Mediaworks

New Zealand’s switch to digital TV is running smoothly on the home-front – but TV broadcasters are having a rough ride through a jungle of bungles by state agencies.

More than 90 per cent of home viewers are now ready for the final switch to all-digital TV at the end of this year – but many of the country’s free-to-air broadcasters are having a tough time shifting to the new digital world.

Television New Zealand and NZ On Air have managed to bring the pot of public broadcasting services back to the boil – one with its very commercial salaries, the other with more funding for “commercially attractive” local content.

TVNZ can’t afford to operate non-commercial television channels – but it can afford to pay commercially attractive salaries, with 10% of its staff earning more than $100,000, members of its top management and sales staff sharing bonuses totaling $1.8 million, and 32 employees wandering round with $10,000 credit cards. And in the real commercial world, it probably must.

New battle-lines are being drawn between New Zealand’s major free-to-air television networks and NZ On Air as the networks seek more State support for “commercially attractive” local programmes.

A fresh release of documents obtained under the Official Information Act highlight the tension between the public service obligations of funding agency NZ On Air and the commercial imperatives now driving our two major television networks.

New battle-lines are being drawn between New Zealand’s major free-to-air television networks and NZ On Air as the major networks seek more State support for “commercially attractive” local programmes.

A fresh release of documents obtained under the Official Information Act highlight the tension between the public service obligations of funding agency NZ On Air and the commercial imperatives now driving our two major television networks.

Official papers show Television New Zealand won $79 million in government funding for its advertising-free channels TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7, by claiming they would be self-funding by 2012. Now they are closing the new channels down to enhance profits.

Television New Zealand told the last Labour government that two advertising-free channels it was launching to lure viewers onto the Freeview digital transmission platforms would be self-funding by 2012.