Regan has posted his thoughts on TVNZ7. As a avid industry watcher I think his comments have merit.
Q. Does Throng believe TVNZ7 should be saved?
Q. Does Throng believe there should be a Public Broadcasting TV channel?
There are a number of positive aspects to TVNZ7. It has had some great new shows with the quality and content improving year on year. Despite Mike “don’t talk about cume unless you’re referring to how my salary is justified” Hosking’s comments about its audience, a third of New Zealand watches TVNZ7 every month. It only costs $15m a year to run, or 83 cents per month per viewer.
Sounds reasoning…and nice slap down of Mike Hosking. But now why TVNZ7 should go:
So with such positives, why do we not support TVNZ7 being saved? The primary reason is due to the first four letters of the channel’s name.
When the Labour government established both TVNZ6 and TVNZ7 and the channels were launched on the Freeview platform, there was much fanfare about an alternative to subscription-based television. However, due to the poor broadcasting policies of both the former and current governments, TVNZ has found itself caught in the middle of striving for commercial success and being a public broadcaster. The reality is that they simply cannot do both.
TVNZ were never going to drive viewers away from their highly rating, ad supported channels.
TVNZ7 was doomed to near invisibility and the critics’ ire.
Over the years, a number of industry insiders have also voiced their concern to Throng about how TVNZ has charged out its resources for TVNZ7, suggesting that the commercial side of TVNZ has been milking the funding. There is nothing commercially wrong with this, of course, but it would reinforce the conflict of interest that TVNZ has in having feet in both camps.
While there are a number of shows on TVNZ7 that would be worth saving, the channel as it stands needs to go and TVNZ needs to be allowed to focus on its commercial directives while the role of public broadcaster is handed over to someone else.
We will never get to the bottom of the cross-subsidisation, but I believe Regan has a better graspo than anyone on the conflicts that arose inside TVNZ regarding TVNZ7. But where to from here?
With the numbers tuning in each month, there is certainly evidence to support the existence of a public broadcasting tv channel. The issue, as many on the right would suggest, is how it is funded under the current economic climate.
To put it in perspective, in 2011, $1.6 billion was spent on advertising on television in New Zealand. An ad supported/sponsorship model that was limited to the $15m annual funding required to keep the channel on the air hardly seems unreasonable. In fact, you could double it to $30m without impacting viewer experience which, as it currently is on TVNZ7, would easily replace the short “promo breaks” that already exist between shows.
There are plenty of players that could contribute to a new public broadcast tv channel. The three main ones being Triangle, who are already working in that space on a shoestring budget, Maori Television who have produced some excellent public television services to viewers beyond their indigenous audience and Radio New Zealand who provide the most respected news service in the country and already have vast resources in place.
It is time the confusion was ended and there be a separation between TVNZ’s role as a public broadcaster and a commercial entity. If they are there to make a profit, let them do it but let’s not pretend any longer that they can do that and have success as a public broadcaster at the same time.
A great post with sensible and non-vested interest solutions. Bear that in mind when you read the save TVNZ7 people talking about this…most of them have skin in the game, when they say save TVNZ7 it is from the perspective of their hip pocket.