17 Oct 2008

Access station won't broadcast political interviews

8:05 pm on 17 October 2008

A community access radio station is not going to broadcast interviews with electoral candidates because of fears they could be the subject of legal action.

Coast Access Radio in Kapiti and Horewhenua recorded about a dozen 30-minute interviews with Kapiti and Mana candidates, but they will not be broadcast.

Under the Broadcasting Act, the profile interviews could be interpreted as soliciting for votes and the station could be fined $100,000.

Station manager Graeme Joyes says its annual budget is $150,000 and broadcasting the interviews is not worth the risk.

The Electoral Commission says what community access radio stations can legally broadcast from electoral candidates has been a long-standing concern.

A spokesperson for the commission, Peter Northcote, says access radio stations are subject to the same rules as all broadcasters, which means not providing an open microphone situation for candidates.

Mr Northcote says candidtates should be tested through strong questioning.

The commission says it has had problems with other Access Radio stations in the past over the issue.

Several other access stations are reviewing their policies.