- Date published:
4:04 pm, July 29th, 2013 - 29 comments
Categories: accountability, broadcasting, democratic participation, telecommunications, tv - Tags: coalition for better broadcasting, public service TV
So, TVNZU is closing down, because it was running at a loss. It will be replaced by TV2 plus 1.
It was a youth channel aimed at linking TV with social media:
Some valuable expertise had been gained from the TVNZ U operation, particularly in the way live TV and social media were used to connect with audiences.
A consultation process was under way with affected staff.
Among those lamenting the end of the show were comedian Jaquie Brown and TVNZ reporter Jack Tame.
“So sorry for my mates at TVNZ U,” Tame tweeted. “Never had more fun on tele than on the couch with @Rose_Matafeo@ConnorNestor@timlambourne and @Matt_Gibb”
Brown said the show had been a hot bed of new talent.
“I’m just letting this @itstvnzu news sink in and yep, I’m still upset. I’d go as far as saying it’s ruined my day. WHY GOD WHY?” she tweeted.
“Where are we going to see genuine new talent now? This is depressing.”
I guess maybe it misjudged its audience. I am not in that youth demographic, so not really in a position to judge. However, I wonder if the focus on social media is a clue? Maybe the target audience just doesn’t watch that much broadcast TV?
I probably will make use of TV2+1 from time to time: My Freeview can only record 2 channels at once, and on occasions there are 3 progammes I want to record at the same time.
However, with a spare channel opening up, wouldn’t a new Public Service channel be a better use of the frequency?
I have posted before about the importance of public service broadcasting to democracy. The post began:
Public service broadcasting and commercial TV tend to cover politics in different ways. News on public service broadcasting internationally, tends to cover political stories and policies in more depth. Internationally, news on commercial channels has become increasingly ratings driven, sensationalistic, Murdoch-style, infotainment since the 1980s. Sky TV’s new public service channel, Face, seems like a contradiction in terms. Universally accessible public service TV is essential for democracy to thrive.
In a recent speech, Nicky Hager convincingly argued that there is a need for “democratic renewal” in NZ. To help achieve this, we need,
long-term funding and statutory independence for non-commercial television, radio and, eventually, print public news media.
Today on The Daily Blog, Morgan Godfery argued for the Maori TV Service to become the public broadcaster. With TVNZ’s sad record of failed public service broadcasting, he concluded:
A fully funded public broadcaster under the management and governance of Maori Television would deliver a channel that serves the community better than TVNZ.
However, I agree with the commenter, Phil, who responded,
The Government has killed public service broadcasting. Giving MTS the money from killing off TVNZ7 would not make MTS a Public Broadcaster. This would change, or expand, and potentially confuse the role of MTS, which is not the issue for those concerned about the lack of a quality PBS in Aotearoa. A spanner is a spanner, and is not ideal when used as a hammer!
Hans Versluys also commented, arguing that Face TV deserves an affordable, state subsidised Freeview channel.
I agree that Triangle, now Face has fulfilled more of a public service role in recent times than TVNZ.
With TVNZ failing to maintain TVNZ7, and now the commercial failure of TVNZU, we now need some strong leadership in setting up a truly public service, not-for-profit, Freeview channel, that is state supported, but politically independent.
The Coalition for Better Broadcasting (previously Save TVNZ7) is probably the best entity to lead the pressure for such a channel.
When Face did the deal with Sky, the CBB stated:
Coalition for Better Broadcasting Endorses Face TV Mostly.
The Coalition for Better Broadcasting is pleased to see the transition of Triangle TV to Face TV. “Triangle currently provides a very important source of public service TV to all Aucklanders but found itself in an impossible position due to lack of support from NZ on Air and Kordia which could be described as negligent,” says Myles Thomas of the CBB.
Their press statement concluded:
The CBB applauds Jim Blackman for keeping the hope alive and looks forward to the day his channel [FaceTV] is free-to-air again.
“Also we have heard an accusation that the non-commercial frequency set aside for public service programming which Triangle could expect to use was sold by Kordia to a commercial operator broadcasting propaganda from a foreign government. This requires further investigation and could be yet another scandal to embroil this anti-television government.”
Although some commentators have said NZ is too small for publicly funded public service television, the CBB would like to point them towards Ireland, Finland and Norway – population just over 4 million with healthy and popular public service television channels, much like NZ used to have. In the future NZ could have successful public service TV, like our successful public service radio station RNZ, if the government and its agencies recognise their responsibility to maintain a balance of programming on NZ TV.
There clearly is space on Freeview for a public service channel: something necessary to help build democracy in NZ. [I was tempted to say “revive democracy”, but wonder if NZ has every really been fully democratic.]
It needs public pressure, considered planning and preparation, and the political will for this to happen.