Drinnan on Save TVNZ7

writes in the Herald:

Since this column started nearly six years ago it has maintained there is demand for a non-commercial TV channel in New Zealand.

I agree. But it must not be part of TVNZ. You can not be a commercial broadcaster and a public service broadcaster.

On Tuesday, the Save TVNZ 7 group held a meeting in Auckland, the first of many around the country, which happily was more focused on building momentum to make public television an election issue in 2014, rather than reviving TVNZ 7.

Of course it is. The campaign is purely about the election, not about saving whose funding decision was announced well before the last election.

But I was struck by a few things as I listened to the debate. The first was the age of the audience. Which is understandable since older people are naturally ignored by commercial television programmers. Few young people seem to be upset by the absence of non-commercial TV.

The second aspect of the audience was race – appearances can be deceptive but I saw just two people who were not Pakeha. This may be due to the fact that Maori have their own channel, while Chinese and Indians have developed their own channels and programming on Triangle TV. But different ethnicities would clearly have added fresh ideas.

It was also worrying that there seemed to be a party political bias in the crowd – veering to the left. Public television should allow all perspectives.

So it was a bunch of grumpy old leftwing whities. Most of them probably think Coronation Street should be on for two hours a night.

There seemed no acknowledgement of the concept of personal video recorders, of the internet and the development of internet TV.

The danger is that some supporters want a TV channel that is just right for them, supported by taxpayers. Users of Apple TV and YouTube are doing just that by choosing the content themselves. There are lots of options for public television.

The reality is the average programme on TVNZ7 was watched by a miniscule number of people. Between 0.1% and 0.4% of the population. This is not because they programmes were not good, but because the concept of having them within TVNZ was fatally flawed, as TVNZ has no interest in promoting those shows rather than ones with more advertising dollars.

But it is a myth that the demise of TVNZ7 is the end of public broadasting, and more than the myth there was none until we had TVNZ7. The taxpayer currently spends a significant $150m on .

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