Archive

Posts Tagged ‘TVNZ7’

From July 1 onwards…

27 June 2012 6 comments

… TVNZ7 will be gone,

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New Zealand’s only public service, non-commercial TV broadcaster will be closed down – another casualty of National’s ideological mania for cost-cutting and gutting of our public services.

The National Party does not build social services – it cuts them. And where they can get away with it, National will close down or privatise  a social service.

This is what the public of New Zealand gets when they vote for a National government.

It is up to a Labour-led government to eventually re-build what National has wrecked.

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Additional

Save school jobs, mother asks Key

2500 jobs cut, but only $20m saved

Biosecurity cut backs leaves industry vulnerable

MFat cost-cutting plan in a shambles

Key backs cut-off for cheap homes plan

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Categories: Media, The Body Politic Tags: ,

TVNZ7 – Picking at the body before it’s cold

15 June 2012 5 comments

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TVNZ7’s impending demise is already attracting corporate “vultures”, even before the body is dead and cold.

TV3 has agreed to take up ‘Media7‘ (renaming it ‘Media3‘) on their own channel, and adding it to their other current afairs shows;  ‘The Nation‘, ‘Three60‘, and ‘Think Tank‘, from August onwards.

See:  Media 7 finds a new home on TV3

Whilst it’s better than losing ‘Media7’ entirely, one cannot help but feel a measure of ongoing disappointment.

For one thing, the fragmentation of non-commercial public television to other TV networks dilutes any sense of cultural identity and  value. Sandwiched between ads for beer; food-porn;  and grim US crime ‘dramas’ (with their usual high body-count of  predominantly female victims), does not lend mana to serious television production.

Secondly,  broadcasting ‘Media7‘ on a non-commercial station gave it credibility. It critiqued issues surrounding commercial media without fear or favour, as it had no commercial imperatives of it’s own, looking over it’s shoulder.

By contrast, in early March of this year, TV1’s ‘Fair Go‘ was molested by TVNZ management when they were ordered ‘Fair Go’s‘ staff to take  commercial imperatives into account when carrying out their investigative journalism.

This issue was brought before Parliament’s Commerce Committee by Labour’s broadcasting spokeswoman Clare Curran.

Jeff Latch – Head of TV1 & TV2,   replied to allegations of management interference by saying it  “wasn’t an instruction, per se“.

The key points I made at that meeting was that the heart of Fair Go for the past 20 odd years it has been on television, is that it represents the underdog and the small guy and stands up for them.

“I also made the observation we operate in a commercial environment and Fair Go, like all our programmes, need to exercise care in the way they handle stories.”

Yeah, right. Whatever.

Latch was caught with his pants down around his ankles, doing an “indecent media deed” to a TV show dedicated to serious investigative journalism. Cut to the chase; this was a naked attempt to interfere with ‘Fair Go’s‘ impartiality, on behalf of commercial interests (aka, advertisers).

This is that sort of thing that ‘Media 7 3‘ will have to be concerned with. It should be noted that TV3 is owned by Media Works – which also owns C4, tv station Four,  ten radio stations, and eighteen interactive websites. How will Media Works management react if/when ‘Media 3‘ critique some aspect of any one of their subsidiaries? Or a high-spending advertising client becomes involved?

There are potential problems associated with a commercial media corporation taking over a media show that critiques other media.

Fair Go‘ has proven that corporate executives just can’t help theselves. They have the power; human nature cannot resist using it. After 2014, an incoming Green-Labour led government must address this critical issue,

  • A new public broadcaster must be set up, or,
  • Conversely TV1 must be de-commercialised
  • Any public broadcaster must be placed at arms-length to political interference
  • Funding must be ring-fenced, and entrenched by contractual-law, as well as legislation.

This blogger will write more on this issue, shortly.

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Previous blogposts

Inconvenient truths? No go, Fair Go!!

A public broadcaster for New Zealand?

The Worst Newspaper Editorial Since – – – Whenever?!

21 May – Public meeting: TVNZ7 gets the big tick!

Additional

Coleman admits he got it wrong on TVNZ7

TV boss denies instruction to protect advertisers

Fair Go told not to upset advertisers, Labour claims

Other blogs

Red Alert:  Media 7 saved by TV3. Back Benches next?

Public Address:  Media7 will soon be Media3

Tumeke: Media7 moves to ghetto

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1 June: End of the Week Bouquets, Brickbats, & Epic Fails

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– End of the Week Bouquets, Brickbats, & Epic Fails –

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Frank Macskasy - blog - Frankly Speaking

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Nikki Kaye (National MP)  & Kevin Hague (Green MP)

For putting aside their political tribalism to work together to draft a Bill that would legalise adoption by gay and lesbian parents.  The two MPs are to be congratulated for setting a fine example of Parliamentarians working on behalf of minority groups.

Ms Kaye also campaigned strongly to stop mining on conservation land on Waiheke Island.  Is she becoming  National’s de-facto conscience on public issues?

Andrew Williams  (NZ First)

Former North Shore Mayor, and current NZ First MP, Andrew Williams,  for taking a decisive step to remind the great New Zealand public about recent history. On the excellent TVNZ7 programme, ‘Backbenchers‘, on 30 May, Andrew Williams held up a simple chart for the viewer to take note of.

See images here

It was damning indictment  of National’s track record.

What with collective amnesia and deliberate lies spread by National Party groupies, many New Zealanders forget that under a Labour-led coalition, this country enjoyed,

  • low unemployment
  • decent wage increases
  • substantial surpluses
  • apprenticeships to train our young people
  • and our sovereign debt paid down

So when National suggests that Labour left the country in poor economic shape in 2008 – they are simply telling lies to mitigate their own poor fiscal management.

And when the public lazily believe that Labour were not good economic managers – oh, what a fickle bunch you are. Collective amnesia – allows politicians to get away with the Murder of History since the Year Dot.

Myles Thomas (Save TVNZ7 organiser)

For campaigning tirelessly on our behalf to save our last remaining bastion (aside from the much-underfunded Radio NZ) of public broadcasting – TVNZ7 – from being canned by the Barbarians who currently govern us.

This  has no doubt been an expensive, time-consuming, stressful campaign, and the  country owes considerable gratitude to this person and his fellow campaigners.

It is people like Myles Thomas who remind us that there is more to our society than what some politicians think we deserve.

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Frank Macskasy - blog - Frankly Speaking

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Dr Jonathan Coleman (National, former Broadcasting Minister)

For mis-stating  viewing figures for TVNZ7 in Aril 2011. Dr Coleman stated that the viewing figures were only 207,000 viewers per week. The real figures were actually 600,000 to 800,000 at the time. Since then, the viewing  audience  has since risen to 1.4 million per month –  around 1 million  viewers per week.

When this was pointed out to Dr Coleman, his response was… interesting,

I can’t remember exactly but at some point we decided it was 200,000 per week. That formula was not correct but at the end of the day that was not central to the argument.”

See:  Coleman admits he got it wrong on TVNZ7

It’s interesting to learn that National ministers do not consider accurate facts to be ” central to the argument “.

Which begs the question;  if Ministers do not make decisions based on facts – just what do they use? Astrological star signs? Tarot cards? Tea leaves?

With this kind of arrogance from our elected representatives, no wonder people look down of politicians as being less trustworthy than used-car salespeople. Politicians bring it on themselves.

John Key (Dear Leader)

For his breath-taking statement dismissing basic human rights for around 10% of our population,

”  My own personal opinion is the issue of gay adoption is not hugely significant issue and it’s not because it doesn’t matter to those couples who might want to adopt children, but the truth is less than 200 non-family adoptions take place in New Zealand at the moment. ”

See:  Gay adoptions not a priority – PM

Mr Key might be correct in that “ less than 200 non-family adoptions take place in New Zealand at the moment ” – but the gay and lesbian population is estimated at 10% – 440,000 men and women.

It beggars belief that a Prime Minister could be so dismissive of promoting equality and basic rights for a minority in our society.  How can human rights “not be  a hugely significant issue  “?!

This is yet another insight into John Key’s personality; a man who knows the cost of everything, but the value of nothing. Who considers money to be more  hugely significant than rights for our fellow New Zealanders.

Shame on you, Mr Key. Would you be so dismissive if your children were discriminated against? We suspect not.

Hekia Parata (National, Education Minister)

For undermining our excellent education system; undervaluing the hard work our teachers put into preparing our children for their adult lives; and undertaking a fictitious “performance pay” system that will never eventuate – and if it does, will be funded on the backs of hundreds of experienced, highly trained, teaching staff who will lose their jobs in this shambolic process.

In case anyone has missed it, National’s  so-called “reforms” in education are little more than a cost-cutting exercise. Just as National has spent the last three and a half years cutting expenditure, state sector workers, and services.

See:  Q+A: Interview with Hekia Parata, Education Minister

See:  Technology back-down still not enough for intermediates

See:  2500 jobs cut, but only $20m saved

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And for the final category, the Epic Fail of the Week,

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See:  Budget 2012 – Investing In Our Future

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A Budget that successfully contained every piece of ambitious and optimistic phrase, cliche,  and word known to politicians since the Ancient Greeks. And like Greeks bearing gifts, this Budget was one to be handled with extreme caution and suspicion.

Because whilst the Budget will be forgotten in a years’ time, the social consequences that remain will be a slow-detonating  bomb we will all feel in decades to come.

It is unbelievable that a government can create a debt of $40 billion –  with so little to show for it.

In the last three and a half years  National has cut taxes; cut state sector workers; and cut social services. Now, National will be borrowing billions more for building new pointless roads, whilst cutting teacher numbers.

So much for National’s earlier promises that no “front line” services would be cut. What does one call teachers, if not at the very coal-face of our social and economic future?

At a time when we should be encouraging more and more young people to stay in education and not drop out in joblessness – John Key, Bill English,  and Hekia Parata are planning to cut teaching numbers?

This blogger can’t make up his mind if those foolish New Zealanders who voted National last year elected short-sighted fools; lunatics; or ideological saboteurs, to govern us.

School’s out on that point.

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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 =

A public broadcaster for New Zealand?

Matty T, Blogger, Extra-Channels.com

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Digital switchovers (and analogue turnoffs) are presently progressing in both Australia and New Zealand. In New Zealand most people tuning into free to air television are either going for Freeview Satellite, being broadcast on the Optus D1 satellite, or Freeview HD on UHF (or since they have slightly different channel line ups, setting themselves up to receive both). In Australia they have Freeview Australia serving the capital cities and major towns on UHF. For regional areas beyond the reach of UHF towers they are going with a new system called V.A.S.T, which is being broadcast on the Optus C1 satellite. V.A.S.T. is replacing an earlier system called Aurora. Both V.A.S.T and Aurora broadcast mostly encrypted channels enforced by smartcards mostly to limit the geographical areas of broadcast for the licensees.  New Zealand’s satellite system in contrast is free to air (but limited by the footprint of the satellite beams to just over New Zealand).

Those in the know in New Zealand have been tuning into 2 channels from SBS, an Australian public broadcaster which has been filling a hole in the Aurora coverage for viewers in remote parts of Tasmania with transmissions on the Australia New Zealand beam of the Optus D1 satellite. (You can get it with a 90cm or larger dish and a LNB picking up the vertical polarity, or with a dual polarity LNB since Sky and Freeview Satellite use horizontal polarity on the same dish.) SBS is a unique station in that it is a public broadcaster of an ilk that New Zealand just doesn’t have. Originally setup to broadcast to ethnic viewers initially in Sydney it went nationwide and has evolved into a station that still serves its ethnic viewers, but with all foreign language programmes subtitled in English, and many programmes in English (e.g. documentaries, cooking shows, soccer, cycling) it is a channel that has wide appeal.

TVNZ7 is the only channel in NZ that comes close to being a public broadcaster like SBS and it is being defunded by the NZ government in July 2012. This will be a great shame.

With the commissioning of V.A.S.T. for Tasmania in the first half of 2013 New Zealand viewers are probably going to lose the ability to pick up SBS. This will also be a great shame.

SBS was originally ad-free, but then as Australia’s second public broadcaster it was being squeezed for funds by the Australian Government and it introduced some ads between programmes. The purists were horrified. Since then ads have been snuck in during programmes, and a lot of people in Australia have decried the intrusion. Ads are on SBS for about 5 minutes every hour. This is apparently to raise revenue of a bit over $20 million dollars a year. The commercial channels in Australia and NZ by contrast have 15 or 16 minutes of ads per hour.

It is said New Zealand is too small to have a proper public broadcaster. TVNZ has virtually been fully commercialised. It may be a State-owned enterprise, but it doesn’t have a remnant of public charter to fulfill. The charter was officially dumped by the National Government on July 12th 2011. Government money is spent by NZ on Air to get New Zealand productions and NZ shows onto the existing commercial channels. The last Labour government’s attempt to introduce a modicum of ad-free public broadcasting, TVNZ6 and TVNZ7 have come and gone, and as previously said, or are about to go. TVNZ6 has turned into the god-awful channel U and TVNZ7 will be defunded, meaning that it will disappear altogether. Only public outcry has saved TVNZ7 from being turned into a shopping channel. (A blank screen, and a hope for something better is better than a shopping channel). New Zealand free to air TV will thus be aligned to the National government’s ideological position that quality public television should not exist. One of their problems with it (apart from wanting to keep the population stupid so they are more likely to vote National) is the cost of running a quality public broadcaster. New Zealand is a small market and to run a BBC or ABC like service it would cost the country a lot, or so the argument goes.

So the end result is no quality ad-free public broadcasting for New Zealanders. It really doesn’t have to be that way.

Suggestion one: flog off TVNZ to the highest bidder. We will lose nothing more than we have already lost by allowing it to be privatised.

Suggestion two: Make an offer to the Australian Government. Tell Australia that New Zealand will pay just over $20 million dollars a year to share the costs of running SBS. SBS takes that $20 million dollars and completely removes advertising from its two TV channels. Most of the programming doesn’t change. SBS News Australia, becomes SBS News Australasia. Mandarin News Australia becomes Mandarin News Australasia.  Dateline is now seen on SBS instead of TVNZ 7. SBS will now look to Australia and New Zealand production houses when it commissions work. SBS 1 (HD and SD) and SBS 2 (SD) gets added to either Freeview Satellite or Freeview HD. The beauty of this suggestion is that for $20 million a year you get channels that would cost many more millions of dollars to produce than that.

NZ On Air still can fund New Zealand specific content on the commercial broadcasters much in the same manner as it does now. Not accounting for the fact that funding crap reality TV with public funds is sometimes pissing money up the wall. FFS who thought funding reality TV was a good idea?

Indigenous Television

Maori TV which is primarily for Maori audiences either in English on Maori TV, or in Maori on Te Reo can continue to be funded by the NZ Government at about $28 million a year.

In Australia there is an Aboriginal channel on the Optus-C1 satellite, called National Indigenous TV. It is run as a non-profit enterprise.

There is a reasonably large Maori population in Australia ( >100,000 people), and many of the programmes on Maori TV are interesting to a non-Maori audience.. There are not that many Australian Aboriginals in New Zealand, but likewise some of the programming has a wider appeal than just to one indigenous group. So a straight out swap and putting Maori TV on VAST and Freeview Australia and NITV onto one or both of the Freeview services in New Zealand will give people all over Australia and New Zealand access to all the indigenous cultures of both countries.

There would be a minimal cost to governments in NZ and Australia,

What Australia gets: 1 new FTA channel. The two SBS channels go back to being ad-free.  Price competition for commissioned works. Australians get to see Maori programming. Cost – the broadcast fees for another channel on Freeview Australia and VAST.

What New Zealand gets: 3 new FTA channels, including quality public ad-free TV. Programming for some ethnic groups present in NZ. Another market for content makers. New Zealanders get to see Aboriginal programming. Cost – $20million a year to help fund SBS. The broadcast fees for another 3 channels on Freeview-HD and/or Sat.

It’s win/win/win/win/win for the Australian public/ the New Zealand public/SBS/Maori TV/NITV. The only objectors would be commercial interests who run commercial TV faced with more quality competition, and small-minded ideologues opposed to public broadcasting.

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Author’s Note

This is version 2 of this post. I’ve made a couple edits since I had a couple of factual errors, and a suggestion was made to me that because of the two hour time difference when SBS is showing foreign news in the late afternoon (4-6pm) East Coast Australia time it’s early evening (6-8pm) in New Zealand, and those hours could be used for New Zealand specific programmes such as we are losing from TVNZ7. Australian audiences might prefer Hearts and Crafts over the PBS News Hour.

It’s also been pointed out to me that $20 million dollars a year is more than the cost of keeping TVNZ7 open with its current budget of $16.25 million dollars. Whatever solution to our public broadcasting deficit though it’s better to fund public TV than to subsidise commercial TV in NZ. If commercial TV needs handouts from the government to survive then perhaps there are too many commercial channels.

Acknowledgement

Extra-Channels.com

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= fs =

Inconvenient truths? No go, Fair Go!!

3 March 2012 6 comments

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Imagine a future society where citizens have global communications, entertainment, and news-information available at the press of a button, and can be viewed on large, wall-mounted, video-screens. Imagine that almost every part of the planet is accessible  to our gaze, courtesy of a network of media agencies; citizen journalists, and an orbital spider-web of communication-satellites.

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In this futuristic society, nothing is denied to us.  We can see, hear, experience, and understand almost every aspect of human civilisation, past, present, and possible futures.

The year of this futuristic world? 2012AD.

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The future is here and now. Everything I described above is reality – none of it science fiction.

Unfortunately for us, despite the vast amount of human knowledge now available to us at our finger-tips; despite the in-depth information that can explain everything from Middle Eastern background-politics to the latest updates in all the sciences – our television is now geared toward the mental age of a 14 year old child.

And things are not getting better…

Last year, as many will recall, TV3 was lambasted by NZ On Air’s board member, and National Party apparatchik, Stephen McElrea, who attempted to interfere with the scheduling of programmes funded by NZoA, and which might be embarressing to the National Government.

The timing of the documentary’s broadcasting  was criticised by McElrea, who complained that it was highly politicised and could impact of NZ on Air’s “impartiality”. There were suggestion made that NZ on Air should have authority over when programme  should be broadcast.

“Impartiality” in this case being code for “embarressing”.

McElrea and NZoA’s board quickly backed down in the ensuing public storm. It was one thing to stack government ‘quangos’ with party hacks – but quite another to openly try to interfere in the independence of such groups. That was a step too far. (Especially for supporters of incumbent governments, who prefer such shady political dealings behind firmly closed doors.)

Sadly, the state of public broadcasting in this country has already gone to the dogs.

In August last year, the Public Charter governing New Zealand was finally dumped. Any pretence that TVNZ was a public broadcaster committed to quality, informative, intelligent programming had finally been despatched to Neverneverland. TVNZ could now get on with it’s top three aims,

  1. Make money
  2. Make money
  3. Make more money

TVNZ could now broadcast as much food “porn” (cooking shows); reality TV; American sitcoms; and guesome crime shows with their nauseating misogyny; as they could fill in the hours. All interspersed with as much advetising as they could physically cram in between their rubbish programmes. (And often during programmes.)

The last remaining bastions of intelligent broadcasting (for the moment) are,

Unfortunately, TVNZ7 is doomed to disappear in June/July, as National refuses to continue funding the station. More on TVNZ7’s impendind demise here, by David Beatson.

That leaves us with…? Bugger all.

Even documentary-making is now under constant  threat; “Fair Go” has had the Hard Word put on them by TVNZ’s “Head of TV1 and TV2”, Jeff Latch.

According to “Fair Go” staff, Latch “was invited” to attend a staff-meeting of the popular consumer-advocate/investigative show, as a “guest”, where he says he told staff,

I also made the observation that we operate in a commercial environment  and that ‘Fair Go’ like all our programmes need to exercise care in the terms of the way they handles stories.” – Source, Radio NZ

Why would a programme that deals in consumer-investigate reporting have to be mindful that TVNZ “operate[s] in a commercial environment” and “need[s] to exercise care in the terms of the way they handles stories” ?!?!

Latch went on to say,

They need to make sure that they’re always balanced, because in a commercial environment a story that is not a balance story could be something that is not really what we would want to run on this network. ” – Ibid

There’s that reference to being  “in a commercial environment ” again.

When asked if his comments were a clumsily-coded warning to “Fair Go” staff not to upset advertising clients, he replied,

It wasn’t an instruction, per se“. – Source, Fairfax News

There are two things that really annoy the heck out of me,

  1. Politicians or company bosses who try to interfere with the autonomy of an independent party,
  2. Politicians or company bosses who – when caught out –  then treat us, the public, as blithering idiots, with blatantly spurious denials which they know, and we know, are pure bovine excrement.

It is hardly surprising that Latch put the Hard Word on the “Fair Go” team, considering that,

Jeff [Latch] has full accountability for driving the performance of our core channels, TV ONE and TV2. Prior to joining TVNZ again in 2006, Jeff had been with TVNZ for thirteen years as both Head of Sales and Head of Moving Pictures. ” – Source, TVNZ

Like Stephen McElrea, who tried to bring pressure to bear on TV3 – this time for political purposes – it appears that Latch has taken his commercial “imperivative” a step further and is now attempting to influence “Fair Go” so as not to alienate TVNZ’s advertisers.

Or, as lawyer and media-legal blogger, Stephen Price, wrote,

It does make sense. So much sense, in fact, that you have to wonder why Jeff Latch had to organise a meeting with Fair Go to tell them that. Did he also mention that they should try to be accurate? Not defame people? Latch should know that Fair Go are probably the TVNZ reporters best versed in broadcasting standards and media law, since they deal with them every week. (Back in my days at Kensington Swan, I used to provide advice to them).

Asked if he was instructing Fair Go not to produce programmes that upset advertisers, he said “it wasn’t an instruction, per se.”

Not per se? This sounds weasily to me. Was it a hint, Mr Latch?

Because actually, Fair Go has a pretty good track record in its broadcasting standards complaints. It has not been listed in the BSA’s “Most complained about” shows for at least the past three years, despite the fact that it often makes serious accusations against people with the resources to sue. Likewise, there haven’t been any reported defamation cases against them in the last few years, as far as I can tell. Was there a big secret settlement recently?

If not, Mr Latch – how should I put this? – you should stay the fuck away from the Fair Go staff. It’s their job to tackle TVNZ’s advertisers when that is merited, and it’s your job to hire good journos then leave them to get on with their job.” – Media Law Journal

(That was worthwhile re-printing in it’s entirety, as Price went straight to the nub of this fiasco.)

It should be fairly evident to any reasonably perceptive person that free-to-air TV is a commercialised creature, and for the most part, quite a dumb one.

TVNZ – despite being a state owned enterprise – can no longer be called a “public broadcaster” in any meaningful sense of the term. It is nothing more than a cash cow (muchlike our state owned power companies) which the government uses to bolster it’s revenue.

As David Beatson wrote last July on Pundit,

Official papers show Television New Zealand won $79 million in government funding for its advertising-free channels TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7, by claiming they would be self-funding by 2012. Now they are closing the new channels down to enhance profits.

Television New Zealand told the last Labour government that two advertising-free channels it was launching to lure viewers onto the Freeview digital transmission platforms would be self-funding by 2012…

…On that basis, Labour agreed five years ago to commit $79 million over six years to get TVNZ 6 and 7 up and running, and a further $25 million over five years to get the Freeview digital transmission platforms established. This funding was in addition to the $15 million a year that Labour had already committed to TVNZ to meet its public service charter responsibilities.

Somewhere between TVNZ’s committment to the previous Labour government; the dissolution of the Charter; and the decision to abandon TVNZ7 and replace it with a shopping channel (!), committments to non-commercial, public broadcasting have been abrogated.

Appeals to this government to save TVNZ7 as one of the last two remaining free-to-air broadcasters  has fallen on deaf ears. (I expected nothing less. National MPs are individuals who know the price of everything – and the value of nothing.)

After July, the only remaining public, non-commercial broadcaster will be Radio NZ. And that station is badly under-funded.

As for NZ on Air, a body supposedly responsible for bringing quality programming to our TV screens, their latest funding project is for… reality tv. I kid you not,

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Full Story

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The cunningness of NZ on Air funding a commercial reality show, is amazing. It works like this,

  1. The government funds NZ on Air,
  2. NZ on Air funds a commercial reality-show, designed to attract maximum ratings and advertising revenue for TVNZ,
  3. TVNZ makes a good return on the show, through advertising revenue,
  4. Government then recieves a higher dividend from TVNZ,
  5. More money from TVNZ makes government accounts look better,
  6. Which helps National’s re-election chance in 2014.

Even Baldrick would be hard-pressed to come up with an even more cunning plan.

None of which contributes one iota to intelligent, informative broadcasting in New Zealand.

In my opinion, public broadcasting in this country is doomed under this current government. National has no committment to a non-commercial, public service. It’s only interest is (a) earning revenue from a profit-driven TVNZ and (b) coincidentally neutering critical, investigative journalism that might uncover stories potentially embarressing to Key’s government. (Stephen McElrea’s appointment to NZ on Air’s Board facilitates the latter.)

This is an issue of critical importance to our nation; our society; and our democracy.

As Blogger and Radio NZ un-person, Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury wrote, “The dumber the media, the number the electorate. Nowhere is this more evident than in the USA, where Fox News makes our talkback radio look like high culture at a Mensa meeting.

We’re well on the way to following our American cuzzies.

Without a strong, non-commercial,  public broadcaster, committed to informing the public – we become like the programmes we watch; dumbed down; ill-informed; and easily manipulated by politicians who desire our uncritical support, and most importantly, our vote.

The reaction from certain quarters to Bryan Bruce’s documentary on child poverty, last year,  was an unequivocal example of how much fear there is of informative, critical programmes that provoke debate and public scrutiny,

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A new, incoming, Labour-led government must take bold initiatives to redress the parlous state of our public broadcasting. The dumbing down of broadcasting, with the associated apathetic dumbing down of the public is as much of a threat – if not greater –  to our democracy than any “red menace” in the past; current, global US-led/Islamic conflict; or trans-national corporate takeover of our country.

This is as important as child-poverty in New Zealand because this is about intellectual-poverty.

Umpteen cooking shows, reality shows, banal comedies, crime-police “drama-porn”, et al, do not enrich our understanding of our society; our institutions; the issues confronting our nation and the world beyond.

Accordingly, any new progressive government must seriously consider the following:

  1. A non-commercial, public broadcaster – either TV1 or resurrected TVNZ7 – devoted to quality, informative programming; local drama; community productions;  and a comprehensive news/current affairs service.
  2. Funding levels for TV1/TVNZ7 and Radio NZ to be removed from the auspices of the Minister of Broadcasting (or any other  politician or Cabinet) and placed into the hands of an independent body such as the Remuneration Authority (the independent body that sets politicians’ pay).
  3. Enshrining a non-commercial, public TV broadcaster; Radio NZ; and Remuneration Authority-style funding system,
  • either in law; requiring a 75% vote in Parliament to amend or dis-establish,
  • or using a system of seven-year-minimum contracts.

TVNZ and Radio NZ were created ostensibly in such a manner as to prevent direct interference by politicians. However, politicians being the manipulative, arrogant creatures that they are,  simply cannot help but place their sticky fingers all over state broadcasting by any means possible. This usually involves remote-interference by  starving a state broadcaster of funding – which achieves pretty much the same goal as issuing dictats from on-high.

If New Zealand is to achieve the worthy goal of re-building a public, non-commercial TV broadcaster and adequately funding Radio NZ, then it must be taken out of the hands of politicians. Our elected representatives  have demonstrated that they are too self-serving to be trusted with something as critically vital to our society as the viability of public broadcasting.

If they cannot be trusted to set their own salaries, superannuation, and perks-of-office – they sure as hell can’t be trusted with our TV and radio.

It’s time to take the remote out of their hands.

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Previous Blog Posts

Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand

Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand – Part Deux

Fear and loathing in the Fascist State of New Zealand – Part Trois

Other Blog Posts

Pundit: TVNZ kills ad-free channels to grow profits

Tumeke: From ‘Fair Go’ to ‘Tame Blow’

Public Address: Freakanomics (TVNZ Edition)

Media Law Journal: Doesn’t sound like a fair go to me

Additional Reading

Scoop: Tom Frewen – NZ on Air Spooked by Political Interference

NZ Herald: Taxpayers’ $1.6m for talent show

NZ Herald: No eleventh hour reprieve for TVNZ7

Radio NZ: TVNZ accused of not wanting to upset advertisers

Radio NZ: Fair Go creator on claim show could be compromised :

NZ Herald: TV boss denies instruction to protect advertisers

Fairfax: Fair Go told not to upset advertisers, Labour claims

Fairfax: Losing public TV to infomercials

Green Party Broadcasting Policy

Labour Party Broadcasting Statements

Dumber and Dumber for the 21st Century

10 January 2012 10 comments

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philistine  [fil-uh-steen, -stahyn, fi-lis-tin, -teen]

    noun

    1.  ( sometimes initial capital letter ) a person who is lacking in or hostile or smugly indifferent to cultural values, intellectual pursuits, aesthetic refinement, etc., or is contentedly commonplace in ideas and tastes.

    2.  ( initial capital letter ) a native or inhabitant of ancient Philistia.

    adjective

    3.  ( sometimes initial capital letter ) lacking in or hostile to culture.

    4.  smugly commonplace or conventional.

    5.  ( initial capital letter ) of or belonging to the ancient Philistines.

Source: Dictionary.Com

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In June/July of this year, TVNZ7 – the last remnant of non-commercial, public television – will be erased from the air-waves.

With the demise of the Public Charter for TVNZ, the two channels (TV1 and TV2) have become profit-driven  corporations that are indistinguishable from TV3 or any other  commercial broadcaster. TVNZ is a revenue-raiser for the government and nothing more.

What that means is that “public television” serves up populist pap – usually from the United States – that can sell advertising. That’s all there is to it; the raison d’être for TVNZ: to make money.

It is not obligated to do any of the following;

  • promote our culture in any manner whatsoever (hence seeing endless American crime and/or “reality” shows,
  • present niche programmes that, whilst possibly low-rating, are of considerable interest to many in our community,
  • represent any aspect of communities in New Zealand,
  • promote local acting talent (“Shortland Street” is it, folks),
  • informative programming that broaden our insights of our country, or the world around us,
  • present a News programme consisting of stories that reflect aspects of our communities – unless it involves the Murder-of-the-Day; Court case updates; latest crime story;  local disaster; overseas disaster; and then a celebrity/cutesy animal story. But if you want to know Otorohonga’s latest initiatives regarding youth employment – forget it.

Instead, TVNZ offers the following;

  • a News programme that is primarily crime, death, disaster, and the obligatory cutesy-animal story.
  • grisly US crime “dramas”
  • cooking programmes ad nauseum (followed by ads for weight-loss programmes and latest exercise/torture gadgets)
  • home improvement programmes for DIY obsessives
  • “reality” programmes – though unsure of what “reality” they mean to represent
  • tacky American sitcoms (including the 1 millionth re-run of “Friends“)

TVNZ’s two “current affairs” shows, “Close-up“, and “Q+A” suffer from respective problems.

It is no longer possible to consider “Close-up” as a serious current affairs show. A more appropriate description would be a “magazine”-type show. And by “magazine”, I don’t mean “Time”  or “The Guardian“.  (Think instead  “Woman’s Day“.)

Q+A” is buried on Sunday mornings, at 9am. Too bad, I guess, for those folk wanting a lie-in or getting ready to take the kids out to sport, or the family to some other recreational activity. Of course, there is TVNZ’s “On Demand” – if you can remember to go online and look up the last episode you missed.

Sunday 9am is basically the ghettoisation of TVNZ’s last remaining, half-hearted attempt at serious current affairs programming. Once upon a time, it would have been screened at 7.30 or 8.30pm – but not with the populist pap that we are given instead.

As an example;

Saturday 7.30pm: “Annabel Langbein the free range cook” (cooking show)

Saturday 8.30pm:  “Restoration Man” (reality/makeover show)

Saturday 9.30pm: “Zodiac” (crime movie)

Sunday 7.30pm: “Sunday” (current affairs/magazine show)

Sunday 8.30pm: “The Black Balloon” (drama movie)

Sunday 10.35pm: “Damages” (crime movie)

Monday 7.30pm: “Border Security” (reality law-enforcement show)

Monday 8.00pm: “The Force”  (reality cop show)

Monday 8.30Pm: “Line of Fire” (reality cop show)

Monday 9.30pm: “City Homicide” (crime drama)

Tuesday 7.30pm: “Coronation St” (drama)

Tuesday 8.30pm: “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” (cooking show)

Tuesday 9.30pm: “Real Crime: The Missing” (reality cop show)

Wednesday 7.30pm: “Fair Go Awards” (local programme)

Wednesday 8.30pm: “Castle” (crime drama)

Wednesday 9.30pm: “Real Life: Tribal Wives” (reality show)

Thursday 7.30pm: “Coronation St” (drama)

Thursday 8.30pm: “Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guidance” (reality show)

Thursday 9.30pm: “Hawthorne” (drama)

Friday 7.30pm: “10 years younger: the challenge” (reality/make-over show)

Friday 8.30pm: “Married, Single, Other” (drama)

Friday 9.30pm: “The Naked Office” (reality show)

(Source: “The Listener“, 16 October 2010 – picked at random)

Slim pickings for folks wanting anything remotely serious by way of documentaries or current affairs. Though “Sunday” is placed at a somewhat better time – if not an odd day of the week.

TV3 is marginally better,  broadcasting their own current affairs show, “Sixty Minutes“, at 7.30, on Wednesday evenings.

And that’s it, people. That is what passes for public television in New Zealand, circa 2012AD; crime; cooking; and reality/make-over shows.

It is perhaps no wonder that New Zealanders are disengaging from the politics of our country, and why we had the lowest voter  turnout since 1887,

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Full Story

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Hmmm, what an intriguing coincidence that the low voter-turned favoured National.

Just as, coincidentally (?) TVNZ7 faces closure by… National,

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Full Story

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And Stratos TV ceased transmission after faces heavy transmission fees by Kordia, a state owned enterprise, whose share-holders are Ministers of… the National government.

Conspiracy? I doubt it. It would be fairly difficult (if not impossible) to keep such a conspiracy secret, in a small country like ours, where practically everyone knows everyone, or is only two-degrees removed from someone else.

Instead, the reason for the demise of anything remotely resembling public television is far more prosaic; lack of interest.

This government simply does not care about public television. Indeed, if John Key’s comment below are anything to go by, this is a government whose core values do not recognise the Arts or Culture, in any meaningful fashion,

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It seems fairly obvious;  if a direct financial benefit cannot be gained from a State, social, or community activity, then this government is unable (and unwilling) to quantify, or just plain recognise, any value from said activity.

Which explains why this John Key-led government appears to be so unconcerned at cutting early childhood education. After all, pre-schoolers don’t vote.

There also seems to be no votes in it for National, to retain TVNZ7.

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Which leaves us with the consequences of a Dumbed Down “public-service” television.

Once upon a time, television had excellent informative, current affairs shows. Just look at this 1984 Leader’s Debate, hosted by Ian Johnstone. Newspapers and magazines contained vast amounts of information – especially of a political and socio-economic nature.

Now, with staffing cutbacks; thinner editions; and reduced circulation, newspapers are no longer the mainstay of informing the public.

And television has totally abdicated any responsibility in this area.

I am reminded of a movie which came out six years ago,

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Idiocracy is a 2006 American film, a satirical science fiction comedy, directed by Mike Judge and starring Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, and Terry Crews.The film tells the story of two ordinary people taken into a top-secret military hibernation experiment to awaken in a dystopia wherein advertising, commercialism, and cultural anti-intellectualism run rampant and dysgenic pressure has resulted in a uniformly stupid human society devoid of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, and coherent notions of justice and human rights.” – Source

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Hmmmm, now why does that description sound so hauntingly familiar…?

If you want to counter the drive toward New Zealand becoming even more of an Idiocracy, consider emailing a protest to John Key, and demand that government save TVNZ7. Otherwise, we will get the bland TV we deserve; dumbed down, for a dumbed down audience.

How dumb is that?

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Contacts

Save TVNZ7

John Key, Prime Minister: john.key@parliament.govt.nz

Minister of Broadcasting, Craig Foss: craigfoss@backingthebay.co.nz and craig.foss@parliament.govt.nz

Previous Blog entries

Another stake through the heart of quality broadcasting…

Additional

David Beatson – TVNZ kills ad-free channels to grow profits

David Beatson – New Zealand TV – there’s got to be a better way

David Beatson – Stratos is dead – who’s next?

Where to now for NZ public broadcasting?

How the badly maimed BBC can stand up to parasitic Sky

Brian Edwards – The TVNZ Charter – a toothless tiger out of its misery

Bernard Hickey: Free TV’s death spiral

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