Hard News by Russell Brown

Jonathan, Brian and Hone

I know I said I wouldn't be pointing people to Jonathan Marshall's "tabloid" website, but that's effectively what I'm doing in pointing you to Being Jonathan Marshall. I guess you can still look at that site and not Marshall's.

In the course of collecting information about Marshall, the site's author has done what I did: run a simple "whois" on Marshall's domain and discovered what appears to be a contact address in Kathmandu, and further determined that the site is hosted by a company called P4Host in Texas. But s/he has gone a step further and opened the atlas …

So has John got cohorts in Nepal of all places? Would a legal move to have his site shutdown have to go there? Not likely as this information seems fairly fake. As far as we are aware Kathmandu is in the Bagmati region of Nepal , there is no "BoTiang" in Nepal.

This address seems doubly madeup when BoTiang it appears as the street name as well as region. The Only BoTiang found anywhere in the world to us is Cape Botiang which is far away in Papua New Guinea . It appears Marshall has just made up a hard-to-verify but incorrect address. Likewise with the phone number, the country code given of +880 is wrong, Nepal's country code is +977. With Kathmandu having an area code of 1 and phone numbers then being 7 digits long. The one John has given does not fit this format at all. Nepal is a red herring!

This is interesting, because it means that Marshall (and Herkt, assuming he was involved) have deliberately breached the Terms and Conditions of the company with which the domain was registered. Unsurprisingly, the T&Cs require names and contact details to be accurate:

You hereby represent and warrant that the data provided in the domain name registration application is true, correct, up to date and complete and that you will continue to keep all the information provided up to date. Your willful provision of inaccurate or unreliable information … shall constitute a breach of this Agreement.

How terribly unfortunate. Still, it could have been worse: a bill up before the US legislature will make lying on a domain registration a federal offence.

Anyway, we're getting hits from all over on the Marshall stuff, and all the top 10 search terms logged for the month so far are permutations of Marshall-Hosking-Herkt. Which is fine, but can I make a request? Please, if you link to us, can you link to the normal page rather than the printable one? (Just generate a URL with the "link" button rather than the "print" one.) The printable pages are very nice and clean - for your printing pleasure - but that means they don't have any of the usual navigation or features, or any of our tasteful ads.

So Rodney Hide - who has presumably decided that his noisy public support for Marshall and Herkt is now politically unwise - has moved on and put a match under the Brian Edwards luvvies debate by producing a three year-old unsigned letter in which Edwards pitches the then Broadcasting Minister Marian Hobbs to extend eligibility for NZ On Air funding to Prime TV - because he, Edwards, is lining up a show on Prime. Now, there is some merit in breaking the two big networks' lock on programme funding. And Edwards has as much right as anyone to try and get a show up. But writing a highly familiar letter to the Minister of Broadcasting - a recipient of your media training services - seeking a policy change in one's own personal interest is simply off.

Anyway, it appears that the minister's office has no record of actually receiving the letter, and the policy has never changed. But Edwards, who says the letter was just a draft, says he doesn't know if it was sent or not. Pardon? I'm damn sure I'd know if a letter I had written had been sent or not.

We don't know where Hide got the piece of paper from, and it seems none of our bold media warriors has bothered to ask him. Wouldn't that add quite a bit to the story?

The story has a contemporary resonance in that it appears to add some substance to mutterings about Edwards' wife, Judy Callingham, being on the NZ On Air board which agreed to fund his Saturday night chat show, Edwards at Large. But Callingham stood aside while the decision was made. And, more to the point, the connection would have had no bearing anyway. The key factor in NZ On Air TV funding decisions is virtually always the willingness of the broadcaster to schedule the programme. There are exceptions - Back of the Y, Mo' Show - but if TVNZ said it wanted to run the Edwards show at 9.35pm on a Saturday night, it would almost by default have been funded. So blame Ian Fraser if you like, but beyond that this is a non-story.

Both networks' news programmes reported the story last night, and it's probable that the One News team, currently grieving over the Ralston budget cuts, took more relish in it than it might otherwise have done. But 3 National News's snippy little closing comment about Edwards' ratings last Saturday was silly and unnecessary. The show was, after all, competing with test match rugby that evening. 3 News would look better if it got the chip off its shoulder and just got on with it.

The Brian Edwards story has been also rather strangely bundled up with that of "the other Edwards" - Hone - whose appointment as TVNZ's Kaihautu was announced this week. The two have precisely nothing to do with each other, and the flap over this looks to me like Maori-bashing, plain and simple. Fraser is the chief executive. If he decides that appointing a senior manager - at head of department level - with responsibility for Maori broadcasting will help TVNZ meet its Charter obligations, that is his business.

Hone Edwards, who does not, to my knowledge, warrant criticism on any reasonable grounds, does not deserve to have been dragged into this. He has worked for TVNZ before without comment. My only misgiving is that the talent is arguably needed more at the Maori Television Service, which is currently hiring but still seems as loose as a goose. But until Edwards actually does anything wrong, he really ought to be left to get on with his job.