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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 29, No. 14. 1966.

'Compass' has been Ground into the Dust

'Compass' has been Ground into the Dust

says Gordon Bick

Salient Reporter

"Compass has been ground into the dust—there comes a state where it's almost impossible to work." Gordon Bick, ex-Compass producer, was explaining why he quit the programme.

On One Occasion the grinding came right from the top. Speaking of the banned decimal currency programme. Mr. Bick read out his notes of a conversation he had with an officer of the Decimal Currency Board.

In reply to a query whether Mr. Muldoon had ordered a clamp down on the programme, the official said "No. no. it's right from the top."

"Do you mean Mr. Holyoake?" asked Mr. Bick.

"Well, that's off the record." said the officer. "But if vou want to blame anyone blame him. He's really put the clamp on to keep right away from the election campaign."

Mr. Bick explained that a vociferous critic of the Australian decimal conversion. Mr. Parry, was to appear on the programme. Complained the Decimal Currency Board: "You struck us with this Parry character. You Struck us with a crank, If it had been any more constructive bird who was prepared to discuss it rationally. it would have been okay."

But, Mr. Bick explained, interference was usually much less blatant, and pressure less obvious.

"The way in which I think it is done." he said, "is that an approach is made to the Minister of Broadcasting. The Minister of Broadcasting, of duty I would think is in touch with the Director-General every day and passes on the whims and feelings of the day."

In this way the Director-General appeared to, and probably thought he was, making the decision to stop a programme.

Axed in this manner were projected Compass programmes on Kapuni gas, an interview with Ian Smith and a Vietnam documentary.

At the time of the recent Commonwealth Conference of Prime Ministers, Mr. Bick made independent investigations as to whether through Compass he could interview Mr. Ian Smith. He sent a telegram requesting an interview to Mr. Smith.

He subsequently informed the NZBC and was told by the Public Affairs Officer that he could not speak to Mr. Smith as it might embarrass Mr. Holyoake while he was involved in discussions in London. Subsequently. a cable was sent by an NZBC officer in the name of Mr. Bick saying that "such a programme was not possible for technical reasons."

"There are a lot of things done within the NZBC which are a result of not offending people," says Mr. Bick.

Mr. Bick says that he intended that the first Compass programme of the present series was to be on Vietnam. They had been offered a free flight by the RNZAF to Vietnam. The programme was turned down ostensibly on the grounds that it would require the expenditure of overseas funds.

Salient asked the RNZAF for comment on this. Wing-Commander Griffiths says the Vietnam project was still in the exploratory stages. Because of the irregular and very brief visits paid by RNZAF aircraft to Vietnam, there were considerable difficulties.

"It was only in the discussion stages—it never got very far," he said. "I hope to get Compass there some time."

But, according to Mr. Bick, the programme has been stopped by the NZBC—which can, however, find overseas funds to send its top officials overseas regularly.

"To carry on a normal journalistic job within the organisation one is looked on as a rebel," said Mr. Blck. "The whole of the Compass team is looked on in this way. Yet the country—with its monopolistic press and broadcasting—needs this so much."