Sue Kedgley

The Government’s generosity to private broadcasters

by Sue Kedgley

Interesting to see that the Cabinet Minister most closely aligned with Media Works, Stephen Joyce, has apparently approved a generous deferral of payments worth $43 million to Media Works to enable it to renew its license fee for the next twenty years.

Mr Joyce was the founder and owner for 18 years of Radio Works which merged to become Media Works. He retired as Managing Director of Radio Works in 2001 when Can West purchased it.

One has to wonder, is this the same government which has stripped the public service functions from TVNZ, arguing that the country can’t afford to prop up public service broadcasting?

The government appears to have a double standard when it comes to its dealings with broadcasters: a get-tough attitude towards publicly owned TVNZ, and a lenient one for private broadcasters. A big stick for public service broadcasters and a carrot for privately owned ones.

This story shows just how cash-strapped the private equity company which owns TV3, and half our commercial radio stations, is. And how vulnerable broadcasters become when they are reliant on finance from private equity companies, and the likes of Goldman Sachs and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The incident also highlights why we need at least one publicly owned television channel in New Zealand –a channel that is not owned by overseas companies like Goldman Sachs.

Whatever one’s reservations about TVNZ and the government’s decision to strip it of all of its public service functions, so that it is now virtually indistinguishable from commercial television, at least it isn’t reliant on a cash strapped private equity company.

The incident also highlights that TV3 –and Radio Works—could go broke. What would happen then? I can’t imagine too many buyers lining up to buy TV3 in the present climate.

Published in Economy, Work, & Welfare | Society & Culture by Sue Kedgley on Wed, March 9th, 2011   

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