Public television broadcasting ended in NZ last night. The TVNZ Amendment Bill passed which kills the TVNZ Charter. TVNZ is now required to be a commercial broadcaster. it remains State owned for now but is likely being prepared for sale by a government that has no commitment to public broadcasting.
While the National Govt axes the Charter and drives a stake into public TV broadcasting, there’s a mounting crisis in the media world; in the relationship between media and politicians which could severely impact on the Murdoch media empire and the UK Govt.
The News of the World phone hacking scandal has reverberated around the globe. The Murdoch empire has tentacles in many countries.
There’s some important lessons here.
Independent public media, not captured by vested interests is critical to the health of a nation. The public needs to know that politicians and media aren’t in bed with each other, that there’s standards that media adhere to and lines that wont be crossed. If they are crossed, that the judicial system will investigate and prosecute. And wont be captured and muzzled by fear of powerful media.
But the passing of this Bill takes NZ on a slippery slope to a place where vested interests rule our media. Hopefully not our politicians.
We’ve already seen the government fork out $43 million to bail out Mediaworks. It’s pretty clear that TVNZ is being prepared for sale and meanwhile Sky gains a bigger slice of the unregulated broadcasting sphere. Unfettered. Not good.
Labour is committed to a strong independent public media. If you have had any doubts about the need, just look across the hemisphere.
All governments are susceptible to media influence. Especially big media empires. Which makes for a compelling case for independent publicly funded media which is arms length from government.