Hamish McKenzie - on the ball, the other side of the world

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Courts force democracy upon us

I'm conflicted. I'm pleased that TV3's decision to omit Peter Dunne from the leaders debate has been revealed as arbitrary and unfair. But I don't like the idea of a court exerting its authority over a news organisation so hurriedly.

What precedent is being set here? Will politicians be able to take news organisations to court in the future because they don't feel their opinions have had adequate air-time?

I still think TV3 was wrong in excluding Peter Dunne (it's much easier to justify Jim Anderton, whose party was barely registering on the polls), but it should remain as the master of its devices. I would have much preferred to see TV3 back down after a public outcry -- or to have viewers abandon such a skewed debate -- than to have this forced upon them from on high.

And surely this case is too nuanced to be decided within a matter of days. Where's TV3's recourse to appeal?

Then again, I don't feel terribly sorry for TV3. After trying, unfairly, to have only six leaders on, they've been landed with eight. Would have been much cleaner for them with seven.