Not content with inflicting Nicky Watson on us, AGAIN. Not content with spending nearly seven minutes discussing a missing dog (species unknown or at least, misspelt). Not content with airing Cricket is a Horse, TV One, it turns out, dumped this story in favour of Nicky Watson wandering the beach community of Matarangi.

That’s right – C-grade celeb’s missing dog outranks child health.

To quote:

The Paediatrics Society report, Monitoring the Health of New Zealand Children and Young People – Indicator Handbook came out on 26 November. It makes it crystal clear that being at the bottom of the heap for health is very closely linked with being at the bottom of the heap for family income.

The story goes on:

As we’ve known for two centuries, poor children have poor health. Parts of the report read like something out of Dickens.

“The associations between substandard housing and poor health have been known for several centuries, with reports from as early as the 1830s attributing high rates of infectious disease to overcrowded, damp, and poorly ventilated housing. In New Zealand, crowding is strongly correlated with meningococcal disease, while overseas reports also demonstrate correlations with a number of infectious diseases and mental health issues.”

In 2001, 42.5% of children in the most deprived areas lived in crowded households, compared with just 2.7% of children in the most affluent areas. By 2006 – after five supposedly prosperous years – fewer children in the most affluent areas (2.3%) lived in crowded households. But more children in the most deprived areas – 43.6% – lived in crowded households.

Putting aside for the moment the idea that we should pick on poor Nicky because of her poor dog simply because we can (fish, inna barrel), let’s talk about TVNZ’s obligation to its viewers, TVNZ’s obligation to its charter and TVNZ’s obligation to its advertisers.

First, the viewers. Close Up is a news programme, a current affairs show dedicated, so the ads tell us, to getting behind the news, behind the stories and looking at the big picture issues. From the show’s own website:

With Close Up, it is the story that counts. The emphasis is on providing high-quality, reporter-driven, current affairs stories about New Zealanders and what matters to them.

Like missing chihuahuas.

Next, TVNZ has signed up to the government mandated Charter which demands a certain level of responsibility. To quote from TVNZ’s own website:

The TVNZ Charter provides a guide to our broadcasting responsibilities and makes it clear that TVNZ’s role is to reflect and explore what it means to be a New Zealander. To New Zealanders, this unique and special responsibility means quality television that educates, informs and entertains through local home grown programming and the best of international programming.

Finally, the advertisers. They pay top dollar for space in Close Up. It’s one of the highest rating shows in the country and it’s on five nights a week. They pay top dollar for two reasons: one, the viewership is high and two, they want to be associated with a certain brand.

I don’t believe Nicky Watson and Cricket delivers on any of those needs. I think TVNZ has failed in its duty on all three fronts and I am appalled at what can only be described as another nail in the coffin of journalism in New Zealand.

Not impressed.

(Hat tip to Mysterious Dave for alerting me to this travesty)