TVNZ 7 will end in June 2012 when its funding runs out. This will make NZ the only developed country without a Public Service Broadcaster, but it doesn't have to be this way
New Zealand’s only dedicated public service television channel, TVNZ 7, will cease in 2012. The government has chosen to discontinue it’s funding. This will make New Zealand the only developed country in the world with no public service TV channel for all citizens. Australia has five dedicated public service TV channels. Many developing nations do too – even the tiny nation of Botswana.
Yet TVNZ 7 is actually very popular and growing weekly. This year the channel nearly doubled its viewership. It achieved 1.4 million viewers in October compared to 663,300 twelve months ago. That’s happened without programme listings in magazines or newspapers and with very little marketing and publicity.
The facts contradict Government reasons for closing TVNZ 7 - that the channel rates poorly. It’s growing for the same reasons that RNZ National is our most popular radio station: Kiwis love public service broadcasting.
It’s Not Just About One Channel
The abolition of TVNZ 7 might not matter so much if there was any other public service television channel in New Zealand. There isn’t. Maori TV targets 10% of the population, Stratos is access-TV only, and our national broadcaster, TVNZ is now a fully commercial entity. It’s been instructed by Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman to return a profit, whatever it takes. Therefore TVNZ now wants NZ On Air to fund more commercial programming, to help TVNZ make that profit.
The Dollars: it’s Good Value
It cost New Zealand taxpayers $79 million to establish TVNZ 6 & 7 only 4 years ago. TVNZ 6 has already gone. Keeping TVNZ 7 would cost only $16.25 million a year, that’s 1 cent per Kiwi per day. It’s not much when you consider the $43 million the Government loaned to bail out Mediaworks.
The Save TVNZ 7 Campaign
Fans have rallied to save the channel. Members on Facebook, and signatories to the online petition (www.savetvnz7.co.nz) comprise thousands of Kiwis passionate about TVNZ 7.
We believe New Zealanders deserve public service TV that informs and entertains without simplifying and dumbing-down its programmes. We need high-quality, intelligent programming that aims to do more than just pull in advertising revenue. Kiwis want public discussion, information and entertainment that extends beyond crime and celebrity.
(Myles Thomas is Campaign Co-ordinator of Save TVNZ 7)