CRAIG SIMCOX / STUFF
OPINION: The Prime Minister has confidence in her Minister of Broadcasting.
So she told us this weekend.
Clare Curran was dismissed this week without mercy from the cabinet and from the portfolios of open government and digital services, after the misleading Parliament about a late meeting with entrepreneur Derek Handley.
She failed to reveal that she had led the innovator and philanthropist to her office in Beehive, at 8 pm after all her staff had gone home – a meeting she had set up via her private email, which had not been in her diary. recorded and not disclosed in a direct message Parliamentary question.
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Yet the Prime Minister retains confidence in her to serve New Zealand as a broadcasting minister.
This is surprising, because it is the second time that Curran is caught not revealing meetings with controversial broadcasters – the first news role of Radio NZ, Carol Hirschfeld, now Sky TV director Derek Handley.
Both meetings came when the government prepared to take important decisions regarding those broadcasters: whether they had to finance Radio NZ to set up a new TV channel for public services; whether they support the bill of government member of parliament Clayton Mitchell for private members, so that the leisure sport of New Zealanders is guaranteed.
It is therefore not only about the performance of Curran in the open portfolio of government and digital services, but also its transparency as a broadcasting minister.
Last night, a spokesman said the prime minister was assured that Curran and Handley had not discussed Sky TV and his concerns during the discreet meeting. It is not known whether one of them made a note – but Curran wants to be sure that Handley will confirm the bill that she has given to the Prime Minister.
Handley's international reputation remains untouched by this meeting, and he will want to keep it that way. He is not a political player. He will not allow himself to be included in a Machiavellian web of omission or misrepresentation.
Sky TV external affairs director Chris Major says that as board member Handley "does not interact on behalf of Sky with politicians"; that every discussion with the Minister would take place in a personal capacity.
Because the fundamentals of his business model are challenged by streaming video, Sky has striven to protect the little that it still left. It has previously opposed free-to-air sports legislation and will be determined to do so again.
But this month the private members' bill comes from the vote in the name of a government member, NZ First & # 39; s Clayton Mitchell, whose party would like to show that it can take over the decaying power of Sky TV and guarantee that the great sports are seen on small screens.
"This law is designed to ensure that all New Zealanders get the rights to free broadcast of games that are particularly important to us and that games do not become elitist and things that only people with wealth can enjoy," explains Mitchell. (He came back late with us – he had watched the Bledisloe Cup rugby test on Sky TV).
So that's one fight.
Sky also fights against online pirates and wants the legislation to allow courts to force telco & # 39; s to block the worst offenders. In July it successfully sued a lawsuit against distributor of set-top boxes, Fiber TV. A court in the Christchurch District Court ruled that the & kodi boxes & # 39 ;, pre-loaded with hundreds of illegal channels, were illegal. And Sky is waiting for a decision of the High Court in a case against another pirate website, MyBox, but maybe already won through the back door: the MyBox NZ website has now been removed.
It is quite possible that the words "free-to-air" or "piracy" were never mentioned in that evening meeting at the Bijenkorf office; that Curran and Handley were focused on his application for the position of Chief Technology Officer of NZ Inc.
But with no notes from the unveiled meeting, no advisers present and a track record of unreliable answers from the minister to Parliament itself, the public can not have confidence.
And the prime minister can not do that either.
– Sunday Star Times