Yesterday a court ruling was made that forced a NZ TV station to have two political party leaders on a televised debate. The 6 highest-polling party leaders were invited onto a political debate for the upcoming election, and two political leaders who weren't invited, because they weren't up there with the polling figures, went to court in order to force the TV station to let them into the debate. In a matter of hours, the court ruled in their favour, forcing the TV station to allow them onto the debate.
I immediately saw a problem with this, where the justice system (which includes the government, as the justice system is a reflection of government policies) now dictates who a private organisation can or can't have on their privately organised TV shows. Suddenly, a 'dangerous precedence' was created. This was the first article about it:
The ruling was also criticised by New Zealand Media Freedom Committee chairman and Dominion Post editor Tim Pankhurst, who said it was bizarre. "The courts should not be meddling in this area. It is a dangerous precedent for the democratic process when judges are allowed to dictate which politicians should be included in specific programmes."
And where precedent has been set, people will take advantage of it. Less than a day later, we have the Destiny Church, a militant religious group in NZ, deciding that it now wants to go to court as well, to force a TV station to allow them on their show when they originally weren't invited.
Destiny New Zealand may take legal action over its exclusion from a TVNZ Marae debate, after a court ruling forced TV3 to include additional party leaders in its leaders debate.
The dangerous ball has begun rolling down that sleep hill, where disgruntled people will now be able to force their way onto TV stations and other public and private forums, overruling any concept we once had about freedom of choice, of speech, and of freedom of the press. It doesn't seem that free any more.
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