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Broadcasting policy broadly outlined

Written By: - Date published: 4:58 pm, July 7th, 2008 - 12 comments
Categories: Media, national - Tags: ,

National’s Jonathan Coleman has announced a bullet-point excuse for a broadcasting policy. Essentially, it adopts the status quo but moves TVNZ charter funding to NZ on Air’s control (there goes any hope of TV1 ever becoming a proper public broadcaster) and preps the ground for privatisation in a second term.

Amongst the bullet points is the statement that National will set a date for switching off analogue broadcasting when 75% of the population have digital or in 2012, whichever comes first. When Labour announced exactly the same policy eight months ago, here’s what Coleman said in a press release titled ‘How many TV viewers will Labour switch off?’

“National supports digital television, but there has to be a firm plan to deal with the final group of New Zealanders who haven’t made the switch to digital.’

Strangely, that ‘firm plan’ is not to be found in Coleman’s broadcasting policy. Just another hit and run.

[PS. Why are National calling these one page documents ‘policy summaries’ when there are no full policy documents? To create the illusion of substance when there is none?]

12 comments on “Broadcasting policy broadly outlined ”

  1. Anita 1

    I’m pretty sure that transferring the charter funding to NZ on Air and opening it up to competition from all free-to-air broadcasters and independent producers is not status quo.

  2. Lew 2

    Interesting. Another `competition as a trojan horse for privatisation’ move – though this one is different from the ACC trojan horse; less severe and much longer-term.

    TVNZ differs from other broadcasters only inasmuch as it receives public funding as a matter of right to produce charter content. Once TVNZ no longer has a charter to fullfil, it’s no different from any other commercial broadcaster and there’s no long-term reason for the state to own it – and the shareholding minister would be able to sell it lock, stock and barrel to a private operator for a massive one-off cash windfall and a moderate ongoing saving which could be used to pay for tax cuts.

    Public-service broadcasting has huge cultural value, so I’m opposed to this. But Maori TV’s and TV3’s support for homegrown content (Outrageous Fortune being just the most famous recent example) has demonstrated that charter funding isn’t necessary to produce the sort of thing the charter is supposed to fund, so at first blush I’m not as strongly opposed to this idea (charter income up for grabs, not privatisation) as someone who works in the broadcast media industry and who posts on The Standard might be expected to be. I’d cautiously favour the move if it included a long-term legislative guarantee against privatisation and the like, because, basically, TVNZ has sucked arse at providing charter content.


  3. Scribe 3


    If people want to see detailed policies, I suspect only one thing needs to happen: The announcement of an election date.

    News cycles last a couple of hours these days — probably was 8 or 10 hours last election — so National isn’t going to roll out all its policy too early because it will become yesterday’s news “by lunchtime”.

  4. Lew 4

    Scribe: There’s no good reason why news cycles would be any shorter now than last election – unless you can explain one to me?

    I am hopeful about your comment about the election date, though. That’d be nice.


  5. Scribe 5


    A couple of reasons.

    1. Blogs (and the Internet in general): You see how quickly threads go from red hot topics to duds. And think about how many people get their news online, where the lead story changes a handful of times a day or more. It’s not like it was even three years ago, and even more so six or nine years ago. The Herald/Dom Post/Press doesn’t sit around the tea room with people checking out the lead story as they wander through, as used to be the case.

    [Aside: It would be interesting if someone did an analysis of news broadcasts for the main radio/TV outlets. What is the lead story at 7am? Noon? 5 or 6pm? I think you’d find the turnover today, compared with five years ago, would be considerably higher.]

    2. Attention span (related to number one): People want their news now, and they want it in a hurry. Even when National and Labour unveil all their policies, how many people are going to bother reading the whole document? Answer: 37 (approximately). People want bite-sized information, not dossiers of details.

    Re the election date, I really struggle with the idea of election dates being determined by the ruling party. What’s stopping a date from being enshrined in legislation (a la the US, first Tuesday of November)? There would need to be provisions in the case of capitulation of governments, but I find this “guess the election date” sweepstakes stuff nonsensical.

  6. Lew 6

    Scribe: “1. Blogs (and the Internet in general)”

    Familiarity bias. Blogs matter to a tiny minority of the electorate. Valid point about the internet, but I don’t see much different from 3 years ago.

    “What is the lead story at 7am? Noon? 5 or 6pm? I think you’d find the turnover today, compared with five years ago”

    I can speak for two years ago, when I got back to NZ and started monitoring the broadcast media on a daily basis. It hasn’t changed a whit. Can’t say for five years ago; it would be interesting.

    “2. Attention span (related to number one)”

    That this would be any different from 3 years ago is non sequitur, even if the former was a legitimate reason.

    I tend to agree about election dates, FWIW.


  7. Scribe 7


    Well, at least we agreed on something 😉

    Till next time,

  8. Lew 8

    Correcting myself above: Outrageous Fortune, being as it is very commercially successful, isn’t a charter programme. Those are programmes which wouldn’t get made in a wholly commercial environment.


  9. Paul 9

    Apart from the fact that the rabid right will love this, and that it’s a shite piece of documentation, do they really think 1 page PDF’s are an acceptable excuse for policy.

    They are taking the piss out of every single Kiwi.

    Summarise the summary, TVNZ so undervalued by second term it’s up for sale and say hello US reality tv and goodbye Kiwi faces on the box.

    No I’m not bitter, but bugger me 1 page policy. WTF have they been doing for 9 years. I want my money back.

  10. Another small reason to vote National. Finally TVNZ wont be “Marion Hobbs TV”

  11. Lew 11

    Just to quash any suspicions arising from this press release, I am not the author of Trevor Mallard’s press releases.


  12. randal 12

    nationals one and ONLY policy is to sell anything they can and take the profits…they are a sad excuse for a woould be government in waiting…they have no policy except to stag assets so they can use the money to buy toys that they haven’t got yet.

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