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Panpa Bulletin : May 2006
NEWS THE Newspaper Publishers As- sociation of New Zealand wants clarification of the law concern- ing 'third parties' advertising sup- port, or appearing to support an actual political party in General Elections. The Electoral Act clearly sought to prevent the election expendi- ture cap being breached by politi- cal parties arranging to have other organisations pay for supportive advertising, the NPA said in sub- missions to Parliament's Justice and Electoral Select Committee. Where a 'third party' advertise- ment names the political party it supports, then there is no prob- lem for the NPA to advise the or- ganisation or persons concerned. The advice given in such a case is the prospective advertiser must have written authorisation from the political party named, as well as a statement setting out the name and address of the person for whom or at whose direction the advertisement was published. However, the Electoral Act also requires that where an advertise- ment "appears to encourage or persuade voters" then it must be authorised by the political party concerned, said the NPA. The interpretation of 'appears' caused much confusion during last year's General Election. Some advertisements of that period made no mention of a particu- lar party but would, for example, encourage voters to vote for the 'right' or for the 'left' or listed a group of policies which could be interpreted as belonging to a par- ticular political party or a coalition of parties. Other advertisements, said the NPA, were styled and coloured in a way that was suggestive of a par- ticular party or part of the political spectrum with use of blue-ish, red-ish or even green-ish tints. The upshot was much argu- ment between newspaper and NPA staff with advertising agen- cies and political party advertis- ers. In one instance, a particular advertiser (a non-political party) called in a QC to bring pressure on the newspapers. Anotherproblem, saidtheNPA, was when a 'third party' advertise- ment was not specific but clearly supported a coalition of parties. In such a case, would all of those political parties be required to au- thorise the advertisement? Lincoln Gould, the chief ex- ecutive of NPA, told the Select committee that during last year's election the Chief Electoral Office was most helpful in providing a degree of advice, but at the end of the day judgement calls needed to be made very often in the face of conflicting advice. RESTRICTIONS on reporting suicide in New Zealand seem set to remain despite editors' best ef- forts. Parliament's Justice and Elec- toral Select Committee reported back to the House on the Coro- ners Bill without recommending changes to the clauses affecting reporting of suicide. The Media Freedom Commit- tee representing newspapers, radio and television, the New Zealand Press Council and indi- vidual editors had earlier made submissions calling for lifting of the restrictions. The majority of the select committee was persuaded by concerns that more open re- porting would lead to copycat suicides and increase rather than decrease the incidence of such deaths. The Dominion-Post editor Tim Pankhurst, chairman of the Media Freedom Committee, ex- pressed disappointment at the Select Committee's decision. Pankhurst said that New Zea- land's appallingly high suicide rates made it difficult to see how the current restriction on report- ing of self-inflicted death was ef- fective. This comment about se- crecy not working was echoed in Pankhurst's newspaper editorial on the subject. "New Zealand's quaintlyVicto- rian approach to pretending sui- cide does not happen is not work- ing," the editorial said. "And MPs are letting young people down by refusing to accept that, like other mental health issues, sui- cide and the effects on those left behind need to be brought into the sunlight and debated as the serious public health issues that they are." The New Zealand Community Newspapers Association is inves- tigating how to package and sell member newspapers' news and photographs to either Fairfax New Zealand or the other major news- paper group APN. The purpose is to provide operating funds for the association, outgoing president Nicholas Krause told the associa- tion annual conference in Auck- land, April 1. Krause said the association's total membership was now 42, with seven new members join- ing in the past year. Two associate members had joined too. Another initiative is to ob- tain quotes to secure an NZCNA group buy of circulation auditing of member newspapers through A C Nielsen. Association commu- nity newspapers would be invited to buy research measuring for au- dited circulation. Starting this year, association members will be able to benefit from a 'buddy' system. Executive committee members will be tak- ing responsibility for regularly contacting three members to dis- cuss industry issues and to act in a support role when required. The NZCNA executive officers were elected as follows: President: Murray Kirkness (Allied Press Communities). Ex- ecutive Secretary: Nancye Pitt. Executive Committee: Liz Waters (Gulf News), Richard Thomas (Mountain Scene), Frank Veale (Ashburton's The Courier), John Spring (Whakatane Beacon), Ewan McDonald (The Auck- lander) and Lisah Henry (Times Newspapers). WARREN Page reports on the demise of New Zealand's last weekly racing tabloid. Friday Flash, New Zealand's only weekly racing tabloid, has been sent to the knacker's yard. Owner, Fairfax New Zealand, ceased publication of Friday Flash on April 21. Fairfax New Zealand's chief operating officer and editor-in-chief Peter O'Hara said, "The practicalities of producing a specialist title on very tight timeframes, then distributing copies to a relatively small market spread across the country, mean its continued publication is no longer viable." O'Hara also men- tioned the tabloid's long-term fall in circulation. Reference to New Zealand Audit Bureau of Circulations figures show that the circulation of Friday Flash fell from 7,966 at the end of March last year to 6,785 six months later (a drop of 14.8 per cent). Following consultation, seven of the 11 staff were made redun- dant as a result of the closure. Remaining staff will concentrate on the company's other specialist racing titles, the pocket-sized booklets, Best Bets and Turf Digest, each published twice a week in Auckland and distributed nationally. A number of improvements are planned for those publica- tions, including additional features over coming weeks and months. O'Hara said that Fairfax New Zealand saw a strong future for those racing titles. Decisions on the specialist rac- ing publications was quite sepa- rate from racing coverage within the company's stable of daily newspapers, O'Hara confirmed. NPa calls for clarifcation Suicide reporting restrictions continue Gone in a fash NZ community papers join forces 7 | PaNPa bULLETIN May 2006