Red Alert

Posts Tagged ‘TVNZ’

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.


Does the Commerce Commission have what it takes?

Posted by on March 27th, 2012

Twelve days ago the Commerce Commission announced an investigation, under Section 47 of the Commerce Act, as to whether the new pay TV platform Igloo, a deal between TVNZ and Sky, breaches merger rules.

It was, on the face of it, a show of independence from our competition watchdog, which states its core purpose as achieving the best possible outcomes in competitive and regulated markets for the long-term benefit of New Zealanders. Not monopolies, or big business, but New Zealanders.

Labour encouraged the Commerce Commission to extend its investigation beyond section 47, which deals only with acquisitions. We believe it should encompass all relevant parts of the Commerce Act, including section 27, as to contracts and arrangements substantially lessening competition.

Particularly relevant is the market power that Sky already has as it also owns Prime, a free to air channel, something many countries do not allow to happen. And it’s not only the possible stranglehold that Sky has on content delivery via the traditional broadcast distribution networks, but also via the  internet. This isn’t under investigation. Yet. Some might argue it should be.

The Commission’s investigation is not public. But it’s significant. The big question is will it use the opportunity to have a good look at the state of competition in the broadcasting (or video content) sector. In particular, whether the New Zealand consumer is being best served by the dominance of one or two large players in how they can receive video content via their TV screens and how that dominance is likely to flow on when we all start to connect our televisions to the internet via ultrafast broadband.

In many other countries consumers are able to command choice of providers of overseas content. In New Zealand we have Sky.

In Australia there is currently fierce debate over the  rules that keep major sports events on free-to-air TV. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is introducing a law to ensure the biggest games are accessible to all viewers. This is an extension to the existing anti-siphoning legislation in Australia. There is no such equivalent here and we are nowhere near even having that discussion.

We take what we’re given and if we complain we are told that there’s plenty of content on line. Consequently some consumers download their favourite shows and movies from the internet and watch on their computers, bypassing the bigger screen. Often illegally, as some shows aren’t available here via legitimate means. Most of our internet service providers now have deals with Sky.

There are two important issues at play. One is the issue of competition and encouraging other players in the market because that can only be good for consumers. The other is a cultural issue. That’s what anti-siphoning laws are really about – ensuring people get access to content that is cultural in nature and about who we are as NZers. That’s invariably sport.

There’s been a bit of discussion in the media in recent weeks about the alleged stanglehold that Sky has on our video content market. Chris Barton wrote in the NZ Herald that “suddenly internet providers all over New Zealand are providing unmetered plans for Sky’s video content. You can download unlimited data – as long as it’s Sky”.

Sarah Putt has written extensively in Computerworld on these issues with this piece and last week with this piece which took aim at the detail of the contracts between Sky and the ISPs.

The big question is whether Sky’s exclusive deals have the effect of preventing other contracts to provide online audiovisual content that compete against Sky. The Igloo deal with TVNZ is a means for the pay TV provider to capture another market at a lower entry price which can potentially be upgraded to a fuller service. Given the convergence of the internet and broadcasting environments this positions TVNZ and Sky to potentially dominate the market in coming years and could prevent other existing and new players providing competition.

The Igloo deal could just be the tip of the iceberg if it means that competitors like Netflix or Hulu can’t enter our market and do deals with internet service providers like Telecom, Vodafone, TelstraClear or Orcon because they’ve been locked out of the market by exclusive clauses in the contracts they have with Sky. Sky denies this.

A couple of year’s ago the dominance of Vodafone and Telecom in our telecommunications mobile phone market was challenged by new entrant 2 Degrees which invested millions, yet found itself squeezed out by the Auckland-centric monopoly of Vodafone and the Southern monopoly of Telecom. A broad alliance of consumer groups including students and farmers forced Commerce Commission intervention.

Labour consistently called for more fair competition in that market. Since then, the competition in the mobile phone market is  more robust, the consumers are getting a better deal and all three players are operating in the market.

Not so in the broadcasting space. We are about to lose TVNZ7, our only public broadcaster. TVNZ has become aggressively commercial and since its recent deals with Sky, has made a conscious decision to back away from calls for greater competition. Some might say they’ve been bought off.

Mediaworks (TV3), which is struggling, but still manages to produce quality content on a shoestring budget, is a voice for greater competition. Along with the ISPs and countless industry commentators. Recently some prestigious overseas commentators expressed surprise, even horror, at the skewed and monopolistic nature of our broadcasting, or content sector.

Last month Carleton University professor Dwayne Winseck told the Commerce Commission’s conference on the demand side of the fast fibre networks in Auckland that New Zealand was viewing its telco market through “rose tinted glasses” and needs to get real about data caps, peering issues and the dominance of Sky TV.

I don’t know about rose tinted glasses. I think it’s more that our head is buried firmly in the sand.

The recent articles in Computerworld including interviews with Sky CEO John Fellet pretty much confirm that the contracts between Sky and some telcos restrict net neutrality and arguably stifle competitors, but the Telecommunications Act might be read as excluding content considerations unless it’s video-on-demand. So the concern is to make sure that different parts of the Commerce Commission don’t expediently assume that the hot potato of audiovisual content markets is the other’s problem to deal with.

How the Commerce Commission treats this issue is important. There’s a lot of pressure from the big guns, particularly Sky, to keep our heads stuck in the sand. It seems the government concurs. The new ICT Minister is following Steven Joyce’s lead (instructions?) by insisting there’s no problem and we should continue to allow the skewed market to have its way.

They should be mindful of the metaphor of the boy who stuck his finger in the dyke.

In the meantime, many New Zealanders, frustrated by the lack of quality and up to date content through legal channels are increasingly turning to downloading via the internet.


Did Jonathan Coleman sign off the TVNZ SOI?

Posted by on September 27th, 2011

Jonathan Coleman has been insisting for months that National’s commitment to public broadcasting lies in in NZ On Air’s contestable funding model. National MP Nikki Kaye parroted this in a recent column in the NZ Herald:

We believe that quality and diversity in local content is best provided through contestable funding which promotes competition for quality, content diversity and the availability of programming across multiple channels and platforms.

In the past year, more than $81 million of contestable funding was made available through NZ On Air for locally made television. The Platinum Fund, which was launched in 2009, provides $15 million in contestable funding for New Zealand television content. This funding gives priority to high-end drama, current affairs, documentaries and special event programming – material that is generally considered to be public broadcasting programming.

TVNZ’s recent Statement of Intent (SOI) for the next 3 years tells a different story. It might be a commercial channel now, but it’s still the state owned broadcaster. An SOI is technically a contract between the broadcaster and shareholder. Presumably Coleman signs it off. If he did, then he has endorsed what runs counter to his public position on public broadcasting; quality content. The SOI says:

Notwithstanding the inherent uncertainty of any contestable funding scheme, there remains the risk of potential misalignment between the programming objectives of NZOA with the commercial objectives of TVNZ. This could result in the inability of TVNZ to attract NZOA funding for commercially attractive local programming.

To mitigate this risk, we will engage NZOA to align objectives, agree aims for commercially attractive local programming and address potential revisions to funding criteria.

What does this mean? TVNZ is going put the heavies on NZoA? Did Jonathan Coleman agree to this?

If TVNZ pressures NZoA to direct a higher proportion of funds toward commercially viable/populist genres then there is going to be less money available for programmes that have a strong public service value but might not pull in a mass audience- such as those on TVNZ7 which Coleman claims can still be funded by NZoA.

And then there’s the bit where TVNZ says its moving further into the pay channel business:

The challenge is to harness this digital presence to drive revenue growth and other commercial benefits. To mitigate this risk, we will continue to pursue growth in our pay channel business and further grow and diversify our video on demand business.

and this:

We will continue to strengthen our position along the content value chain by retaining our mass audience, by forming strategic relationships with both local and international content rights holders, and by increasing funding from NZOA;

Enhance our rights management capabilities to optimise the commercial value from the content rights we do secure, particularly in relation to our multi-platform distribution strategies…

Well, TVNZ’s a commercial operator now. Let’s not pretend it’s otherwise. But NZ on Air should watch out.  And I wonder what further deals are planned with Sky TV?

There’s been a bit of reporting about this. Not much. I guess the RWC is on and all. Grant Smithies wrote a good piece in the SST called Fade to Black which is worth a read.

It’s interesting that Maori TV (which has become the quasi-public TV broadcaster in NZ) has stolen a march on TVNZ with it’s “quality” broadcasting during this time. What can we all look forward to under this brave new world?

Whatever it is, Jonathan Coleman should cease to pretend he believes in quality public broadcasting.

TVNZ’s reinvigorated commercialism is indicative of a shift in the media environment that intensifies competition for ratings and increases the cost of providing content with high public value but sub-optimum audience appeal. TVNZ’s SOI shows why Coleman’s assurances that the content on TVNZ 7 will still be available is mistaken. Diversity of digital platforms do NOT mean a diversity of content.

Auckland journalist Colin Hogg  (who runs the production company which produced Talk Talk on TVNZ7 and had its final show last week) summed it up when he wrote:

“TV these days is basically programmed by the ad agencies, which is pretty sad,” Hogg writes. “The cultural impact of the loss of TVNZ 7 is that there will be no outlet for shows like ours, or Media 7, or Backbenches. In years to come when we look back for archive of this time, all we’ll find is Motorway Patrol, Border Patrol, Dog Patrol, food shows and freak shows about fat people.”

We can do better than this.


It’s now TV Auckland, not TVNZ

Posted by on September 12th, 2011

There are some big questions to consider about the state of our public broadcasting service. In both television and radio. Television is perhaps more urgent, with the impending demise of TVNZ7, the axing of the TVNZ Charter, the shift to a commercial only model, the impending sale of TVNZ’s Wellington-based Avalon studio and the abdication by our TV broadcaster of any public service responsibilities.

Now we’re seeing the abdication of responsibility to the whole of NZ.

I think it’s becoming rapidly clear that Television NZ has morphed into TV Auckland. The latest piece of evidence (and there’s been a steady stream) is yesterday’s news in the Herald on Sunday that:

TVNZ has told Good Morning hosts Sarah Bradley and Brendan Pongia to reapply for their jobs – and is also holding auditions for the roles.

At least 14 people will lose their jobs when the magazine-style show moves from Wellington to Auckland and TVNZ says it wants to “tap into” talent already in Auckland…

…Pongia and Bradley have hosted the show since 2006 and are thought to be on annual contracts…

…A TVNZ spokeswoman said the move north gave the network an opportunity to take a fresh look at the show. “These auditions will tell us what is out there and allow us to tap into the Auckland talent pool.

The sale of the important Avalon Studios is perhaps the starkest display of a blatant strategy to focus the company in one city, the city where the population is, the advertising dollar is best directed and where the commercial gain will be got.

But TVNZ is still a Crown entity. It is governed under the  Crown Entities Act and the Television NZ Act (part of which has recently been amended to remove its charter and replace it with a statement of functions).

But the shareholding Minister has the ability to provide clear expectation through the Crown Entities Act of how TVNZ should perform.

Commercial return is one of those expectations now we’ve lost the TVNZ Charter. But so is providing a service to all NZers. And providing high quality content.

TVNZ has lost sight of that. So has the government. It’s all about going where the money is. And bugger the rest of New Zealand.

We have to consider whether Avalon Studios is an important strategic resource for the whole television industry. We don’t believe the government is thinking about  the impact of losing Avalon on the wider TV and film sector. We think they should. And we would.

The Avalon Studios complex and 10-storey office tower became a Hutt Valley landmark after opening in 1975 as New Zealand’s first custom-built television centre. It is TVNZ’s biggest facility outside Auckland.

My colleague Chris Hipkins has blogged about this and spoken strongly against the proposed sale.  As he says, closing Avalon is a stupid decision that lacks vision and shows TVNZ’s lack of commitment to quality local programming. Avalon is widely recognised as the best TV production facility in the southern hemisphere, but our state broadcaster would rather screen yet more low-budget reality TV shows than put it to good use.

Another Wellington colleague Trevor Mallard, who was a former broadcasting Minister has criticised TVNZ’s bloated management for not managing its assets better. I think they’re right.

Both TVNZ and this government have a very narrow view of broadcasting being about commercial return. They forget that this nation, as do most others, puts a high value on public broadcasting which is about reflecting our stories, our nation back to ourselves and to the world.

TV Auckland will provide us with a commercial service that ignores the rest of our country, the stories, the cultural identity of our nation. It all fits into the way this nationis now being run. As a corporation, not as a country.

We’ve got to change tack.


TVNZ stupid to close Avalon

Posted by on July 31st, 2011

Yesterday the Dom Post picked up some of the concerns that I’ve been raising about TVNZ’s planned closure of the Avalon TV studios. I use the term ‘closure’ deliberately, because at the moment that seems like the most likely outcome of their decision to relocate the last of their shows to Auckland and place the complex on the open market.

TVNZ claims that there are about 60 permanent staff working at Avalon, but closure will have a flow-on effect on a far greater number of people than that. Most of the people who make a living from Avalon these days are contractors. The camera men, lighting technicians, and so forth. Then there are the many local suppliers, from the florist who decorates the Good Morning set through to taxi companies, local caterers and so on.

Closing Avalon is a stupid decision that lacks vision and shows TVNZ’s lack of commitment to quality local programming. Avalon is widely recognised as the best TV production facility in the southern hemisphere, but our state broadcaster would rather screen yet more low-budget reality TV shows than put it to good use. In a few years time if Avalon is closed and they decide to produce another Dancing with the Stars type series, they’ll have nowhere to film it. Instead they’d end up converting an unused warehouse somewhere in south Auckland, with all of the cost and expense that goes with that.

The decision to relocate Good Morning to Auckland also needs to be questioned. I’m told by those that work on the show that many of the segments currently screened, including Astar’s cooking segment and the live local music performances, won’t be able to be filmed in the Auckland studios because they’re too small. Don’t forget that TVNZ relocated Good Morning to Auckland once before and it didn’t work so they moved it back to Avalon. This time, if they’ve closed Avalon down, they won’t have that option.

As I’ve said before, we don’t have a public service TV broadcaster in New Zealand. TVNZ is no different to the privately-owned commercial stations like TV3 and Four. And it’s a dinosaur. TVNZ’s heavy reliance on cheap, imported shows will be its downfall. With the proliferation of TV channels and with new technology opening up all sorts of new ways for us to access content, TVNZ’s competitive advantage should be it’s local content. The closure of Avalon demonstrates once again how they’ve failed to grasp that.


The slippery slope

Posted by on July 13th, 2011

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.

But.

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.


Making Trevor work

Posted by on May 22nd, 2011

He tried hard but he wasn’t much good at cutting asparagus.

Not sure I would be either, although, as one of my kids pointed out, it would have helped if he’d bent his knees.

If you missed tonight’s episode of Make the Politician Work here it is

There was a serious side to the programme . Taking a hard look at the policies that allow restricted work visas to overseas workers to do some of the toughest work in NZ. It was good.

A couple of week’s ago Shane Jones featured I’m yet to watch it. Though I’ve heard polarised views. Involving bananas,  fish and hangovers


The end of Avalon?

Posted by on April 5th, 2011

I was sad to see TVNZ announce today that the Good Morning TV show will be relocated to Auckland at the end of the year. It’s the only show of any substance to be produced at Avalon at the moment and probably marks the end of an era for New Zealand TV.

Avalon is an iconic landmark in my electorate, towering over the neighboring suburbs since the late 1970s. It used to be the home of TVNZ, and heaps of legendary kiwi TV was made there (at one stage almost all Kiwi drama was made in the Hutt). Then TVNZ abandoned any pretense of public service TV, moved to Auckland chasing the almighty dollar, and Avalon has been on a downward slide ever since.

In more recent years it’s been home to game shows like Sale of the Century and Wheel of Fortune, and large live shows like Dancing with the Stars. Interesting to note in TVNZ’s announcement that they think large studio-based shows are too expensive to make theses days. I guess we’ll just have to look forward to more imported shows about vampires.

Or perhaps it’s time to start afresh? Let TVNZ go off and be a commercial broadcaster and setup a new public service channel? Avalon wouldn’t be a bad place to start…


Out of the Mouths of Babes

Posted by on December 26th, 2010

This is the only time of year any of us get to spend a decent amount of time with our kids. I was kicking a ball around with my 5-year-old a couple of days ago when the following conversation occurred. I’d like to point out that I really do my best not to indoctrinate my children… but you can’t stop them being perceptive.

5-year-old: “Dad, Mummy says they’re going to stop Kidzone.”

Me: “Yeah, I’m afraid they are.”

5-year-old: “Why?”

Me: “Because they don’t want to spend money on it any more and they want to put something with ads on instead.”

5-year-old: (Thinks for a moment) “Did John Key decide that?”

Me: “Pretty much, yeah.”

5-year-old: “He’s dumb.”


Poll: Paul Henry’s resignation

Posted by on October 11th, 2010

Do you think TVNZ did the right thing by accepting Paul Henry's resignation?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
Tags: ,
Filed under: media

Kiwiblog machinations

Posted by on October 9th, 2010

I sense the Tories attempting a wedge.

David Farrar’s Kiwiblog  tends to run a fairly independent line (if, with an obvious bent to the right).  The comments on Kiwiblog are often  pretty offensive, but I’ve rarely criticised Farrar. But credibility is important.

Now I’m not so sure. Farrar blatantly posted yesterday linking to the NZ Herald’s reporting of a poll conducted by his own company Curia, for Natural Dairy, which is bidding to buy the Crafar farms. That’s one credibility issue. Blurring your role as independent political commentator with your commercial role is not a good look

The poll finds that NZers mostly strongly agree that our farms should only be able to be sold to NZ residents, but have mixed views about the circumstances under which farms could be sold to overseas buyers; whether employing NZ workers, paying tax in New Zealand and increasing exports.

The major finding, according to Farrar’s Curia, was who shouldn’t own NZ farms. People are more comfortable about the Australians and Brits owning our land, than the French or Chinese.

This is a strange poll to do. Farrar uses it to justify Maurice Williamson’s controversial recent comments that some opposition to foreign investment is fuelled by racism. I think any responsible company would have done a lot more research about people’s attitudes and why they felt that way, rather than releasing this sort of information in a one off poll.

It’s also interesting, given that the Govt is saying one thing but doing another over sales of our farm land to foreign interests. The latest is the sale of a New Zealand dairy farm for $28 million to Harvard University in the US.

On the one hand the Government says it is tightening up on sales of farmland to foreign owners, but is allowing the biggest ever sale of dairy land to Harvard University, underlining the lack of clear, strong rules on foreign ownership.

It just underlines the “say one thing and do another” line that this govt and John Key consistently takes.

Meanwhile, I think it’s pretty clear that Paul Henry’s racist TVNZ comments to the PM this week have backfired. Big time.

Henry knew what he was saying. Goodness only knows if the PM knew it was coming. Or TVNZ. They must have known it would create a furore. Maybe it got more out of hand than they thought it would.

However, the Tory dog whistle is now steadily being blown. And Kiwiblog appears to have gone on the offensive. Because there’s quite a lot at stake and an interesting line to tread. If, as it appears the Govt would like there to be, there’s a public case to be made for foreign deals (read Chinese, US or whoever) to buy up more of our land, build our trains or even be behind our newest broadband network, then perhaps the Govt would quite like a public discussion on racism and how we mustn’t be so.

Which explains John Key’s odd inability to articulate a strong and believable line on these issues. And as he is becoming notorious for, to run a different line to different audiences, or to change tack. A lack of conviction politician.

But there’s a clear difference between racist, offensive remarks and attitudes expressed by errant TV presenters which make many people feel uncomfortable and sickened, and deeply held views by many NZers that it is important to have economic sovereignty over their own land and strategic assets.


The news is crap

Posted by on September 1st, 2010

Last night on TVNZ or TV3 (can’t remember which and was probably on both) there was a story about Paris Hilton being arrested for possible possession of cocaine and changing the story she gave to police.

You know the story because no doubt it’s in all our heads. She told the police she thought the cocaine was bubble gum.

I watched the newsreader read the story. Was difficult to know whether her wry smile was because she thought it was funny, or because she thought it was crap.

Crap to be presenting the nation with such pap on a week night under the guise of the evening news.

If I want to know that stuff I’ll buy a woman’s magazine. When I switch on the news I want to learn about what’s happening in our country and our world. Things that matter. That are shaping our world.

Paris Hilton’s cocaine habits are not news.

Don’t see a lot of focus in our news on things like the shitty state of housing across the country, the lack of govt action on doing anything about that and child poverty.

I see political stories that are all about conflict and about personalities. And a lot of fluff. We used to have really good international news coverage. Don’t have much any more.

Our news is infotainment. It’s based around ratings and it needs to change.


Cat amongst pigeons

Posted by on July 11th, 2010

John Key’s suggestion on Q&A today that the Chinese might come and bid for the Government’s big $1.5 billion ultrafast broadband contract is a bit out of left field.

Leaving aside the fact that there’s a tender process already underway, the government has recently widened the scope of the tender, pushed out the likely dates for a decision to be made and now, it looks as if John Key has decided to enter the fray and get the Chinese interested in bidding.

That would certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons in terms of the role Telecom would be likely to play.

Maybe John Key is looking for a circuit breaker! Or maybe, just as he did a few weeks ago, he’s decided to interfere in his Communications Minister’s portfolio area by unilaterally changing the terms of a big announcement. In mid-June John Key virtually announced a later start (by at least two years) to switching on digital delivery of television which will result in a major set-back for the broadcasting and telco industries and for NZ communities.

I wonder what Steven Joyce thinks today about the propsect of a big Chinese company entering the bidding process (at a very late stage) on UFB.

Here’s what John Key said in his interview with Guyon Espiner in Shanghai last Friday night (played today on TVNZ):

GUYON         Are there specific projects that have been looked at, I mean I’ve seen commentators talk about projects like Transmission Gully in Wellington.  I mean is that a realistic thing that the Chinese might come and do something like that?

JOHN  They might do, and at the end of the day from New Zealand’s perspective I mean we’re looking for value for money.  So let’s take ultrafast broadband, they’ve got a lot of expertise in that area, Huawei is a big player, they’re bigger round the world, they’ve got a huge partnership in the United Kingdom for instance.  No one’s saying they would be the final selected partner in New Zealand but they’ve certainly got the capacity if they wanted to, to come in and look at doing something like that.  So you know from New Zealand’s point of view the bottom line is, can we get investment, can we get ultimately value for money?


Paul Henry – put your money where your mouth is.

Posted by on May 14th, 2010

Here’s a challenge to TVNZ’s Paul Henry – lets see if you can live on the Auckland median wage for a month, and then lets see if you change your mind about Labour’s idea of removing GST from fresh fruit and vegetables. 

Why the challenge..?

Watched Paul Henry interview Phil Goff on Thursday morning, and one of the issues that came up was Labour’s idea around removing GST from fresh fruit and vegetables.  Phil reiterated that this was not Labour party policy, but an idea that the caucus was considering in light of the increase in GST to 15%. 

Paul banged on all morning about what a silly idea this was.   I suppose when you are one of TVNZ’s highest paid presenters (I don’t know exactly how much he earns, but if you look at TVNZ’s annual report its not that hard to figure out…), then a simple 2.5% increase in GST will be much more than off-set by the massive personal tax cut you are going to receive. 

Personally, I think Paul has lost touch with reality.  Two points Mr Henry: 1) there are many kiwi families who are really struggling to make ends meet, and a 2.5% increase in GST on fresh fruit and veges will be a killer.  An Auckland University study has shown that if you drop the price of fresh fruit and vegetables, people will buy more; and 2) in this day and age of obesity-related diseases, anything that can be done to increase the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables must be good.

As mentioned, this is not Labour party policy, but it is something that we re looking at and will make a call once we have all the information and evidence.

So come on Paul Henry – lets see how you survive on the Auckland median wage for a month – and then lets see if you change your mind about doing something to drop the price of fresh fruit and vegetables.!


Edwards says TVNZ suppressed Serepisos story

Posted by on May 2nd, 2010

Pretty serious allegation on Brian Edwards blog that TVNZ Close-Up held back a story on Terry Serepisos debts because it would hurt the TVNZ Apprentice programme.

Sir Robert Jones has his say in SST.  Does seem to be a bit strange that someone claiming to have net worth of $140m doesn’t pay the rates bill or the guy who installs the TV set.

Hat tip Kiwiblog.


Backhanded compliment to TV3

Posted by on February 2nd, 2010

Last night I watched TV3 News at 6pm. A not-so-common occurrence these days. Not TV3 particularly; just TV.  Find myself more often watching and getting my news online, as is the global trend.

However, as is usual for TV news, the first two stories were about crime. And yes, the crimes were awful and the stories had validity. Whether they were justified as the lead items is another matter. And is not the subject of this post.

Though I would be keen for some research to be done (if it hasn’t been done already) into how often our two main TV stations run crime stories as their lead items.

The reason for this post is that I was pleasantly suprised to see a positive piece as the third item about a 15 year old boy from South Auckland named Kyrone Toko who had found a wallet with $2500 in it and taken it to the police. The wallet belonged to a guy who is undergoing extensive physio so he can walk again. The money was his ACC compensation and much needed.

Great little story and a brown face doing a good deed. Instead of a depressing story with brown faces committing crimes and reinforcing stereotypes.

It was a welcome reprieve from the usual negative stigma attached to our youth by the media (particularly Maori and PI youth).  So congratulations TV3 News – keep up the positive responsible reporting.  I think all New Zealanders would like to see more of this type of news.

Most nights when I watch the TV news I despair at the sameness of the formula we are dished up. Crime, more crime, entertainment story, political story and often more crime.

Making us feel afraid, think that crime is endemic and that we must constantly become tougher and harsher in our response. It’s rarely reflective, thoughtful, analytic or challenging. Instead it’s more often fear-inducing, conflict-based and negative, or mindless drivel.

Forgive my cynicism, but it’s based on dismay and a hankering for a robust, modern, public media service that is truly based on news values and not ratings.

Tell us Mark and Anthony (that’s ironic) that the TV news is based on news values. Please.

PS: For those who don’t know. Mark is Mark Jennings TV3 Director of News and Current Affairs and Anthony is Anthony Flannery TVNZ Head of News and Current Affairs. Both smart guys. But I have witnessed the two of them at a conference acknowledge that TV news is based on ratings, not news values.

I get it, though I don’t like it, for TV3. But TVNZ?

PPS: I do so love that phrase; “backhanded compliment”. Not sure where it comes from (my mother in my case).


Plain Wrong English

Posted by on November 18th, 2009

Well folks, after weeks of dithering, the good folks at TVNZ have finally admitted what everyone else knew all along – that the idea of gifting hundreds of thousands of dollars of free ads to Bill English was wrong and ill conceived, and that their clearance process was flawed.

The interesting thing is that Bill still doesn’t seem to get it – he is still denying that there was any error of judgement on his part….. sound familiar?


News vs spin at TVNZ

Posted by on October 28th, 2009

Pleased to see the two G-men, Guyon and Garner, both reported tonight on the Plain English promo. Espiner is fronting one of the programmes in the series. He and the News department were either not alerted or ignored in the decision to plug the whole series with 135 free adverts for Bill English. His report tonight basically branded TVNZ as being naive for not understanding that promoting the Minister of Finance so voraciously is “political” even if not intended. Good to see a journo prepared to focus in-house even if it may cause conniptions for the internal PR machine which maintains it’s there is nothing untoward with the shameless promotion of a Govt Minister.  What next? Education specials with Anne Tolley? ACC cuts explained by Nick Smith? Your Health with the Beautiful  Tony?

Garner took a similar line on Campbell live. No doubt Tv3 will be enjoying its state rival being bagged by its many including its own.

Tomorrow night sees the launch of the Tivo personal digital recorder by TVNZ with a big guest list. Not sure anyone from Dipton attending.


Credit to Q&A producer Tim Watkin

Posted by on October 18th, 2009

I can be a fairly strong critic of our media. I think that’s a healthy thing and I hope that it’s viewed as such. Having lived overseas for a long time, you do see things from different perspectives, and experience a broader range of media. I have worked as a journalist and also in the public relations business for a long time, including a period where I worked very closely with the Australian political media in the late 90s.

But I want to say thank you to Tim Watkin, Q&A producer for posting on the TVNZ blog on Guyon Espiner’s interview with Metiria Turei a couple of weeks ago. His post is titled: What makes good political interviewing?

There’s been quite a lot of controversy and discussion about whether Guyon was too hard on Metiria.

I’m not commenting on the substance of his post, rather the fact that he did it. I think it’s great to see some accountability and a willingness to have a discussion about how the media operates and why.

Tim, can we have more of it. That’s engagement.


Cash for the IRB

Posted by on October 13th, 2009

Good on John Key. He has decided to subsidise a TVNZ + TV3 + Maori TV in a joint bid to RWC Ltd ie IRB.  So he has pushed up the price. Can someone tell me what we as taxpayers have gained from this subsidy.   The first media report is below:-

Update :- Interesting attack on National from Maori Party on this. Flavell accussed English of being conflicted as Minister of Finance and ownership Minister TVNZ. Ignored the fact that Sharples Minister for TPK and Maori TV.

A real shambles in the House and even Key was blushing.

2nd Update     Audrey Young here.  Makes it clear the Maori Party knows it has been shafted.

(more…)