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Radio Live: balanced views not required

Tue 15 Aug 2006 In: New Zealand Daily News

Radio Live has defended John Tamihere's right to express his opinions on homosexuals, saying talkback hosts are not required to strike a balance between different views. “The news is expected to strike a balance, talkback is not because it is made up of opinions,” says Mitch Harris, Director of Programming for CanWest Talk Radio. Tamihere has irked many within the LGBT community for suggesting there is a “gay agenda” within the government – a network of “mutual self-promotion” enabling gays to “push their bandwagon.” He has also lambasted Green MP Metiria Turei, whom he refers to as a ‘black girl' in the service of the gay agenda, for sponsoring a private member's bill to equalise adoption rights for same-sex couples – a move he worries would have adverse “impacts” on a child, should the child see “dad and dad having a pash-up.” In response to the question of why so many anti-gay listeners have called the show with their opinions disparaging of homosexuals, compared with other talkback shows, Harris said, “topics fly for different reasons.” “It may be simply that the 20th anniversary of the homosexual law reform bill made it topical or that [Tamihere's] show is just more popular.” Harris says many of Radio Live's talkback hosts have similarly offended him, such as Marcus Lush on “who can park in disabled carparks” and Tamihere's co-host Willie Jackson for his views on Israel. “Willie and JT are not ‘shock jocks' or aggressive people on air,” says Harris. “Everybody has the right to call and state their opinion, including yourself.” Harris denies that Radio Live has been ‘stacking' calls by members of anti-gay organisations such as the Maxim Institute or Destiny Church. “We are used by no group and I usually do not interfere with the editorial position of talkback hosts.” Furthermore, Harris notes that he has “personally criticised both the Maxim Institute and Destiny Church on the air.” Jackson, who is known to hold a more favourable view of homosexuals, was not on air with Tamihere for much of the time that Tamihere vilified gays. Harris says this is simply because Jackson was away. When asked if there was a connection between a complaint laid by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and the recent abatement of Tamihere's diatribe, Harris said that Tamihere is “perfectly entitled to talk about homosexuals.” “However, we encourage our hosts to vary the topics and not to bang on about the same things all the time.” Tamihere increased his anti-gay diatribe around the time of the 20th anniversary of homosexual law reform, and continued airing his views from July 7 until the present time.     Ref: (d)

Credit: News Staff

First published: Tuesday, 15th August 2006 - 12:00pm

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