TVNZ7, Radio New Zealand, and distracting trinkets.
A neo-liberal is one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. In this case, this National government are slowly strangling good, quality broadcasters like RNZ and TVNZ7 – whilst feeding us a daily diet of brain-cell deadening, pseudo-news on TV1 and TV3 and apalling programming that consists mostly of American sitcoms, cooking programmes, and bleak crime shows.
If only New Zealanders were as passionate about the lack of governmental support for quality broadcasting as we were about stranded penguins; “Wellywood” signs; and books by Ian Wishart.
Oh, but that would mean thinking about complex issues, wouldn’t it? Jerking the knee with superficial, emotion-tugging, issues is much easier: no effort required.
The state-owned broadcaster registered itself as the Radio New Zealand Charitable Trust with the Charities Commission last month.
Some of its charitable purposes, which were listed on the commission’s website, included education, research, fundraising and providing grants to a number of individuals and groups.
A spokesperson for Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman said the broadcaster still received $34 million a year but couldn’t say how long it had been receiving that amount.
A financial review of Radio NZ for the 2009/10 financial year showed it had a net deficit of $498,000 after tax, compared to a surplus of $13,000 the year before.
The review said RNZ had been too cash-strapped to participate in the 2010 New Zealand Radio Awards or put in a bid for the Rugby World Cup 2011 coverage.
Kedgley said she first thought the charity registration was a joke.
“I am appalled to discover that it is serious proposition and that the Board of Radio New Zealand has been forced by the Government’s funding freeze on Radio New Zealand to set up a trust so that it can go out with a begging bowl to the public,” she said.
“The move suggests there is quiet desperation at Radio New Zealand. The broadcaster simply cannot make ends meet under the Government’s funding freeze.”
Curran said the move raised some “serious questions”.
“Not the least of which is why the whole of RNZ has been registered as a charity, and what the long-term intention is,” she said.
“Radio NZ’s survival should not be dependent on it having to solicit donations. It is our state radio broadcaster and holds a special place in New Zealand.”
Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman couldn’t be reached for comment and neither could RNZ chairman Richard Griffin.
Griffin told Fairfax earlier this year that RNZ could only survive a funding freeze for another two years.
He said the current freeze put the public broadcaster in a “more than difficult” financial position.
“If we’re left in a position where every year costs increase and funding remains static, we’re going to wither.”
It was believed that the charity was mainly to fund its concert station.
It is an unbelievable, bizarre state-of -affairs when a public service such as Radio New Zealand , has to register itself as a charity. If this doesn’t ring alarm bells with us, then we are truly asleep.
It should also give us cause for concern that National will be closing down TVNZ7. This free-to-air; advertising free; public network is a wealth of news, documentaries, and offers an un-commercialised look at ourselves and the world around us.
TVNZ7 treats the viewer with intelligence and respect. It is television as it should be – and not the mindless rubbish that we are now served up every day on other channels. (Parliament TV excepted – that contains very mature, erudite debate from our Honourable Members of Parliament.)
It is a great shame that two quality public services – TVNZ7 and Radio New Zealand – can be put in jeopardy through the lack of political support from the government-of-the-day, and because of public apathy. If New Zealanders were as passionate about their own public broadcasting system, as they were about wayward penguins, oh what a much more mature society we would be.
But we are like children, it seems, and easily enthralled by the latest distracting trinket.
New Zealand has often been described as a “young country”.
That is truer than we realised.