Red Alert

Posts Tagged ‘Save TVNZ7’

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


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.

Debunking the Nats’ myths about public broadcasting #1

Posted by on June 16th, 2012

As much as I’m reluctant to give any oxygen to the views of bloggers who are the mouthpieces for the National Party I think it’s time David Farrar at Kiwiblog was held to account for his disingenuous views on public broadcasting.

First he blogged:

For months and months I have been saying the faux outrage over TVNZ7 is misguided. I have consistently said that what matters is the programmes.

Then he said this in a second blogpost:

I think this shows that the Save TVNZ7 movement is all about ego and politics, and has little to do with an actual desire to have good public broadcasting in NZ

David  you should apologise to the Save TVNZ7 movement for that comment. You obviously missed their statement welcoming the news that TV3 is picking up Media 7.

It’s incredible that you can see the survival of a single programme as adequate compensation for the loss of an entire channel that delivered a full, advertising-free menu of great New Zealand and international content that isn’t being picked up by the commercially-focused networks.

The rescue of Media 7 – now Media 3 – is no great thanks to TV3. It won’t cost them anything. NZ On Air is picking up the bill.  You might like to wonder how NZ On Air suddenly found that funding when it cut its funding for Q+A and the Nation by $156,000 this year, after the pressure came on from TVNZ for more “commercially attractive” New Zealand programmes.

You can find another measure of the pressure on the production of “good public broadcasting” in NZ On Air’s Local Content report last year. NZ On Air only managed to fund just 14% of all the first-run local content screened on the six major channels last year, compared to 21% the year before. While it trumpeted that it was funding more local content on our TV channels, it was in fact counting all the repeats. The real figures showed original local content had in fact decreased.

Its statement of intent indicates the decline is going to continue this year and again in the next financial year when total NZ On Air funded hours are forecast to fall to 767 hours, down from 788.5 hours this year, and 875 hours the year before that. That’s what’s happening to good public broadcasting, Mr Farrar.

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.

38 more days to Save TVNZ 7

Posted by on May 24th, 2012

Save TVNZ7 logo square -compressed

Today’s Budget stripped from the funding for TVNZ 7, New Zealand’s only public television channel. We are about to become one of the few countries in the world without a commercial free TV channel dedicated to the public rather than to commercial interests.

SaveTVNZ7, a group which formed last year to try to save TVNZ7 from being axed by the National Government on 30 June has organised a series of public meetings around the country. Come along if you can.

Tomorrow night’s public meeting is in Nelson at the Trafalgar Pavilion Hall 6-8pm

Meeting details:

– Monday May 28th CPSA building, CPIT, 5 Madras Street campus, Chch city 7-9pm
Palmerston NorthWednesday 6th June– All Saints Church Hall, cnr The Square & Church St
– Thursday 7th June – Barnett Theatre – Otago University,
– June 13th (venue tbc)

If you can, please attend a meeting in your town. If you want a meeting in your community contact myself or Myles Thomas, the SaveTVNZ7 organiser

Back Benches this week (only 6 episodes left before it gets the chop)

Posted by on May 21st, 2012
THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES—BUDGET SPECIAL: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

ZERO BUDGET: The Government’s budget will be revealed this week and they’ve promised a zero (or at least near zero) budget. So, what does that mean? Does a zero budget mean zero growth? We’re in a new age of austerity—people have given up the little extras but should the government do the same? Or should they be doing a little more spending to improve the economy? Where are the cuts going to be made? Are they surgical cuts? Or are the cuts too deep for kiwis?

A GOOD EDUCATION: In the new budget will be changes to the Education sector. They’re promising quality over quantity with increased class sizes the end result. What makes a quality teacher? How do we retain and reward great teachers? What is more beneficial—lower class sizes or better teachers? And how much impact do a few extra students make to a classroom?

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 23rd of May. Our Panel: Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman, Labour MP David Cunliffe, and National MP Todd McClay.

Spending taxpayers’s money on The GC…

Posted by on May 19th, 2012

I’ve been watching with interest the vigorous public debate around TV3’s controversial programme The GC.

I managed to watch 10 minutes of the third programme, before I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to switch off. But don’t mind me, fill your boots if you think the GC is your kind of programme. I really don’t mind. I just choose not to watch it.

What I do mind is that it was part paid for by taxpayers money. That NZ on Air forked out $420,000 for  what they describe as an 8 x half hour “observational documentary” following the lives of seven New Zealanders chasing money, fame and sex on the Gold Coast.

After weeks of controversy, NZ On Air today released the proposal for the show , saying it had the aim of showing “positive, confident Maori in prime time on a commercial channel”. Yeah right.

Here is the proposal. Read for yourself whether it actually reflects the show. According to reports today, of the seven young Maori highlighted in the proposal, only one is actually in the show. I can’t verify this as I only managed to watch it for 10 minutes.

Media commentator and journalist Tom Frewen recently raised a number of pertinent questions about NZ on Air’s questionable public funding decisions of which  The GC surely has to be amongst the most questionable.  Not merely for its content, but also the production company it went to,  Black Inc Media Ltd, which is 90%-owned by Eyeworks New Zealand Ltd, a subsidiary of Eyeworks Holding, a giant international television production company based in The Netherlands with global revenue estimated at around $460 million. Known for developing successful “reality tv” formats, Eyeworks has affiliated companies in 17 countries and came to New Zealand after buying local reality TV production company, Touchdown, from Auckland producer Julie Christie for an undisclosed sum in February 2006.

According to Frewen, Black Inc has secured about $3 million in funding from NZ on Air in the last three years, including $420,000 for The G.C. and $104,594 for last month’s Anzac dawn service, broadcast this year on the Maori Television channel, already fully-funded by almost $60 million a year to cover running costs and programme production.

Frewen rightly points out that as well as exposing itself to the perception that New Zealand taxpayers are subsidising international companies making purely commercial entertainment programmes, NZ on Air must explain the loosening of programme genre definitions to allow funding of reality television shows under the pretence that they are factual documentaries.

NZ on Air spending public money on The GC makes an absolute mockery of claims by the National Government and their apologists that its axing of TVNZ 7 is excused because NZ on Air funds public broadcasting.

Nearly 1.5 million New Zealanders watch TVNZ7 every month. It’s a channel which was building in profile and popularity. It is public broadcasting. Claims that the users of You Tube and Apple TV can source such content themselves misses the point that it is a state responsibility to provide New Zealanders, all New Zealanders with easily accessible programmes which have an informative, educational, entertainment value which is not driven by a commercial imperative.

That responsibility is recognised by most nations. Just as is the responsibility to ensure that it has national and regional art galleries, museums, orchestras, ballet, theatres and invests in music, film and documentaries and other pursuits that reflect national culture. It is a fact that New Zealand culture is being steadily eroded by this government.

Arguments that it is the elite which watches and wants public broadcasting are a deliberate attempt to marginalise those who place value on such things and diminish the importance of public broadcasting. In Australia, the UK, Canada, France and even the US, to name a few countries, public broadcasting holds a strong, even central place in the nation’s heart and soul. Not so in New Zealand.

NZ On Air is funded directly by the Crown. This year $130.77 million (excluding GST) was voted to NZ On Air. Of that, $81.61m was supposedly spent funding quality New Zealand television programmes in a variety of genres (including the Platinum Fund); $33 million funding Radio NZ; almost $4 m funding radio services for pacific audiences; $5.6 million for NZ music; $1.8 m for online audiovisual content.

NZ on Air’s funding decisions for television have come under increased scrutiny, particularly since  the period that the prime minister’s electorate chairman, Stephen McElrea, has been on the NZ on Air board and leading a working group specialising in factual programming.

It’s certainly high  time NZ on Air was reviewed. In undertaking that review it should be clear that it’s present contestable funding model is not a substitute for a public broadcaster.

It may well be that the present Broadcasting Minister hasn’t worked that out.

45 more days to save TVNZ7

Posted by on May 16th, 2012

Save TVNZ7 logo square -compressed

Last night in Auckland in a packed hall in Freemans Bay, speaker after speaker rose from the floor to speak passionately about how important it was to our nation to keep a public television service.

This was the first of seven public meetings being organised around the country by SaveTVNZ7, a group which formed last year to try to save TVNZ7 from being axed by the National Government on 30 June.

Meeting details:
– Monday May 21st, Wesley Church Hall, 75 Taranaki St 7-9pm
– Friday May 25th – Trafalgar Pavilion Hall 6-8pm
– Monday May 28th (venue tbc)
Palmerston North
Tuesday 5th June Apologies Wednesday 6th June– All Saints Church Hall, cnr The Square & Church St
– Thursday 7th June – Barnett Theatre – Otago University,
– June 13th (venue tbc)

If you can, please attend a meeting in your town. If you want a meeting in your community contact myself or Myles Thomas, the SaveTVNZ7 organiser

The NZ Herald has video coverage here of last night’s event which began with pallbearers bringing in the coffin of TVNZ7. Worth a watch.

The death of public television will be at the National Govt’s hands.

The seventh last episode of Back Benches screens tonight on TVNZ7 at 9pm. If you’re in Wellington, go along and watch. Labour’s Grant Robertson will be speaking. There may be a visitation by the Goodnight Kiwi.


Back Benches this week (only 7 more episodes left)

Posted by on May 14th, 2012

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

CYBER-BULLIES: It used to be, if you were bullied at school, home could be a refuge. But now in the age of the internet—bullies can always be there simply with a click of a mouse. How can we reduce the harm caused by cyber-bullies? The law commission has several proposals but how many will or should we adopt? Do parents need to do more to protect their kids on the internet? Can they do more? And when the Chief Coroner talks—why aren’t we listening?

A REQUIRED SHOT: A new proposal under consideration for beneficiaries—immunise your children to get your benefit. As Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says, “We see immunisations as important so when you’re looking at those kinds of things, you question at what point should a social obligation be part of a requirement to get a benefit.” We’ve got shocking immunisation rates—so is this a good idea? Or benefit bashing? As always, prevention is cheaper than a cure so does compulsory immunisation make sense? By that argument then, why not require immunisation jabs for entry into schools?

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 16th of May. Our Panel: Green Party MP Holly Walker, Labour MP Grant Robertson, National MP Colin King, and New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin.

Nats axe TVNZ7. Meanwhile in Australia…

Posted by on May 12th, 2012

$158.1 million extra has been announced this week for the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) will receive new funding to ensure that an estimated 10 million Australians in regional, rural and remote areas have access to improved ABC radio service.

The Aussie Govt contributes around $912 million a year to the ABC and around $200 million to SBS.

The Australians continue to invest in public broadcasting. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s only public broadcasting television channel TVNZ7 which costs $16 million a year to run will be axed on 30 June because this government doesn’t support it. Doesn’t put a value on it.

Go figure!

Support the campaign to Save TVNZ7 here and here

Read about the Australian boost to public broadcasting funding.

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, has announced a range of measures to support Australia’s public broadcasters. The Government will provide an additional $158.1 million over five years to the Special Broadcasting Service Corporation (SBS) in part to launch a new indigenous free-to-air television channel.

“In an increasingly multicultural society, the Australian Government recognises SBS as one of Australia’s most important institutions,” Senator Conroy said. “This represents the most significant funding boost SBS has ever had, and will ensure SBS can continue to provide a unique broadcasting service that includes comprehensive television, radio and online services.

“Like other broadcasters, SBS operates in a rapidly changing broadcasting landscape, which is being affected by the introduction of digital multi-channels, new digital platforms, and changing audience expectations. This additional funding will allow SBS to address its immediate financial pressures, adapt to the changing media environment and build or upgrade its technology capabilities.”

TV 7. Not too much to ask

Posted by on May 10th, 2012

Save TVNZ7 logo square

Today I released a private members bill to save TVNZ7. It goes into a ballot of members bills and has to be drawn to be debated. It would need the support of opposition parties across the House (including the Maori Party and Peter Dunne) in order to succeed.

It creates an independent broadcasting foundation to run the channel which would be renamed TV7. It would be funded by Television New Zealand at $14 million per year – although TVNZ would no longer run it – and would, as far as is practicable, share production facilities and back office services with other state-funded networks.

I reckon we have a right to expect TV that’s about us and tells our stories. So our kids grow up watching Kiwi programmes and not developing American accents. Programmes that become part of the fabric of our lives, whether they’re about dogs herding sheep, Kiwi comedians and satirists, good Kiwi documentaries and dramas and some investigative news. It need not all be Kiwi content. But it should be ours, with no commercials and something we can be proud of.

I’m not precious about what’s on our TV. But I think I, like many other people, want more choice. And I want a channel which is driven by values and not by the advertising dollar.

Public broadcasting everywhere plays an important educative and informative role and is considered an essential responsibility of the state to its citizens. It comes at a cost, but is seen as a cost that must be borne. New Zealand must not turn its back on this responsibility.

In Australia, the ABC network is an integral part of the media and people’s lives. It receives funding from the government of around $912 million a year. Australia’s SBS Channel which carries a small amount of advertising, receives more than $200 million a year. In that context $14 million isn’t much to ask.

TVNZ7 has cost around $16 million a year to run for the last 4 years. It’s watched by more than 1.4 million viewers a month. It has been run by TVNZ and has never been strongly marketed because TVNZ felt it wasn’t in its interests to do so.

On 30 June it will be axed because the National Government doesn’t want to continue funding it. Around the world the audiences for public broadcasting around the world are vast and diverse – they are not elite sections of the population. Most OECD countries ensure that citizens have access to at least one public television channel. They recognise that public television can contribute to a better informed society.

New Zealanders have a right to expect their government to put a value on public broadcasting.

Between now and the end of June there will be a series of public meetings around the country for people to say what they think about public broadcasting. I’ll post details of them tomorrow.

If my Bill gets drawn I hope it will receive broad support, and that MPs who support public broadcasting will vote to send it to a select committee. I reckon it’s worth it.


52 more days to save TVNZ7

Posted by on May 9th, 2012

Save TVNZ7 logo square

There are eight more episodes of Back Benches left. Watch it tonight at 9pm.

On 30 June, unless the government changes its mind, or is forced to change its mind, TVNZ 7, our commercial free public broadcast TV Channel will be switched off.

Tell Craig Foss, the Minister of Broadcasting that it’s wrong. Send him an email

Tell John Key

Join the Save TVNZ7 facebook page. Sign their petition.

Write letters to your paper. Attend a public meeting in your town and city in the next few weeks. Save TVNZ 7 is setting up a series of public meetings to talk about why Public Service TV is so important to New Zealand. So far they have organised meetings in Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin. They arelooking for people to help organise and publicise these meetings. They also want to setup meetings in other towns and cities around the country too. So if you’re able to help please email at

Join the facebook page here

Visit the website here

The new PC

Posted by on May 7th, 2012

Those who dismissively tell New Zealanders that they don’t need, and don’t deserve, public broadcasting.

This was today’s Christchurch Press editorial:

TVNZ7 was always something of an anomalous relic in broadcasting. It was established by TVNZ to run “public service” programmes, which generally means worthy programming which only a few people want to watch. In this context it turned out to mean a mildly liberal agenda of plenty of stuff about novelists, sculptors, painters and the like, some routine Leftish navel-gazing about the media and formless chit-chat on politics, and nothing to speak of on, for instance, finance, business or singing the virtues of, or even explaining, the economic system that dominates so much political discourse nowadays.

It begs the question; what are they afraid of from a free public broadcasting media service not driven by commercial interests, directed by an independent governing agency?