BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Leader of the Opposition (Rt Hon Helen Clark MP) and Television New Zealand Ltd - 1994-136

  • I W Gallaway (Chair)
  • J R Morris
  • L M Loates
  • W J Fraser
  • Leader of the Opposition (Rt Hon Helen Clark MP)
Standards Breached


The Labour Party's response to the result of the Selwyn by-election was reported on

One Network News between 6.00–6.30pm on Monday, 15 August. With some

deletions, similar material was broadcast on PrimeTime at 10.15pm.

The Leader of the Opposition (Rt Hon Helen Clark MP) complained to Television

New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the comments were inaccurate and

inadequately sourced and in breach of broadcasting standards.

Denying that the item contained any inaccuracies, TVNZ said the story contained

material which had been checked with other sources. It declined to uphold the

complaint other than on one technical point. Dissatisfied with TVNZ's reply, Ms

Clark referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a)

of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

For the reasons given below, the Authority upheld the complaint that some aspects of

the item were in breach of standard G14.

The Complaint and TVNZ's Response

The members of the Authority have viewed the items complained about and have read

the correspondence (summarised in the Appendix). As is its practice, the Authority

has determined the complaint without a formal hearing.

A report on One Network News on Monday 15 August broadcast by Television New

Zealand Ltd examined the reasons for the Labour Party's defeat in the Selwyn by-

election the previous Saturday. Later in the evening a report on PrimeTime contained

similar material, except for a reference to former leader Rt Hon David Lange.

The Leader of the Opposition, Rt Hon Helen Clark, complained that the reports

contained comments which were inaccurate and inadequately sourced and accordingly

were in breach of broadcasting standards. She claimed that TVNZ's political

correspondent reported perceptions in a way which strongly implied they were facts.

She alleged that the report was based on a series of falsehoods.

TVNZ responded that it had assessed the complaint under standards G14 and G15 of

the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice which read:

G14 News must be presented accurately, objectively and impartially.

G15 The standards of integrity and reliability of news sources should be

kept under constant review.

It denied that the items contained any inaccuracies, pointing out that the material had

been properly researched and checked with other sources. Except for one minor

technical inaccuracy, it declined to uphold the complaint.

The specific arguments of the complainant and the broadcaster and the Authority's

decision on each matter are set out below.

1. "Strict edict"

Ms Clark described part of a story on One Network News on 15 August (repeated

later that evening on PrimeTime), which stated as fact that she had that day issued a

strict edict for none of her political colleagues to speak out on the by-election result,

as untrue and a serious breach of journalistic standards.

She denied that the message sent to Labour MPs on 11 August (four days previously)

requesting them not to comment on the election result could be described as a "strict

edict". Moreover, Ms Clark observed that TV3 accurately described the source as a


TVNZ responded that the instruction issued on the leader's behalf, while written as a

request, clearly was intended as a firm order and not to be ignored by Labour caucus

members. It argued that was how the message was interpreted by Labour MPs who

cited it as the reason for not commenting to TVNZ on either the result or the state of

the party. TVNZ conceded that the time reference was inaccurate but argued that was

a minor breach which did not affect the story.

The Authority examined the wording of the memo to all MPs which stated:

The Leader (Helen Clark) would appreciate it if all comment on the by-election

result this weekend was confined to the Leader or the Deputy Leader. Thank you.

It did not share TVNZ's view that this polite request amounted to a "strict edict"

although it accepted that MPs might have interpreted it as such. It considered that it

was emotive to suggest that the message amounted to a "strict edict", believing the

phrase "strict edict" had connotations of compulsion which were not warranted.

The Authority decided that the use of the phrase breached the accuracy requirement

of standard G14 and upheld this aspect of the complaint.

2. The alleged Gosche/McCarten conspiracy

The news item then focused on an allegation made by Mr Moore that two unionists,

Mr Gosche (a member of the Labour Party) and Mr McCarten (a member of the

Alliance), conspired to undermine Labour. According to Ms Clark, the allegation was

based on a conversation with TVNZ's political reporter who had asked Mr Moore

earlier to comment on a rumour about collusion between the two. Ms Clark alleged

that the political correspondent's gossip appeared to have been the basis of Mr

Moore's allegation. In her view it was a breach of broadcasting standards for the

allegation to be reported as if it were a serious news story.

TVNZ reported that the political correspondent strongly refuted the suggestion that

she was the source of the "gossip". It denied that it was the source of the information

and noted that when its political correspondent spoke to Mr Moore on 14 August he

was already aware of the alleged collusion and also that he had discussed it earlier in

the day with another of TVNZ's reporters. Given the seriousness of the allegation,

TVNZ continued, it would have been surprising had it not reported it. It pointed out

that both Mr Gosche's and Mr McCarten's responses were included.

Subsequently, TVNZ continued, its political correspondent became aware that Mr

Moore was telling other reporters that she was the source of the allegation. This she

denied and, according to TVNZ, promptly advised Ms Clark's office that the

allegation was incorrect.

The Authority was unable to assess the accuracy or the reliability of the source of the

information. It noted there was a difference between the parties as to the origin of the

story, a difference which it was unable to resolve. Accordingly it declined to

determine this aspect of the complaint.

3. Mr Moore "isolated" from the party; Labour "turning to the left."

The item continued:

Today's outburst from Mike Moore comes as he is systematically isolated from

his own party. Labour is turning to the left.

Ms Clark objected to the juxtaposition of these two statements. In her view, no

evidence was advanced which linked the two assertions. She noted that a statement

from the party president stating that Labour was clarifying its policy made no

reference to the left versus right dichotomy, nor was there any suggestion that Mr

Moore was being systematically isolated from his own party because the party was

turning left. She observed that Labour's policies were under review and that Mr

Moore, like other caucus members, had the opportunity to contribute to that process.

She stated that there was no basis for allegations that Labour's policies were being

changed for the purpose of excluding Mr Moore, adding that she had sought to be

inclusive in her style of leadership.

TVNZ advised that its political correspondent's interpretation was based on her

contacts with various MPs, office holders and one of Ms Clark's own advisors. It

also pointed to Mr Lange's newspaper column published the day of the broadcast in

which he too implied that the party was turning to the left.

Noting that Ms Clark had not denied Mr Moore was being isolated from the party,

TVNZ pointed to continuing tension between Mr Moore and the Labour caucus.

While his detractors said he was isolating himself, TVNZ observed that Mr Moore's

own perception was that the party was isolating him.

In TVNZ's view there was no doubt that Mr Moore's situation was a result of the

repositioning of the party since Ms Clark assumed leadership. It pointed to the

possibility of tax increases which had been raised by Ms Clark, observing that this

would be perceived as a turn to the left.

TVNZ denied that its political correspondent was preoccupied with the "left versus

right dichotomy", noting that it was the subject of many news media reports. It

declined to uphold this aspect of the complaint.

The Authority considered that it was contentious to suggest that policy was being

devised just to oust Mr Moore and other problem MPs but, if that was the belief of

people within the party or of other observers, then it should have been attributed to

them. It decided that it was both inaccurate and partial for the correspondent to link

the two statements and to present as fact the suggestion that in order to isolate Mr

Moore from party a deliberate policy had been adopted to move the party to the left.

The Authority observed that policy was generally developed in committee before

being ratified by the party, so that even if (which was denied) meetings were held in

private, that did not necessarily support the implication made. The Authority

concluded that while the political correspondent was justified in reaching conclusions

based on her observation of the political scene, she should have ensured that her

opinions were supported by fact or were properly attributed to a source.

Accordingly the Authority upheld this aspect of the complaint under standard G14.

4. Mr Lange's role

Ms Clark described as false the assertion that Mr Lange was one of the leaders in a

"policy development conspiracy", and that he alone of MPs was authorised to make

public comments after the by-election.

First, she noted that his newspaper column published that day was not about the

election, and secondly, that comments reported in the newspaper and made on RNZ's

Nine to Noon were not, as the TVNZ story implied, made with Ms Clark's personal

endorsement. Ms Clark noted that the suggestion that she had provided an

endorsement had not been put to her (or her staff) as a matter for clarification.

When a member of Ms Clark's staff advised TVNZ after One Network News that the

broadcast contained an inaccurate statement, he was told by the political

correspondent that she was unwilling to broadcast a retraction. Ms Clark wrote:

This amounted to a refusal to accept the word of the Leader of the Opposition.

I regard this as insolent and unbecoming of a person in her position who at no

time had done me the courtesy of commenting on her bizarre story.

She continued that while some of the inaccurate statements were not repeated later

that night on PrimeTime, the damage which had been done in the earlier bulletin went


Finally, she expressed her view that Labour had no reason to believe it would ever get

fair treatment from the political correspondent given that her personal agenda had

become a serious impediment to her ability to report objectively. Ms Clark deplored

this serious state of affairs.

TVNZ responded first by accepting that Mr Lange's newspaper column was not

about the by-election, but added that its news bulletins had not said it was. The item,

it continued, was about the positioning of the Labour Party and stated that Mr Lange

had Ms Clark's support in making his comments. According to TVNZ, Mr Lange's

personal assistant and two other people confirmed this.

TVNZ then noted that its request for an interview with Ms Clark that day had been

declined, thus preventing it from putting directly to her questions about the issues

complained about.

Referring to the political correspondent's refusal to retract the comment about Mr

Lange, TVNZ advised that she had not done so because she believed it was correct. It

also noted that Ms Clark declined a further request to appear on PrimeTime. While it

noted that the references to Ms Clark's relationship with Mr Lange were omitted in

the PrimeTime report, it denied that this diminished the credibility of its earlier report.

Finally, TVNZ observed that the political correspondent's stories were based not on

assumptions as Ms Clark alleged, but on interviews, observations and reliable sources.

It believed she was entitled to interpret the political scene based on matters of fact.

From the information it was given, the Authority decided that it was inaccurate to

state that Mr Lange was exempt from the prohibition on commenting about the by-

election. Although TVNZ had invited Ms Clark to comment on another matter, it had

not alluded to this issue when it contacted her and, because it was a matter which was

contentious and readily able to be verified, the Authority considered that the question

should have been put directly to Ms Clark, instead of relying on unnamed sources.

The Authority accepted that the political correspondent's job included analysing and

interpreting political events, but it agreed with Ms Clark that such assessments should

be based on verified facts and contentious remarks attributed to the sources. In this

instance, neither Mr Lange nor Ms Clark was given the opportunity to comment on a

matter which directly concerned them both.

Accordingly, the Authority upheld the complaint that this aspect of the item was in

breach of standard G14.


For the reasons set forth above, the Authority upholds the complaint that three

aspects of the items on One Network News and PrimeTime broadcast by

Television New Zealand Ltd on 15 August 1994 breached standard G14 of the

Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

It declines to determine the other aspect of the complaint.

Having upheld a complaint, the Authority may make an order under s.13 of the

Broadcasting Act 1989. It does not intend to do so on this occasion, for although

certain aspects of the complaint were upheld, the overall impression of the Authority

was that, in the context of the robust political debate which is the hallmark of the

election process, the matters raised in this brief news item would have been unlikely

to have misled or otherwise influenced viewers.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Iain Gallaway
15 December 1994


Leader of the Opposition's Complaint to Television New Zealand Limited - 17

August 1994

The Leader of the Opposition (Rt Hon Helen Clark MP) complained to Television

New Zealand Ltd about items which appeared on One Network News at 6.00pm on 15

August 1994 and on PrimeTime at 10.15pm on the same day. The items, she wrote,

breached the standards which requires that news be presented accurately, objectively

and impartially and that news sources be reliable.

She listed the following five specific points:

1) Ms Clark stated that the lead story contained untrue statements which she

would have corrected if TVNZ's political editor had checked her story with her.

Referring to the Labour vote in the Selwyn by-election, the item included the

untrue statement:

Today Leader Helen Clark issued a strict edict for no one to go public.

Attaching the message which was sent to MPs, Ms Clark said that it contained a

request only and she pointed out that it was dated and had been sent out several

days earlier.

2) The item then outlined an allegation made by Mr Moore MP against Labour

Party member Mr Gosche and Alliance organiser Mr McCarten. Explaining that

Mr Moore's statement was in response to a rumour that the political editor had

put it to him and has asked for comment, Ms Clark said that it did not amount

to credible news reporting.

3) Without evidence to justify the linked assertions, the item next alleged:

Today's outburst from Mike Moore comes as he is systematically

isolated from his own party. Labour is turning to the left.

4) It was followed by what Ms Clark described as "a particularly damaging and

totally untrue assertion" that Labour's leadership was attempting to squeeze out

Mr Moore and some other MPs by developing a leftwing agenda.

Complaining that the allegation had not been put to her (when she would have

denied it), Ms Clark said she was using an inclusive form of leadership while

updating Labour's policy.

5) The item then dealt with what Ms Clark called TVNZ's "policy development

conspiracy". She repeated that all MPs (including Mr Lange) had been

requested not to comment on the by-election result. She had not been aware of

the context of Mr Lange's press and radio comments before they were made and

they had not been made - as TVNZ had implied - with her endorsement.

Ms Clark added:

Television New Zealand's political editor has told my staff that she based

her view, that I had endorsed Mr Lange making public comments on

Monday, on a conversation which she had with Mr Lange's executive

secretary early on Monday morning. Mr Lange's secretary says she gave

Television New Zealand's political correspondent no reason to believe

that Mr Lange's comments had my personal endorsement.

Moreover, a member of her staff in a discussion with TVNZ's reporter had cast

doubt on her interpretation of the story gained from Mr Lange's office. In that

discussion, it was also pointed out to TVNZ's reporter that MPs had not been

ordered not to speak.

When a member of her staff raised these issues with TVNZ's reporter after the

broadcast, the reporter refused to accept her (Ms Clark's) word. Ms Clark wrote in

her complaint:

I regard this as insolent and unbecoming of a person in her position who at no

time had done me the courtesy of commenting on her bizarre story. Her only

request via my staff to me for comment that day was on the row between Mr

Moore and Mr Gosche. I advised her via my staff that I had no wish to

comment on that. When Mr Gill [a member of Ms Clark's staff] asked the

political editor how she proposed to repair the damage done to my reputation in

the later bulletin, she said: ÔYou'll just have to leave it in my capable hands.'

That was hardly reassuring given our past experience with your political editor.

However, in its PrimeTime bulletin, while some of the inaccurate material was

retracted, the damage done by the earlier broadcast went unrepaired.

As TVNZ might claim that the reporter, by the use of "it seems", was broadcasting

perceptions rather than facts, in addition to describing this as "a remarkable admission

as to the nature of TVNZ's journalism, Ms Clark commented that the reporter:

... did use the words Ôit seems', when she was reporting her own perceptions in

a way which very strongly implied that they were facts. Her story was actually

based on a series of falsehoods.

Concluding that the item was inaccurate and based on an assumptions which were not

checked out, Ms Clark referred to an earlier complaint involving TVNZ's political

editor and observed:

Labour has no reason to believe that it will ever get fair treatment from your

political editor. Her personal agenda, driven by I know not what, is now a

serious impediment to her ability to report on any affairs of the New Zealand

Labour Party. This is a very serious state of affairs given Television New

Zealand's News' pre-eminence as a news source. I invite the company to reflect

on the serious problems of bias and inaccuracy which now confront Labour.

TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint - 12 September 1994

When TVNZ advised Ms Clark of its decision, it reported that the complaint had been

assessed under G14 and G15 of the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. It dealt

initially with the numbered points noted in the complaint.

1) TVNZ accepted that Ms Clark's message to MPs was written as a request.

However, quoting the Concise Oxford definition of "edict" and arguing that it

was meant as a firm message, it said MPs accepted it as a ban on public

comment until the coming caucus. Nevertheless:

It is accepted that the time reference was inaccurate. We query whether

this error was material. At no stage was it raised with us prior to receipt

of your letter.

It is accepted that a minor breach of Standard G14 occurred. We do not

consider however that in any way it affected the story.

2) Strongly refuting the allegation that Mr Moore was reported as commenting on a

matter as if it was fact when it was only political gossip first put to him by its

reporter, TVNZ said that Mr Moore was aware of the allegation before the

reporter spoke with him. Indeed, when Mr Moore later said that he had first

learnt of it from the political correspondent, she had advised Ms Clark's office

that Mr Moore was incorrect.

3) Mr Moore's press statement had been reported as was the reply from Mr

McCarten of the Alliance. Mr Gosche's response was included in the script.

TVNZ observed:

We note that you do not deny that Mr Moore is being "systematically

isolated" from his own party. The item did not indicate whether or not

this might be of his own making.

Without doubt, in past months, tension has continued between Mr Moore

and the Labour caucus. Detractors say he is isolating himself. His own

perception is that "they are isolating him". The Selwyn by-election made

it clear that Mr Moore had relatively few allies on whom he could rely.

In view of the comments from a number of Labour politicians about whether the

party should reposition itself, TVNZ denied that either sentence breached the


4) As for the complaint that a small band of MPs was developing a left wing

agenda to squeeze out Mr Moore, TVNZ referred at length to Mr Lange's

newspaper column where he argued that the Labour Party must become a

"major party of the left". It argued:

Few would doubt that in updating Labour policy there is a "Left wing

agenda". There is certainly no indication that it wishes to pursue the

agenda followed by the Party after its election to power in 1984.

5) TVNZ argued that Mr Lange's role in the party was important and that his

newspaper column was widely read. The article on the day of the broadcasts

complained about had referred to the party's position - not the by-election - and

TVNZ maintained that he had had Ms Clark's support for the comments he had

made. Moreover, other sources confirmed that RNZ's interview of Mr Lange

that day had been approved by Ms Clark's office.

The person in Ms Clark's office to whom the political reporter had spoken was

not aware of whether or not he had Ms Clark's dispensation but he had not

ruled it out.

The political editor's request for an interview - and the issues to be discussed -

was put to Ms Clark's staff at 1.00pm and declined at 5.40pm. TVNZ stated:

We accept that following the One Network News broadcast your Press

Secretary telephoned our political correspondent. He was told that there

was no need for a retraction to be broadcast as she believed the

information she had obtained was correct.

As for the complaint that this was insolent and professionally inappropriate, TVNZ

said the political editor's job was to report on the political scene. Although the

reference to Mr Lange's role was omitted from the PrimeTime item, TVNZ did not

accept that it diminished the credibility of the earlier story.

Moreover, in the three conversations between the editor and a member of Ms Clark's

staff between 6.00pm and PrimeTime, there was no suggestion that the comment

about squeezing out Mr Moore amounted to a falsehood.

As for Ms Clark's remarks about the political editor's role, TVNZ wrote:

We do not accept that our political correspondent is driven by a hidden agenda.

Her stories are not based on "assumptions" as you allege, but on interviews,

observations and sources in which we believe she has every right to have

confidence. Linda Clark, as with her predecessors, is perfectly entitled to

interpret the political scene based on matters of fact. We note that you find this

remarkable. In our view it is neither remarkable or an unusual method of

covering Parliamentary matters here or in other countries.

Having given the complaint a "lengthy and considered review", TVNZ declined to

uphold it other than the technical point noted earlier.

The Leader of the Opposition's Referral to the Broadcasting Standards

Authority - 22 September 1994

Dissatisfied with TVNZ's response, Ms Clark referred the complaint to the

Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Referring specifically to the requirements in standards G14 and G15, she maintained

that the items were inaccurate and she expressed her disagreement with TVNZ's

"longwinded" and "kneejerk response in defence of its political correspondent".

Ms Clark disputed TVNZ's description of her message to Labour MPs as a "strict

edict". The "request", she said, was a reminder that comments on a by-election result

were the prerogative of the Leader and Deputy Leader. She noted that TV3 had

described the message as "a memo". Expressing surprise that the message had been

given any prominence at all, she commented:

Overall, the description of the memo as Ôa strict edict' was part of TVNZ's

crude attempt to raise the tension surrounding the Labour Party after the

Selwyn by-election.

With regard to Mr Moore's statement about the agreement between a named Labour

Party member and an Alliance member, Ms Clark said that TVNZ admitted that its

political editor was one of Mr Moore's sources and his statement had referred to the

source of his information as "several competing news organisations". She said that

TVNZ should have realised that it was reporting as fact, remarks which it had earlier

put to Mr Moore.

As for the third point, Ms Clark wrote:

Thirdly, TVNZ has completely failed to grasp my complaint about two

assertions which it linked in its story on One Network News on August 15. I

objected to the suggestion that Mr Moore is somehow being frozen out of the

party, and, further that this is happening because the party is Ôturning left'. Mr

Moore is not being frozen out of the party and TVNZ has no evidence for its

assertions that he is. With regard to the suggestion that Labour is Ôturning left',

Labour's policies are under review and Mr Moore, like any other caucus

member, has an opportunity to contribute to that review. There is no basis for

allegations that Labour's policies are being changed for the purpose of driving

out Mr Moore.

For these reasons, she added, TVNZ was at fault when it accused her of using a left

wing agenda while updating the Labour policy.

Ms Clark expressed astonishment that TVNZ now said:

... that all of the inaccurate and spurious allegations which it made in its story on

August 15 would have been put to me if I had agreed to the interview.

An interview had been sought on the claim of the conspiracy between the named

Labour and Alliance members. It had been declined as it was for the named Labour

Party member to refute. Ms Clark continued:

I and my staff, however, were completely unaware that TVNZ's political editor

proposed to broadcast a series of other misleading statements in her story. If

we had been aware of that our response to the interview request would have

been very different. The actions of TVNZ's political editor on August 15

denied me the opportunity to dispel outrageous claims which were to be made

on One Network News that night. I believe that I and my staff have not been

honestly dealt with by her.

Moreover, she said that despite three phone calls to TVNZ's political editor by a

member of her staff after the 6.00pm news, it failed to acknowledge explicitly in the

PrimeTime bulletin that the suggestion with regard to Mr Lange was inaccurate.

Accepting TVNZ's point that the role of the political editor included the task of

interpreting the political scene for viewers, Ms Clark said that such interpretations,

however, should be based on an accurate assessment of the facts and a clear

understanding of the events. She maintained:

The story which TVNZ broadcast on August 15 was not based on an accurate

assessment of the facts and is demonstrably wrong in several respects. The

story also reveals the misguided notion which TVNZ's political editor has that a

'left wing' policy agenda is being driven through the Labour Party by Labour's

leadership in order to drive out some MPs. That is false.

In view of the material included in the broadcast, Mrs Clark concluded:

Labour has no faith whatsoever in the capacity of TVNZ's political editor to

report its affairs fairly and without prejudice.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority - 11 October 1994

Explaining that the correct title of its employee referred to was "political editor" - not

political correspondent - TVNZ said it wished to make a few additional comments in

relation to the referral of the complaint to the Authority.

First, in response to Ms Clark's allegation that the information was not checked

before the broadcast, TVNZ said the information contained in the item had been

checked with a number of Labour MPs and with another reliable source (explicitly not


Secondly, TVNZ maintained that the message was regarded by the Labour MPs as a

"firm order" TVNZ added:

The point of the item was that the former leader, Mr Moore, had felt himself

not bound by it. Mr Moore's candour was in marked contrast to other Labour

MPs who, with the exception of Rt Hon David Lange all cited the memorandum

as being a reason for being unavailable for interview.

As the allegation that TVNZ reported the Gosche/McCarten affair uncritically, TVNZ

disagreed and pointed to the direct denials reported. In addition, it said Mr Moore

was portrayed as an MP no longer in the mainstream of the Labour Party.

TVNZ then repeated that Mr Moore was aware of the allegation before he spoke to

TVNZ's reporter. It also said:

With respect, the Leader of the Opposition is mistaken in her belief that our

political correspondent confirmed to her press secretary that she had been one

of the sources providing information to Mr Moore.

The press secretary was told quite the opposite.

TVNZ next dealt with the complaint about the assertions in the two adjacent

sentences. It argued that policy had changed as the 1990 election had shown the

existing policy as "unpalatable" to voters:

But, as the policy line shifts, it is marginalising the likes of Mr Moore. At the

time of the by-election (with tensions sharpened between Mr Moore and the

rest of the caucus) the policy debate was seen as a way of effectively moving

him out.

The commentary, TVNZ added, was carefully checked and confirmed before


Dealing with the aspect that the reporter had not disclosed in full the reasons for the

interview, TVNZ noted that all political leaders were aware that an intended question

line was never revealed in full in advance. It observed:

Before the by-election, our political correspondent had interviewed the Labour

leader on countless occasions. She had never been asked for, nor provided,

anything other than the broadest outline.

For the benefit of the Authority, it elaborated on the procedure followed during the

interviews. TVNZ also pointed out that a further request was made for an interview

after being advised of Ms Clark's dissatisfaction with the 6.00pm item. That request,

TVNZ added, was also declined.

TVNZ then suggested that the press secretary's account of the conversation with its

political correspondent, after the 6.00pm news, suffered from "selective recall".

The only issue discussed during those conversations, TVNZ maintained, was the

comment that Mr Lange had Ms Clark's approval to speak out. A retraction was

requested. However, the staff member was told that there would be no retraction as it

was not accepted that the item was inaccurate. TVNZ stated:

The removal of the reference to Mr Lange from the "PrimeTime" item later in

the evening was done, not because of any shortcomings in the original item, but

in the long term interest of TVNZ's relations with Ms Clark and her caucus.

(The Authority will be aware of the situation from other complaints it has

handled). We emphasise the reference was not incorrect. Had it been incorrect,

a correction would have been broadcast on "PrimeTime". That aspect was

dropped in a well meant gesture of conciliation.

In conclusion, TVNZ recorded:

Finally, we again reject Ms Clark's implications which impugn the integrity and

accuracy of our political reporting. We are particularly disappointed in the

unsubstantiated remarks she has made about our political correspondent, who is

held in high regard by TVNZ and enjoys the confidence of this company.

The Leader of the Opposition's Final Comment - 30 November 1994

When asked to make a brief final comment, Ms Clark responded to a number of points

made by TVNZ.

First, with respect to the memo issued by the senior whip to Labour MPs , Ms Clark

maintained that TVNZ had not read the memo carefully, pointing out that it simply

said it would be appreciated if all comment on the by-election was confined to the

leader and the deputy leader. She repeated that in no sense could it be described as a

"strict edict", but simply a request for cooperation.

Ms Clark expressed her concern about TVNZ's handling of the allegations that Mr

Gosche and Mr McCarten had conspired to harm Labour. She added that she was

convinced that TVNZ was one of the sources of the rumour.

Ms Clark described as "utterly false" the assertion by TVNZ that Labour was

applying a "left wing agenda" to its policy-making process in order to force Mr

Moore out of the Party and that that agenda was being driven by a small band of MPs

including herself.

She completely rejected the claim that she and her staff were dealt with in a fair and

honest manner when TVNZ's political correspondent approached her office for an

interview on 15 August, noting that she was advised that the subject of the interview

was Mr Moore's claims about Mr Gosche. She noted that no indication had been

given that the real subject of the story was that she had endorsed public comments by

Mr Lange, that Labour MPs had received a strict edict not to comment on the

outcome or that Mr Moore was being driven from the Party by a left-wing agenda.

Ms Clark added that had she known it was proposed to report a series of untrue

statements, she would have responded positively to the interview request. She

claimed that she was not even given the broadest outline of the real focus of the

political correspondent's interest.

She concluded by stating that she was in no doubt that there was a breach of

broadcasting standards because the item was neither accurate, objective nor impartial.

She wrote:

As leader of the Labour Party I was asked only for comment on the row

between Mr Gosche and Mr Moore. I declined to engage in it. At no time prior to

the 6 pm news were the series of blatant untruths which characterised the item raised

with me. That is reprehensible.