Wellington Nov 5 NZPA - A TVNZ advert which Labour described as propaganda for Finance Minister Bill English evolved over a series of emails between his office and the state broadcaster, papers released today show.
Correspondence between Mr English's press staff and TVNZ's corporate office revealed no politicising of the script, but incremental changes leading to the advert that Labour objected too.
The initial concept was to have Mr English speaking a phrase in economic jargon and then translating it into "plain English".
The first script from TVNZ had as jargon -- "Public debt peaked in 1987 at 76 percent of GDP. At that point, finance costs consumed some 20 percent of all government spending."
Then as plain English -- "It's time to give the snip snap to the zip zap plastic fantastic. (finger scissors gesture)".
The final script had the plain English version as "Let's get investing and backing our exporters. That's where the jobs will come and that's how we can boost our incomes."
Another TVNZ suggested plain English line began as "Keep a few bob in the bank and Bob will be your uncle. We'll get there", and ended up as "We're nearly through the tough times and things are looking up, together we'll do it."
There is no discussion in the emails about the changes or about their merits.
Labour MPs David Cunliffe and Brendon Burns complained to TVNZ over the ad.
They believed it was effectively a party political broadcast which gave National advertising worth as much as $1 million.
The 45 second ad for TVNZ 7's Focus on the Economy series started playing on October 18 and ran on TV One, TV2, TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7.
After the complaint TVNZ said in an email to the MPs that the ad was scheduled to play a few more times but was then being phased out.
A second ad would provide detail about debates and programmes in the series.
TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said that was always the plan and TVNZ stood by its position that there was no balance issue.
The programme the ad promoted was broadcast this week.