NZ Govt happy – Chinese govt controls NZ Radio Stations

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The New Zealand government is in lala-land if they think it’s ok for the Chinese Government to broadcast propaganda 24/7 into New Zealand. The government’s latest letters to me say “its programming choices are determined by commercial considerations” (LOL) and ask me to provide evidence of deception in this propaganda (LOL some more).

Some reasons why this is stupid are here in Perry Link’s testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

On 24Feb2012 I spoke to Prime Minister John Key’s office about Chinese Government control of the only NZ-wide Mandarin Radio station (broadcasting on 90.6 FM in Auckland). I followed up in writing. Here’s the paper trail.

———

Dear Prime Minister

I write to follow up my comments to Amanda this morning which she undertook to pass on.

I hope you will agree with me that Chinese Government 24×7 broadcast of its Chinese Mandarin overseas radio station on Auckland’s only Chinese radio station does not serve us well.

Can you imagine a situation where China allowed us to broadcast 24×7 on one of its city’s frequencies?

Will you please assure me 90.6 FM will be returned to community ownership and control so that it may properly serve the Chinese community of Auckland?

————

15Apr2012, almost two months later, I got a holding response from Megan Walls in Key’s office:
On behalf of the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, I acknowledge receipt of your email and regret the delay in this response.

Please be assured your comments have been noted.

As the issue you have raised falls within the portfolio responsibility of the Minister of Broadcasting, Hon Craig Foss, your email has been forwarded to his office for consideration.

Thank you for writing.

Regards
M Walls | Executive Assistant
On behalf of
B Smith | Private Secretary | Office of the Prime Minister
Private Bag 18041 | Parliament Buildings | Wellington 6160 | New Zealand

——–
I then received a letter in the post from Craig Foss in his role as Minister of Broadcasting dated 15May2012, another month later.

Dear Mr McCready

Your email to the Prime Minister of 24 February has been referred to me as the matters you raise fall within my portfolio responsibilities.  I apologise for the delay in this reply to you.

I appreciate you may not approve of the content of Auckland’s 90.6FM. However, 90.6FM operates under a commercial licence and its programming choices are determined by commercial considerations.

Like all stations, 90.6FM must observe the standards in the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.  If you believe a particular programme is breaching one or more of the standards in the Code, you can make a formal complaint to the broadcaster.  If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, you can then make a formal complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA). The complaints process and the Radio Code can be found on the BSA website http://www.bsa.govt.nz/

Thank you for taking time to write with your views.

Yours sincerely
Hon Craig Foss
Minister of Broadcasting

——
19May2012 I wrote to again to John Key:

Prime Minister of NZ

cc
Craig Foss NZ Minister of Broadcasting
Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard (given it’s security implications)

Dear John

I just got Craig Foss’s reply to me on this issue after you flick-passed it to him. I am stunned (15 May, no identifying correspondence number) that your government doesn’t seem bothered that the only Chinese Mandarin radio station in Auckland broadcasts the overseas Chinese propaganda station 24/7.

It’s a national security issue more than a broadcasting issue. It’s also an issue about the shape of NZ society.

If you’re happy to have the only Chinese voice in Auckland radio totally controlled by PRC propaganda, fine.

But think of the power of Chinese propaganda, think of its emotional appeal to Chinese here who may not feel quite at home, think of what damage it can do NZ national interest given the ratio of Chinese migrants here now. Think of the view of the world it gives to Chinese people in Auckland.

And then think of getting back to what we had before in Auckland radio – a Chinese station that broadcast a range of views.

Please run it by your China and national security people. Please run it by your Australian friends. Or talk to me. I used to be ranked Top Secret as an Australian public servant working on China issues in Canberra.

———-
19Jun2012 Briane Smith of Key’s office responded:

Dear Mr McCready

On behalf of the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, I acknowledge your email of 19 May 2012 and thank you for your advice.

Foreign language broadcasts in themselves are not a concern to national security.  However, NZSIS may take an interest if these broadcasts constitute acts of foreign interference.

Foreign interference may be described as activities imparting adversely on New Zealand that are carried on by or behalf of, are directed or subsidised by, or are undertaken in active collaboration with a foreign power, being activities that are clandestine and or deceptive, or involve the threat to any person.  While the public broadcasts in themselves cannot be clandestine, the New Zealand Government would be interested in any evidence that they are deceptive – or that they involve a threat to a person.

If you have concerns regarding a specific broadcast that are not security related, the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) ensures that all broadcasters are in compliance with the Broadcasting Act 1989.  If you have specific complaints regarding this broadcaster and believe that the station has breached one or more of the nine Standards of Broadcasting, you can make a complaint either through the BSA website or in writing.  More details about The Standards and guidelines for making a complaint can be found on the BSA website, http://www.bsa.govt.nz.

Regards,
B Smith |Manager, Correspondence & Records | Office of the Prime Minister
Fax: 04 472 2075 | Ph: 817 6800
Private Bag 18041 | Parliament Buildings | Wellington 6160 | New Zealand

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