Fair Go is one of the great survivors in the world of TV and it kicks off its new season tonight at the new time of 8pm. But while the ratings remain solid, not everyone's enamoured with the show, with Brian Edwards writing a scathing piece and offering some advice to those who come in for some unwanted attention.
TVNZ Blacksand recently launched a promo for the 2014 season that featured a range of frustrated consumers and finished with the line 'life's better with Fair Go'. So how's the show been holding up on the ratings front?
"Fair Go has been consistently strong," says TVNZ's communications manager Georgie Hills. "Last year it maintained its very healthy audience share in both the 5+ and 25-54 channel demo."
A prime example of the nation's love/hate relationship with advertising, the Fair Go Ad Awards episode is still extremely popular and was the eleventh most watched programme of last year across all networks (AP5+), down from number two in 2012.
"Averaging the episodes that aired across the year, the series claimed the number seven spot," Hills says.
Edwards, who devised, hosted and for a time produced the show in the late '70s and early '80s, certainly isn't singing the show's praises, however. He wrote on his blog that "for some years Fair Go has been a programme out of control" and he believes the shift away from live interviews to edited recordings means the system of "open justice" that allowed the accused to speak their piece has been lost.
Its reporters, with the notable exceptions of Hannah Wallace and Kevin Milne, about whom we have never received a single complaint, are power-drunk bullies, its journalism is suspect, its honesty open to question.
It’s time to even the odds for the victims of Fair Go.
So here is some free advice to anyone contacted by a Fair Go reporter:
*Have nothing to do with them.
*If they send you an email, do not reply.
*If they phone you, hang up.
*If they come on to your property, ask them to leave. Repeat your request more than once. If they remain on the property, call the police.
*If they harass you in a public place, ask them politely to go away and leave you alone. Do not run, hide your face or say ‘No comment’.
*If the harassment continues, write a letter of complaint to the Chief Executive of TVNZ as soon as you return home or to your business. Send a copy of your letter to the Broadcasting Standards Authority, marked FYI.
*Talking to Fair Go is the worst thing you can do. Your replies will be taken out of context and used against you.
*Do not send the programme a written statement. Your statement will almost never be broadcast in full. It will be heavily edited, parts taken out of context and used against you.
*Engaging with Fair Go is almost certain to do you more harm than good. They have already made up their mind about you.
*If, despite all of this, the programme proceeds and is inaccurate or unfair, complain immediately in writing to The Chief Executive of TVNZ. If your complaint is rejected or not satisfactorily dealt with, complain in writing to the Broadcasting Standards Authority. You can obtain a brochure on the complaints process by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
*And by the way: If you’re a company, Fair Go has now discovered a way of compelling you to reveal confidential business information to them on pain of prosecution. That is extremely concerning.
*Finally, if there is substance to a Fair Go complaint against you, put things right immediately. Our advice is not designed to help the guilty.
Unfortunately, having put things right probably won’t mean that Fair Go will leave you alone. The production team will have invested a great deal of time and money preparing a case against you and will be hungry for their pound of flesh. That’s showbiz, folks!
Hills responded to his post by saying: "It’s his personal view and he’s free to express it. Viewers love Fair Go because it goes into bat for the rights of ordinary Kiwis who have been ripped off and given the run around. Fair’s fair: the show’s strong and solid journalism stacks up under scrutiny. The BSA received only one formal complaint about the show last year and it wasn’t upheld."
The first episode of the new season looks at the bottled water industry (check out this classic Penn and Teller stunt on that topic) and the murky world of beauty products.