Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
The press is free and vibrant, and according to Transparency International, New Zealand is one of the few countries where bribery of journalists is least likely. While the legal climate remains generally unfettered, a mayoral candidate and businessman in the country's largest city, Auckland, filed a defamation suit for NZ$1.5 million against one of the leading economic and political papers, National Business Review, over an article that he claimed to be a "hatchet job." He was subsequently elected mayor. In May, the Broadcasting Standards Authority upheld its 2003 ruling that an interview conducted with Prime Minister Helen Clark in July 2002, about allegations that the government had covered up a genetically engineered corn release, breached standards of balance, accuracy, and fairness. TV3 had appealed the original ruling in 2003. TV3 was ordered to pay approximately US$8,000 in costs to Clark's defence team and more than US$10,500 in costs to the crown.
Four companies, all foreign owned, dominate the country's broadcast news media. The national journalists union had concerns over the impact on media diversity following the purchase of Independent Newspapers Ltd. by Australia's John Fairfax Holdings, which owns almost 48 percent of New Zealand's daily newspaper circulation. The state-owned corporation Television New Zealand dominates television with two free-to-air channels and broadcasts programming compliant with a new public broadcasting charter, leading to a target of 55 percent local programming for TV One. CanWest Global Communications, the Canadian media conglomerate and majority owner of several broadcast outlets, sold 30 percent of its holding in MediaWorks. In another move, 15 regional AM and FM stations that had retained their individual identity and heritage for more than 30 years have been rebranded as MORE FM, one of the subsidiary RadioWorks networks. In March, the first TV station produced and programmed specifically for the indigenous Maori population was launched.