The more I ponder the scrapping of the TVNZ charter the dafter it seems. There are obvious downsides. What is the upside? What possible reason could there be to further weaken the already vestigial representation of our own culture on our main free to air TV channel? The only reason I’ve seen given is “dual obligations“:
The charter was criticised by some for giving TVNZ an impossible task in meeting dual obligations of a strong commercial performance as well as public broadcasting requirements.
Or as it was put in our comments: “The only credible media models are either â€˜wholly Public’ or â€˜wholly Private'”. Well I’m no media expert, but I call bullshit. Mixed public and private broadcasters can work just fine. The best known example of course is the BBC:
As we have sought to show in this chapter, the UK has a unique system of mixed public and private broadcasting that has been constructed over the past century on solid economic and cultural principles. It overwhelmingly reflects the lives and culture of the British people. It provides one of the most independent and trusted news services in the world. It makes learning opportunities available to all. And, because it is a universal system, it is able to bring large parts of the UK together. Once dismantled, it could never be rebuilt.
The so called impossibility of “dual obligations” is just a smokescreen. Many organisations deal with dual (if not multiple) obligations. Any SOE for a start, which is expected to be both “(a) As profitable and efficient as comparable businesses that are not owned by the Crown” and “(c) An organisation that exhibits a sense of social responsibility by having regard to the interests of the community … and by endeavouring to accommodate or encourage these when able to do so.” Or how about Tertiary institutions, which have the dual obligations to run at a surplus of at least 3% and provide a world class education. Or District Health Boards with dual obligations of funding requirements and health targets. In fact, how about Parliament itself, which has the dual obligations of both fiscal and social responsibility (“Parliament makes laws and holds the Government to account for its policies, actions, and spending”).
Plenty of organisations cope with dual obligations and more. If TVNZ’s lavishly remunerated execs can’t cope then sack them and find some that can. Only – it isn’t really about dual obligations at all, is it. That’s just the smokescreen – so much humbug. What it’s really about is the same old story – maximising profits. Who cares about culture and national identity anyway. Not the Nats…