Southern Television interviewed me last week about the state of Radio New Zealand’s funding. You can view the video of it online here it will also be screening on The South Today tonight at 7pm on Freeview channel 39. RNZ’s funding has been frozen for 9 years, that is longer than it takes a lot of people to go from beginning an undergrad degree to getting a PhD!
I have a lot of concerns about the future of Radio New Zealand. In RNZ’s Annual Report 2006, they stated that they had recently opened regional offices in Tauranga, New Plymouth and Queenstown. During the funding freeze, two of these offices have since been closed, plus Palmertson North, with Queenstown being the last one operating until the end of July last year. There are currently just 7 reporters working for RNZ in the South Island – 2 in Dunedin, 4 in Christchurch and 1 at the top of the South Island. Those reporters have to travel long distances in order to cover local stories around the South Island. Yes, they have introduced an app to allow people to comment remotely on stories, but those reporters still have to put together the stories from those comments and cannot rely on remote comments as its sole method of reporting on events around the South Island. The reporters deserve to be well-resourced to do their jobs and I believe that they would be more likely to get those resources if we can get RNZ’s funding increased to an adequate level.
During the past 9 years, RNZ has made a lot of people redundant, sold assets, cut programmes, not replaced some broken down equipment – including their 27 year old AM analogue transmitter which served the South Pacific which has meant reduced radio service for some areas that can neither receive FM radio nor has internet access, required staff to take on additional roles to cover staffing gaps, closed regional offices and are now considering selling their Auckland studios and renting them back off the new owner. This is not an exhaustive list of all their problems. They are doing a great job with what they have, but it shouldn’t be such a struggle for them to keep their heads above water! By the way, a 9 year funding freeze is actually a funding cut when you take into account the rising cost of pretty much everything over the past 9 years!
The government disestablished the Broadcasting portfolio last December. We can still send them the message that we care about RNZ and its funding. The petition to end funding freeze can be found here.
If you feel like donating to the campaign to unfreeze RNZ’s funding, you can do so here.