Megan Whelan, RNZ’s Head of Content, claimed the state-funded broadcaster had an ‘independent’ editorial policy.
Whelan made the threat to leave the Twitter yesterday afternoon.
In a three-part she wrote:
‘RNZ’s editorial independence is enshrined in our charter and editorial policy. Twitter’s own policy defines government-funded media as cases where the government may have ‘may have varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content’, which does not apply to RNZ.
‘Not only is our editorial independence protected by the law, we guard it vigorously. Over the next few days we will be considering our options.
‘Including talking to Twitter to have the label removed or revised, or as other public media around the world have done, leave the platform.
Megan Whelan – RNZ’ Head of Content.’
Twitter’s definition of ‘Government-funded media’ states:
‘Government-funded media is defined as outlets where the government provides some or all of the outlet’s funding and may have varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content.’
Earlier this month RNZ announced an annual boost in government funding of $25.7 million as part of a larger $117.8 million compensation package over four years following the scrapped public media merger. This is in addition to the millions the entity received from the Public Interest Journalism Fund (PIJF).
Commenters were quick to point out that RNZ was clearly within the meaning of Twitter’s definition. There were two elements to it – government funding in whole or in part, and varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content.
As to the second element users noted how RNZ’s narratives, especially those relating to COVID vaccines, trans rights and the Posie Parker #letwomenspeak rally were closely aligned to those of the government, as well as the broadcaster’s lack of right-of-centre view points and opinions. As part of its PIJF funding, RNZ is required to ensure all content, where appropriate, ‘actively promotes the principles of partnership and Active Protection under Te Tiriti O Waitangi acknowledging Maori as Tiriti partner…’. Such a requirement was also proof, commenters said, of government editorial control.
As of today Whelan’s tweets has received hundreds of replies, with the overwhelming number in support of Twitter’s label, and some calling for it to be applied to all legacy media outlets that receive money from the government.
Including talking to Twitter to have the label removed or revised, or as other public media around the world have done, leave the platform.
Megan Whelan – RNZ's Head of Content (3/3)
— RNZ (@radionz) April 17, 2023