Red Alert

Archive for the ‘broadcasting’ Category

Goodnight Kiwi

Posted by on May 27th, 2014

From the Stuff website:

Cartoonist Sam Harvey, creator of the Goodnight Kiwi, has died.

Harvey’s minute-long animation was broadcast for almost 20 years until 24-hour transmission began in the 1990s.

The plucky Goodnight Kiwi, with his companion the cat, said goodnight to New Zealand viewers in the days when TV broadcasts shut down overnight.

For generations of younger viewers, Goodnight Kiwi became a much-loved symbol of staying up past bedtime. The fact that kiwis are nocturnal, not to mention endangered by cats, was irrelevant.

The accompanying tune was an arrangement of a Maori lullaby, Hine e Hine.

Harvey was 91.

Vickery auction piece from The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford

Posted by on March 20th, 2013

I posted this a couple of years ago and think it’s worth reposting….

Some of you will have read The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford. It’s got some interesting pieces in it. It has a small but really interesting section in it about New Zealand. It says this:

The New Zealand government, which auctioned radio spectrum as early as 1990 with advice from some economists who seemed to have a slender grasp on reality, learned such lessons the hard way. (lessons about games not always unfolding in the way the game theorist would predict). The auctions were held without making sure that there was any interest from bidders, without minimum prices and using a theoretical curiosity called a Vickrey auction, which led to considerable embarrassment. (The auction was named after its inventor, Nobel laureate William Vickrey, who made major early advances in applying game theory to auctions.)

The Vickrey auction is a second-price sealed-bid auction. The ‘sealed bid’ means that each bidder writes down a single bid and seals it in an envelope. When the envelopes are opened, the highest bidder wins. ‘second-price’ is the curious rule that the winner pays not his bid but that of the second-highest bidder. The elegant reasoning behind this auction is that no bidder ever has an incentive to shave his bid in an effort to make more profit; making a lower bid affects his chance of winning but not the price. To a theorist, this doesn’t seem odd at all; after all, in a traditional auction at Sotheby’s or Christie’s, the price is also set by the second highest bidder, because bidding stops when the second-highest bidder drops out. To the press and many others, this Vickrey auction looked nothing short of crazy. The problem with the Vickrey auction is not substantive but stylistic; in a traditional auction nobody ever finds out the maximum price the highest bidder would have been willing to pay, but in a Vickrey auction that fact is made public. Justifiably, New Zealanders wanted to know why a bidder who had offered NZ$100,000 for a licence only had to pay NZ$6 or why one who had offered NZ$7 million was only coughing up NZ$5000. These figures were embarrassing. The theorists knew that on average, Vickrey auctions make just as much money as other auctions because, by not demanding payment of the highest bid, they encourage all bidders to offer more. But what the theorists knew did not matter to the press and to the public; the harsh reality is that Vickrey auctions were seen as a failure of the New Zealand government.

Game theory can help predict some problems, such as cheating in the US auction. Others, such as the public reaction in New Zealand, simply don’t show up in the theoretical analysis. Economists who aspire to dentistry have to think carefully and learn from mistakes,; new ones will continue to be discovered the hard way. The New Zealand government had made itself a laughing stock.

It’s an interesting story. And it’s true. So who were the key players in this unusual game?

How do we keep our media free from political interference?

Posted by on November 9th, 2012

The case for a strong, independent, modern, commercial free public broadcaster is strengthening. The appointment yesterday of Richard Long, by Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss to the board of TVNZ at the very least creates a perception of a political appointment.

Long was chief of staff to Bill English and Don brash. He is competent and qualified for the position.

But this is our state broadcaster.

Media independent of political interference is a critical cornerstone of a functioning democracy. I contend we have crossed a line in the last four years. This is a deeply important issue.

Paralympics Coverage

Posted by on September 7th, 2012

This morning Sophie Pascoe won her third gold medal of the Paralympics. It is a champion effort from her, and shows she is firmly established as one of our great all-time Paralympians. Overall New Zealand athletes have won 14 medals. And what have we seen of that on TV? Almost nothing. Those of us lucky enough to have Sky can see nightly highlight packages, but they are brief and that’s it. Nothing on free to air except for random news coverage.

Sky TV has the rights to the coverage, so its not totally fair to blame the free to air channels. Having said that there is no shortage of brilliant human interest stories if they wanted to put the resources into being at the finish line or poolside.

Clare has already put out a statement expressing her concern about the lack of coverage. I really think that New Zealand is missing the boat here. Almost everyone I know in London has gone to an event and loved it. It screens 16 hours a day on Channel Four and is rating through the roof. In Australia they are getting 100 hours of live coverage across the event, and Australian politicians are attending in support.

I should note that there has also been some controversyin the US about lack of coverage.

There is a story underlying this about media ownership in New Zealand of course, and the rights deals that dominate coverage of sport, but at any level more could be done. No one is asking for the same coverage as the Olympics, but just some recognition of a great global event.

Sky have said

we just can’t be in the business of making programming decisions that don’t have some commercial sense to them

This says it all, but also shows a lack of imagination. I have said before that I think one of the best programmes on TV is Attitude, the disabilities issues show that screens on a Sunday morning. The stories are inspirational, interesting and well told. It could easily screen in prime time on a Sunday night. With the right promotion and marketing Sky could have made a whole lot more of the Paralympics.

It is such a shame. New Zealand is doing well, and the courage and talent of the athletes on show is remarkable and inspirational. Such a missed opportunity and such a lack of respect for our athletes.

Our Paralympian heroes

Posted by on September 5th, 2012

Four gold. Four silver and four bronze. So far. Proud of all who are competing

Comments Off on Our Paralympian heroes

What makes us proud?

Posted by on September 5th, 2012

It’s a disgrace that NZers are not seeing any of the live coverage of the Paralympics.

Sky TV pay wall subscribers are only being provided with the highlights of Paralympic events, while coverage for analogue or digital Freeview audiences is limited to items appearing on the six o’clock news shows.

The lack of live coverage of events showcasing the enormous talent of our Paralympians is not only a lost opportunity to provide positive role models for the almost one in five New Zealanders with a disability, but also exposes the glaring gap that public television should be serving.

Why don’t we have live coverage? Because there isn’t a buck in it for the commercial broadcasters (apparently). Because we don’t have a public TV channel that puts public interest and serving the whole community above the commercial interests of the advertisers. Instead, we have a government that does not put a value on public interest broadcasting.

A host of the top Australian politicians are at the London Paralympics this week, and the coverage (live, 16 hours a day on Channel 4) in Britain is the most popular TV. Are any of our politicians at the Paralympics?

I believe in a country that champions and encourages all who try their best to achieve. That is the nation I grew up in and continue to believe in.

Irony: ABC turns 80 as TVNZ7 killed off

Posted by on July 1st, 2012

Australia’s public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and affectionately known as Aunty, is celebrating its 80th birthday today.

The ABC’s first wireless broadcast was on this day in 1932, at the height of the Great Depression.

The chimes of Sydney’s GPO clock were the first sounds transmitted across the country from 12 radio stations.

In the 80 years since, the ABC has expanded from those radio stations into multiple platforms including television and online.

Last night at midnight, TVNZ turned off TVNZ7, our antion’s only public television channel after a mere 4 and a half years. The National Government made the decision not to fund it.  Now New Zealand becomes the only country in the OEC, bar Mexico, to be without a public television channel.

The Australian Federal Government allocates $912 million per year to the ABC and is a vital part of the Australian identity . In NZ, TVNZ7 cost around $16 million. Our national identity is being steadily eroded.

Goodnight Kiwi. RIP TVNZ7

Posted by on July 1st, 2012

TVNZ7 is no more. New Zealand is worse off for it.

Killing off public broadcasting will be one of the legacies of this National Government.

Funeral for TVNZ7

Posted by on June 28th, 2012

Today on the steps of parliament I received a petition for 36,000 signatures from New Zealanders who care about public broadcasting. hundreds marched along Lambton Quay with a coffin to mark the passing of our only public television station TVNZ7, which has its funding axed by the National Government on Saturday 30 June.

Labour, Green, and NZ First MPs were there en masse.

Even Peter Dunne turned up. He said a lot of words about supporting public television.


Kiwi in crowdClare speaking

Clare with petition and coffin 2Petition fav

Rally for TVNZ7 tomorrow

Posted by on June 27th, 2012


A bit depressing

Posted by on June 26th, 2012

NZ’s only public broadcasting television channel TVNZ7 gets axed by the National Govt on Saturday, 30 June.

Today I asked the Minister of Broadcasting whether he would review this decision given the increasing viewership and popularity of TVNZ7. I also asked him whether proposals had been put to his government to keep TVNZ7 going and why they had been turned down.

Finally I asked whether he, as Minister of Broadcasting, was making sure that he was fulfilling his obligations by ensuring spectrum was allocated for public broadcasting TV for the future use of Kiwis.

Craig Foss is the Minister of Broadcasting. He didn’t seem to understand the questions. You be the judge.

Here is the transcript (more…)

The last Back Benches #SaveTVNZ7

Posted by on June 25th, 2012
Well this is it. Wednesday night will be the last episode of Back Benches as we have grown to know it and love. I hope you’ll all watch it.

Thanks so much to the production team led by Maryanne Ahern, Caroline Bruner, presenters Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie and the rest of the team.

You’ve been provocotive, challenging, quirky, funny, outrageous, thoughtful and you’ve pushed us politicians to reveal ourselves. You’ve allowed the NZ public to participate in politics in new ways. Above all, you’ve belonged to all of us. Thanks.

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel debate the big issues on our final episode of “Back Benches.”

THE ECONOMY: When Back Benches began in April 2008, we were in the first few months of the Global Financial Crises—which has been at the centre of the New Zealand and World economies ever since. So, where are we today? Are we better off than we were four years ago? How have we fared compared to other nations?  What impact have decisions over the last four years meant to our financial footing? And when will the years of austerity be over?

EDUCATION: We have talked about Education many times on Back Benches—Early Childhood, Primary-High School, Adult Education and University. In April 2010, we headed South to Dunedin to discuss University Life—from fees to paying back student loans. Now, in 2012—what’s the state of University Education? How are students affording Uni? Are they paying back their loans any faster or at all?

BINGING & BOOZING: One of the topics we have discussed more than any other is alcohol. The irony is not lost this pub politics programme. In 2009—the law commission released an issues paper on our liquor laws. While, the final report was to be published nearly a year later but we had our panel weigh in. Now, in 2012, Parliament is near deciding which of the 153 recommendations it will adopt. Will there be an increase in the purchase age? Will there be new sale restrictions? Minimum pricing? And will any of these changes actually make a dent in our binge drinking culture?

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics from the Shepherds Arms Hotel & Speights Ale House on Tinakori Road: Wednesday, 27th of June. Our Panel: Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei, Labour MP Jacinda Ardern, Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira, National MP Chester Borrows, and United Future Leader Peter Dunne.   

Two more episodes of Back Benches until TVNZ7 gets the chop

Posted by on June 18th, 2012

The penultimate episode of Back benches. Don’t forget it’s now at the Shepherd Arms Hotel

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

ACC—WHAT IT IS & WHAT IT SHOULD BE: Like the leaked private files of thousands of claimants—ACC Chief Exec Ralph Stewart and Board Chairman John Judge are out.  Now it is time for us to ask, “What is ACC?” & “What Should it Be?” Will new leadership be enough to change the culture at ACC? How can an organisation like ACC have sent out the private files of its claimants on more than one occasion? Are claimants too often considered bludgers until proven sick? Is ACC still the best health scheme in the world? Can we afford ACC? Can the problems be fixed? Will a band-aid be enough to fix the problems or is it time for open heart surgery? How will we begin the healing process?

“GREEN EXTREME”: Philanthropist and economist Gareth Morgan has called out the Green Party for being extreme—anti-economic development and turning people off conservation. Is he right? Are their views too extreme? Can economic-growth and conservation live in harmony side-by-side? Do average kiwis feel like they’ve done their part by putting their plonk bottles in the recycling bin? How do we get more New Zealanders involved in conservation? And how do we grow our economy by keeping our 100% Pure NZ image?

SOLD!: The Government ran on asset sales. One argument says their win at the polls was an indication that most New Zealanders support Partial Asset Sales or at least not scared enough by asset sales to vote for the opposition.  And yet—the debate over Asset Sales continues, especially in Parliament. Some in the opposition are calling for a referendum on the issues, NZ First Leader Winston Peters is predicting this will break the current Government and the filibuster word is floating in the air. What will the partial sale of our assets mean for kiwis? Will it raise our power prices? Will this be the key to putting us back into surplus? And are mum and dad investor dying to get a piece of mighty power?

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics from the Shepherds Arms Hotel & Speights Ale House on Tinakori Road: Wednesday, 20th of June. Our Panel: Green MP Kevin Hague, Labour MP David Parker, and National MP Louise Upston.

Media 7 saved by TV3. Back Benches next?

Posted by on June 14th, 2012

News just announced that TVNZ 7 flagship programme Media 7, hosted by Russell Brown will move to TV3 and become Media 3 is welcome, but does does not fill the vacuum of public television broadcasting once TVNZ7 gets the axe on 30 June.

The Top Shelf-produced programme examining local media will move to TV3 on Saturday mornings in August with an encore screening late on Sunday evenings. It will also be available on-demand at

There is speculation that an announcement is imminent around Back Benches being hosted by either TV3 or Sky (on Prime). Keeping the Back Benches and Media 7 formats are good news but the fact remains they’ll be delievred in a commercial environment, with associated commercial pressures. And it’s no replacement for public broadcasting.

Back Benches carries on… for 3 more episodes

Posted by on June 8th, 2012

Received tonight:

The TVNZ 7’s political pub programme, “Back Benches” is gutted about the fire which has damaged our home pub, The Backbencher. We were hoping to end our programme where we began four years ago but look forward to seeing her glory restored in the coming weeks. In the meantime, however, “Back Benches” will be filming its final shows from The Shepherds Arms & Speight’s Ale House on Tinakori Road in Thorndon. We hope our fans will join us in our new location.

Personally, I think the last episodes should have been at parliament. Would have been fitting.

Meanwhile the fight to Save TVNZ 7 continues. More than 200 at last night’s meeting in Dunedin. That’s close to 1500 people who have attended meetings around the country in the last three weeks. More than 28,000 signatures on the petition. Hundreds of emails to John Key and Craig Foss. One thing is clear; public broadcasting television is valued in New Zealand. Just not by this government.


Just four more episodes of Back Benches before TVNZ 7 gets the chop

Posted by on June 5th, 2012

Suspect this week’s episode will be a biggie

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES—AUCKLAND SPECIAL: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

MOST LIVEABLE CITY: Auckland has been voted one of the world’s most liveable cities. But what makes it so super?  The Auckland City Council has laid out its plans for the next 30 years? What will and should our biggest city look like in the future?

BUT WHERE TO LIVE IN THE MOST LIVEABLE CITY: Auckland is already our largest city but over the next three decades—the city’s expecting to accommodate 60% of the nation’s population growth or a million people. So, where will they live? Where will the houses go? Council planners want to see an additional 280,000 houses to the area over the next 30 years. Where will those go? Will they be affordable? And with the growth spurt—where are we going to put our BBQs?

I GET AROUND: Getting around Auckland can be a struggle now—so what happens as the city grows? Does the city need a 3rd harbour crossing? What about light rail? Better highways? Who and how will we pay for it? And will Aucklanders want to get out of their cars?

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics in AUCKLAND from the BRITOMART COUNTRY CLUB: Wednesday, 6th of June. Our Panel: Green Party Co-Leader Dr. Russel Norman, Labour Leader David Shearer, New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters and National MP for Auckland Central Nikki Kaye.

26 more days to Save TVNZ 7

Posted by on June 4th, 2012

Last week, Danya Levy in the DomPost reported that:

Labour is accusing former broadcasting minister Jonathan Coleman of deliberately misleading the public over the audience size of the soon-to-be-defunct TVNZ7 and claims the reason for scrapping the free-to-air channel is flawed.

However, Dr Coleman says there was no attempt to manipulate the audience figures.

On Monday he admitted that he incorrectly said last year that TVNZ7 had a weekly audience of 207,000.

It came just after the Government decided not to extend its $79 million funding to the channel over six years, $70m of which came from a special dividend from TVNZ.

Coleman said he made no attempt to manipulate the figures. This is wrong. He either doesn’t read his Cabinet papers,  he was lying, or  he undertook some disingenuous maths. He certainly did manipulate the figures.

On 23 February 2011 a Cabinet paper to him on Revised Options for the Future of TVNZ7 said:

“Unlike TV ONE and TV2, the channels (6 & 7) are not reliant on commercial advertising revenue and are therefore able to schedule a range of content aimed at audiences outside of the demographic cohorts targeted by advertisers.

The channels’ combined average cumulative audience (individuals accessing at least one programme) is around 2.1 million. This compares with a monthly figure of approximately 1.6 million for Maori Television Service and 2.2 million for the combined Radio New Zealand National and Concert audiences. Currently 6 and 7 can be accessed by around 70% of the population on the Freeview and SKY platforms.”

The Cabinet paper (produced by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage) recommended no further funding be made available to continue TVNZ 7 when the current appropriation ended in 2012.

This recommendation came just days after a meeting attended by John Key, Jonathan Coleman, Steven Joyce and the TVNZ CEO and senior executives where a clear proposal to keep TVNZ 7 was laid out. I understand that Key warmed to the idea. Steven Joyce however, didn’t.

The result is that funding for TVNZ 7 ceases in just 26 days.

The Save TVNZ 7 campaign has organised two public meetings this week.

  • Wednesday night in Palmerston North All Saints Church Hall, cnr The Square & Church St
  • Thursday night in Dunedin at the Colquhoun Theatre, at the hospital.

Make the effort and come if you can. And support the campaign.

This week on Back Benches (only 5 more episodes before it’s axed)

Posted by on May 29th, 2012

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

IT’S OUT!:  The Budget is out and now it’s time to wade through hundreds of pages to sort out the candy from the coal. There’s not much fun in fiscal responsibility. Yes, there is more money for Science and R&D, Housing and Education but there’s been some robbing of Peter to save Paul. We need to make tough choices, but are we robbing the wrong Peter and saving the wrong Paul?

A 25% REDUCTION:  Corrections Minister Anne Tolley has promised a 25% reduction is prisoner reoffending. Is this doable or just a number pulled out of the air?  How do we reduce recidivism?  New drug and alcohol treatments in prisons, rehabilitation services & education and job training are part of the plan. But will that be enough to do the trick?

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 30th of May. Our Panel: Green Party MP Dr. Kennedy Graham, Labour MP Maryan Street, New Zealand First MP Andrew Williams and National MP David Bennett.

How come the National Govt isn’t fronting up on TVNZ 7?

Posted by on May 28th, 2012

Three public meetings have been held so far on the vexed issue of Saving public broadcasting in NZ.

On 30 June, the government shuts down funding to TVNZ 7 and it will cease to exist.

In Auckland, more than 350 people turned up to a public meeting with standing room only. In Wellington more than 400 attended, in a packed hall. Last Friday night almost 200 people turned up in Nelson, which is, I understand, a rather unusually large turnout.

Tonight’s meeting in Christchurch is likely to be similar.

There are meetings coming up in Palmerston North, Dunedin and Hamilton. At least four more meetings have been planned for parts of  Auckland in the coming weeks.

To date, the meetings have had speakers from Labour, the Greens, NZ First and various academics. At tonight’s Chch meeting, the Maori Party will have a speaker. Peter Dunne and I have conversed on Twitter about the need to retain a public television channel in NZ

National is conspicuously absent from the discussions. Their tactic of ignoring the issues they don’t want the public to focus on is making them more conspicuous.

Dopey things like Radio NZ…

Posted by on May 24th, 2012

Well at least it’s out in the open now. The National Government would get rid of Radio NZ if it could.

Speaking in the general debate yesterday, Gerry Brownlee accused the Labour Opposition of “wanting to spend more on dopey things like Radio NZ”

Guilty as charged. Labour doesn’t believe that Radio NZ is dopey. And neither do most of New Zealand. It’s had its funding frozen for the last three years and is doing its best to provide quality services to NZ.

It wasn’t an off the cuff remark, Brownlee glanced at his notes before he said it. I suspect it will come back to bite him.

See the video clip at around 2min 40 sec