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Newsletters > Diversity Action Programme > Nga Reo Tangata: Media and Diversity Network > 2010 > October

Nga Reo Tangata: Media and Diversity Network

ISSN 1178-0932 October, 2010

The Maori Language awards were presented in Rotorua last Saturday 9 October. 

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This year's media awards went to TVNZ (Broadcasting, Mainstream), Turanga FM Gisborne (Broadcasting - Maori Media), The Gisborne Herald (Print) and Awawhenua Ltd (Rotorua) (IT and Telecommunications).

Time for a Pacific television channel

The Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) has established a new “Pasifika film and television” working group.

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This was one of the most significant resolutions made at PIMA's annual general meeting at AUT in Auckland last month.

The meeting was part of the PIMA's annual conference, which included DIY workshops, panel discussions and a keynote speech from Kalafi Moala, publisher and chief executive of Tonga's Taimi Media Network.

PIMA's chair, Iulia Leilua, says the idea of a Pacific Island television channel has been around since the 1980s. Initial lobbying resulted in the five-minute show, See Here, which was replaced by Tagata Pasifika in 1987. "But ever since then people have been lobbying for an entire channel," she says. "The only thing that is required is political will and funding."

While serious proposals for a Pacific Island channel have been put forward in recent years, the idea has been put on the back burner due to the recession. However Ms Leilua believes the concept is more viable than ever. "Technology is more affordable, there's more equipment that is available and there's more content that can be sourced from television channels throughout the Pacific region."

Ms Leilua says that Māori Television provides an ideal business template. "We'd need to be self-sustaining." Just as Māori Television has a major role promoting and revitalising the Māori language, a Pasifika television channel would promote and revitalise Pacific Island languages.

"Cook Island Maori, Tokelauan and Niuean are endangered languages, and those countries have a strong links with New Zealand. So we have to ask, what responsibility does New Zealand have in preserving them -given that its education policies help endanger them in the first place?"

While the working group will be primarily focused on the television channel, it also aims to provide support for emerging scriptwriters. "There's a lot of frustration expressed by Pacific Island script writers who say that not enough of our stories are making it on air," she says. "We've definitely got enough script writers out there to have some really good drama."

Award winning access radio

The programme coordinator for Plains FM 96.9, one of 13 organisations to receive a Diversity Award from the Human Rights Commission this year, says she may have never got into broadcasting career if it were not for access radio.

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"I remember when I was 24, and I had come back from overseas and still didn't know what I was going to do," recalls Lizzie Belcher. "I had really low self-esteem, but then I came in here, and there was support and positivity that I ended up doing a radio show and then going to broadcasting school."

Since 1988, Plains Fm 96.9 in Christchurch has provided training and facilities for local community groups, schools, organisations and individuals to make and broadcast their own radio programmes. These programmes allow people to share ideas and express opinions in their own language; the schedule now includes 85 programmes, 23 of which are in languages other than English.

"For instance, we have Nepalese man, Dilli Rajal, who does 'Namaste Nepal. It is his programme and in his language. He's not a representative [for Nepal] and he might be mainly playing music, but it's really important for small communities here to be able to hear that."

"That is why access radio exists, because all of these different ethnic groups and cultures make up our landscape and they must be represented in the media," says Ms Belcher. "And they wouldn't be represented without it."

Ms Belcher has worked in radio broadcasting for the past 15 years, only recently shifting from commercial radio to access radio. "They are like chalk and cheese," she says. "Commercial radio is about the money, but that's not what we are interested in. We're interested in getting as may diverse cultures on air. Here I feel like I'm making a difference, in a little way."

Access radio stations are financially supported by New Zealand on Air, which has guidelines on what sort of programmes require most support, but it is not exclusively for ethnic groups.

One of the longest running shows is the Elvis Presley Show, started by Elvis fan Lynn Campbell 20 years ago, and which is still presented by her, along with Maria Van Ham and Judy Pyne. "One of the great things for access is that anybody can come along here and share their passion and interests," says Ms Belcher.

Note: The Association of Community Access Broadcasters annual conference takes place in Nelson this week from 15-17 October. View the programme here.

Journalist interns to Asia

Asia: New Zealand is giving young journalists another chance to get a three-month internship at either the Philippine Star in Manila, CNBC Asia in Singapore or the International Herald Tribune in Hong Kong.

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The three annual scholarships are designed to give promising young journalists a chance to test their journalism skills in a region of the world that is increasingly vital to New Zealand's future.

This is the second year of the programme, with the inaugural candidates, Jono Hutchison (TV3) and Amanda Fisher (Fairfax Media), taking up temporary placements in Hong Kong and Manila.

The Philippine Star is an influential daily English language broadsheet that is circulated nationally. CNBC Asia is an Asian business news network based in Singapore and Sydney with bureaus in Hong Kong and Tokyo.

The International Herald Tribune is an international English language newspaper owned by the New York Times Company with a Hong Kong bureau operating as an editorial and production office for its network of Asia correspondents.

While the internships are unpaid, Asia: NZ will provide $5000 to cover return flights with the balance to go to accommodation and other expenses.

Applicants must:

  • be enrolled in a current journalism course or be graduate journalists who have undertaken and passed a journalism course of study in the past three years
  • be under 28 years of age
  • hold New Zealand passport
  • be based in New Zealand.

Applications are accepted until 1 November 2010 for placements in 2011. For more information go to the Asia New Zealand Foundation website or contact Charles Mabbett.

There’s still time to enter the Excellence in Reporting Diversity Awards. The awards aim to recognise the work of journalists with less than five year’s experience reporting on Asia-related topics.

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The winner of the top prize will receive a $4000 grant from the Asia New Zealand Foundation (Asia:NZ) to support travel to an Asian news outlet to further his or her knowledge and experience.

Now in their third year, the awards are being run by Whitireia Journalism School in Wellington in conjunction with the Asia:NZ Foundation, the Human Rights Commission and the Communications and Media Industry Training Organisation.

The inaugural winner of the awards was Catherine Wellington of the Dunedin Star community newspaper, for the paper's special edition on ethnic minority communities in Otago. Last year's top entry came from Pacific affairs reporter for TV One, Adrian Stevanon.

Entries must be received by Friday, November 12, 2010 and judging will take place in early December. For more information contact Jim Tucker, Journalism Programme Manager.

BSA on freedom of expression

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) wants to hear from its stakeholders, including the general public, for a study exploring issues relating to freedom of expression in New Zealand.

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"'Freedom of expression' is a very wide topic so we want to hear people's thoughts to help us refine our focus," says BSA's Chief Executive, Dominic Sheehan. "In relation to the BSA's work and broadcasting standards in general, what do people consider would be the most important question or questions for us to investigate?"

The right to freedom of expression is enshrined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (BoRA), which states in section 14: "Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form."

However such freedoms often conflict with the desire to protect racial harmony, public morals, notions of social responsibility, good taste and decency, and the protection of children, individual privacy and reputation. 

"So while people have the freedom to express themselves, there are limits," says Mr Sheehan. "It's about finding a balance. So we want to get a snapshot of what freedom of expression means in New Zealand, which we can use in a practical way in our own decision-making."

Mr Sheehan says that while they haven't received a huge response, the responses have been diverse. "The broadcasters want us to look at the freedom of expression in terms of access to information. That's what is important to them. But another respondent suggests that the whole concept of freedom of expression was outdated, that it was passé, that the world and the world's media have gone global, other issues have taken over."

If you would like to contribute to the BSA's study contact Dominic Sheehan by 26 October 2010.

The tension between freedom of expression and notions of social harm has also been explored in the Commission’s draft document, Human Rights in New Zealand Today, an updated version of its first status report published in 2004.

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That draft document notes that freedom of expression is important as it "embraces free speech, the sanctity of an individual's opinion, a free press, the transmission and receipt of ideas and information, the freedom of expression in art and other forms, the ability to receive ideas from elsewhere, and even the right to silence."

It also explores those instances in which the limits and restrictions of those freedoms are tested, such as when they conflict with various sections of the Human Rights Act.

Proposed priorities for action are that Section 61 of the Human Rights Act (which relates to racial incitement) be reviewed to ensure it fulfils its legislative purpose, that debate be promoted about access to the internet as a human right, and whether a Charter of Internet Rights should be developed in New Zealand.

The draft document will be available on the Commission's website in the coming week. Feedback on the draft is invited.

A complaint about an item on television programme, Sunday, which investigated child marriages has not been upheld by the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA).

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The item, which was broadcast on TV One at 7.30pm on March 2010, investigated forced marriages in New Zealand, and in particular brides under the legal age of consent.

The programme featured an interview with Farida Sultana, the founder of a group called Shakti, which provides refuge for migrant women and their children.

The reporter asked Ms Sultana how often forced marriages occur in New Zealand, to which she replied, there were "quite a few cases". Ms Sultana went on to express her view that people involved in these forced underage marriages did not "think the New Zealand law even applies to them".

On behalf of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), the organisation's president Dr Anwar Ghani made a formal complaint to the TVNZ. Dissatisfied with that result, the organisation complained to the BSA.

FIANZ argued that the item "further reinforced post-9/11 bias, prejudice, stigmatism, and bigotry toward Muslims". It also contended that the item was inaccurate, because it had portrayed the practice of forced child marriages as widespread among Muslims without any hard evidence. FIANZ also argued the item was unfair as it had stereotyped and been derogatory towards Muslims, particularly Muslim women.

The BSA released its decision last month and concluded that:

  • Under Standard 5 (accuracy), that comment made by interviewees were opinion and exempt from the accuracy standard under guideline 5a. It also concluded that the item did not characterise the issue of forced child marriages as a widespread Muslim problem, but a "problematic cultural phenomenon, as opposed to a religious one".
  • Under Standard 6 (fairness), that individuals and organisations taking part and referred to treated fairly.
  • Under Standard 7 (discrimination and denigration), that the item did not encourage denigration of, or discrimination against, Muslims.

 For more information on the decision go to the BSA's website.

Diversity Forum on Asia Downunder

This weekend the television series Asia Downunder will feature an item on the Diversity Forum hosted by the Human Rights Commission at Christchurch in August this year. 

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The item by reporter Bharat Jamnadas, to be broadcast on TV One on 17 October, focuses on the research presented by the Victoria University Centre for Applied Cross-cultural Research (CACR) on Asian discrimination in New Zealand, research that was commissioned by the Commission.

The report was co-authored by CACR graduate student Adrienne Girling and Centre directors Professors James Liu and Colleen Ward and showed that Asians in New Zealand:

  • face more discrimination than all other ethnic groups
  • experience the highest levels of verbal and physical harassment
  • are at adisadvantage in finding employment, even though many are recruited here fortheir skills.

Their research also indicated that Asian people are satisfied with their lives in New Zealand, value the opportunities available to them, lodge fewer complaints about discrimination than other groups and barely feature in social welfare statistics.

Asia Downunder can be viewed after it has been broadcast by going to the Asia Downunder website.

CACR has also launched a new website to promote discussion around diversity issues, where the report can be downloaded and a video of the presentation is available.

The last ten days have seen a lot of public and media discussion on broadcasting standards and racially offensive comments.After a flood of over 600 complaints to Television New Zealand about Paul Henry’s remarks about the Governor General and TVNZ’s initial defence of him, Paul Henry resigned from his position as host of TVNZ’s Breakfast and TVNZ said his comments were unacceptable.

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Talkback host Michael Laws' comments about the Governor General on Radio Live were also initially defended by his employer. After further discussion, however, Laws gave an apology. 

The issue was not about freedom of expression but about broadcasting standards - and whether or not it is appropriate for broadcasters to use the power of their medium to engage in racial denigration.

Hopefully, Television New Zealand, as well as Radio Live, will now re-emphasise to their presenters and hosts that they must observe basic standards of decency or face the consequences.  All those who contributed to the pressure for the broadcasters to take action are to be applauded.