Have they not heard of Maori TV or Radio NZ?

April 20th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

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.

The Vote

December 24th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

NZ on Air announced:

NZ On Air extends support for current affairs with The Vote

The Vote extends NZ On Air’s support for current affairs under the Platinum Fund.  Q + A and The Nation have also been supported for another season on TV ONE and TV3 respectively.

Ten new programmes will involve a series of informative and engaging debates on issues of national importance.  Each programme will incorporate interaction with viewers and conclude with a citizen’s vote.  It will be presented by Guyon Espiner and Duncan Garner.

This is excellent. Ten one hour shows on a topical issue, which hopefully will canvass the variety of views on an issue.

It is ironic that as some people lie and say there is no public broadcasting in New Zealand, in reality we are getting more than ever. TVNZ used to use the charter money as a general revenue source and did almost no public broadcasting with it.

Now with that money in a dedicated contestable platinum fund for current affairs, we have The Nation, Q+A, The Vote, Media 3 and Backbenches. Also Native Affairs on Maori TV.

Drinnan on Save TVNZ7

May 18th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

John Drinnan 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 TVNZ7 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 public broadcasting.

The public broadcasting spend

September 20th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Chris Barton had a very good article in the NZ Herald detailing how we are still spending $233 million a year on public broadcasting. That is not a small amount, for a country of our size. The challenge is that costs do not scale much to size.

We spend:

  • $82 million contestable NZ on Air funding (includes $15.1 million Platinum Fund)
  • $58 million for Maori television (includes $25 million Te Mangai Paho contestable)
  • $36 million for Radio New Zealand
  • $18 million for TVNZ 6 and 7
  • $11 million for Maori radio
  • $9 million for other (Pacific transmission, archiving, digital, NZ On Screen, etc)
  • $5 million for Freeview
  • $5 million for New Zealand music
  • $4 million for commercial and community radio
  • $3 million for National Pacific Radio Trust
  • $2 million for Parliament TV

I’d be very interested in true viewer numbers for each. The article cites monthly and weekly cumulative audiences for some channels and programmes, but that means if you watch 10 minutes of a channel once a month, you get included. What I want is the average number of viewers or listeners during a show.