Two referrals to Police
The Electoral Commission has made two referrals to Police relating to broadcast advertising for parties at the 2020 General Election.
Under the Broadcasting Act, a broadcaster is only allowed to broadcast party advertising on TV and radio in the run up to an election if it is paid from the broadcasting allocation, which is a public fund administered by the Electoral Commission.
One referral is for radio and TV advertising for the TEA Party and its candidates, broadcast by Radio Tarana and World TV and costing $19,863. The TEA Party did not apply for broadcasting allocation funding and spent its own money on the advertising which is not permitted.
The other referral is for radio advertising for the Labour Party that went to air on the Māori Media Network. The advertising costs of $10,051 could not be paid out of the party’s broadcasting allocation because the invoices were submitted past the statutory deadline of 1 February 2021.
The Broadcasting Act does not allow the Commission to make any payment for accounts received after the deadline, and the Māori Media Network invoices remain unpaid.
The Commission has no discretion in these matters and is required to report the facts to Police where it believes there has been a breach of the Broadcasting Act.
In reporting these matters to Police the Commission has noted that the breaches resulted from a newly registered party’s failure to understand the rules in one case, and late invoices in the other. It is a matter for Police to determine whether any further action is taken.
These referrals were made to Police on 15 June 2021. As these matters are now with the Police, the Commission will not be commenting further.