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The Press Freedom Index says New Zealand has fewer media restrictions than the US, the UK and even Australia. It ranks equal 19th alongside Denmark, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Yet you wouldn’t think so today if you wanted to know what was going on with the new cellular phone operator 2degrees.

Chris Keall wrote Revealed: Vodafone’s secret deal with 2degrees for the National Business Review, exposing the pricing deal between the two companies. After an order from the Commerce Commission, the NBR gutted the story leaving just a stub.

The Commerce Commission has the power to do this under the terms of the Commerce Act. And that’s what makes a mockery of press freedom.

If the secret information was, say, a matter of state security, or perhaps had the power to ruin the lives of innocent people the ruling may have made sense. But this isn’t about either. 2degrees prefers to keep the price it pays Vodafone a secret.

So much for transparency and the open society.

And to add insult to injury, publishing banned information is a criminal offence in New Zealand.

Anyway, it seems the top-secret information is online internationally. That’ll put the cat among the pigeons.