More calls to sell TVNZ

John Drinnan writes:

All media firms are in upheaval, but in my opinion, there are particular questions about the role of the state in advertising.

For example, why are taxpayers taking the risk of owning a company that offers unexciting returns in a sunset industry?

is legislated to provide a commercial focus, and public broadcasting ventures such as the Sunday morning non-commercial shows are commissioned only when taxpayers pay most of the costs.

On Wednesday, TVNZ announced an interim profit of $12.9 million, up 1 per cent on last year, on advertising revenue of $159m, down 5.1 per cent.

Beyond these modest returns, what is the point of TVNZ?

Former Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey says there appears to be no point in state ownership as a way to deliver public broadcasting.

He says one option is to sell TVNZ and use the interest from a (guesstimated) $200 million pricetag to fund a new public broadcasting platform. It would also need some taxpayer funding,

I agree. A few years ago we could have got $1 billion for TVNZ. Today $200 million. a Few years time – even less. We should sell asap.

Maharey acknowledges there will be opposition to selling a public asset. But he believes commercial instincts are so entrenched at TVNZ that it could not adapt to a public broadcasting focus. “We tried that and it did not work,” says Maharey.

Yep. You can be a commercial broadcaster or a public broadcaster but not both.

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