More ice for Radio NZ in Budget

Budget 2016 once again left our only public broadcaster, Radio NZ (RNZ), worse off. After eight years of funding freezes, you have to wonder if RNZ is being iced-out for ideological reasons.

I believe public broadcasting is an important cornerstone of a healthy society and democracy. We can’t simply leave news and culture up to commercial broadcasters trying to sell advertising.

The Government, however, has frozen RNZ’s budget at 2008 levels, which means every year inflation delivers a real term cut. This leaves RNZ in a weaker position to deliver its services. In fact, RNZ has even given up asking for money because, to quote RNZ’s Chairman Richard Griffin, it’s “pointless beating your head against a brick wall.” It shouldn’t have to be this way.

Right now RNZ is reviewing its feature shows, and I have a petition to save Our Changing World, our only weekly science show, from the chopping block.

National has never been a fan of public broadcasting and, despite widespread opposition, scrapped TVNZ7 in 2012. National’s ideology focuses on the primacy of the market and corporate actors while envisioning a smaller role for state. The Government should answer the question: if it’s not their political ideology, what is the reason why they are so hostile to public broadcasting?

At a time of massive media disruption and potential media mergers and monopolies, the Government’s role to fund high quality, public interest broadcasting is more important than ever. Last week I accepted a petition urging an increase in funding for RNZ and you can listen to my speech making the case for public broadcasting. The current National-led Government may be actively de-prioritising its role, but I know a progressive new Government would value it.

Green Party broadcasting spokesperson Gareth Hughes
Green Party broadcasting spokesperson Gareth Hughes

4 Comments Posted

  1. Ah yes the frightened media of global greed. Sorry boys WORDS wont help you as the as the earth super heats!–Destroying gods treats–Humans just another meat–Choosing pain for your gain–Dont complain–Could have had beauty–Na just too fruity–Better sickening dread till your dead–As you will be!

  2. dbuckley is wrong in his assertion about radio being old media. In all analysis I have seen the Radio stations are still holding and improving listener bases. It is different because you can be active while listening, unlike screens. The cooking program comment is based on what you see on TV, but even that has a case for public content greater than present levels. If we take account that we have a strong media production component in our economy that is under utilized it is smart to put in public funds instead of paying unemployment money.

  3. I too wish that public broadcasting could be improved upon and have its funding increased, but I also understand why Richard Griffin knows he’s banging his head against a brick wall.

    Radio is old media. I’m a big fan of radio, heck, I (very part time) work on radio, but like traditional print media, the sad truth is that people just aren’t interested in “real’ news, “real” current affairs. The idea of Auntie’s wireless was to inform, educate and entertain, but the only current affairs people watch these days are currant affairs in the form of yet another fucking cooking program.

    We get the radio we deserve. Sad. Desperately sad.

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