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Archive for 7 May 2012

The Worst Newspaper Editorial Since – – – Whenever?!

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Tahi:  The Problem.

The following “Press” editorial on the impending closure of TVNZ7 is an example of why readin’, writin‘, and ‘rithmetic is simply wasted on some people. As one commentator suggested, “and that was a party political broadcast from the National Party“.

I present the full editorial here – in case “The Press” recognises the awefulness of this tripe, and removes it from the World Wide Web.

I also present the comments left by readers, who felt compelled to share their views on TVNZ7’s impending demise, and that editorial. All fifty comments – EVERY SINGLE ONE – was  supportive of TVNZ7, and each one bagged that editorial.

This was an extraordinary piece of bad “journalism”, followed by some very insightful, wise responses.

For your edification, I present the Worst Editorial Since— whenever?!

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TVNZ7’s end will be ‘scarcely noticeable’

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Last updated 05:00 07/05/2012

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OPINION: The final demise of Television New Zealand’s minority-interest non-commercial digital television channel TVNZ7 was confirmed last week with TVNZ’s announcement that from July 1 the channel will be used to rebroadcast TV One’s content an hour later than the original.

In doing this TVNZ is copying a strategy adopted more than a year ago by TV3, which rebroadcasts its content on what it calls TV3+1 on channel 8, and is common overseas. It is designed to capture viewers who cannot watch the channels at their original times, probably not a large number and unlikely to generate a great amount of extra revenue.

The move is nevertheless being seen as the last crass commercial blow against the last vestige of “public service” broadcasting in New Zealand. UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne overheatedly denounced the move as the “ultimate insult to the intelligence of New Zealand television viewers” and, ignoring the fact that the decision was undoubtedly one made by TVNZ’s board, he called on TVNZ’s new chairman Wayne Walden to intervene immediately to reverse it. Labour’s spokesperson on broadcasting, Clare Curran, had already weighed in with a private member’s bill to try to save TVNZ7 which, even if it were to be drawn from the ballot for such bills, has no chance of going anywhere so is basically a meaningless publicity stunt.

For all the talk being generated by the chattering classes about the channel’s closure, however, once the Government had declined to hand over any taxpayer money to keep it going its loss was inevitable. And while that may be regrettable, in a world in which the media are rapidly evolving any gap it may leave is likely to be quickly filled.

TVNZ7 was always something of an anomalous relic in broadcasting. It was established by TVNZ to run “public service” programmes, which generally means worthy programming which only a few people want to watch. In this context it turned out to mean a mildly liberal agenda of plenty of stuff about novelists, sculptors, painters and the like, some routine Leftish navel-gazing about the media and formless chit-chat on politics, and nothing to speak of on, for instance, finance, business or singing the virtues of, or even explaining, the economic system that dominates so much political discourse nowadays.

As a State-owned enterprise required to make a modest return for the Government, TVNZ had no real interest in promoting the channel. Since it had no commercials it was entirely a cost to TVNZ and any success it had in winning a following would only take from TVNZ’s own commercial audiences.

The notion implicit in Peter Dunne’s comment that TVNZ7’s closure is an insult to the intelligence of viewers reflects a painfully outdated view of how programming might be distributed.

The loss of a free-to-air broadcasting channel would have been significant 30 years ago when there were only two channels, but in the proliferation now not just of broadcast and subscription channels, but of a vast multiplicity of other outlets for programming via the internet (smart television, for instance, is already on the horizon) it is scarcely noticeable and becoming less so by the year. If public-service programmes are worth making, NZ on Air is there to see they get made. Once that is done, programme makers will find no shortage of outlets on which they can be shown.

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And the people reply,

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bill   #1   09:58 am May 07 2012

Although tvnz7 programming is not overly exilirating, it is great to have a channel that does not indulge in sitcoms, reality programmes (cooking programmes- what is it with that?)and the like. Some intelligent docos and art programmes break the mould of what else in on offer. It is sad to see that “culture” in the widest sense does not have a place in New Zealand tv programming. Time to learn from oversees tv programming. o I forgot, we never do that do we?

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the dude abides   #2   10:07 am May 07 2012

“If public-service programmes are worth making, NZ on Air is there to see they get made. Once that is done, programme makers will find no shortage of outlets on which they can be shown.”

This comment is so wrong-headed it’s laughable. It’s sad that a newspaper that has done such good post-earthquake reporting should publish an editorial that is so anti the circulation of diverse information.

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bob young   #3   10:15 am May 07 2012

And that was a party political broadcast from the National Party.

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nrg   #4   10:20 am May 07 2012

What a load of rubbish. The loss of TVNZ7 will be ‘barely noticable’? Not even to the 1.5 million NZers that watch it at least once a month?

As to the content being ‘leftish navel-gazing’ what other channel has an annual Science month? We keep hearing that we need greater focus on technology and science, two areas basically ignored by commercial channels.

Oh, but NZ On Air will ensure that public-service programmes will get made. No, they won’t. They spent all their money on the GC and NZ’z Got Talent.

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Ian Dalziel   #5   10:34 am May 07 2012

I can see why no one has the guts to put their name to this piece of patronisingly dismissive fluff, I wonder if your editorial writer ever actually watched TVNZ7. They seem to be describing the Arts Channel at one point, and then go on to contend that “…any success it had in winning a following would only take from TVNZ’s own commercial audiences.” Hardly! It may have affected TVNZ’s good friend, Sky, by taking some viewers away from their channels. TVNZ 1 & 2 are not renowned for their quality documentary content, and anyone who found conflicts could, gosh, use their recording device, or watch on the onDemand platform – why can’t TVNZ keep TVNZ7 alive on the onDemand site at least if that is the way of the future?

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Andy   #6   10:51 am May 07 2012

I for one will miss it. I really enjoyed the science documentaries on TVNZ7, such as Wonders of the Solar System etc.

This is the kind of programming that kids should be encouraged to watch, not some awful reality TV show.

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minme   #7   10:51 am May 07 2012

I’m going to be very sorry to see TVNZ7 go. There are several shows on it I watch regularly, some arts, some tech, some animals. Maybe these shows will move to a YouTube channel? What’s the point of re-showing TV3 an hour later – we record everything that we want to see and watch it when we want to anyway.

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Tom   #8   10:54 am May 07 2012

“any success it had in winning a following would only take from TVNZ’s own commercial audiences.”

Or of course from those people who would otherwise not be watching at all because commercial TVNZ doesn’t meet their needs.

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Julian   #9   10:57 am May 07 2012

Who on earth writes this rubbish? Even more alarming is the decision to publish this ‘opinion’ piece on your website.

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nathan   #10   10:58 am May 07 2012

Well thus right winger will sorely miss the local tvnz7 programming like tvnz7 and Backbenchers. I wonder if the editor really even watched channel 7?

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D Robertson   #11   10:59 am May 07 2012

The logic in this opinion piece seems fatally flawed. “any gap it may leave is likely to be quickly filled.” – With what? How likely is it there will be a great commissioning of intelligent programmes of commentary, the arts, science, and New Zealand?

The point is not the medium or outlets – it is content. The production of local stuff of quality is dependent on having somewhere to broadcast it.

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Brian O   #12   11:06 am May 07 2012

I regret the demise of TVNZ7, a public SERVICE broadcast that offers some Ad-free intelligent respite from the contrived reality TV, US crime and pesudo legal shows, competitive cooking and esoteric hogwash pumped out by the other mainstream commercial stations. For the past 3 years I have greatly enjoyed the range of documentaries and informative real world based entertainment provided by TVNZ7. There must surley be a place for airing minority sports and pastimes. I guess I,ll be tuning to CUE more often from July. I am in a terrestial black hole and limited to satalite Freeview so don’t have access to all chanels. Australia has now ended transmissons of SBS 1&2, GO and a couple of other stations on the S2 band of optus1 so it seems less isn’t more.

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Gary   #13   11:11 am May 07 2012

Having a TV channel that provokes people into thinking about their world, their country, their community and their lives is the last thing the National Government wants.

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James   #14   11:19 am May 07 2012

For goodness sake. “Public service” (your parenthesis) means many things, but nowhere, and to nobody does it mean “generally … worthy programming which only a few people want to watch.”

Let’s start with a mandate to inform, educate and entertain, and see where we go from there. For one thing, we might get to the largest share of the total radio audience, which is what market-leading, strictly non-commercial, entirely public service Radio NZ enjoys.

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phil wallington   #15   11:27 am May 07 2012

This editorial is pure tosh. The logic is missing totally and the writer does not understand the funding mechanism of NZOA. Commercial broadcasters decide what “rates” and ignore everything else as “Worthwhile” or worthy” which are perjorative words in commercial TV circles. The result is we have a parade of freak shows where grotesquely fat people fart and wet their pants in prime time, snarky chefs bully hapless amateur cooks and a gang of Maori boozers and rooters on the Gold Coast demonstrate their bad behaviour and moronic culture. Keeping the audience dumbed down is part of the process of disempowering citizens and turning them into consumers. That’s what this government wants.

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Ken   #16   11:28 am May 07 2012

This revolting editorial contains every cliche in the book right down to moans about “liberals” and “the chattering classes”. But then it comes from a newspaper, organs not renowned for their concern about the quality of television. TVNZ7 works in the realm of ideas, not entertainment. Ideas make things happen, they have effects no commercial ratings system can measure. If you have no television forum for ideas then you have a culture on the way to bankruptcy. Moaning about TVNZ7 is like moaning about research into astrophysics – hey, who needs it? If we can find taxpayer money to pay for “The GC” and Midnight Youth, we ought to be able to find some for TVNZ7.

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Andrew   #17   11:53 am May 07 2012

I cannot believe that this editorial is so far out of touch with public opinion. In a poll on this very page, 82.9 per cent say they value the channel. Somehow the editorial writer has missed what those 82.9 per cent did not — but not only missed it, missed it by about the width of the Tasman Sea. Remarkable.

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Kirsten   #18   11:55 am May 07 2012

Couldn’t even bring myself to waste precious moments finishing reading this ‘opinion’ piece – this is surely not an editorial opinion? Methinks maybe it is time to ditch TV programs once and for all, and set up my TV to only play DVD movies. People – just remember – inane is, as inane does. About time they dished up tripe on those cooking shows – oh, that’s right – they already do, if not the ruminant variety. Meanwhile Julie Christie – surely heads to the top of the richlist, on rubbish – oh that’s right, I forgot – there is money in rubbish, isn’t there?

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saveTVNZ7   #19   11:56 am May 07 2012

SHAME on this money-obsessed philistine National government for killing off TVNZ7. It is a channel that has the beginnings of something really good and informative, and an oasis away from the trash that fills up prime-time viewing on other channels. IT SHOULD BE SAVED AND DEVELOPED, not killed off. Another National government failure.

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TG   #20   12:01 pm May 07 2012

What an appalling editorial. Not only does it reflect an incredibly narrow view of the role of broadcasting and fall back on stereotypes of public broadcasting and its supporters, but it shows a complete lack of understanding of how the NZ on Air funding system works. How can NZ on Air ensure that public broadcasting is delivered when it can only fund programmes that commercial broadcasters want?

Similarly, the delusion that alternative content delivery methods can replace television at the moment is repeated. Internet TV may be growing, but it gets nowhere near traditional TV in popularity. That will remain the case for the foreseeable future, especially as long as download quotas remain low and internet costs stay high.

Funnily enough, it is newspapers that are really the ‘anomalous relics’ that have been superseded in the internet age. In cheering the demise of public broadcasting, The Press really should be careful – perhaps if it fell on hard times as an ‘outdated’ form of media its supporters should be mocked and it left to die too.

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rob   #21   12:15 pm May 07 2012

When you were scraping the bottom of the barrel, you forgot to mention the curse of socialism, the dead-clammy hand of the State, or the slack, wimpy ‘liberals’ bludging off your hard-earned tax dollars. Though if you were paid for writing this thought-free editorial, strike out ‘hard-earned’.

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Robin   #22   12:20 pm May 07 2012

TVNZ7 is a much better than TV1, But why not shut down that Maori channel that is a worse drain on taxpayers. Why does the free marked apply to TV1 or the Maori channel. Apparently the Chinese can pay fpor and run their own channel without taxpayer funding.

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Russell Brown   #23   12:49 pm May 07 2012

This editorial falls well short of the standard I would expect from The Press. In particular, it would have benefited considerably from a little research.

AC Nielsen says TVNZ 7’s monthly cumulative audience is around 1.5 million. By comparison, Fairfax was sufficiently excited earlier this year to issue a press release touting new readership figures from the same research company of 554,000 for The Press, The Dominion Post and the Waikato Times *combined*.

Such a comparison is, of course, perilous. The research methodologies are different and newspaper readers are far more likely to be daily users of the product than viewers of a public service TV channel. But it’s evident to anyone able to look up a fact that the claim that “only a few people” want to watch TVNZ 7 is nonsensical. The best count available to us says a million and a half New Zealanders find something they want to watch on TVNZ 7 every month.

The author also appears to have little understanding of how the contestable funding system managed by NZ On Air actually works. NZ On Air can only fund programmes that commercial broadcasters are willing to screen. In effect, that means programmes aimed at key demographics that cut off at the age of 49 years. There’s a reason that TVNZ 7’s audience skews old — commercial television isn’t greatly interested in older viewers.

Those viewers do matter. They pay, or have paid their taxes — the same taxes that pay for the contestable funding scheme. And, as a group, they will be the biggest losers in the retreat from public service broadcasting. Last week, 15 documentaries screened on free-to-air television in New Zealand — 10 of them were on TVNZ 7. Meanwhile, The GC launched on TV3. It was funded as a docu[mentary]

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Adam   #24   12:55 pm May 07 2012

A lot of elderly voters are quite happy to sit and only watch Seven. With policies such as the increase in GST to fund income tax cuts and the repeal of the Electoral Finance Act this may be the last straw that many elderly not voting National at the next election. The removal of Seven may be much more “noticeable” in the long run than many believe.

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Russell Brown   #25   01:01 pm May 07 2012

Also, I ran up against the character limit before I could point out that the belief that “NZ on Air is there to see [public service programmes] get made” is fanciful for another reason. NZ On Air has had its budget capped for the past two years and seems likely to be in that position for another three. It cannot take up the weight of a new cluster of public service programmes for the very simple reason that it has no more money to do so.

Also, I’m a little puzzled by the claim of TVNZ 7’s failure in “explaining the economic system that dominates so much political discourse nowadays”. The local Focus on the Economy series and Niall Fergusson’s heavyweight The Ascent of Money come immediately to mind.

I’m surprised and disappointed to see writing this weak in a newspaper I respect.

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Fed Up   #26   01:42 pm May 07 2012

Nothing wrong with TVNZ7, a great change from the American crap we get on Tv in general, now we’re going to get a double dose on TV1

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John   #27   01:47 pm May 07 2012

Any excuse to dumb down the nation… Removing the only free educational channel we have is so stupid, not to mention all the job losses… ant National supposed to be creating job’s?

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peetee   #28   02:08 pm May 07 2012

Another National Party ‘boil in the bag” editorial.

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Save TVNZ7   #29   03:53 pm May 07 2012

I can’t imagine what we’ll be watching after TVNZ7 disappears! I can’t believe the government wants to dumb down the nation even more. We NEED this channel 😦

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Trudy   #30   03:56 pm May 07 2012

TVNZ 7 plays a VITAL role in NZ broadcasting. It presents educational, informational, interesting television. I enjoy it immensely and it gives a wonderful break from infomercial commercial television. Shame on the Govt and TVNZ Board for cutting TV7 from the list of free-to-air television we can watch. Shame on them for saying that intelligent programming is not important. Shame on them for not valuing public broadcasting. Shame on them.

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David Johnson   #31   03:57 pm May 07 2012

7’s biggest problem is that it needs more programs. (of the same quality that it shows). I would not be so upset about this if any of the other channels on Freeview should similar programs but they do not. People talk about future smart TV but that isn’t here yet, so TVNZ7 fills the gap. Infact I have found both Maori and TV7 provide the more interesting thought provoking programs that come out of TV broadcasting in NZ. Which I suspect is the problem. It encourages the people to think and it encourages people to question

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Gayle   #32   03:58 pm May 07 2012

How disappointing. 300 words is not enough to even get started on what I think about this. I’m waiting for the day when I can tune in to the BBC channels through my TV – I guess Britain is the last country left where you can still get TV for the intelligent.

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CP   #33   04:23 pm May 07 2012

This article clearly overlooks the fact that NZONAIR funding requires the cooperation of a commercial broadcaster to be allocated for TV production. Alternative outlets like those suggested don’t provide an outlet for publicly funded quality content as it’s against NZONAIR’s rule to supply funding to shows unless they have broadcaster backing, and it’s against broadcasters’ financial interest to give a slot on their schedules to such shows – so public money ends up being spent on what is essentially commercially driven content that is subsidized only because it ISN’T commercially viable due to our small population.

The article is right in so far as stating that TVNZ7 isn’t required as it currently is in the public broadcasting landscape – but what it also has proven is the ability of New Zealand to make quality, non commercially driven television when funding is allocated for it, and the complete lack of interest the major broadcasters, including those owned by the taxpayers, have in showing such television when it is not their core mandate.

If the content that was being created for niche audiences on TVNZ7 could be funded to be produced and released on a digital only platform like the web – then that would allow funding relative to both perceived public interest and actual audience appeal to be more easily allocated from NZONAIR without the commercial interests of competing free to air broadcasters getting in the way.

But as the funding mechanisms for this sort of programming currently prevent this from being a viable option for content creators (while making reality TV with little to no public interest component such as the GC is allowed and seemingly encouraged by the current system) this is unlikely c

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Mark   #34   04:26 pm May 07 2012

This editorial just seems to be out of touch with the real world. Particularly a statement like once it is gone the void will quickly be filled by someone else if there is a demand. This kind of narrow minded thinking is really what has bought about the end of TVNZ7. The void will be filled if there is money to be made – and in the case of public service broadcasting there is usually little chance of this happening in any great way. Most countries that we like to compare ourselves to have some form of public broadcasting. We will be one of the few without.

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Jonathan Alpers   #35   04:34 pm May 07 2012

Tonight at 9:10pm I’ll be watching the award-winning Virtual Revolution on TVNZ7, while over on TV1 are three American crime dramas in a row. To suggest that replacing TVNZ7 with repeats of this kind of content is an insult to my intelligence.

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Matt Lane   #36   04:35 pm May 07 2012

The world will be a lot safer now our kids wont be exposed to that “science” mumbo jumbo anymore on TVNZ7; critical thinking has no place in the 21st century.

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Not a dumb blond   #37   04:36 pm May 07 2012

By “TVNZ7 was always something of an anomalous relic in broadcasting”, you do of course mean that is the only channel which is not mindless? That we might watch it and learn something during our leisure time?

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Roberta   #38   04:42 pm May 07 2012

I agree there is a ‘proliferation’ of extra channels for broadcast and other avenues like the internet, but it seems the more we have, the worse the standard of programming becomes. Who will make intelligent programmes, if no broadcaster will show them? I will miss tvnz7, and I hate reality TV. Shame on the National party

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Nick Thompson   #39   4:50pm

If TVNZ7 is an “anomalistic relic” then so are the excellent public broadcasting services of the UK, Australia, Candada and even the USA.

You just have to take a quick trip across the Tasman to get a sense of how truly apalling New Zealand TV is.

Those who claim that TVNZ7 is elitist should be asked why they seem to assume that the NZ viewing public are more moronic than those of most other OECD countries that maintain publicly funded television at a level suited to a highly-educated population in an increasingly complex world.

The health of our democracy depends on a well informed populace. But from government broadcasting policy, you’d never have guessed it.

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Pippa   #40   4:58pm

This editorial shows why we need public service media like TVNZ7 – to give us intelligent programmes that are accurate, do not patronise, dismiss and insult us but reflect us, generally try to help raise the national IQ and foster community, communication and discussion. In other words everything this editorial is not.

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missy   #41   5:06pm

I will miss getting to view intelligent and well researched programming. Sad it is going to be used to rehash some of TVNZ’s trashy cheap program’s. So sick of seeing crappy, cheap, mindless shows on TVNZ, 2 and 3 all aimed at teeny boppers e.t.c thank god for apple t.v. where I get to choose to watch something intelligent even if it is on youtube. Obviously not all the shows on TVNZ are crap but a good majority are.

Just when I was really getting into TVNZ 7, now they are going to take it away. I WANT to see doco’s and informative television shows. I really think whoever does the TVNZ programming needs a brain over haul.

This is a huge disappointment.

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John Kelcher   #42   5:16pm

The Press editorial on the demise of TVNZ-7 is disappointing. Perhaps we should be unsurprised that a private enterprise newspaper editorial gloats at the demise of New Zealand’s only remaining public service television network. The Press sides with other commercial operators who want the media to be exclusively controlled by private, money making interests. This is a foolish and shallow position, because it wrongfully assumes private interests can remain independent and diverse. Take a look at what happens when the likes of Murdoch’s Newscorp gobbles up all the pieces on the monopoly board and churnalism becomes the norm. With 100% private ownership, New Zealand citizens are vulnerable to a race to the bottom, with celebrity gossip, sport and other fluff displacing politics and local news. For a democracy to function properly we need a free flow of information. This cannot happen under an exclusively government run media, or in the coming scenario, an exclusively privately owned media. We need to restore the balance between public and private channels. Save TVNZ7 – we need public broadcasting now more than ever.

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fmacskasy.wordpress.com   #43   5:34pm

TVNZ7 is intelligent, informative, and treats the viewer with respect.

No wonder this hopeless government wants to get rid of it – they’d rather we watched rubbish like “THE GC”, so that voters are kept in the dark.

Shame on National and TVNZ’s management for this short-sighted, stupid decision.

The next Labour-Green government must reinstate TVNZ7 – and entrench it’s existance in such a way that right wing politicians can never again interfere with it.

Make no mistake, this is an undisguised attack on the free flow of information.

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Ryan   #44   5:44pm

I totally disagree with your assumption that TVNZ7 runs content that “only a few people want to watch”. I can barely find anything I want to watch on non-TVNZ7 channels and I’m sure there are more than a few people out there who feel the same and who want television content that actually turns your brain on instead of switching it off.

It’s a sad fact that while TVNZ advertises it’s Heartland channel – which is only available on Sky, there has barely even been an acknowledgement of TVNZ7’s existence. With some acknowledgement and maybe even some television listings, I’m sure there would have been a much bigger audience waiting out there for the channel.

While there may be little hope left, Claire Curren’s bill would stand a good chance should it get picked. National and ACT were the only parties who didn’t want to keep TVNZ7 at the last election so the bill may well have the numbers. Would National dare to veto a bill so supposedly close to the heart of the only man keeping their asset sales agenda afloat? I doubt it.

While the demise of TVNZ7 maybe ‘scarcely noticeable’ to some people, I’m sad to say the TV will be scarcely on in my home without it.

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Gerard Otto   #45   5:45pm

1.4 Million viewers per month beg to differ with your opinion.

I get the sense you’ve never watched TVNZ7 and that says a lot about your opinion.

You are so out of touch I fear for your nervous system.

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Polina   #46   5:53pm

Oh I am so disappointed in this country. The only channel that doesn’t make my brain bleed is being cancelled while we support shows like GC. Disgusting. Enjoy your future generation of idiots that is already in the making.

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mel   #47   6:02pm

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! TV7 is pretty much the only channel we watch.

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Bruce   #48   6:14pm

Our one chance (apart from our one last TV treasure: Maori TV) to showcase our diverse Kiwi culture as it really is – a chance to educate, to promote understanding between our wonderful diverse multi-cultures and to be free from the mind-numbing and intelligence-insulting commercial pap that TV1 and TV2 provide – what does the government do? It destroys this chance. To me this is proof that the National Party are a bunch of Philistines. This is an embarrassing shame for our wonderful nation. Insult has been added to injury by now telling us our government is to spend money on giving us twice as much commercial pap in place of the TV channel that has become a shining beacon in a crass commercial TV world in NZ. Its a sad time and I will never forgive the National party for this.

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lintee   #49   6:16pm

TVNZ7 has better local content programming than TV1 and TV2 together. It is a crying shame that the value of this channel has gone unrecognised. Can TV1 and TV2 and put all the money into 7

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J   #50   16 min ago

So who did write this atrocious article? (Previous posts have mysteriously failed to appear…)

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Source

It’s fairly clear that the reason that all 50 comments are of a like-mind is that ACT/Libertarian types never stumbled across it and began spouting their usual Free-Market-Will-Provide-Intelligent-Programming-BS.

Of course, the free market provides no such thing as intelligent viewing on modern TV. The free market provides commercially-viable ‘pap’ with it’s associated advertising. That’s it; the sum-total of viewing in the 21st Century.

(To understand where this will ultimately lead humanity, I recommend an excellent movie called “Idiocracy“. Once you watch it, the cancellation of TVNZ7 falls neatly into place.)

It is also quite clear that National – being a Party that is beholding to the  doctrine of the supremacy of the Free Market, and the “Invisible Hand” that determines what services we will enjoy – does not comprehend the value of public broadcasting. To illustrate;

  1. Place 59 National MPs; 1 ACT MP; and 1 United Future MP in front of a television set,
  2. Turn on television set,
  3. Tune to TVNZ7,
  4. Watch confusion reign on the faces of all 61 MPs,
  5. Turn television set to Playschool,
  6. Watch happiness on MP’s faces;  much happy-clapping; and a bit of drooling.

Rua: The Solution

After National/ACT/United Future are thrown out in 2014 (or earlier, as this Blogger is still predicting), the new incoming Labour/Green-led government must undertake the following policy,

A. Reinstate TVNZ7,

B. Create a separate entity to over-see funding for both TVNZ7 and Radio New Zealand,

C. Implement a funding mechanism similar to the Remuneration Authority that oversees MP’s salaries. This independent body would be protected by legislation that would guarantee adequate funding, with inflation-adjusted increases; and which would bind governments by seven-year contracts. (Seven years; two terms of government plus one year.)

Such a system would (hopefully) set in concrete a  public broadcasting system; guarantee inflation-adjusted funding; and should (fingers crossed) keep political interference/neglect from undermining these institutions.

Members of such a body could be appointed by the State Services commission, and not by the Minister of Broadcasting.

This Blogger is of the opinion that the grubby little fingers of self-serving, ideologically-munted politicians should be kept at arms-length from Public Broadcasting.

Otherwise, we will end up a nation of idiots.

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= fs =

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How Paula Bennett and National are wasting our taxdollars

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Frank Macskasy - Frankly Speaking - Blog - Welfare - unemployment - reforms

Source

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National today announced that “there will be an upfront investment in welfare reform of $520 million over four years to support more beneficiaries into work“.

What, precisely, does that mean; “to support more beneficiaries into work“?!

A NZ Herald report attempted to provide some answers,

The funding package includes $80 million for early childhood education and childcare assistance payments, $55.1 million for 155 Work and Income staff who will be dedicated to support people back into work, and $148.8 million for youth services.

Ms Bennett said the $287.5 million included $81.5 million of additional funding, but the remainder would come from “reprioritised” funding from within Social Development.” – Source

Bennett added,

The Government’s welfare changes require significant up-front financial support. We’ve made a commitment to provide that investment to ensure fewer people are on welfare long term.” – Ibid

Extra funding for childcare  is always a good thing (though with National, expect the obligatory ‘fish hooks’ – National gives nothing away without a hidden barb somewhere in the deal), and this Blogger congratulates such a move.

But where this Blogger has serious concerns is the euphemism employed by  Bennett, Key, and other well-paid right wing politicians,  when they claim that ‘reforms’  “will be to support people back into work “.

National’s idea of what constitutes “support” is often at stark variance with how others might define support.

The all important issue is; are there enough jobs in the country for beneficiaries to go into?  This is no empty question, as Paula Bennett herself admitted last Sunday (29 April), on TVNZ’s Q+A,

SHANE         
Can I ask you about work, though? Do you think that there is a job out there for all these young people who really really want a job? Is there a job out there for young people who really want a job?

PAULA         
No. There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do.

Source

If, as Bennett admits, there there’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, then what is the purpose of spending over  half a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money on “welfare reforms”?

Next question: why not invest that $520 million in job creation progammes? We have a critical housing shortage; growing poverty;  and unemployment is rising again – why not invest in job creation?

Why invest in welfare “reforms” – when welfare ain’t broke? Welfare is working precisely as intended and is keeping people alive, fed, and housed at a time of economic recession/stagnation.

As Bennett admitted on Q+A, it is the employment market that is broken and there are not enough jobs for those who want one. It’s as simple as that: not enough jobs.

Which means that John Key and Paula Bennett are wasting $520 million of our taxes on a pointless, futile exercise.

How many new jobs will  welfare “reforms” create? Not a single one.

This may give ‘jollies’ to National Party groupies; assorted right wing zealots; anti-beneficiary bigots; and low-information voters – but in the end this waste of resources and obvious exercise in beneficiary victimisation will be  as useful as seeking a meaningful relationship by scouring internet porn-sites.

I don’t mind if right wingers indulge in a mindless,  political, circle-jerk. But not when we, the taxpayer, have to pay for it.

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Postscript

Our Dear Leader, the Prime Minister of New Zealand enjoyed the benefits of a modern welfare society that protects those in need;

  • 1967: Key’s mother would have had access to the widow’s benefit when her husband passed away,
  • The Key family lived in a low-rent,  State House, in Christchurch
  • 1979-81: Key received a free tertiary education at Canterbury University (BCom in accounting)
  • Key would most likely have received a student allowance during his tertiary studies
  • Key received an extra $5,096 p/a from the April 2009 taxcuts
  • Key recieved an extra $7,100 p/a from the October 2010 taxcuts

Source

Paula Bennett, Minister of Welfare,

  • Paula Bennet was a solo-mother, at age 17
  • Just two years later, she used a Housing Corporation loan to buy a $56,000 house in Taupo.
  • All of this while on the domestic purposes benefit.
  • Paula Bennet was a recipient of the Training Incentive Allowance (a WINZ benefit)
  • Paula Bennet obtained her degree at Massey University, through the TIA – a taxpayer-funded benefit

Source

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References

NZ Herald: Budget: Welfare plans revealed

NZ Herald: Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

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= fs =

A little trick borrowed from the former Soviet bloc…

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Full Story

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In the late 1970s, I had the opportunity to visit my parent’s homeland, behind the Iron Curtain. It was possibly the most educative experience of my life, and I had an opportunity to witness, first hand,  an economic and social system that was quite alien to me.

Some of the lessons I learnt…

  1. Extreme economic policies – whether marxist-leninist or neo-liberal – don’t work, and will ultimately fail. Neither cater for human needs, individually or socially.
  2. It’s true what they say about centralised planning and the public transport system; it was incredibly cheap, efficient, and very user-friendly.
  3. Alway take extra jeans with you to sell on the black market.
  4. Do not mess with the local police. Ever.
  5. Unemployment doesn’t exist in a socialist country – though they have three or four people doing the job of one. That’s the trade-off; unemployment or over-staffing. Which do you prefer? (At least with over-staffing, there were few idle hands for mischief-making and you didn’t have to waste money on unemployment benefits.)
  6. New Zealand was actually more egalitarian (or socialist or whatever you want to call it) in the 1970s, under Norman Kirk and Robert Muldoon – than an actual Soviet Bloc country. Weird – but that’s how it felt.
  7. There was no such thing as inflation. Oh no – they just changed the labels. So Brand X of coffee at 100 forints would disappear off the shelf, to be replaced with Brand Y, at 110 forints. Or a lower weight. That was marxist/leninism’s version of capitalism’s “creative accountancy”.

And it appears that, judging by recent media reports, New Zealand businesses have caught on to Item #7. Instead of raising prices, simply reduce the content.

The only thing is… it didn’t work very well for the Soviet Bloc, and their economies  eventually all but collapsed by the late 1980s, or early 1990s.

Just a thought for us smug Westerners. Reducing content and/or brand-name replacement is only a temporary sticky-plaster and hides fundamental problems with the economy.

As if the lessons of the global banking crisis and resultant recession wasn’t enough of a clue for the West…?

Ok, who’s up for a 150 135 gr bar of Cadbury?

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= fs =