Russell Brown writes:
It also seems lost on those involved that all this crowing comes off the back of the same ratings numbers Lee’s bill presumes are being witheld. It is, frankly, a piffling use of Parliament’s time to pass a law requiring a minor change to the reporting of information that almost every stakeholder has anyway.
Every stakeholder, except those that pay the bills – taxpayers.
It is a minor change. But a worthwhile one. If NZ on Air proactively wants to release the information without a law change, that would be great also. I am sure they could negotiate a licence with Neilsen to do so.
The law change isn’t about requiring every episode of every show to have the ratings released. It’s about the public being able to see how many people are viewing a show they fund.
And the public aren’t stupid. Take the example:
Indeed, programmes like the long-running disability TV show Attitude are funded precisely because in a wholly commercial system they would not be made.
And no one would expect a show like Attitude to have the same ratings as say Q+A. Let’s now assume the public can’t be trusted with data.
It’s the kind of thing that might be the subject of a request from the Minister of Broadcasting to the board.
Previous Broadcasting ministers have not made such a request, and as it happens, the current minister has not either. Her formal Letter of Expectations for 2018-2019, a rather vague document, asks NZ On Air’s board to work faithfully with her new quango (whose terms don’t seem to have been established yet) and to prepare a “rigorous” and “high-quality” business case in advance of a review of broadcast funding whose terms are not clear either. The only clear operational requests are for more captioning to be funded and for NZ On Air funding acknowledgements to be discontinued on RNZ. It might be a confusing few months.
If the transparency can be gained without a law change, that is a good thing.
It is worth noting that this is not just about TV ratings though. Also online views, which are more important. It would be fascinating to also see the data on online only shows.