NZ on Air

TVNZ 7 gave us a glimpse of what a real public television service could be. Our last nationwide, non-commercial TV channel is off the air. Even Kim Dotcom turned out with the thousand Aucklanders who marched to mourn its passing last night. So what’s next?

Here’s a big declaration of interest for starters. I am now driving the formation of a new, not-for-profit trust to establish a nationwide, free-to-air, public television service.

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.

Our broadcasting bureaucrats are herding regional television broadcasters into using digital terrestrial transmission services. Unfortunately, the folks at home aren’t following their lead.

On the surface, New Zealand’s transition to digital TV broadcasting is going well. 83% of our homes with television have made the conversion -  and we are still six months out from the date when the first of our regions says “Good Night Kiwi” to the old, spectrum-hungry era of analogue transmission.

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.