Colin Craig has won an interim injunction against TV3 after it refused to include him in a debate between leaders of the minor parties:
“The debate this weekend is part of a series of more targeted debates running on The Nation, and involves minor parties who have seats in Parliament and have been in Government or Opposition during the past three years,” a TV3 spokesperson said this morning.
Mr Craig’s lawyer, John McKay, said his client had been excluded from a “vital part of democracy”.
“It’s about voters,” Mr McKay told the court.
He said it was “extraordinary that TV3 had chosen leaders to appear on the debate based on their place in Parliament from the last election, rather than current polls”.
Part of the issue was the show’s studio could only accommodate six lecterns for leaders, not seven, meaning there wouldn’t be enough space for Mr Craig. A wide shot can also only accommodate six people, as can the studio’s lighting.
“There must be a trade-off between comfort and the importance of the occasion,” Mr McKay argued.
TV3 lawyer Daniel McLellan acknowledged Mr Craig had a right to be included in televised debates in the heat of the election campaign, but tomorrow’s minor debate was not that important.
Mr McLellan said it was “not likely to have a significant impact on the 2014 general election”, and media have a right to decided what is newsworthy without having it “dictated” to them. . .
I don’t like the idea of politicians dictating what media does and how it does.
But when TV3’s lawyer admitted Craig had a right to be included he weakened his case for his exclusions considerably.
It might only be political tragics who are fully engaged in the election campaign.
But it is only six weeks to polling day.