from the Daily Telegraph NZ

Minister Megan Woods acknowledged in questioning that this government had paid taxpayer money in exchange for Mass Media editorial content on ‘Climate Change’

The story broke Monday on Twitter via citizen journalist Thomas Cranmer (@CranmerWrites).

Responding to questions from National MP Stuart Smith, Woods said the government had paid legacy news outlets TVNZ and $300,000 and $200,000 respectively for media ‘packages’ consisting of prime time specials, interviews with ‘experts’ and stories on ‘climate change’. According to Cranmer, many of the experts were hand-picked by the government.The package included:

  • Five articles on the website
  • Display advertising across the website, for a mimimum of 5 million impressions
  • Video advertising on the website to launch the campaign
  • Five newspaper articles in publications Sunday Magazine and Your Weekend and Life Magazine
  • Five stories on
  • A ‘digital hub’ on to hold all editorial content and stories created
  • 104 images and image licensing rights

The deal was purchased as a ‘tailored media package’, and costs were not itemised.

TVNZ Package

‘In May last year the government approached TVNZ with a view to creating a climate change ‘special relationship’. The deal was signed off in October to coincide with COP27 [the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Egypt]’, wrote Cranmer.The TVNZ package included:

  • One hour primetime climate change special aired on TV1
  • Online content at and, which included a dedicated web page, advertising banners, logo placement and ‘pre-roll’ commericals
  • Five articles on the website
  • Five 1news social media posts
  • Five interviews on the Breakfast show with EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority), climate and energy ‘experts’
  • Seven Sharp interview with an EECA ambassador
  • Joint press release
  • Hosting of the climate special on TVNZ+ for 1 year

‘Reverse chequebook journalism’

The practice of ‘reverse chequebook journalism’ or ‘payment for exposure’ is considered controversial because it calls into question the impartiality and independence of the media outlet. TVNZ’s Charter claims the broadcaster aims to provide ‘independent’ and ‘impartial’ analysis, while’s Code of Practice claims the outlet works ‘in the public interest, independent from political or corporate influence.

Experts agree that where payment for exposure is made, the content should display that fact prominently, so readers don’t confuse it with ‘actual journalism’. Principle 10 of the Media Council’s ‘Statement of Principles’ requires members to ‘be independent and free of obligations to their news sources… Where a story is enabled by sponsorship, gift or financial inducement, that sponsorship, gift or financial inducement should be declared.’

It doesn’t appear that these interviews [on 1News and Breakfast] were marked as being “paid or sponsored content”,’ wrote Cranmer.

‘So the five 1News articles, the five interviews on TVNZ’s Breakfast, an interview on Seven Sharp, as well as a full hour “Climate Change Special” on prime time TV were all part of an advertising campaign paid for by the government with the full knowledge of a Crown Minister, but not disclosed as such to the public.’

At the tme of writing DTNZ is unable verify if a complaint has been made to the Media Council over the government payments.

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