Throng on TVNZ7



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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  • AngryTory

    Sure from the insider perspective: but us punters just want the FTA content on a channel whatever the name of that Channel is.   And surely ripping “7” out of “TVNZ” (or do I mean ripping “TVNZ” out of “TVNZ7”) as a going concern will be easier than starting something from scratch.  again.

    ACT’s policy of course was the sensible one: sell the rest of TVNZ asap, put the money in a trust, use the income to fund a fully-independent “7” & Maori TV. 

    And I hear there is an entire TV studio going cheap in Lower Hutt…

  • Guestposter23

    I always found it suspicious that programme listings for TV7 were either never published at all in any newspaper in the country, and if they were in specialist TV publications like The Listener or TV Guide, then they were buried in the back pages with only the programme name and no blurb on what the programme was about.

    Either TVNZ wanted the channels to fail and did nothing to have the listings promoted, or the print media chose to omit the listings. Whatever the reason, if the viewing public are not made aware what is to be broadcast on a channel then they are hardly likely to tune in it.

  • MrV

    This might be relevant to those interested:

  • BR

    If it were up to me, all public broadcasting would be axed. It is not the function of government to provide entertainment.


    • Gazzaw

      Since when did government funded broadcasting provide entertainment?

  • Bodyclock

    With 1.4 Million viewers TVNZ7 is already successful without any advertising. The content is so strong. It’s mostly nothing to do with entertainment and everything to do with cultivation.  1.4 million people seek this out amongst all the other entertainment dross driven by commercial imperatives. It’s time to revise the idea that TVNZ can’t be successful in both sectors. It already is successful at both commercial and public broadcasting. It may be accidental, but that is the fact. So what was the argument above about again???