Replace Mike Hosking with an impartial presenter for the TVNZ election debates!

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TVNZ- Replace Mike Hosking with an impartial presenter for the TVNZ election debates!

John Gillespie, Head of News and Current Affairs at TVNZ, confirmed this afternoon (10/08/17) that Mike Hosking will once again be presenting the TVNZ election debates as he did in 2014. Mike Hosking is well known on New Zealand television and radio for being an overtly biased broadcaster. In 2014 several political leaders accused Hosking of ignoring the role of impartiality that he was supposed to play, and being biased towards National and John Key in particular. Previous Labour Party leader Andrew Little stated that Hosking made "no attempt at objectivity" and Green Party Leader James Shaw stated that it was "pretty obvious" that Hosking was biased in his presenting. Winston Peters is also quoted as saying that the "quality of public debate suffers" when Hosking presents because of his open bias towards the National Party. 

Hosking is regarded as a polarising broadcaster by the New Zealand public. A Stuff.co.nz poll from 2015 found that 74% of people think that Mike Hosking is clearly politically biased. In 2016, a petition was organised by lawyer Dan Wayman to remove Hosking from public broadcasting at TVNZ. This petition gained 14,000 signatures in just over a week. While it is easy to change the television channel when Hosking is on television, all New Zealanders have a right to watch the election debates without being influenced by the opinions of the presenter. The job of an election debate presenter is to serve a public function; they are in place to facilitate debate between political parties to inform the general public- not to push their own agenda. 

The New Zealand media is a powerful force when it comes to election time. The media is how most New Zealanders inform themselves about New Zealand's various political parties and policies. The public cannot effectively inform themselves when the information being provided through a medium such as election debates is one-sided. According to a Radio NZ article, TVNZ assured in 2014 that Hosking will be conducting the debates "with absolute political neutrality." Despite this assurance, Hosking continued to be biased towards National throughout the duration of the debates. The New Zealand public should not be expected to decipher whether Mike Hosking is biased in his moderation of debate and his line of questioning. Instead, New Zealanders should be able to focus on the content of the debate instead of worrying whether the presenter is impartial. 

It is disappointing that TVNZ is trivialising the election debates by choosing a presenter who is biased but likely to gain more viewers. An election debate should be taken seriously by the broadcasting authority and not used as an opportunity to draw a larger audience. 

The role of presenter in the election debates should be filled by someone who is impartial and can facilitate debate without being dictated by their own political opinions. To quote Mike Hosking " Given I am not a journalist I can, like most people, say what I like." This is why we need a neutral political reporter- someone whose job it is to uphold the integrity of journalism and impartiality instead of using their air time as an opportunity to push their own political agenda.

Sign this petition to remove Mike Hosking from the role of presenter in the TVNZ election debates to respect the impartiality of a presenting role, preserve the integrity of journalism, and the principle of democracy in New Zealand.

 



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