July 24, 2016 by Doug Coutts
I was surprised to hear on RNZ’s Week In Parliament programme this morning that TVNZ no longer considers itself to be a national broadcaster.
That’s in light of its submissions to the Justice and Electoral Committee that it shouldn’t have to carry opening and closing political addresses, presumably because it can make more money screening important stuff like Dancing with Nobodies Because We’ve Run Out Of Anyone Remotely Well-Known… although that’s probably on 3 these days because even TVNZ recognises it’s now a dog.
I had a look at TVNZ’s submission, from March last year, in which it takes potshots at RNZ in the scramble to avoid any responsibility while still sucking at the public teat. Here’s that bit:
- It is relevant that RNZ, which is also required to provide free broadcast time for opening and closing statements under Part 6, is still defined as a public radio company under section 7 of the Radio New Zealand Act 1993. Under section 7 RNZ is bound to implement a public radio charter, which includes taking into account audience views on the quality and quantity of programming but does not include any commercial considerations. Most importantly, RNZ remains fully funded by the government.
Two points here – the first is that TVNZ was once bound to implement a Public Charter and even though it was a single page of waffling generalisation, thought it was too hard and it got in the way of making money. The second is that RNZ’s level of funding is about the same as TVNZ’s annual taxi bill.
- TVNZ and RNZ may once have been stable-mates inside the BCNZ, but they are now chalk and cheese. It makes no sense that they should face the same obligations under Part 6. No other commercial broadcaster is so bound.
That’s because TVNZ is not really a commercial broadcaster because it still gets some government funding, a fact not lost upon the real commercial broadcasters. Most of its programming is cheesy though.
- (actually 25 but the formatting’s gone awry) Under TVNZ’s current statutory remit, the appropriate course for TVNZ to take is to minimise its allocation of time for opening and closing addresses and the adverse commercial impact. That is the sensible commercial approach to take, in fulfilment of its statutory responsibilities to be a “successful… company” and to “maintain its commercial performance”.
They’ve inadvertently left out one key word for that bit about statutory responsibilities:
“to be a successful national television and digital media company providing a range of content and services on a choice of delivery platforms and maintaining its commercial performance.”
You’d hope it was left out inadvertently, otherwise it’s a clumsy and risible attempt at obfuscation, not to mention dodgy.
Since TVNZ wants to put the emphasis on commercial rather than national, the best course of action would probably be to release the company from that commercially constrictive chore of returning a dividend to the government (and the cumbersome funding they get along the way) by setting them free into the private world and see how well they cope.
Getting rid of old presenters and replacing them with new old presenters is probably not going to be much help.
TVNZ’s submission, although it’s we who are being forced to submit, can be found here.