Tonight I watched the final Campbell Live, New Zealand’s last prime time public affairs programme. It was a bittersweet affair, a reminder of what was, and of what we won’t see again. Public affairs broadcasting died tonight, as was the plan all along.
First things first: John Campbell signed off with the same grace he showed throughout his show, and he showed far, FAR more grace than the CEO of Mediaworks, Mark Weldon, could ever show. That’s not a slam, it’s just a simple fact. If there’s a more useless CEO in New Zealand than Marky, I’ve not seen him.
Campbell Live was killed off by a Tory corporate head (Weldon), and a Tory corporate bigwig (Julie Christie) and a lackey of both, Mark Jennings, all of whom hated Campbell Live because they thought he was “too hard” on their best mate, John Key, and his government. These are obvious facts, no matter how much the Tories deny it.
The larger issue here is that with TV3 firmly in the back pocket of the National Party, and with TVNZ doing whatever it can to please the same National Party, including giving a job to its biggest fanboi in the 7pm slot, who speaks for the ordinary New Zealanders that National rejects? Simple answer: No one.
Campbell Live, for all its faults, was the ONLY daily show to stand up and speak truth to power. Yes, it made John Key and National squirm sometimes, but it did that to Labour, too, and Labour never—ever—tried to silence John Campbell as National has. The times have changed.
Where to now? Mediaworks, owners of TV3, are firmly under the control of the National Party, and, so, irrelevant. TVNZ is also under the thumb of National because their bosses serve at the pleasure of John Key and his ministers. So, who speaks for ordinary New Zealanders now? No one.
Many of my friends on the Left tout Native Affairs on Maori Television, but that network and show have been compromised, too, as dispassionate commentators have noted far too many times to link to here. It may be better than nothing, but that’s hardly good enough.
I honestly don’t know what the solution is. A public broadcaster, with a somehow legally impregnable wall preventing the partisan political interference that we have now would be a good thing, but a National Party government will never—ever—agree to that. That leaves us only with developing alternative media. Can that happen? I honestly don’t know, but will that happen? No. We’re appear to be far too content to let John Key tell us what we can think, what we should think, what we should care about, and the vast majority of things for which we should give no shits whatsoever.
Wait, isn’t there a “Dancing with the X-Factor Stars Kitchen Rules On Their Block” to watch? FUCK politics! All Hail John Key! Because, that’s now all we have left.
Related: "Campbell twice as popular as Henry - TV3 research" - NZ Herald