A lobby group pushing for public broadcasting in New Zealand says the government is denying viewers the right to watch decent public service programming.
The Coalition for Better Broadcasting said they want an alternative network to cater for more serious news and current affairs, in light of uncertainty about Campbell Live’s future.
There is an alternative network – Maori TV. Also Radio NZ. Plus broadcasting is a fading medium. There is no absence of news and current affairs reporting across the media as a whole. But even within broadcasting, there are 20 news and current affairs shows on television – not including the 7 pm shows.
Coalition chief executive and TV director Myles Thomas criticised Prime Minister John Key for his comments on Thursday questioning whether enough people would watch publicly funded broadcast TV.
The answer was yes, he said.
So how many people watch Maori TV? How many watch Native Affairs which is on prime time? It is a great current affairs show.
He said New Zealand had one of the lowest government contributions to public broadcasting and a publicly funded TV network was desperately needed.
What Myles means is that taxpayers should be forced to fund a TV station that would spend its entire day and night pushing causes he approves of.
Taxpayers currently put just over $210 million a year into public broadcasting. In 2011 this was:
- NZ on Air $82 million
- Maori TV $58 million
- Radio NZ $36 million
- Other TV/Radio $34 million
Australia spends around $1.4 billion on public broadcasting (ABC $1.1b and SBS $0.3b).
In US$ this is $161m for NZ and $1,088 for Aus.
The IMF has Australian’s economy at US$1.44t and NZ economy at US$181b.
So our spend as a percentage of GDP is around 0.089% for NZ and 0.076% for Australia. This is a ballpark calculation but shows we are not under-investing for our size.
The Canadian Government contribution to the CBC is around 0.050% of GDP. Again below NZ.
There are thousand of lobby groups who call for more funding for their pet hobby horse or industry. If the Government gave into all of them, we’d be in the same position as Greece.
I’m not against there being a combined public service TV and radio broadcaster. But they would have to operate on the current combined funding for NZ on Air, Maori TV and Radio NZ.
The other thing they would have to do is to be truly politically neutral – something the Australian, UK and Canadian public broadcasters all fail at.