Public Broadcasting – down, but not out.
If there is one thing that the demise of TVNZ7 has highlighted, it is National’s inability to read the public mood. It has also demonstrated, with stark, glaring reality, that National has little interest in maintaining social services. If it can close them down, with minimum fall-out, it will.
National could easily have funded TVNZ7. At roughly $16 million per annum, itwas probably the cheapest public broadcaster of any nation on this planet.
It simply chose not to. Because it didn’t want to.
TVNZ7 was a non-commercial station, and therefore made no money for National.
It probably also took viewers away from the state-owned, money-making, TV1 and TV2, thereby lessening the dividend paid to State coffers.
Yet, TVNZ7′s viewership was growing – past one million viewers per month. It was offering intelligent programming that was light-years ahead of most of what any other Broadcaster was providing the public. People can only take so much “reality” shows; infomercials; grim, misogynistic US crime/cop shows; US “comedies” (anyone for a re-run of “Friends“?); and soft-core porn like “The GC“.
None of which mattered one jot to John Key and his materialistic-minded fellow MPs, nor their right-wing philistine-supporters who deride non-commercial broadcasting because it doesn’t fit their moronic world-view of Market Rules.
Above everything that National has mis-managed; stuffed-up; or run-down – their wilful failure to preserve TVNZ7 speaks volumes about their culture of crass materialism and lack of understanding about the needs of society.
They simply could not understand why people wanted TVNZ7 saved. They did not want to understand.
Which is a dangerous thing to have, when a country’s governing Party doesn’t understand the needs of it’s own people. Such a Party is out of touch, and it’s little wonder that the Nats have made so many cuts that even our Navy is in dire danger of collapsing; the Police are considering marching on Parliament; and the education sector is in open revolt against their own Minister.
This is a re-run of the late 1990s.
Labour and the Greens have promised to resurrect public broadcasting in this country.
This blogger commends them for that.
But we need more than a public broadcaster. We need strong mechanisms put in place to entrench a non-commercial television station, to protect it from future interference by a right wing government of simple-minded fools. Such a mechanism will require legislation and the power of contracts to guarantee the viability of a public broadcaster
Those contracts have to be cast-iron, with penals for breaches so great, that no future National leadership will even countenance interference.
In the meantime, National has won this round against it’s own citizens. In Syria, their government kills their own people. Here in New Zealand, if a government wants to exercise vindictive power, it simply takes away part or all of a social service.
That’s how National operates.
Only the naive expect otherwise.
And wouldn’t it be fun if, on Monday morning, everyone who supports TVNZ7 phoned John Key’s office…
Phone: (04)817 6800
Fax: (04)472 2075
= fs =