Edwards: Fair Go reporters 'power-drunk bullies'

Last updated 13:45 27/02/2014
Brian Edwards
CHRIS GORMAN/Fairfax NZ
CRITIC: Fair Go founder Brian Edwards says the reporters on the show were power-drunk bullies.

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Brian Edwards has taken another swipe at Fair Go, the television programme he helped create more than 35 years ago.

In a blog post he said he was frustrated at the imbalance of power between the Television One consumer affairs programme and its victims.

Edwards now runs a media training company and has helped some of those mentioned on Fair Go with responding to allegations.

"Being in the right is no protection against a programme which, as I have argued before, acts as a court but has none of the protections that would apply to an accused."

Edwards' comments coincided with the start of a new season of Fair Go last night.

He said the programme could deal adequately with relatively simple complaints about dishonest dealers and shonky tradesmen.

"But the time and entertainment constraints under which it operates - your response to a complaint against you will be lucky to be given more than two or three minutes air time - make it impossible for the show to deal adequately or fairly with complex issues," Edwards said.

Fair Go had been out of control for some years, Edwards said.

"Its reporters, with the notable exceptions of Hannah Wallis and Kevin Milne, about whom we have never received a single complaint, are power-drunk bullies, its journalism is suspect, its honesty open to question."

In a major respect the programme was different from the one he devised, hosted and for a time produced in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

"Throughout that period the programme was broadcast live," Edwards said.

"Where possible the complainee was cross-examined live in the studio. As a viewer you got to see every question that was asked and every answer that was given."

Edwards said anyone contacted by a Fair Go reporter should "have nothing to do with them".

The return of Fair Go meant more work for his company, but he would rather not have it.

TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said Edwards was perfectly entitled to his opinion.

She did not want to comment about his claims in detail, but said the one complaint made about Fair Go to the Broadcasting Standards Authority in 2013 was not upheld.

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