It's well known that television cannot show anything sexually explicit before 8.30pm in this country.
The theory is that there are plenty of innocent children and impressionable teens who need protecting from themselves.
And fair enough too. These days children have so little time to be just that, especially with seven- year-old girls wanting to become boys, and their daft parents agreeing, to cite just one recent example.
While acknowledging all that, there is no obvious way of keeping the news suitable for all ages. There's the natural catastrophes that throw up plenty of bodies and destruction, the odd uprising which in Syria's case meant we had to endure horrific footage of children dying from the use of chemical weapons. Generally these come with warnings first, so we can at least look away from the most graphic scenes.
On Tuesday night there was a big news story that dominated every news media outlet in the country. Radio, the internet, news websites, and of course, television, all breathlessly reported the stunning news of Lecherous Lenny Brown's affair. Some media went further and dug up all sorts of interesting details.
It's at this stage, dear readers, that we need to look at the contrasting efforts of TV One and TV3, and how they served their viewers. Let's start with the bad. One News was pathetic. The only possible excuse that could be put forward on its behalf was that they were voluntarily trying to protect young viewers and not go too much into the issue. It spent less than four minutes on the item, which led its news, and half of that was getting reaction from people in the street - a poor substitute for proper journalism.
The country's biggest news outlet told us few facts: That Auckland Mayor Len Brown [no relation] was "in big trouble after confirming a two-year affair". It then crossed to Lisa Owen outside the Auckland Town Hall who then added these gems: "A very well- known website [not named] posted details of an affair [Brown had] with a woman [not named] who was an advisor and candidate [for what?] in the local body elections." That is a sentence no self- respecting media outlet would ever voluntarily run.
We were then shown Dirty Len's statement, and apart from some footage of their own cameraman and reporter waiting outside Lenny's house, and footage of Mrs Lenny saying how wonderful her hubby was for his big election win, that was it - apart from getting some reaction from people in the street!
This was scared, timid, nave, self-censoring, inadequate reporting.
Compare it with TV3. It also led its 6pm bulletin with the same story, but what a difference.
"Auckland Mayor Len Brown has confirmed he cheated on his wife with a woman 25 years his junior," Hilary Barry told us. We were then told the name of the woman, Bevan Chuang; the name of "the well-known website", Cameron Slater's Whale Oil; the name of the community board she stood for, the Albert-Eden Local Board; and that she is the chair of the Asian Women and Family Trust and member of the Ethnic Peoples' Advisory Panel.
Then we got to see a recent interview with her, in which she said she wanted to have a "dragon baby" [one born in the year of the dragon] and was considering getting a sperm donor. We were then shown some provocative photos of her, because she was also "a popular burlesque dancer".
Significantly, TV3 revealed that Tasteless Lenny had been having it off with Ms Chuang on his office sofa and in the Ngati Whatua Room, of all places, in the City Council building. No doubt there will be a cleansing ceremony there of some sort coming up sooner, rather than later.
Finally, there was a pointer to Campbell Live at 7pm, in which Unfaithful Lenny would be giving his only public interview. What a package.
When Seven Sharp continues to be infatuated with fluff, TV3 is providing the only nightly outlet for the big stories of the day. By the time of the late news, TV One was in catch-up mode and belatedly provided much of the same information but with clips from Campbell's interview with naughty Lenny.
Embarrassingly for TV One, the Campbell Live logo appeared, albeit faintly, in the bottom left of the screen. It was a sad day for Television New Zealand and any pretence of being the nation's news leader is now well and truly gone.
I must say Mrs Brown and I watched the whole sorry sordid affair unravel before our eyes, and the final words belong to her. She said it was just another case of yet another man thinking with his lower brain.
She's harsh, that one, but it's hard to fault her logic.
- © Fairfax NZ News