TVNZ show dumps Labour leader

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 07:34 16/02/2012
David Shearer
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Television New Zealand has dumped the Labour leader's weekly appearance on its Breakfast show, telling David Shearer it's not about him "as a person".

Prime Minister John Key has a Monday morning slot on the show and last year former Labour leader Phil Goff regularly appeared on Tuesday mornings.

Labour approached TVNZ at the beginning of the year to confirm its recently-elected leader would continue in his place, but was told he would only be invited on to the show on a case-by-case basis.

Shearer has a fortnightly appearance on Breakfast's rival Firstline programme on TV3 and has regular radio slots on Newstalk ZB, Waatea News, Radio Dunedin and student radio including BFM in Auckland and Radio One at Otago.

It is understood Labour put its case to TVNZ, saying its leader needed to have the right of reply when Key attacked the Opposition.

In a letter back to Labour, TVNZ said the Prime Minister was a newsmaker in his own right and the state broadcaster was merely doing what it always had.

The leader of the Opposition had only featured weekly during election years.

"This is not an issue about the person, merely a decision about the position, and we have been consistent with that through Labour and National administrations.

"The Breakfast team has already shown its willingness to invite Mr Shearer on to the programme when he is a legitimate newsmaker and is setting the agenda on a story."

Its axing of Labour's slot follows a complaint by the party over a show hosted by Key on Radio Live during the election campaign being referred to police.

The complaint to the Electoral Commission found the station breached the Broadcasting Act.

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