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The BSA was considering a complaint from the Labour Party that the show was an election programme as defined in the Broadcasting Act 1989, and that it breached the Code of Broadcasting Practice in relation to election programmes.
John Key acted as a radio host on a programme called Prime Minister's Hour, which aired on September 30. He stated early in the programme that he was not going to discuss election issues.
BSA Chief Executive Susan Freeman-Greene said the show would have had to explicitly or directly encourage or persuade listeners to vote for a particularly party or person to fit the definition of an election programme and it did not do this.
"The BSA carefully considered the intent of the legislation, taking into account the fundamental right to freedom of expression, the severe monetary penalties if the Act is breached and that the term `election programme' generally relates to paid advertisements.
"It became clear to the Authority that the legislation should be interpreted as overt or explicit encouragement or persuasion to vote in a particular way rather than incidentally or consequently amounting to encouragement or persuasion.''
The BSA states: We do not believe that on this occasion the mere presence of the Prime Minister made the programme into an election programme. We can of course see that some political advantage will accrue to the Prime Minister and the party to which he belongs from exposures of this kind. It is not for us to say whether this should or should not be permitted; we are required to deal with the law as it stands.
For the sake of completeness, the Authority also considered whether standards would have been breached if it had been an election programme.
"The Labour Party said a comment by a host that `the Labour Party is furious that you (John Key) are on and they're not' was unfair and denigrated the party, but in our view this sort of banter is to be expected on a programme of this kind,'' said Susan Freeman-Greene.
The Labour Party also said it was unfair that leader Phil Goff was not allowed to host a similar programme but the BSA said there was no mandatory requirement for equal time.
The BSA states: Our opinion therefore is that even if this programme were held to be an election programme, which we do not consider it was, it would not have breached any of the standards raised by the complainant.
The complaint was considered by BSA Chair Peter Radich, Mary Anne Shanahan and Te Raumawhitu Kupenga.