TVNZ looks at tighter neutrality measures

VERNON SMALL
Last updated 14:49 06/03/2014

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TVNZ may require staff to disclose party political links and membership after the Shane Taurima debacle.

TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick said "we probably need to be more robust in terms of how we identify political allegiances, particularly within our news and current affairs areas".

He did not want to censor or dictate staff's political preferences.

"But what we need to have is more robust declaration and awareness of that, and then we probably will need to look at how we can manage a situation where we are aware of that," he said.

At present, TVNZ did not require disclosure of party membership.

Kenrick told a parliamentary select committee that a review into events surrounding Taurima, which would include expenditure such as on travel, had so far found no evidence of bias.

Taurima, who last year unsuccessfully sought Labour's nomination in the Ikaroa Rawhiti by-election, returned to a job with the state broadcaster as head of its Maori and Pacific programming unit after the company sought assurances he had chosen journalism over politics.

However, it had not asked him whether he continued to be a member of the Labour Party. It was Taurima's level of activism it had asked about, and in hindsight Kenrick regretted that.

Taurima was forced to resign after it was revealed he had hosted a hui advising Labour on how to win the Maori vote.

He had also taken part in a Labour Tamaki Makaurau branch meeting on TVNZ premises – a seat he was eyeing as a candidate.

He has denied any bias in his work.

Kenrick said he had a low appetite for again hiring someone who had shown their political allegiances.

TVNZ has appointed its head of legal and corporate affairs, Brent McAnulty, to investigate the use of its resources for Labour Party business.

It is also reviewing the editorial independence of the Maori and Pacific programming division during Taurima's time as manager.

The review findings and recommendations will be made public.

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