No exceptions for Planet Key

It doesn't matter if it's a satirical song like Planet Key or a limerick, the Electoral Commission isn't about to make exception to rules on political advertising and programmes.

A judge in the High Court at Wellington today reserved his decision on the issues raised by a musician's lampooning of Prime Minister John Key, and an accompanying video.

But Justice Denis Clifford said the issues were complex and he could not promise to give his decision before the September 20 election.

Darren Watson is no fan of John Key and recorded and published his song Planet Key with the encouragement of his partner.

Jeremy Jones made a Monty Python-style video. The song was briefly sold on iTunes and the video was available for free on websites until the Electoral Commission advised that both could breach the Electoral Act rules, which could be a criminal offence.

It said the song could not be broadcast on radio or television because it was an election programme. The video was an election advertisement and could be distributed online so long as there was a "promoter's statement" saying who was behind the video, and the rules about registering as a promoter and keeping details of advertising spending.

The judge suggested in passing that the promoter's statement could be sung "blues style" to fit with the video.

A lawyer for Watson and Jones says the song expresses a personal opinion and was exempt from the election rules.

But the Electoral Commission's lawyer told a judge that the Electoral Act controlled public announcements that could be reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote for or against a candidate or party.