public broadcasting

Karl du Fresne on Radio NZ

Karl du Fresne hooks into the left wing jobsworths at Radio New Zealand. TVNZ returns a profit and a dividend to the taxpayer, Radio NZ is nothing but a cost centre.

It is funded by the taxpayer and generates no commercial revenue. Its funding has been frozen since 2009, which suggests it doesn’t rate highly in the Government’s priorities. In fact, if Wellington gossip is to be believed, there are influential figures in the Government who are at best indifferent, and possibly even hostile, to the state broadcaster.

Take Steven Joyce, for example. As the fourth-ranked minister in the Cabinet, he carries a lot of clout – probably more than his ranking suggests.

He is also a former broadcasting entrepreneur who built a small New Plymouth radio station into the RadioWorks network and pocketed $6 million when he sold his interest.

Mr Joyce is said to be less than sympathetic to arguments that RNZ deserves more money. And while there may be others in the Cabinet who don’t share his robust support for private enterprise (it would be interesting, for example, to know the attitude of the attorney-general, Chris Finlayson), the brutal reality is that National probably takes the view that there’s little electoral risk in upsetting RNZ listeners because most of them vote Labour anyway.  Read more »

Cato makes the case for defunding public broadcasting

Cato Institute

New Zealand needs a think tank that is willing to attempt to slay a few sacred cows of the left. Public broadcasting would be a good start.

In fact, public broadcasting suffers the main downside of public funding—political influence and control—yet enjoys little of the upside—a significant taxpayer contribution that would relieve it of the need to seek corporate underwriting and listener donations. But the limited taxpayer funding also shows that defunding can be relatively painless. Public broadcasting not only can survive on its own, it can thrive—and be free.

Throng on TVNZ7

TVNZ 7

ᔥ Throng

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?
A. No.

Q. Does Throng believe there should be a Public Broadcasting TV channel?
A. Yes.

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.

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A free, independent media?

Clare Curran is trying to make a point about “free, independent media” and at the same time suggest that National is somehow stopping a “free, independent media.

Here is where it all gets a little confusing. Just recently she was bemoaning the fact that there wasn’t enough government control of media or enough public (government funded) broadcasters. During the election Labour proposed a new public broadcaster which would hardly be “free, independent media”.

It seems that Labour and Clare Curran think “free, independent media” is actually state funded and state controlled media. Whereas I and many others believe that “free, independent media is unfettered by by government control and regulation and is able through strong constitutional freedom of speech laws able to hold the powerful to account.

In ehr post though she is questioning whether or not we have a “free, independent media”…but she is asking questions about NZ on Air and TVNZ…neither of which are free or independent, both being owned and controlled by the state.

In her focus on the pursuit of a  “free, independent media” is she now proposing that Labour will, if elected, sell off Radio NZ and TVNZ?

I certainly hope she is. I certainly hope that is Labour’s new policy.

After all having media organisations controlled by the government would fly in the face of a “free and independent” media.

 

NZ on Air criticism sounds familiar

With all the furore over the NZ on Air issue and the silly claims about censorship it twigged a few memories.

I seem to remember how “Locked Down” wasn’t screened in 2008 because it wasn’t flattering to the government in an election year?

TVNZ is facing claims it dropped a prison reality TV show amid fears it would show viewers how “cushy” prison life was in an election year.

The state broadcaster commissioned Locked Down, a 13-part series on life at Wellington’s Rimutaka Prison. It was to have started screening in April, the Dominion Post reports today.

The 30-minute programme, made by Screentime production company, features interviews with inmates about prison life, the crimes they committed and their rehabilitation.

The shows also outline prison conditions, including inmates having televisions and stereos in their cells.

But TVNZ has delayed the series’ debut several times and there are now claims it is due to concerns it shows how “cushy” prison life is in the run-up to the general election.

Locked Down director Sean Duffy said he could not understand why the series had not screened.

“The bottom line is if they’re not putting something to air because of an election … I don’t think that’s right.

“Has the Government suggested that they wouldn’t want it to go to air — or is it TVNZ taking it upon themselves to act in an incredibly paranoid matter about it? I don’t know.”

And Labour never told broadcasters what to fund with Government money intended for programming did they? Trevor Mallard was front and centre on that political control over funding.

Television New Zealand is to be stripped of the power to decide how it spends more than $15 million in charter funds after angering its government bosses by using the money to subsidise its Olympics coverage.

It will instead have to apply to funding agency NZ On Air programme by programme, with no guarantee it will get the full amount in any one year.

TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said the company had planned to use charter money to contribute towards the “absolutely enormous” production costs of broadcasting the Beijing Olympics.

Direct Government funding had not been used in the bid for the actual rights to screen the Olympics, which was negotiated as part of a three event deal spanning the 2000, 2004 and this year’s competitions. Bidding for the rights was conducted “many years ago,” Ms Richards said.

TVNZ was “comfortable” with the Government’s proposal requiring NZ On Air to approve funding on a per programme basis. Such a move would add “clarity” to the funding process and the state broadcaster was already discussing the proposal internally, Ms Richards said.

Broadcasting Minister Trevor Mallard told The Dominion Post yesterday that he was preparing a Cabinet paper to make the change, because he believed it was inappropriate use of charter funds – provided through the Culture and Heritage Ministry genre by genre – to subsidise the successful bid for the Olympics.

The move followed “dissatisfaction with TVNZ and a question about whether it’s good value for money or a common understanding of the purpose of the charter”.

Right can we have Labour STFU with the whinging now please. Labour and their lap-bloggers have been all indignant about some National flunkies laying complaints and following process. Their party simply changed laws or worse actually had a show put on ice, kind of make a complaint to the Electoral Commission pale into insignificance.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Is this your wish Clare?

Clare Curran wishes for her nirvana with state broadcasting:

This is seriously cool. It’s become a bit of a hit I understand. Wish we could do this stuff here. To the same quality.

Perhaps if we had a real public broadcaster. We certainly have the talent and the creativity. Just not the political will to back public broadcasting which believes in more than the next reality TV show.

At Home with Julia has hit a bit of a snag.

Now Clare, imagine this. A real public broadcaster funding a tv show about John Key at home, showing him shagging Bronagh in front of the travertine fireplace in Parnell all while draped in the Tino Rangitiratanga flag….or…shudder…Phil Goff and Mary doing it in the woolshed in Clevedon under the steely gaze of Michael Joseph Savage’s portrait that you just know adorns the walls of every room.

I’m not sure how it would help Goff’s ratings, I imagine the performance would be as wooden as his press conferences.