Bye bye charter

The Herald reports:

Minister Jonathan Coleman introduced a bill yesterday to repeal the charter, which was created by Labour in 2002 to require to broadcast a wide range of programmes for all groups in New Zealand.

Under the charter TVNZ was required to have a “significant Maori voice” and broadcast programmes for people and groups not generally catered for by other broadcasters.

Under Mr Coleman’s bill, it will be told simply to screen programmes relevant to and enjoyed by New Zealanders, include some local content and “reflect Maori perspectives”.

And the charter funding has gone to NZ on Air to be contestable.

This is a huge improvement, and was election policy. One of the things you learn about Government is agencies and institutions work well with a clear focus.

The Reserve Bank works well with one task – keep inflation down. TVNZ works better with one task – be a financially successful broadcaster. We had five years of TVNZ trying to be both commercial and public service and it was a failure. And that is not my opinion but that of a passionate advocate of public broadcasting – former CEO Ian Fraser.

The charter was criticised by some for giving TVNZ an impossible task in meeting dual obligations of a strong commercial performance as well as public broadcasting requirements. The broadcaster has previously been criticised for its use of charter money when it revealed it had used some of it for Dancing with the Stars – a high-rating programme.

Exactly.

Getting rid of the charter is a good thing. There is still the same amount of money for “public good” broadcasting” but it rests with NZ on Air, rather than TVNZ.

Personally I would go radical and sell off TV2, and merge TV One, TVNZ6, TVNZ7, Radio NZ, NZ on Air and maybe Maori TV into one BBC style public service broadcaster. Their combined budgets would get you pretty close to what you need.

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