Hard News by Russell Brown

Bro vs. Big Bro

Anybody else caught the Maori Television Service showreel on channel 33 on Sky Digital? Anybody else think that, on that showing, MTS will be well worth a look? I'm glad they've made the decision to produce popular television: Marae DIY and all.

It's this popular programming that offers the best case for a separate channel rather than provision for Maori on TVNZ: a great many of these programmes simply wouldn't have been made on TVNZ because they'd conflict with the broadcaster's existing lineup. Indeed, in some cases - the forthcoming live-to-air music show versus Big Night In - MTS's programmes will almost certainly be better than what big bro has to offer.

Most of MTS's many problems so far have, unsurprisingly, centred on management and administration rather than programme production. There are some HR horror stories out there. More recently, the likes of Prime TV chair Brent Harman have been in at MTS offering advice, which might help. There will doubtless be grumbles about old white guys telling people what to do, but it worked in the early days of Mai FM, when Ross Goodwin came in with his format-heavy commercial radio philosophy.

Anyway, word is that MTS launches early April. Although not, apparently, on April 1.

While Telecom's share price rallies, the rest of the industry is wondering what the hell happened to unbundling. Paul Brislen reports on the Telecommunications Commissioner's shock decision to reverse the conclusions of his own inquiry, and looks at the strange, confusing and inadequate proposal now in place. Whether you liked it or not, the unbundling inquiry was transparent and orderly. Now? God knows. The Herald's Peter Griffin notes general speculation that the about-face was a political response to protect Telecom from a potential takeover bid by Telstra.

Salam has noted several elements of Iraq's progress away from secularity - including the Iraqi Governing Council's proposal to scrap the secular family affairs code and place it under Muslim religious jurisdiction (this is not being seen as a good result for women), and the steady disappearance of liquor outlets. Wow. Does Denis Dutton know?

Salam also notes Juan Cole's conclusion that Saddam's POW status will make it not just difficult but illegal for the US government to hand over Saddam for trial by the governing council.

Riverbend is absolutely on fire at the moment. Great posts on what's wrong with the currently fashionable idea of a federal Iraq, and an unsettling New Year's Eve.

The New York Times has a story on a document found with Saddam at his capture. In it, he warns off his supporters from joining forces with foreign jihadists. This is the same Saddam who was, we have been assured, in cahoots with foreign jihadists. Surely some mistake here?

I thought the print media did quite well with holiday fare this year: The Listener offered new fiction and good travel writing in consecutive issues, the SST had its summer holiday supplement and the Herald, among other things, had its Summer Poll Series, which, among other things, profiled supporters of the various political parties according to their propensity to eat meat, wear sunblock and shag around. The most adulterous political constituency was clearly the Greens (Keith Locke was pretty funny about that talking to Simon Pound on bFM this week) and the least was Act voters, although they were probably lying.

The series concluded this week with a more conventional poll, which was bad news for Don Brash and National, and a summer treat for Labour, which, after some springtime presentational twiddling, is bobbing around just under 50 per cent of the vote. The online story doesn't show it, but an interesting feature of the last poll was the preferred Prime Minister table. Green voters seem keen not to trouble Jeanette or Nandor with the perils of leadership. They're happiest to see Helen in charge, followed by "none" on 22.4% and Winston Peters on 9%. Fewer than a quarter of Act voters would have Richard Prebble leading the country.

It also appears - although you run into problems with sample size here -that Act's pitch for the Asian vote has been a spectacular failure. The Herald poll registered zero support amongst Asian voters for Act. Presumably, they're voting for the establishment: which (to the tune of 75%) they perceive to be Labour. Interesting.

Righto. That's me. Time to do some paying work then go and buy a nice new shirt for the Big Day Out tomorrow. Yippee. I see the local rap stars are most excited about seeing Metallica. Strange. I mean, I'm not averse to heavy metal: I've had my ears scoured out at Motorhead concerts a couple of times. But I've always thought 'Enter Sandman' was one of the most embarrassing songs ever recorded (why didn't they do a follow-up about, say, bedwetting?) and that Metallica's industry-compliant MOR metal was just plain dull.

This year, there's nothing I'm dying to see, but quite a lot that I'm most interested to witness: from the Strokes to Aphex Twin, the Kings of Leon to Afrika Bambaata. Mostly, of course, I'm just out to be entertained by everything, including the other punters. Now, can anybody tell me if my Immortals Lounge pass has arrived yet? Please?