A good solution, but too late

Steve Maharey writes:

This is what could be done.

Television New Zealand (TVNZ) is a commercial broadcaster running a programme schedule that, with some exceptions, has little to do with public broadcasting. It should be sold.

Trying to merge it with Radio New Zealand (RNZ) is a fool’s errand because the two entities are from different worlds. One is oil, the other is water.

The cash raised from the TVNZ sale should then be put into a trust that would oversee the expansion of RNZ into a 21st-century media organisation covering everything from broadcasting to social media and print. The new organisation should also receive funding from the Government via the trust.

It is vital the new organisation be independent of government. Any legislation should be free from the kind of instructions the previous Government loaded into its otherwise sensible and still-needed Public Interest Journalism policy.

I have long advocated selling TVNZ and putting the proceeds from the sale into public broadcasting. A senior Labour MP once told me that this is what National should have done, and I agree.

The problem is this is a solution that would have worked a decade ago, as TVNZ was more valuable then. Today a sale of TVNZ would probably generate very little capital because linear TV is dying.

Crucially, the new entity must not take advertising.

That money should flow to commercial media who will need to go through a major restructure.

Not having state broadcasters compete for advertising would help, but again the solution is ten years too late. Advertisers are abandoning media because simply it is less well targeted as social media where you can set exactly who views your ads.

A slimmed-down commercial media with more access to advertising dollars would make for a more viable model. It is possible that a government could help with this by limiting entry to the market.

No, no, no. The job of Government is not to protect incumbents.

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