Do you want a say in public broadcasting?

Written By: - Date published: 3:09 pm, November 1st, 2011 - 45 comments
Categories: broadcasting, labour, radio, tv - Tags: ,

Most strong democracies also have long tradition of high quality public broadcasting.  In my opinion the situation in New Zealand has always been mixed.  National Radio is a great success and an asset to the country (albeit an asset that is under threat from declining funding).  Our various models of public television have been a failure, and with the last vestige of this tradition soon to die out with TVNZ7, the failure will be complete. It isn’t good enough.

Fortunately there’s a choice.  Today Labour announced its broadcasting policy.  Here’s Clare Curran’s press release:

Labour to establish new public broadcaster for digital age

Kiwis will be asked to help shape a new, non-commercial, modern public broadcaster to be established under a Labour Government.

Announcing Labour’s broadcasting policy today spokesperson Clare Curran said it would bring together elements of non-commercial public broadcasting that already exist, including the statutorily independent functions of TVNZ7 and Radio NZ, to both strengthen and broaden them in the digital environment.

The new broadcaster, which may also include a nationwide news service, will be based on the outcomes of a nationwide public debate, to be completed within one year of Labour winning office.

“A strong, independent, free public broadcasting media service not driven by commercial interests is essential to an informed democracy,” Clare Curran said.

“Labour’s commitment to restoring public broadcasting in New Zealand marks an important change towards a contemporary Kiwi approach to protecting and promoting New Zealand’s culture in the 21st Century.

“The current Government axed TVNZ7 and stripped TVNZ of its public charter. We are currently one of the very few countries in the world without a public television broadcaster. …

“A public debate will allow New Zealanders to have their say on the shape of future public broadcasting. [My emphasis]

I’ve highlighted the quote above which I think is the main issue. Democracy functions best with a well informed populace, and I don’t know of anything (after we exit the education system) that beats public service broadcasting for achieving that. But if you want another reason, just take a look at the endless diet of advertisements, reality TV shows, advertisements, American sitcoms, advertisements and advertisements on corporate TV. No thanks!

45 comments on “Do you want a say in public broadcasting?”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    Yet another reason why NZ will be richer with a Labour-led government.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Nice step. In addition to public broadcasting free of commercial pressures, there needs to be high standards of journalism enforced throughout the industry.

    • Rusty Shackleford 2.1

      Who is going to watch that?

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        Well, I suppose the BSA would.

        • Rusty Shackleford 2.1.1.1

          They would need another agency to enforce the “high standards of journalism” (whatever that means).

          • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1

            Yeah just because *you* don’t understand what a high standard of journalism is, doesn’t mean that there is no such thing.

            • Rusty Shackleford 2.1.1.1.1.1

              I’m going to say it’s the level of journalism apparent on Fair Go.

              • Colonial Viper

                Fair Go? Not bad.

                For me, I’m going to say its the standard of journalism which blew Watergate wide open, and similarly also let the US population know about what was really happening to young American soldiers in Vietnam, despite the desperate spin of the powers that be.

                Patient, deep, meticulous and above all clearly informing.

                • Rusty Shackleford

                  I was being facetious. Fair Go is gutter journalism at its finest. Necessary though.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Bear in mind that Fair Go doesn’t really do journalism IMO; it is not a news show and it is not a current events show. Its entertainment-reality TV.

                    • ron

                      ANY journalism would be better than the current situation.
                      We often get the “who would watch it” line. Reality more people listen to RNZ than any other station in the market so i can’t see any reason there shouldn’t be an audience for public TV. Even if numbers are lower than quality offerings like U the point is that a democracy requires access to information and right now the only sources are Maori TV and RNZ National (Ok 7 provides some goodish doco) and standards there have been hammered by cuts.
                      TV IS expensive. It’ll cost.

                    • McFlock

                      So to summarize our libertarian friend’s perspective: nobody will watch it, it will need new regulators, high standards of journalism are difficult to define, and fair go is shit.
                       
                      Right. Now we’ve established it’s hard and might not work, let’s try doing it anyway, shall we?

  3. i hope this time Labour takes the importance of public broadcasting a bit more seriously than it did last time

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      After being continually smashed by ‘journalists’ in the private media and even the nominally state owned media, they better.

      • the sprout 3.1.1

        exactly.
        as if corporate media are ever going to discharge their democratic duties as watchdogs if it means acting against their own profit interests?
        what a surprise they’ve roundly fcuked Labour every opportunity they’ve had – except of course when Labour has been more neo-liberal than the tories, in which case they miraculously get a clear run from the corporate msm.

  4. marsman 4

    It is essential that we have a public broadcasting service and I think it is equally essential that bail-outs of commercial broadcasters do not occur especially not those of the bogus Mediaworks Steven Joyce variety.

  5. Cin77 5

    Good to hear someone wants to keep publc broadcasting.

  6. Afewknowthetruth 6

    Public broadcasting was ‘killed in the late 1980s as a direct result of the ‘reforms’ the ‘Labour’ government set in motion.

    As for National Radio, you’ve got to be joking. Censorship rules!

    I make a point of NOT listening to NR because it is so severely biased and so full of BS.

    Once this whole toxic globalised system has collapsed we may get back to having local broadcasting that serves local communities, depending on how long the grid holds up.

  7. Perhaps a better way to go is Social Media.

    Yes New Zealand needs a decent public broadcaster, but lets hope that broadcaster isn’t Marion Hobbs Television.

  8. AAMC 8

    The people are creating a new media.

    I endorse the idea of good public broadcasting, I hope Labour win and I hope they put it in place.

    But we’ve entered the era of the citizen journalist, it will take a lot to undo the distrust of the media amongst the younger generation as it will take a lot to convince them a central broadcaster it is a relevant way to disseminate content.

    • Carol 8.1

      Clare Curran is talking about developing policies and practices that include both traditional broadcasting and the Internet.

      http://blog.labour.org.nz/index.php/2011/11/01/a-new-public-broadcaster/

      Also she is also talking about exploring diverse ways of funding public broadcasting:

      4. We don’t anticipate any extra cost to the taxpayer. We will asking the sectors how they think it should be funded. The outcome could be a mix of options. We are not prejudging or anticipating the outcome of this. The debate hasn’t been had. Many stakeholders are keen to have it.

      Academic Peter Thompson is the Kiwi whose done most on investigating public broadcasting. I’ve heard him talk about a range of possible ways to fund public broadcasting, in a fragmented environment where licence fees are no longer appropriate. These include leveraging funds from any of the diverse participants in producing, broadcasting and receiving public service content: e.g. small (not for profit) subscritpions paid by users, levies on producers/productions or broadcasters, levies on advertising etc.

      • AAMC 8.1.1

        I’m not trying to be negative about it, I whole heatedly believe in quality public broadcasting, and it being inclusive of new media is important.

        But the nature of new media is that it doesn’t involve a centralized distribution, rather the ability to aggregate, create and distribute your own information.

        • Carol 8.1.1.1

          I don’t see an integrated public broadcasting service on TV and the web being opposed to, or mutually exclusive with distributed information: eg see the diverse mix of stuff on Stratos, that includes community generated material & stuff by bloggers like Bomber. David Beatson does interviews on Stratos, very cheaply produced, as well as contributing to a blog.

    • ron 8.2

      No reason RNZ and public TV can’t use the same media as well. The problem with “citizen” journalists is the amount of inaccurate drivel one has to wade through before finding any actual info. Further the internet process is fast moving toward a “circle of one” scenario in which everyone only sees what they want to see – stuff that supports their already misinformed prejudices.

      • AAMC 8.2.1

        Again, I endorse a refreshed public broadcaster that isn’t subject to commercial expectations. And my observation about new media isn’t intended to sugget this is a bad idea from labour, I think its great But as tr BBC is evidence, this doesn’t always result in real information. It is still a mouthpiece of the establishment. Preferable to Fox, but not nessisary telling me the whole story.

        My point isn’t nessisarily an endorsement of the social media or citizen journalism, but an acknowledgement that it is likely to be increasingly where people find or look for their information.

        I agree Ron, the Internet encourages a self full filling world view, only increased by the way that the google search engine now attempts to match it’s search with our preferences.

        I have been swayed by Twitter though, despite it’s reinforcing my prejudices. The #occupy movement has illustrated to me it’s value. The other day I was reading three citizen journalists live tweeting as the marched in solidarity with Oakland in NYC, I got blow by blow reports from the ground, this wasn’t later covered by BBC or Radio NZ or TVNZ.

  9. Herodotus 9

    Keep the cricket.
    National destorying a Kiwi tradition. What am I to listening to in future when painiting the house?
    Perhaps the $2.5m of overfunding of private schools could be collected and the funds used for this
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/5722674/Ministry-mishap-turns-into-2-5m-bonus-for-schools
    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/radiosport/

    • One Anonymous Bloke 9.1

      Wankers! Wtf do they expect us to do over the summer under canvas? Buggered if I’m allowing a screen into my airspace to find out what’s going on in the cricket!

    • millsy 9.2

      Sports Roundup should have stayed with RNZ IMO. The change from Sports Roundup, a radio network which had the express purpose of transmitting sports results from all over the country, into Radio Sport, which is more or less a sports-talkback format created so rednecks can take a break from whining about dole bludgers to whining about not enough white King Country farmers being in the All Blacks, has been detrimental to the standard of sporting coverage in this country. I find cricket commentary on the radio to be relaxing, and far more entertaining than Murray Deaker drone on and on and on and on about how great Auckland is at rugby and how everyone else is crap. Coney and Waddle are great together..

  10. coolas 10

    Glad they’re signalling a consultation process from the start, and if it takes a couple of years to set-up a model public broadcasting system, so be it.

    The idea should be popular, but degrading of quality started way back with Paul Homes trivialising the important and wanking over the superficial, so many people don’t know what its like to watch good public TV, and lots don’t go beyond 1,2&3.

    How quality and independence is established is a challenge given the power of the corporates and temptation for Government to interfere, but if its truly for ‘the public’ this is where social media can interact with the broadcaster, and effectively be a watchdog for whatever kaupapa is put in place: independence, impartiality, honesty, diversity, and so on.

    Of course there’ll have to be referendum on the future of Coronation Street.

    • lefty 10.1

      Not for profit communtity ownership should be considered as part of the media ownership mix.
      Public broadcasting is subject to political influence and threats of privatisation. It also tends to get taken over by very conservative forces – just look at RNZ where we now have to suffer Simon Mercep in the morning and Jim Mora in the afternoon.
      Right wing old hacks like Holmes and Ralston seem to carry on forever on TVand the lack of imagination of managers means the likes of Paul Henry are considered valuable because they haven’t bothered investing in anybody with real potential talent.
      Good reporting and a dependence on advertising are mutually exclusive and governments need to recognise that.
      It is interesting how Maori TV has far outperformed any other media in either the public or private sector, in particular its level of community engagement and ability to put on programmes that are relevant, educational and entertaining for its audience without being reduced to silly populism is impressive.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        Not for profit communtity ownership should be considered as part of the media ownership mix.

        +1

      • Carol 10.1.2

        Indeed, and Stratos/Triangle is the main example of this in NZ… more so than government supported Maori TV.

        I posted this on Red Alert in response to Clare Curran’s post:

        Peter Thompson (NZ academic) has researched public service broadcasting and funding options. His Peter Thompson MCH report on funding for public broadcasting in OECD countries is available online in a pdf file. The options other than user licence fee are listed as:

        Industry levy- part of advertising/sponsorship revenue
        Voluntary industry levy
        Utilities levy – eg on electricity
        Audio-visual retail levy
        Broadcaster operational licence
        Broadcaster concession eg on finances colllected by government from a PSB.

        This document also has a discussion of ways Public Service Broadcasting can be protected from political interference.

  11. One Anonymous Bloke 11

    “…referendum…” lol thanks for that 🙂

  12. Rodel 12

    Fantastic Labour..Great policy. RNZ and TV7 are excellent. Keep them. Remember when some Nat wanted to make RNZ commercial.It could happen again.

  13. Afewknowthetruth 13

    OAB

    I stopped listening to NR the day that Chris Laidlaw managed to babble on for an hour-and-a-half, along with his invited ‘experts’, on the topic of NZ’s energy future without once mentioning Peak Oil. The man is a prize idiot who is totally biased in favour of disaster-as-usual politics and duisaster-as-usual business arrangements, which is why NR kept him on.

    National Radio is just one more component of the extensive mind-control system that has enslaved the bulk of the populace in most western societies.

    Of course, to recognise the truth and see ‘the Matrix’ for what it is, one does need to stop taking the ‘blue pill’ and take the ‘red pill’ instead, which is something most people are apparently totally incapable of doing. It may be genetic; it may be life experience; probably it is a combination of both: only a few can see the truth.

    That is why, when the time comes, the bulk of society will behave like the Jews of Europe and walk into the ‘gas chambers’, thinking they are ‘shower rooms’.

    That I am surrounded by stubborn, ignorant fools is not my fault. Copernicus, Galileo, Semmelwiez, Darwin, Werneger and numerous others had exactly the same problem.

  14. locus 14

    It would be great to have local television docos and productions encouraged. I’d happily pay a dollar a day to have an antidote to the plethora of commercially driven TV channels on offer.

    @afktt – i fail to learn from my past failures in being drawn into responding to your posts, but this time i’m offended by your 2ww analogy… And does everything have to be about the end of the world? Is there any hope that you could put your outraged energy into achieving one small positive step in the right direction? Right now your approach makes people bracket you with the ideas of the end of times doomsday prophets, and definitely not with the great scientists you have listed.

  15. millsy 15

    Public service broadcasting is a must. I would even be prepared to sell TV1 and and TV2 to get a public broadcasting network.

    TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 are one of the few positive legacies of the 5th Labour Government, but they were never really backed as they should have been. National found it pretty easy to chop them.

    The following things have ruined broadcasting in this country

    1) NZ On Air
    2) Talkback radio
    3) The advent of Sky TV
    4) Privatisation of TRN

  16. randal 16

    hey you too can go in the draw to win a new network.
    Radio New Zealand and TVNZ are in need of a real shakeup and I hope they get one.
    they need an infusion of mature creativity and some intellectual grunt instead of the jobbery that still persists there and diminishes the whole enterprise.

  17. ron 17

    Remembering that we DO have some high quality public broadcasting in the Community Access stations around the country.

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