probably does no harm for Craig to fire a shot across the bows of the media, but the only winners here are the lawyers


by Matthew Percival on August 09, 2014
Matthew Percival

What they should have done was have a series of debates and this issue would have been avoided.

Big Party debate National & Labour

Mid Party debate Greens, NZ First & Maori Party

Single Seat debate Mana, United Future & ACT

Emerging Party debate Internet & Conservatives

Such a format would have provided some fascinating matchups and some interesting debates. These small party debates are hopeless with 6 or more speakers all vying for speaking time.


by mikesh on August 09, 2014

If Craig is admitted, then what about social Credit. What about the Legalise Marijuana Party. What about ... ... ... etc.

by Andrew Osborn on August 09, 2014
Andrew Osborn

Excellent post Alan. I think that sums it up perfectly.


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