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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The 50 Year wake for Public Broadcasting

I'm not sure I can articulate the horror story that was the '50 years of NZ TV Celebration' which screened last night on TV One. It was 2 hours of a C Grade Game show where the boredom of the audience could only be hidden by quick edits and the camera skill required to hide how many of the audience walked out should perhaps win a special effects award over anything Avatar could come up with.

That this shitty, poorly researched 'guess the TV theme song' game could be allowed to painfully drag on like a lamb with a broken back for two hours shows how desperate and devoid the producers seemed for ideas.

God it was fucking ugly, this wasn't a celebration of TV in NZ, it was a wake for public broadcasting, last night should have been a celebration of TV to give an idea of what the next 50 years could be, instead it was a cheap stag night out at a strip bar with very, very. very ugly strippers.

There is effectively no Public Broadcasting in NZ any longer (on TV - thank you John for the reminder), TVNZ has increasingly over the last half of that 50 years seen their news audience as consumers rather than citizens, and when a broadcaster see their audience as consumers and not citizens then a 'downmarket' content formula is adopted by the broadcaster to select stories based on their ratings shock value over the fourth estate function of a critical media holding the powerful to account.

This function within a Democracy is vital for the healthy function of our democracy, however this function has become increasingly sidelined with a myopic focus on entertainment uber alles.

This 'disneyization' to make news entertainment is what we the viewer sees at the front of the house, while a management style of 'McDonaldization' out the back of the house has stripped down the Journalistic mechanics for speedy pap production.

In 1984, 40% of the news on TVNZ was politics, after the viewer as consumer restructuring, that had fallen by 1996 to only 20%, with the other 20% now crime stories. If it bleeds, it leads because shock stories about crime gain ratings.

Sadly the introduction of Freeview in 2008 hasn't seemed to have stopped this trend, in fact it seems to have been a greenlight for TVNZ to push these viewer as consumer buttons much deeper into the 6pm News hour. Two years before Freeview became available on both terrestrial and digital frequencies, in March 2006, crime made up 22% of the news and was featured 29% in the headlines, yet 2 years after Freeview crime stories in March 2010 on the 6pm News made up only 14% of the stories in that month, yet was represented a staggering 35% of the time in the headlines.

Even though news stories as a whole had slumped to 14% in March 2010 on the 6pm One News, it was represented 35% of the time in the headlines. The impact is that the shock value of crime is vastly over represented in the news headlines so the impression left with viewers is one of a mad max post apocalyptic nightmare requiring Dirty Harry to sort out.

Interesting to note that the misrepresentation of crime in the News coincided with the rise of the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

Of course these issues of our Public Broadcaster and the importance of public broadcasting to our democracy were not discussed in the 50 year celebration of TV, and this on the very same day that TVNZ handed over the rights to our TV history to Rupert fucking Murdoch in the form of the Heartland channel available to taxpayers ONLY on the Sky pay per channel platform.

Post 2011, National intend to privatize TVNZ, sadly the poor job of being seen as a national broadcasting treasure means few will weep when it's finally whored off to Murdoch or one of his ilk. The impact of that will have even deeper cultural and political ramifications, but they won't be seen until it's too late.

Of course none of these fundamental issues were discussed or even hinted at, preferring instead for a tedious 2 hour grubby game show where the intelligence of all was insulted. Maybe that is fitting for TVNZ?


At 2/6/10 8:34 am, Blogger Brewerstroupe said...

A long (1 hour 17 m) movie featuring many former Fox insiders.
Highly recommended:


At 2/6/10 11:30 am, Blogger CHRIS said...

Series Foreword
Educational reform has fallen upon hard times. The traditional assump-
tion that schooling is fundamentally tied to the imperatives of citizenship
designed to educate students to exercise civic leadership and public
service has been eroded. The schools are now the key institution for
producing professional, technically trained, credentialized workers for
whom the demands of citizenship are subordinated to the vicissitudes of
the marketplace and the commercial public sphere. Given the current
corporate and right wing assault on public and higher education coupled
with the emergence of a moral and political climate that has shifted to a
new Social Darwinism, the issues which framed the democratic meaning,
purpose, and use to which education might aspire have been displaced by
more vocational and narrowly ideological considerations.

The war waged against the possibilities of an education wedded to the
precepts of a real democracy is not merely ideological. Against the back-
drop of reduced funding for public schooling, the call for privatization,
vouchers, cultural uniformity, and choice, there are the often ignored
larger social realities of material power and oppression.

At 2/6/10 12:03 pm, Anonymous Beepee of Auckland said...

Well Bomber this is a turn up, in I actually agree with you in what you say. Stone the crows!! The TV show last night was a disgrace. Whoever thought of the format wants sacking, what a waste of money. I also get sick of seeing Jason Gunn fronting these sorts of shows. Doesn't this country have someone new.It's not that I don't like him but nearly every local show that comes on seems to be fronted by him. Let someone else have a go.I am just thankfull that I have a large satellite dish in my yard and can watch other stuff when there is only crap on EXCEPT Your show Bomber on Stratos/Triangle.

At 2/6/10 12:46 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did someone actually watch this crap ?
I saw the adverts for it and the fact that the shows featured were either American crap or Shortland street (NZ crap) gave me the heads-up to avoid it like the plague...
Why didn't the organisers concentrate on decent NZ programming ? Mind you, they chose Jason Gunn to front it... Hahahaha another reason to avoid it.

At 2/6/10 1:40 pm, Blogger Graeme Edgeler said...

I understand this was the highest rating non-news show of the year so far.

But I'd recommend that Bomber should actually go and watch some old Disney documentaries ... we could do with more Disneyisation rather than less.

"Our Friend the Atom", "Man in Space", "Man and the Moon", and "Mars and Beyond", are examples of a golden age of children's (and family) educational television. Who else but Disney would spend bucketloads making documentaries about nuclear physics and orbital mechanics, on deliberately loss-making programming just because it was important? Filmed in colour, despite TV being resiliently b&w at the time, just to future-proof them, etc.

Disney's "Victory Through Air Power" is a fantastic look at the strategic advantages of long-range bombing during WWII, largely borne out in later Allied strategy, etc.

At 2/6/10 1:50 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

Graeme is correct, the ratings were huge, 760, 170. But then again it was such a trainwreck I couldn't stop watching, the way you can't stop watching an autopsy. You know? So I'm not sure the ratings are entirely the only indicator to use.

At 2/6/10 3:44 pm, Anonymous Tim2 said...

By the way....How do we get our Public Service Broadcaster's Heartland Channel on the Freeview platform (i.e the one we're all expectred to go with in order to assist with the cutoover).
Anyone know wha the procedure is in order to include that on out Freview options?

At 2/6/10 3:58 pm, Anonymous Tim2 said...

Oh...pardon me. I just assimilated the last bit of your post. So Heartland is available on SKY, but NOT on Freeview?
A bit like another indirect tax then?. I have to subscribe and PAY in addition to what I already pay for in PSB?

Still, I've come to relise that even the likes of Media 7's team now rely on their old boy network - cliquey - lost touch bullshitters for succour.
Same old hacks.....it's like listening to a Jim Mora radio show, despite all the promises given,
The best button is the one that has a ZERO (pr OFF) on it.
But there's the rub - it's exactly what vasectomied mutha fukka is hoping for. We shouldn;t be jealous though - we should just be grateful he doesn't have the capability to reproduce.

And just by the way - in fairness to Andy Haden........
If we are upset about that dinosaurs attitude, why aren't we questioning John Key's stance on the current situation in Gaza.
OOOPs - sorry, probably because he came out of that hard struggle of a past with a solo mum and asshole of a father. Is there any other reason maybe???

At 2/6/10 4:29 pm, Anonymous John Barr said...

"There is effectively no Public Broadcasting in NZ any longer"

Let's not forget, that as the country's only independent, non commercial public service radio broadcaster, Radio New Zealand is a respected,award winning public broadcaster with well deserved international reputation.

John Barr
Communications Manager
Radio New Zealand

At 2/6/10 4:35 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

GRIN - My bad John, I meant on TV - updated now.

At 2/6/10 10:10 pm, Anonymous Rapunzel said...

If it's not crime, it's sports and/or sad celebrity stories. And on a really, really, bonanza night you get sports-celebrity-crime stories all rolled into one...


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