Thursday, February 18, 2010

And Radio New Zealand, too

The National Party-led Government has been busy lately. Cutting ACC services raising levies, raising taxes on ordinary New Zealanders so they can cut taxes for the well-off, mining public land—the list is starting to get quite long.

Add attacking public broadcaster Radio New Zealand to the list.

Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman has threatened to sack the board of Radio New Zealand if they don’t do as they’re told, namely, to commercialise. True, the Government isn’t silly enough to say that, exactly, but it’s what they mean by demanding that the broadcaster adopt “new business model”.

The Government feels that $38 million per year is too much for quality non-commercial independent broadcasting available throughout the country, and has demanded budget cuts, staff cuts and even commercials. The broadcaster has looked at switching to AM in most of the country to save some $750,000 a year, among other things, but all of the solutions so far would make Radio New Zealand into just another commercial radio network—which would make it easier for National to sell off, of course.

Coleman now claims he never threatened the board of Radio New Zealand, but merely made his intention clear. I can’t see what the difference is. But as far as I can see, it really is "unacceptable political interference" in media, as the unions are charging.

How much more mischief can National get into?


liminalD said...


toujoursdan said...

I listen to Morning Report (which comes on at noon here) daily. They are a first-class operation and it would be a real shame to see a degradation of service.

Also, when I was in the South Pacific in 1990s, Radio New Zealand International was one of the most important news sources available. Since then the BBC and other European broadcasters have stopped shortwave service to the region.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

liminalD: Isn't it just? I have a feeling that more and more of my posts will be taking a critical look at what National is up to.

toujoursdan: The two issues are their quality, as you mentioned, and also their independence. The political meddling is threatening both.

I subscribe to their "Mediawatch" programme as a podcast (there's a link in the sidebar under "Parade of Podcasts") and many of their shows are also available. This suits me because I can listen when I want.

However, much of the country—and the Pacific, as you also mentioned—relies on Radio New Zealand. I hope this government doesn't succeed in changing that.