Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman may have bitten off more than he can chew with his attack on Radio New Zealand. With his distaste for the very concept of public broadcasting a matter of public record it seems unlikely it ever crossed Coleman’s mind that New Zealanders might actually like Radio NZ and want it to be properly resourced. Now, the backlash is beginning.
Take the Save Radio New Zealand group on Facebook. Set up late last night after the story broke on One News, the group already has 1700 2800 3500 supporters and is currently growing at a rate of 10 more every minute.
The comments on the group’s wall really paint a picture of the range of people affected by the funding cuts and what RNZ means to them:
Bridget Sullivan Radio New Zealand has provided me and a whole lot of mothers all over with New Zealand with 24 hour company when stuck home with young kids – it’s enjoyable, interesting, and intellectually stimulating – changing Radio NZ’s funding structure will lead to inevitable changes in its format and just corrode its appeal and make it the same as all the other stations over time.
Grant Collie living and working in the Rangitikei, Afternoons on FM is a great background and I have no interest in listening to the mindless pap on commercial stations when I am sober! Public broadcasting is a right for taxpayers Mr Coleman and why the hell should we rural folks have to put up with AM reception just because you and your cohorts have no concept of community needs.
Robyn Hunt As a person who is vision impaired, Radio NZ is a very important part of my life. Couln’t bear to see it dumbed down. Where would I get my news and current affairs that I don’t have to read. And I would very much miss Concert FM.
And as one commentator points out, this is an issue that for many people cuts to the core about what it means to be a New Zealander:
Stephen Stedman Radio New Zealand is doing a magnificent job. It is a beacon. A place for good quality news coverage, political debate and a broadcaster that has immersed itself in the culture of New Zealand. We get to hear our stories. We get to participate.. It helps us to understand & celebrate our cultural identity. Without RNZ and the Student & community stations we would be living in vacuum and that’s scary. They are also an important archive of NZ culture and history. It appears we have a government that doesn’t want to run the country, they just want to run the economy. They clearly don’t understand the bigger concepts of what a Nation is.
Of course, a Facebook group alone doesn’t make a campaign, but it’s a sign people are starting to organise. There’s enough anger and passion here to make life for Jonathan Coleman very difficult if he continues to undermine our last bastion of public service broadcasting. The challenge will be to channel that anger into real world action.