NZ on Media

September 30th, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan had what I consider a really good idea, during her speech on political blogging yesterday.

Part of the discussion was around the increasing commercial pressures on newspapers, and their diminishing resources to do investigative journalism etc.

Fran said she thought it was very unbalances that the Government (taxpayer) funds some media through , but this is restricted to broadcasters only.

She advocated that NZ on Air should become NZ on Media, and all media should be able to apply for worthy “local content” projects whether they be TV, radio, print or Internet.

I think that is a concept with some merit. First of all it does make for a more level playing field. But also because a contestable funding pool for print (and Internet) journalism could help turn around the decline in quality research intensive journalism (which is often not commercially viable).

Now as print and Internet has much lower costs than broadcast, I don’t think opening up the field, would lead to a huge amount of money being drained from the broadcasters. Maybe a couple of million out of the tens of millions they grant every year.

Note this is not about increasing the total amount of funding for NZ on Air, but increasing the range of eligible applicants.

Someone like No Right Turn could (for example) have applied for a grant for his research and series of posts on the sedition laws (which helped lead to the law being unanimously repealed).

A newspaper could apply for a grant of say $25,000 to allow a journalist to spend three months working on a story about (for example) the immigration system.

There would be some challenges such as editorial independence, but I think it is a proposal worth considering. Why should TV and radio retain exclusive rights to NZOA funding?

It is worth mentioning that NZ on Air does sort of fund stuff on the Internet – the very worthy NZ on Screen archive of iconic NZ TV shows. However that is funding Internet storage and access of TV shows, which is different to funding contemporary material regardless of medium.

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22 Responses to “NZ on Media”

  1. Johnboy (14,911 comments) says:

    What a great idea. Welfare for newspapers. Ranks right up there with the $90mill a year to prop up Cullens toy train.

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  2. getstaffed (9,189 comments) says:

    David, Given the number of times MSM have let you do their journalistic and investigative bidding, I’ll support your application for retrospective entitlement to any such funds :)

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  3. Elijah Lineberry (306 comments) says:

    …or we could just abolish NZ on Air and handouts to make programmes altogether ;)

    http://www.nightcitytrader.blogspot.com

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  4. Nigel Kearney (864 comments) says:

    Can it be done without the government deciding what investigative journalism does and does not get funded? An ‘independent’ body chosen by the government is not good enough. We’re much too naive about accepting state ownership or funding of news. I think state involvement, if it exists at all, should only be for creative work not for any kind of journalism whether on TV or in print.

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  5. poneke (280 comments) says:

    This is just complete self-interest, seeking public troughing for bloggers, not to mention other comercial media besides the already gorging comercial broadcast media.

    NZ On Air should be abolished, full stop. Commercial media should pay its own way, not get massive taxpayer subsidies.

    It takes my breath away that a blogger and a journalist who claim to support free enterprise and campaign for public services to be slashed should be seriously suggesting that they should be allowed to gorge at the public purse so shamelessly.

    The entitlement mentality thrives.

    [DPF: Politically there is no way any Govt will abolish NZ on Air. Bearing in mind that reality, I think it would be better to be open to all media, not just broadcast.

    Many things are not the way I want them in an ideal world. If I was designing a country from scratch, it would be as libertarian as possible - PC and I would even agree on 90% of it. But I spend most of my time focusing on changes that have some chance of happening, based on the political reality of today]

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  6. PaulL (5,872 comments) says:

    1. Agree, get rid of NZ on Air, it is a waste of my money.

    2. If we accept that this government is very unlikely to do so, as it creates a political rallying point for many on the left, then I agree with DPF’s suggestion. If we’re going to waste money, let’s at least maximise the value from that waste.

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  7. dimmocrazy (286 comments) says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could stand for principles for God’s sake. The state should NOT be involved in broadcasting/media, full stop.
    If that creates a rallying point for those on the left, so be it. This is the time to stop that nonsense, together with the myriads of other ways the government is throwing money into the wind. The left is out of politics for at least another 5 years, so let’s make the best of it FFS, instead of all this limp-dick reasoning without principle or backbone.

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  8. Chris_C (224 comments) says:

    The issue with be applicable to all media is that they have certain relationships and caveats associated with sticking to a single medium. I mean, some of the big boys have to be in control, don’t they, and it’s a TVNZ-SOE association that leaves you as free from editorial influences.

    If you transfer that over to the newspapers and journalism, not only does it tend to enjoy a limited shelf-life but it becomes more subject to ownership and advertising than a state owned media company.

    And if you push it further and apply it to bloggers, then you’re looking at issues of where’s the money going, how safe is it and how accountable are these peoeple.

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  9. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Bad idea. It would inevitably become political. Let journalism find their own model for the internet age. Don’t rush to put it on state-funded life support. One of the benefits of blogs and the citizen journalist is that there is little or no funding and hence little or no constraints on what they can investigate and write about.

    And when there is an affiliation, we’re more likely to know about it now. E.g. DPF has involvement with the National Party. We all know that and view his output with this in mind.

    Anyway, NZ already has a healthy and independent investigative journalism. Take Investigate Magazine, for example :-)

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  10. Stephen Knightly (1 comment) says:

    Similarly, the Screen Production Incentive Fund should be opened up to digital media – the website, social media project and game that accompany the film; or to allow animated productions to apply; or to allow interactive media(games) to apply.
    This would change the role of the Fund to providing wider economic benefit not just ‘cultural benefit’ too.

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  11. Dave Mann (1,168 comments) says:

    I have an alternative suggestion. Disband Creative New Zealand completely. Disestablish the organisation, sack the lot of them and save the ‘tens of millions’ of dollars which this useless bureaucratic bunch of wankers cost the taxpayer annually. How’s that for a creative new approach? Geez DPF…. you really do believe that the state should have its sticky little fingers in all our lives, don’t you?

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  12. Peter Cresswell (48 comments) says:

    Oh FFS, bailouts for newspapers now!

    Frankly I blame Lindsay Perigo. Years ago when we Libz were opposing the broadcasting fee he satirised NZ On Air with suggestions for a new organisation called NZ in Print. I guess he didn’t realise that some journalists would take him seriously.

    (Much the same way Sue Kedgley took Bernard Darnton’s ‘Achtung Fatso!‘ seriously and started calling for fat taxes!)

    Can Sullivan’s plan for a permanent bailout be done without the government deciding what investigative journalism does and does not get funded? No, of course it couldn’t. This would be chilling to free speech.

    If I may quote Ayn Rand: “Governmental repression is [not] the only way a government can destroy the intellectual life of a country… There is another way: governmental encouragement. . . .”

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  13. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Call me cynical but would you really trust a government funded organisation to be fair and balance when handing out the doe. Take last year for example. Do you really think funds would have been handed out to do a story on the EFA. There would of course have to be a party paid stooge to keep a “sane” eye on what stories were “acceptable”. Do you think a Liarbore government would have been happy to have some story calling them a corrupted bunch of arseholes. No we must have a independent media.

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  14. dave (985 comments) says:

    From a public policy perspective, if it is a bad idea to fund bloggers – or journalists – to do decent research for good stories, why is a good idea to fund researchers to do irrelevant advocacy research under the banner of the Families Commission?

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  15. Falafulu Fisi (2,176 comments) says:

    Great, if such plan goes ahead, then I will apply to the NZ Herald for a scientific investigative role in exposing the psychic industries here in NZ where charlatans make money out of people’s naivety and stupidities. NZ Herald (including Dom Post) have always knowingly & unknowingly promoted (sometimes frontpage) psychic abilities in their newspapers. This incompetence of newspaper journos are mainly due to them endorsing the practice or otherwise, they lack the scientific background to guide them in such investigations on.

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  16. Viking2 (11,125 comments) says:

    HMMM. It was just last Friday in the NBR that our erstwhile host was exhorting Govt. to stop spending. Was that just last weeks story for I won’t believe that his memory is failing.

    Why are taxpayers funding these things? Is there any economic reason why they should? (from a taxpayers perspective please if you don’t mind.)

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  17. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    I know this is childish and I know Objectivists are an earnest bunch, but I still find their domain name amusing.

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  18. V (668 comments) says:

    If we were to follow this line of thought there would be limitless government entities we could dream up to distribute money – other peoples money – Why?

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  19. Dave Mann (1,168 comments) says:

    [DPF: Politically there is no way any Govt will abolish NZ on Air. Bearing in mind that reality, I think it would be better to be open to all media, not just broadcast.]

    David, with respect (and I mean that), I think that this view nicely encapsulates what is wrong with the National Party today. I don’t know how much you are connected with the Nats still, but this kind of thinking is what prevents the government from actually DOING anything to steer the country away from the deadening mindset of socialism, stifling welfarism and authoritarian busybodying.

    You know its wrong and stupid (along with a myriad of other issues such as anti-smacking, the ETS etc etc) but you (collectively) have no will to do what you know is right. The Nats ARE after all just Labour Lite. Nothing will change.

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  20. Jeff83 (770 comments) says:

    [blockquote] David, with respect (and I mean that), I think that this view nicely encapsulates what is wrong with the National Party today. I don’t know how much you are connected with the Nats still, but this kind of thinking is what prevents the government from actually DOING anything to steer the country away from the deadening mindset of socialism, stifling welfarism and authoritarian busybodying.

    You know its wrong and stupid (along with a myriad of other issues such as anti-smacking, the ETS etc etc) but you (collectively) have no will to do what you know is right. The Nats ARE after all just Labour Lite. Nothing will change.
    [/blockquote]

    Because we live in a democracy and the masses do not want it, so if National did all the things the hard right wanted they would not get elected again. National finally realised this and managed to get elected, they will achieve greater change the longer they manage to remain in power and one of the key ways to achieve this is bring about gradual change.

    If you want to know why the country is so against some of the more market orientated ideas is because they got a pretty raw deal from it, and now the quite frankly dont trust things like privatisation, as last time assets were sold well and trulely below value to mates of National, and misleading conduct through other actions.

    Effectively National has to choose the battles to fight and having a national broadcaster is surely fairly low down the scale of fights they want to take on. They are saving their political goodwill I imagine for changes which will make an actual difference to this countries economy and are not primarily based on principles.

    For example one can hope that by the end of this term National will have a strong proposal on taxation reform in this country, which alongside needed changes to the RMA, are the biggest problems economically NZ currently faces. Working for the families and our current tax structure give us redicolous marginal tax rates.

    Also I am interested to know how the hell anti smacking falls into socalism.

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  21. V (668 comments) says:

    For example one can hope that by the end of this term National will have a strong proposal on taxation reform in this country, which alongside needed changes to the RMA, are the biggest problems economically NZ currently faces. Working for the families and our current tax structure give us redicolous marginal tax rates.

    Jeff, in trying to counter David Mann’s point, you bring up WFF which is definitely the one issue National will be too weak to move on. The trend of the last decade has been increasing government bureaucracy, programs and assistance and as you say in your point above the masses do not really want change for fear of losing entitlements.

    Tough decisions are not popular decisions.
    When was the last time the government took a tough decision? I certainly haven’t seen any in the last decade, we are occupied by trivia – anti-smacking, micro-chipping of dogs, cell phone use in cars, drinking age, how often Winston spoke to Owen Glenn etc etc, sadly governments tend to like these issues as it distracts focus from those issues that really require reform.

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  22. Ross Elliot (83 comments) says:

    Farrar, you typically-vacuous conservative: unprincipled defender–and extender–of the status quo, no matter how corrupt.

    What the state gives with one hand, it takes twice as much of with the other. And with this DUMB FUCKING IDEA freedom of speech is the thing sure to be taken.

    Jeeez-us!

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