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Coalition for Better Broadcasting launch

Written By: - Date published: 8:45 am, April 14th, 2014 - 28 comments
Categories: accountability, activism, democratic participation, internet, Media, news, newspapers, radio, tv - Tags:

The Coailiton for Better Broadcasting and website has launched today.  From the information on the website, it is looking like a very promising initiative to me.  Under the present government, public service broadcasting and media have been under sustained attack.


The CBB has a strong team, with Dr Peter Thompson as the Chair.  I have followed his work for a few years.  Thompson is THE NZ academic with the most knowledge and understanding of public service broadcasting and ways to implement in the 21st century digital and media fragmented world.

Peter is a senior lecturer on the media studies programme at Victoria University of Wellington where his principal research interest is political economy and media policy. He has published extensively on public broadcasting issues in New Zealand and he is a strong advocate of public service values. Peter’s work includes international studies of broadcasting funding systems and quality measures commissioned by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and NZ On Air respectively.

The website defines “better public broadcasting” thus:

Better broadcasting:

* strikes a balance between information and entertainment

* caters to all audiences and not just household shoppers

* isn’t afraid to present hard-to-understand concepts, unusual formats or challenge the audience

The Coalition aims to embrace online media:

The public service ethos also applies to online media. Just like traditional broadcasters, increased advertising is the goal of most news websites and increasingly many blogs. As an example comparenzherald.co.nz and rnz news to see how the need to maximise audiences for advertisers alters the choice of lead stories.

The online world can be seen as a virtual version of our cities, towns and countryside. Much online media is commercial, like a shopping mall or town centre. That’s ok but where are the parks, the beaches, the public libraries and community halls?

We’d like to see non-commercial media receiving greater support and development, especially in online news. Who knows what could be around the corner but we hope that the next big thing needn’t rely on advertising or wealthy volunteers.

 What isn’t better broadcasting?

The CBB does not support broadcasting and media that:

* treats audiences like idiots

* is produced and scheduled solely to make profits

* seeks to control or hamper public discourse

* is unsupportive of other media outlets and genres

* limits contributions based on age, race, religion, politics, wealth, dress-sense or hairstyle.

The CBB has a 10 point plan:

1.   A Public Service Television Channel


the CBB would support the reinstatement of a commercial-free, publicly-funded TV channel (along the lines of TVNZ7) at the centre of the NZ media ecology.

2. Radio NZ, including,


an end to the current freeze on funding increases for Radio New Zealand.

3.  Funding plans:

the CBB proposes:

a) imposing a small levy on the revenues of highly profitable commercial media (including PayTV and telecommunications) to help fund public service provisions and

b) requiring PayTV operators to pay modest licencing fees to the free-to-air operators they carry on their platforms (on a must-offer/must-pay basis).

4.  Government support across all departments:

the CBB recommends:

a) the reservation of digital spectrum (and online bandwidth) for public broadcasting services, and

b) a review of current NZ on Air funding priorities to ensure a full range of public service genres are supported and screened.

5.  Education function of public broadcasting

6.  Public interest journalism:

7. Healthy markets, including,

a) A review of competition laws that allow incumbent operators in the media sector to impede market competition, and

b) a review of international free trade agreements which prevent the introduction of local content quotas.

8. Getting what we’ve already paid for.

the CBB opposes placing publicly-funded content behind private paywalls and would demand that channels like Heartland and Kidzone 24 (currently available only to Sky subscribers) be made available on Freeview.

9. Promoting diversity; supporting the Maori Service and community broadcasters.

10. Catching up with convergence.

The website has a Get Involved page:

* Become a Member – $20 annual subscription

* Donate – every littlebit helps

* Join or Form a Local Committee – connect with your region

* Attend Events – speaking tours, screenings and get-togethers

* Write letters to the Editor – tips and information resources

* Write to your MP – how to get their attention with a simple letter

* Lobby your MP – democracy can be more than just voting every three year

This is looking good to me, though I don’t expect change to happen overnight.

Of course, a change of government later in the year would ensure many of the above proposals happen sooner rather than later.


28 comments on “Coalition for Better Broadcasting launch”

  1. Craig Glen Eden 1

    This is so needed right now broadcastings has gone to the right wing dogs.

    • Once was Tim 1.1

      It has Craig, but only in the sense that neo-lib disciples seek to commodify anything and everything in their belief that everything must be judged in economic terms, and ‘the unregulated market’ is the natural leveler.
      Let’s hope however that the recreation of an adequate modern-day Public Sphere (using mechanisms such as this) is met with support from across the political spectrum – though somehow I doubt it.
      I regard the aims of this group to actually be quite modest, but it is however a really good starting point AND with people who know their shit.

      As things progress, let’s hope they’re able to make NZers aware of how PSB has been captured by the corporatists and monopolists (and that the monopoly that has driven up the cost of broadcast content is broken. Incidentally I have a very very easy way of doing that which even the most ardent disciple couldn’t possibly claim to be ‘theft of private property’ – which no doubt they’ll try on)

      TVNZ has been fucked over; Freeview has been fucked over; RNZ is in the process of being fucked over; and given the rumours that the munsta of the Universe Tau the Henry is about to inheret MTS – fuckover in waiting is in the queue there. Probably the BBC’s managerial class is busy taking lessons from NZ given the changes and reimaging going on there.

      Damn good to see Thompson heading this initiative, and I’m sure there are several equally as qualified and competent alongside. Actually, there’s at least one I know of who could hardly be characterised as any sort of bleeding heart lelftie liberal that’s involved. I think Karol may have referred to her on this site in the recent past.

      There’s also been real pessimism amongst many as to how one might resurrect PSB in this country (usually using all the excuses in the world – including things like population size, and metrics that are based on the disciple’s belief in the neo-liberal religion).
      It isn’t actually THAT hard IF there’s actually a commitment to do so. And I’m not JUST thinking of one ad-free broadcast (i.e. Publica means of information dissemination and platform for it’s various voices).
      This is actually make or break in the short term. In the longer term – it’s inevitable.

  2. captain hook 2

    Yes I listened to radio new zeland this morning and it seemed to have some sort of talkback going.
    i.e. fuckwits spouting their opinions.
    that is not news and demeans every new zealander who expects to have somebody that knows what they are talking about talking to them.
    turning radio new zealand into a doppelganger of radio spud and the other nitwit stations is an act of cultural sabotage.

    • ianmac 2.1

      Yes. My immediate concern is for National Radio. The freeze of funding has the effect of a sinking lid. Starved of resources the Radio seems to increasingly rely on the trivia instead of news.
      Seems typical of this Government that rather than upset the 500,000 supporters of say Morning Report by suddenly reducing delivery of quality news, they have opted for the “creeping downwards” so you don’t notice the drop-off till its too late. Creeping. Sneaking.
      I think this has been the long-term strategy of those creepy ones such as Steven Joyce.

      So long live National Radio. My immediate focus with CBB!

    • ianmac 2.2

      Tried to become a member online but only option is to use Paypal. I would rather no as we had difficulties in the past. Only other way seemed to just donate $20.

  3. blue leopard 3

    This is great news 🙂

  4. RedLogix 4

    One of the big positives about living in Aussie is that between ABC and SBS television has become watchable again.

  5. greywarbler 5

    What is the leading graphic? Unclear. It looks like someone strung up Christ-like in a murky room. That is of course not an analogy of our precious and perhaps precocious RadioNZ – NZ public broadcasting.

    • karol 5.1

      It’s a band called public broadcasting in a bombed out room/library, making use of the remnants – I intended it as a starting point – working towards better media.

  6. Philj 6

    Public Broadcasting has been trashed by this and previous governments. Peter Thompson is a great spokesman, pleasant and knowledgeable too. Mind you, years ago, Ian Fraser ( and Marion Hobbs) was supposed to work miracles and didn’t last long. And the downhill slide continues ….RNZ National is now slipping …

    • karol 6.1

      Marion Hobbs was involved with developing and implementing the TVNZ charter. That was a timid and somewhat contradictory policy. It aimed to encourage public service and NZ specific content, while not rocking the commercial basis of the current TVNZ set up.

      The Clark government did do a good thing in enabling the setting up TVNZ6 & 7. However, Keys government has just gradually whittled away at the remnants of public broadcasting.

  7. Binders full of women 8

    Ne’er a truer word was spoken by Kim Hill– whenever someone says they want more quality programming– they are actually saying more of the programmes they like. Eg, my chosen better broadcasting would be equal parts Radio NZ (esp Simon & Phil), more whaleoil, more John Stewart and more golf.

    • BM 8.1

      This * ∞

      Going by the wankery in this thread, the issue is everything should be left,left,left and nothing else
      because neo-liberalism is evil, right wing people are evil and if there was a god all traces of this evilness would be banished from our media.

      • karol 8.1.1

        Did you guys read the post, or check out the website?

        Quotes from the site that are in the post above:

        Better broadcasting:

        * strikes a balance between information and entertainment

        * caters to all audiences and not just household shoppers

        * isn’t afraid to present hard-to-understand concepts, unusual formats or challenge the audience


        What isn’t better broadcasting?

        The CBB does not support broadcasting and media that:

        * treats audiences like idiots
        * is produced and scheduled solely to make profits
        * seeks to control or hamper public discourse
        * is unsupportive of other media outlets and genres
        * limits contributions based on age, race, religion, politics, wealth, dress-sense or hairstyle.

        It’s about diversity of topics styles and formats, enabling wide ranging discussions, and exploring topics in depth, caters for the interests of all sections of society, and is not just there to make a financial profit.

        Does the term “democracy” mean anything to you?

        • Once was Tim

          SSlands’ comment is reminiscent of a Jamie-Lee moment (one of those little ideologically-driven, parrot-fashion-learned, let-me-check-with-my-master-brown-nose moments you encounter on that advertorial thing on TV1 called ‘Breakfast’ with Max Headroom and Blonde Bimbo).

        • greywarbler

          I was thinking that I really don’t like things that are too purist. Maybe it would be better to say that the the list of things that could be classed as Not Better Broadcasting should be less than 20% in a sort of 80/20 approach.

          All the things that are listed as bad might be done sometimes. Say by comedians, or satirists, the second listing is confused, some public discourse needs to be hampered, I don’t want too many God botherers, sports people, shock jocks, right wing loonies, left wing loonies and their PR, spokespeople being linked to.

          I do want a limit on overseas sensational reports such as mass shootings and celebrity trial updates longer than four sentences (ie Piss stories from South Africa). And I don’t want to have equal access by every different group in the country on their particular viewpoint. That’s okay for talkback, but I want to have people who think and examine their ideas before presenting them. Otherwise it is too often just trite, top of the head stuff.

  8. philj 9

    TVNZ has become a sick, and expensive pathetic joke.

  9. captain hook 10

    not as sick as morning report. guyon espiner is a slimy little toad and how they could employ someone like him is beyond comprehension unless they prefer slimy little toads like him.

    • greywarbler 10.1

      Who would have chosen Espiner? One, two, or a committee? What width of scoping would they have done? How many suitable to choose from? How many would jump at the chance of regularly getting up with those dairy farmers and workers still doing the milking? What is their track record in providing vital, incisive news to the nation? And what do we know about their political and prejudicial tendencies? Is there a government representative on the committee/board?

  10. fambo 11

    Unfortunately, I’m still not convinced that Labour is committed to re-invigorating public broadcasting yet. After all, they pretty much wrote the book for the present situation, and when I attended a save TV7 meeting in my region, I didn’t feel any passion from the Labour representative. Labour has to come out and forthrightly state that it 100 percent supports a publicly funded TV channel (not TV1 or TV2 in their present form) and they will put more money into National Radio. And it has to repeat this regularlly and loudly so that no one is in any doubt of where it stands.

    • karol 11.1

      I agree on the importance of opposition parties speaking strongly for a publicly funded TV channel – and for upping the funding for RNZ – plus affiliated online delivery platforms..

    • greywarbler 11.2

      Hear, hear my good fellow. Thumps walking stick on floor. As I have always said – for the last 100 years – or it seems so – Labour need to boogie on down from the ivory tower and get their hands dirty putting NZ back together again. When they played around with it and took out all the screws there were some left over after they hurried to finish their Frankenstein muckup. Some Labourites have had a screw loose for years – AND ITS SHOWING!

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