Radio New Zealand is our public service broadcaster. It does a fine job of providing us with high-quality news and current affairs. When people hear about the funding freeze, a lot of them ask me “is it because people aren’t listening to RNZ ?” Well, people are according to its 2015-2016 annual report. RNZ programmes have great weekly audience numbers with Morning Report getting 385,900, Nine to Noon 281,700, Checkpoint 243,700, Sunday Morning 234,400, Afternoons 231,000 and Saturday Morning 215,800. A total of 600, 200 people listen to RNZ each week!
Considering how valued and loved RNZ is in New Zealand and the South Pacific, I was very disappointed to read that Gareth Morgan, of the Opportunities Party, said that he would be open to selling Radio New Zealand.
It is the Opportunities Party’s policy to sell off Television New Zealand and put the proceeds of this into New Zealand on Air to fund public journalism. The idea is that from there, RNZ would be able to apply for funding along with all the other organisations that need it. If RNZ stays in crown hands, this isn’t a good way of giving RNZ a funding increase. What happens if RNZ applies for extra funding, but loses out to other companies? Or maybe it gets a bit of extra funding, but not enough to do very much good? What happens next year?
RNZ needs a funding increase with stable funding, of a guaranteed amount each year, that keeps up with inflation. This would help them with their forward planning, they don’t need the uncertainty of funding applications. I would go as far as to say that funding for RNZ should be removed from NZ on Air altogether. There are enough media organisations in New Zealand who are underfunded without RNZ eating into the pie as well. For example regional television and access radio. RNZ should be funded over and above the NZ on Air pool in its own right.
If we were to sell TVNZ, then something needs to take its place. We have already lost TVNZ6 and 7. They were TVNZ’s non commercial TV channels. They were both financially viable to keep. They were axed. TVNZ adds value to New Zealand and the South Pacific. In their annual report, end of financial year June 2016, it says that TVNZ broadcast a minimum of 11 hours of programming to Pacific nations every week. Programming included One News and Tagata Pasifika. We should at the very least think long and hard about the full implications of selling off TVNZ.
The question is do we revamp TVNZ and give it back its public service arm or do we go with something else? Going with something else doesn’t have to include selling TVNZ. We have many options, we could create something new or even expand RNZ further to include public service television. One thing is for certain, we need to keep RNZ! It’s our only public service broadcaster and it does a great job!
Let’s arohatia (cherish) RNZ !
Petition to unfreeze RNZ’s funding here
Donate to the campaign to unfreeze RNZ’s funding here
Volunteer here: (NB this form goes directly to my email. If you wish to comment on this post, please scroll down to the very bottom of the page, below the picture).