Backbenches funded by NZ on Air

August 14th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Back Benches looks set to live on after the demise of with committing funding “in principle” to the programme running on Prime.

NZ On Air spokeswoman Gina Rogers said the agency was having talks with Prime about its financial contribution to the show.

It also wanted a shorter season than the planned 50-episode series for next year. Parliament sits for only 30-odd weeks a year, but Back Benches does a New Zealand summer tour.

Ms Rogers said NZ On Air wanted to see Back Benches work. “We’d be really excited about its return.”

I’m very pleased with this. Good on for agreeing to broadcast it, and NZ on Air for funding it.

On , which is free to air, it will have the potential to get a much bigger audience than it had on TVNZ7.

This shows that public broadcasting is not dependent on TVNZ7 – a channel which had minsicule ratings for most programmes. The NZ on Air model allows local broadcasting to be funded across all broadcasters.

TVNZ7 was a failed experiment. TVNZ can not be both a commercial and a public service broadcaster.

Personally I would sell TVNZ and use the capital to set up a proper public service broadcaster, combined with Radio NZ. But the operating costs of that could be too high in our fiscal times, so for now the NZ on Air model is working well.

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17 Responses to “Backbenches funded by NZ on Air”

  1. Jimmy (16 comments) says:

    Wait, wait wait, this can’t be right. Clare Curran assured as all that the sky would fall on our heads if TVNZ7 was not continued. DPF, are you now saying that Clare Curran was being a bit of a drama queen?

    There seems to be a gulf between the lefties’ predictions and what has actually happened. How odd.

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  2. Redbaiter (7,522 comments) says:

    Just a grossly immoral misappropriation of taxes from people who would never watch this low grade excrement.

    Shut down NZ On Air, its an anachronistic left wing farce.

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  3. DylanReeve (179 comments) says:

    I don’t see any reason why TVNZ can’t remain an SOE, but it is unreasonable to expect it to run a public service channel on one hand and return a profit on the other hand.

    If I were somehow in charge of reforming public service TV in New Zealand I’d look to create a new entity to manage it. That entity could very possibly still hire access to some of TVNZ’s facilities (TVNZ needs clients for that stuff, a new broadcaster probably doesn’t need to purchase their own infrastructure).

    In terms of funding, I like the idea of imposing a “public service content” levy on commercial broadcasters. They are in a position to leverage a LOT of money from the spectrum resources they pay very little for, and they are the overwhelming media voice in the country, I think they are the obvious place to look to fund non-commercial alternatives. It needn’t be a lot when you consider what TVNZ7 was able to deliver for the small funding they received. This could (and should?) also be the source of Radio NZ’s funding.

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  4. Redbaiter (7,522 comments) says:

    DylanReeve- “In terms of funding, I like the idea of imposing a “public service content” levy on commercial broadcasters. ”

    In other words, you’d like to use political friends to initiate legislation that would allow you to steal money from private sector broadcasters.

    The amorality of you Marxists/ statists is nauseating.

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  5. DylanReeve (179 comments) says:

    Jimmy: It seems that Media7 (as Media3) and Back Benches have found new homes outside TVNZ, but everything else that was being created and/or screened by TVNZ7 is now lost. Maybe that’s not an issue, maybe it is. I personally think there is a social benefit in providing some TV programs that aren’t explicitly commercially viable. The population consumes more TV than any other form of media, it seems like a reasonable ideal that some of it should driven by the worth of content not the desires of advertisers.

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  6. DylanReeve (179 comments) says:

    Redbaiter: Yup, although I don’t have any political friends. But if someone asked me for a way to fund it that’s where I’d look. And why not? Those companies make massive profits (or at least that’s the idea) from the general population and their access to publicly owned and controlled radio spectrum.

    In broad strokes they are the ones “damaging” society with crappy TV, they should also help balance that. Not that I believe TV is necessarily damaging, but it isn’t all going to be commercially attractive.

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  7. Redbaiter (7,522 comments) says:

    DylanReeve- “The population consumes more TV than any other form of media”

    ..and this is a fact that underpins so many of our social ills.

    A countless number.

    From a totally misinformed public receiving propaganda disguised as news from left controlled newsrooms (Journolist is a good example) to entertainment that reeks of culturally Marxist social influences.

    Television in the hands of leftists has been the curse of three or four generations.

    ..and Dylan because a company makes (perceived) massive profits, this does not automatically give you or any other statist the right to loot them.

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  8. RRM (9,427 comments) says:

    The world Baiter lives in:

    http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/cold-war/6/4

    Dylan – you’ve gotta admit Baiter has a point here though – if you’re going to have a state broadcaster, I can’t see a good reason to single out the private sector broadcasters to foot the entire bill for it. Isn’t that like taking the tax off petrol and making trucks through their Road User Charges pay the entire cost of roading?

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  9. DylanReeve (179 comments) says:

    If the roads were exclusively used by commercial trucking operators then I would support taxing them to build roads for non-commercial vehicles…

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  10. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    DylanReeve,

    If you would set up a separate entity for a public service channel(s), then what reason could there be to retain TVNZ (tasked with a commercial return – profit) in govt ownership?

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  11. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    Not to be sarcastic but…

    I’m so delighted we can pay those two delightful hosts a nice salary to appear on a show interviewing entertaining politicians who give insightful debate without resorting to slogans and self-promotion. It’s really worth the money so that politics nerds, male virgins, and first-year law students can watch about three episodes per year when they remember. I can’t believe there’s no market for this!

    I have an alternative. Those two hosts can get a deal with the Backbencher Pub, who’ll supply a cheap digital camera. They can invite politicians, interview them, the pub can shout them a drink. They then film with the camera and upload it to YouTube, where anyone in the world can watch for free, and subscribe to see the weekly episodes. They’ll even make some extra money from YouTube revenue sharing.

    We need to get rid of NZ on Air. At the moment it just funds D-list celebrities and “recording artists” who turn around and try to get copyright laws more punishing to the general public.

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  12. fooman (38 comments) says:

    DPF: On Prime TV, which is free to air, it will have the potential to get a much bigger audience than it had on TVNZ7

    So, it would reach a wider audience by being broadcast on Prime, a free to air channel, rather than TVNZ7, a free to air channel? Huh?

    FM

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  13. Rick Rowling (801 comments) says:

    but everything else that was being created and/or screened by TVNZ7 is now lost.

    There were some great programmes on 6 and 7 (IMHO). Rough Science and Engineered were examples.

    The first time round they were great.

    By the fourth or fifth (or more?) re-run it they were getting really old.

    Which sums up the problem of promoting content via an entire channel, rather than just sponsoring the programmes on existing channels.

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  14. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,810 comments) says:

    State funded television, lovely. :roll:

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  15. DylanReeve (179 comments) says:

    bhudson: If you would set up a separate entity for a public service channel(s), then what reason could there be to retain TVNZ (tasked with a commercial return – profit) in govt ownership?

    I wouldn’t be hugely committed either way about retaining government ownership of TVNZ, but I don’t see an immediate need to sell it.

    tristanb: We need to get rid of NZ on Air. At the moment it just funds D-list celebrities and “recording artists” who turn around and try to get copyright laws more punishing to the general public.

    I get the hyperbolic point of this, but it really is very very far from the truth. The vast majority of what NZ On Air fund is documentary content. There is probably room for argument about the worth of any one of those productions, but in general they are informative content that would be unlikely to be produced if left entirely to a profit-driven commercial model.

    There is a very good argument to be made that those productions don’t really get seen widely enough, and I think that’s something that should be looked at. While TV is still the best way to reach an audience, I think it would be fair to have some requirement for NZ On Air funded productions to be available online for free at some point and forever from then on. Sadly there are a lot of great productions that have been produced with the aid of NZOA that we simply aren’t able to see anymore even if we were willing to pay for them.

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  16. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    The vast majority of what NZ On Air fund is documentary content. There is probably room for argument about the worth of any one of those productions, but in general they are informative content that would be unlikely to be produced if left entirely to a profit-driven commercial model.

    There have been many commercially successful “documentaries” recently, the first famous one in my time was Bowling for Columbine, and then (or was it earlier) there was Supersize Me. Now there are tonnes (Gaslands, Exit through giftshop). March of the Penguins did very well too.

    If someone’s interested in a subject and wants to make a documentary about it, then they can go for it. If it’s going to be marketable and widely viewed, they might make some money. If they’re rich, they can pay for it themselves, if they’re poor they can do it on the cheap, try a $100 camera, Windows Video Editor and YouTube. But why should other taxpayers pay them huge amounts of cash for a cruisey job fulfilling their silly whims? It’s not fair.

    If scrapping NZ on Air funding means something is never made, then so be it. Plenty of people have cool ideas all the time which vanish into forgetfulness, and I imagine it’s only those with mates in the right places who get the funding anyway.

    One other thing about NZ on Air made media, is that all NZers should be able to download, share, and distribute to other NZers without threat of copyright violation. We paid for it after all – and if it’s a documentary, the creators should be happy for its widespread viewing.

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  17. DylanReeve (179 comments) says:

    Can you name one successful commercial NZ documentary? I can’t think of any. There are many great NZ stories that should be told I think and therefore I believe it’s worth if for us to support those to some extent.

    A $100 camera, Windows Movie Maker and YouTube is probably not likely to make a great product. There will be stand-outs from time to time sure, but if we are to leave it to that then we won’t get to see NZ stories on our screens (any of them).

    The funding model is very complicated and there are definitely many great ideas that never come to fruition, but there are also plenty that do. As for taxpayers funding a cruisy job – I assure you it is anything but. I’ve know many documentary makers and they work their asses off.

    In terms of access to the finished product – I definitely agree to some extent. Although I wouldn’t go as far as to say they should be effectively released without any rights being withheld. For a start most NZ On Air projects aren’t 100% funded by NZOA, and obviously the value of the work and concept needs to be considered. Beyond that NZ On Air actually recoups a lot of their investments from sales (to overseas broadcasters, DVDs etc). But we should definitely have better access to these programs after they’ve been broadcast (and maybe after a reasonable period to allow for DVD sales etc).

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