The NZ on Air Platinum Fund

September 5th, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Readers may recall that under Labour was given a “charter” and “charter funding” with the idea being that would be both a commercial broadcaster and a public service broadcaster.

It was an experiment that failed. Former TVNZ CEO IAN Fraser, a huge public broadcasting advocate, said that you can’t ask the broadcaster to be both.

And certainly viewers couldn’t detect any change in TVNZ programming despite the charter money. In fact much of it got siphoned off into stuff that they would have done anyway, or stuff shown at times no one watches.

So National abolished the meaningless charter and took the charter funding of around $15m a year, and gave it to who uses it for contestable “public good” programmes through their platinum fund.

Now I’m not sure if others have been watching Sunday Theatre the last few weeks, but there have been some great shows on, funded through the Platinum Fund. There was Billy on the life of Billy T James, Rage last night on the Springbok Tour by Tom Scott, Bliss on Katherine Mansfield, and the iconic Tangiwai.

Now some may say they don’t think there should be any public broadcasting at all. That’s fine. But I think most would agree if we do have public broadcasting it should be high quality programmes that people actually watch,

These dramas have all had massive ratings, and in my opinion have all reflected events and people which are important parts of New Zealand’s history.

I think it is a great example of substance over form. The TVNZ charter made people feel think that it would be good for public broadcasting, but it wasn’t. The current approach of using the charter funding as a contestable fund has produced some superb New Zealand television.

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19 Responses to “The NZ on Air Platinum Fund”

  1. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    Rearrange the deck chairs however you like, the state has no business being in broadcasting.

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  2. tvb (4,196 comments) says:

    I trust this fund is funding programs that go beyond the interests of the Wellington latte set who never seem to want to pay for anything.

    [DPF: As I said, the docos have had massive ratings - reflecting an appeal I suggest outside Wellington]

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  3. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    Since we pay to make these programmes, I hope we’re allowed to download them to our media servers and watch them whenever we want.

    I mind paying for these “docos” much less than paying for scumbag musicians to make albums.

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  4. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    If they are so popular with their massive ratings why do they need tax dollars?

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  5. leftyliberal (642 comments) says:

    KiwiGreg + tristanb make some good points. One presumes it comes down to the proportion of the content funded by NZ on air? Either way, I should think that if we’re funding these for the public good, then one presumes that the public should benefit with reasonable copyright terms (i.e. allow on demand viewing, remixing of material etc.) and similarly that the public should benefit in the case of the funded items being commercially successful, allowing other projects to be funded.

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  6. mikenmild (10,617 comments) says:

    Although NZ on Air has a role, unfortunately we are still gong to see the demise of any pretence at public service television with the demise of TVNZ 7, unless the Radio NZ proposal for an even cheaper alternative finds favour.

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  7. tvb (4,196 comments) says:

    Yes I agree Kiwigreg, why do they need the taxpayers to fund “massively popular” programs. Maybe underwrite them if the ad revenue falls short, but why should taxpayers pay??

    [DPF: Because it is cheaper to buy a programme from the US, than make a program in NZ about NZ.]

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  8. dime (9,367 comments) says:

    I guess this is the best of a bad situation.

    $15m a year aint gonna kill us.

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  9. dime (9,367 comments) says:

    [DPF: Because it is cheaper to buy a programme from the US, than make a program in NZ about NZ.]

    is there no market overseas for NZ made programs?

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  10. Liberty (233 comments) says:

    That is 15million to much.
    Keeping in mind only around 20% of workers pay more tax than what the state spends on them.
    Not only are they forced to pay for the poor people to breed, educate, Provide health, and security
    They also have to pay for there entertainment.
    A right little socialist pit we live in.

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  11. bc (1,332 comments) says:

    dime: “is there no market overseas for NZ made programs?”

    There is a market for some NZ programmes – I believe Outrageous Fortune for example sold overseas.
    Although the humour is kiwi, there is enough cross-over appeal – the “Westie” stereotype can translate well enough to overseas cultures.

    But who outside of NZ has heard of Billy T James? It would be hard to imagine that programme selling overseas.

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  12. mikenmild (10,617 comments) says:

    Of course NZ-made programme can sell overseas – the Wild South outfit were successful for a long time. The nature of NZ On Air funding means that NZ-made programmes are more likely to be of direct interest to NZ audiences rather than have international appeal. But just as we only import the most popular shows from overseas, only a very few NZ shows are likely to sell internationally.

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  13. PaulL (5,872 comments) says:

    NZ made programs go rather well as filler on Aus TV, late at night. Australia has local content quotas, and due to CER NZ counts as local content. So buying cheap crap from NZ, and playing it when nobody is watching, is an adequate way to meet the quota. And a really good demonstration of why quotas are a stupid idea.

    I agree with DPF. This is a 2 part argument.

    Part 1: public broadcasting isn’t necessary, and a waste of govt (taxpayer) money. Turns out we always lose that argument, maybe we don’t argue well enough, maybe NZers are just all made commies deep down. But having lost that argument, instead of having a hissy fit and sitting in the corner refusing to participate any further other than to say that public broadcasting is wrong, we should move on to argument 2:

    Part 2: Given that NZers are dumb enough to want public broadcasting, we should at least try to ensure that we spend as little taxpayer dollars for as much reasonable content as possible. And I agree with DPF, this content is at least the best of a bad situation. Whereas what was happening before was funding of tripe pretending to be public broadcasting. We need to engage in the second part of the argument, otherwise it’s our dollars going to waste.

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  14. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    @ PaulL or you pick your fights. I dont watch TV so I dont really give a damn what crap others watch. The government pisses my tax dollars away in so very many ways that I would be perpertually angry if I tried to fret about all the arts, sports, TV, welfare, industry subsidies, junkets, promotional advertising, etc ad nauseum that the money is wasted on.

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  15. GPT1 (2,087 comments) says:

    What Paul L said.

    And I have thoroughly enjoyed the Sunday Theatre NZ series for what it is worth. Nice to get something back for one’s taxes on “nice to haves” I guess.

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  16. tvb (4,196 comments) says:

    How about we shift the decision making for this fund to Auckland and maybe it will get a perspective on how the rest of New Zealand thinks instead of the hot-house atmosphere of Wellington. That place just thrives on political gossip (which the rest of us distain) and all those lefty Radio New Zealand attitudes.

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  17. bc (1,332 comments) says:

    Neither of those parts was an argument PaulL.

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  18. PaulL (5,872 comments) says:

    Because you didn’t see how anyone could disagree with me bc? If that were true, I wouldn’t need point 2, since I would have won point 1.

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  19. bc (1,332 comments) says:

    No, because you use abuse to “argue”.
    Cue, Monty Python sketch??

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