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The big State Media Merger?

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, February 8th, 2020 - 27 comments
Categories: broadcasting, labour, Media, radio, The Standard - Tags:

Looks like there’s a ways to go before New Zealand gets an integrated state-backed broadcaster. But the Government’s recent proposal is a big step in the right direction.

On our little platform and many others, complaints have arisen about the massive alteration to our media landscape in terms of news provision. Many including the Prime Minister have been concerned about the increase in influence of Google and other information gatherers to supplant unbiased opinion and tin incite terror. Also, with the near-collapse of TV3 and two other major players needing to merge quickly to survive, the answer from the state is that it’s long overdue time to reintegrate the public sector media that we have into something strong and clear and good for New Zealand.

The Minister commented today that “The Government must ensure New Zealanders have a strong independent public media service for decades to come, which means ensuring public media assets are fit for the future and able to thrive amid the changing media landscape.”

Efforts such as The Standard, Scoop/Werewolf, and The Daily Blog have been useful but niche alternatives to the mainstream media concerning political commentary. But they are no match for Twitter or Google or Facebook. And we don’t have a massive mostly subscriber-based leftie entity like The Guardian. As we have seen overseas, social media has the capacity to break governments with lies invented by the right wing for their interests.

“That presents risks for the future viability of New Zealand’s public broadcasting operators, RNZ and TVNZ, and the Government needs to address those risks,” Minister Faafoi said.

This government (actually the next one) will have the capacity to protect the interests of the state to ensure that society is not completely destabilised by social media replacing news content near-completely.

While RNZ has already announced the shifting of Concert FM to an automated station and the formation of a new youth-oriented station, there’s no word on potential internal shifts within TVNZ. I mean, where would you start?

Personally I’d like to see Maori Television be a part of this conversation as well. RNZ has made strong changes in Te Reo and does not apologise for it. I’d prefer strong integrated Maori content across all state platforms – but I can see why Maori Television was formed back in 2004. It now commands 1.5 million viewers. And it’s really interesting.

Again this is one of those reforms that would have been great to see evidence of before the actual election. So if you’re going to have a big idea like this one, or revolutionising transport, or housing, or anything, it’s best to have your plan together in the first year of the term not the last. If they get back in again I sure hope they have more of their shit sorted out.

Also, if the government is going to generate a mighty-powerful integrated all-platform machine and control even more of the market than ever before, it doesn’t really have a leg to stand on to oppose the merger of those media companies here who wish to merge (yes I know the Commerce Commission is independent, but the uproar will be massive if the future merger legislation carver out an anti-competitive realm as big as the Fonterra merger).

There will be big debate about implied government influence in the proposed Charter. After all, what a set of levers to get your hands on in even the most oblique form. Each party will already be thinking about the people they can stack that board with.

There’s still a lot of people who watch unadulterated TV1 and listen to RNZ as if that news was gospel truth and there’s been no platform changes to the world since the 1970s. They are senior and they vote by the truckload. No one should underestimate how annoying any change will be to a major part of the voting electorate. So I can completely see the caution with which the Cabinet is operating here.

Like the big list of housing, transport and social welfare, this is a big potential change to New Zealand society. Buckle in and join the debates to come.

27 comments on “The big State Media Merger? ”

  1. SPC 1

    Why not keep Concert on FM and have an on-line youth radio? They are not thinking this through properly.

    • In Vino 1.1

      Agree. Unless it is a subtly-designed attempt to eliminate classical music entirely..

      Maybe they don't listen to classical and don't appreciate that good hi-fi sound is needed by classical more than other genres. (This has been proven by SACD sales. SACD gave superior sound to CDs, but before long classical music was pretty much the only area where SACD stayed in production. The Market showed that pop music fans, etc, did not care enough to pay the extra and make SACD production viable..)

      By shifting classical to AM, they are putting it back to low-fidelity mono sound. I for one will no longer listen to it.

      Before long they will say nobody is listening to it, and eliminate it completely.

      The next step will be to stop funding the NZSO, etc…

      But maybe I am just a conspiracy theorist. sad

      • Kay 1.1.1

        @In Vino have you seen the price of a NZSO ticket lately? A large section of the population has been priced out of seeing them for years now. Sure, discounts if you have a Gold Card or student ID but forget it if your on a lower income or benefit. Interesting how a subsidy is available for the former groups but not the latter.

        Whatever, the NZSO is a luxury item. While I was at university with quite a few of the current members of said orchestra and am well aware of the minute opportunities for professional musicians in this country, I can't see the purpose of a national orchestra that so many people are denied the opportunity to see. Since our successive governments are hell bent on destroying our cultural legacies, why not get rid of them, it was my first thought upon hearing the Concert story.

        • Chris 1.1.1.1

          If accessibility's the problem, wouldn't it be better to make it accessible rather than ditching it?

      • OnceWasTim 1.1.2

        "The next step will be to stop funding the NZSO, etc…"

        Don't give them any ideas! The NZSO might be Willy Macalister's next gig once his mission at RNZ is done – or maybe it'll be the media division of PWC or Saatchi and Saatchi and Saatchi and Saatchi

  2. Dennis Frank 2

    The guts of the coalition decision: "work will begin on a business case". So the neoliberal straitjacket still fits tightly. How to get that profit?? That's the key question.

    They want “a new public media entity as an independent multiple-platform, multi-media operation”. Presumably more economic, right?

    I’d go for user-pays subscription as primary design element. Plus minimisation of advertising by design. I wonder if market research will be used in producing the business case. The idea that it could be sensible to see what people want is too radical for establishment mainstreamers, of course. So it is a test of the coalition’s mettle, big time!

    • /agree.
      I’m thinking of the Concert FM/Youth radio proposals more specifically here because the timing of that, and now kicking the can down the road again is quite interesting

      I needed to have a cup of tea and a lay down before I could continue to listen to the Peacock/Thompson/Macalister discussion.

      A lot of it seemed completely contradictory and all laced with therms like "efficient and effective", "branding", demographics (18-35 targeting et al).

      And then (to paraphrase):

      "not doing it to get the biggest audience" and "don't deliberately intend to compete" (with commercial broadcasters) when that is the motivation and the inevitable consequence.

      It reminded me of an advertising agency's meeting. Unfortunately listening to Faafoi was almost as bad – bear in mind that although he has experience in broadcasting, it been within an organisation with a fiercely competitive management mindset.

      None of it about what public service media should be about.
      And can you imagine the kind of shite we going to get from an expensive PWC report which will be used to justify it all (in this space going forward)

      • Dennis Frank 2.1.1

        Well, let's focus on the bright side: the technical possibility that they will use the business scenario as merely a basis, and do intelligent design on top of it. One can but hope! Stakeholder co-design, in which focus groups genuinely represent the public as microcosm, would be the optimal approach. Add on a niche-marketing frame, in which all the main niches (above 5% of the populace, say) get catered too in the consequent legislation… 🥰

        • OnceWasTim 2.1.1.1

          Yep well there's the rub. Stakeholder 'inclusiveness' seems to be a matter of singling out the stakeholders that fit, while dreaming up a bit of spin for those that don't have a good fit.

          I'm thinking they might have to redefine the meaning of 'stakeholder' (again, in this space, going forward).

          But oh how they complicate things for themselves – which could be part of a conspiratorial 'plan' of course. There'll need to be a raft of ticket clipper specialists to unravel it all. (Now there's a business opportunity for PWC)

        • OnceWasTim 2.1.1.2

          By the way Dennis, that 'bloody boomer' (/sarc) Jennings has some interesting words of wisdom https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2020/02/07/1024615/tvnz-and-rnz-now-in-a-waiting-game

          Except for "RNZ’s decision to move Concert FM to an AM frequency and replace its presenters with automation is not going down well in Roslyn, Merivale, Kelburn and Remuera"

          It's going down like a cup of cold sick with people in places like Te Puke, Taita, Island Bay, and among a few non-boomer arts/music students living in shitholes across the country.

  3. john clover 3

    The thought of a huge govt backed media spewing fort the pet ideas of a govt horrifies me. Left or right they are equally as bad as each other. RNZ is bad enough as it is now with its bias…. I do not have or watch TV rubbish but know it is more influential than radio to indoctrinate the masses.

    Protect us from the screwball leftie enthusiasts.

    • Dennis Frank 3.1

      Have no fear, lad, Winnie will protect you. His tolerance of screwball lefties has never been evident, eh? The devil will be in the detail of the charter, I suspect…

  4. Listening to MediaWatch today, and a lot of previous discussions,

    I like to vote Colin Peacock as diplomat and mild-mannered foreskin of the year.

    I'm left wondering though, whether or not he has ambitions as to riding a Vespa – if not its possible he could be for the chop.

  5. infused 5

    why?

    the younger generation are not going to watch/listen to this shit. it's god awful as it is. it's not going to get any better.

    state broadcasting is like your old analog phone line.

    • In Vino 5.1

      Your message is incomprehensible. To whom are you posing the question. "Why"?

      Use the Reply button. or name the person you are replying to.

      By the way, old analogue phone lines still work perfectly well.

      • john clover 5.1.1

        I prefer the 'old' line system to the difficultly I have is tuning into any station on FM.

        AM is good enough for me 🙂 Cell phone Costs….. while land line is cheaper and works better,

        IMO anyway 🙂

  6. Observer Tokoroa 6

    for the grown up Children

    Could anyone advise me exactly when our Minister Kris Faafoi wrote his first Piano Concerto in Eminor? I missed it entirely.

    I believe he will within weeks, amass all the sounds ever created on our bit of Planet and blast them into the ears of the unknown little children both here and Far Far Away.

    With of course, the help of some broken up and splintered personnel as yet unknown – from wherever.

    Minus QualityMinus Genius Music of the past and the recent past.

  7. Corey Humm 7

    Why do we need another youth based station, I'm under the impression it's gonna be pop music and there's a lot of them. I don't listen to concert but at least it offers diversity.

    The stuff /herald merger gives me nightmares, I understand the perilous state of the industry but that much media power concentrated in one company is scary.

  8. Observer Tokoroa 8

    The Art of Going Backwards

    Kris FaaFoi – the present minister of Broadcasting – has apparently decided to ditch excellent FM Transmission and replace it with pre-1930's one-legged transmission, known as AM.

    People are enjoying the importance and steady brilliance of FM far too much. They have been enjoying it for several decades. They must be stopped.

    Under the FaaFoi regime Kiwis will follow in his footsteps and be dumbed down.

    People have no right to hear spoken words clearly, nor should they hear great music clearly. They do not deserve what the rest of the world gets – namely FM.

    FM is a standard transmission from most Broadcasters and Internet providers.

    No Matter – Our Kids can't count very well. Or anything. Compared to other main Nations. They can be sent back to the 1920s. Let's hear it all for Minister Faafoi !

    • Sacha 8.1

      ..the present minister of Broadcasting – has apparently decided to ditch..

      Nope. Not his decision.

  9. Observer Tokoroa 9

    So

    Sacha – The Minister responsible for Broadcasting is not responsible for Broadcasting ?

    Amazing !

  10. Observer Tokoroa 10

    Orchesras and Medics

    You may have noticed that a number of persons have stated their disklike of Classical Music. – both on Wallace Chapman's RNZ afternoon Panel and also by random Comments from fanatic lovers of simple highly repetitive hip hop.

    What you may not have known is that Doctors of Medicine form Orchestras and give performances of great Classical Music.

    Yes. They form full Symphony Orchestras, in both New Zealand and Australia. Also, in the grown up cities overseas.

    Christchurch (New Zealand) is a fine example of a Doctors Orchestra.

    Why do they do this? How come Doctors are so gifted in stunning Classical Music ? How come they draw good audiences ?

    Pop Noise is merely a sheep herd of noise. Boys and girls just have to belong to their Group. Like little kids and dull adults. They have no idea how thoroughly the Music Industry manages them into their childlike forever holdings.

    Could it be possible that Rock and Pop stuff could grow up a bit?

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