A judge has granted Conservative Party leader Colin Craig an interim injunction to stop TV3 airing a political debate that doesn't include him.
The debate includes six party leaders and was scheduled to be broadcast on The Nation tomorrow at 9:30am.
Lawyers for the Conservative Party sought an interim injunction at the High Court in Auckland, preventing the programme from airing.
Following the decision this afternoon, TV3 said tomorrow's debate will go ahead as scheduled and include Mr Craig.
Leaders from ACT, United Future, the Greens, the Maori Party, NZ First and Mana are also scheduled to appear in the 34-minute debate.
"The debate this weekend is part of a series of more targeted debates running on The Nation, and involves minor parties who have seats in Parliament and have been in Government or Opposition during the past three years," a TV3 spokesperson said this morning.
Mr Craig's lawyer, John McKay, said his client had been excluded from a "vital part of democracy".
"It's about voters," Mr McKay told the court.
He said it was "extraordinary that TV3 had chosen leaders to appear on the debate based on their place in Parliament from the last election, rather than current polls".
Part of the issue was the show's studio could only accommodate six lecterns for leaders, not seven, meaning there wouldn't be enough space for Mr Craig. A wide shot can also only accommodate six people, as can the studio's lighting.
"There must be a trade-off between comfort and the importance of the occasion," Mr McKay argued.
TV3 lawyer Daniel McLellan acknowledged Mr Craig had a right to be included in televised debates in the heat of the election campaign, but tomorrow's minor debate was not that important.
Mr McLellan said it was "not likely to have a significant impact on the 2014 general election", and media have a right to decide what is newsworthy without having it "dictated" to them.
Outside court TV3 director of news and current affairs Mark Jennings said while they did not agree with the judge's decision, they would "graciously accept it".
"We now need to look at how we logistically fit Mr Craig in, but will do our best to make it happen and he will get as fair a go as possible."
source: newshub archive