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Thursday, May 03, 2012

World Press Freedom Day

Today is World Press Freedom Day, a Day set aside to respect the importance of a free media in the role of watchdog on Governments.

Amnesty International paint some grim numbers, in 2011...
Number of journalists killed: 66
Top 5 deadliest countries to be a journalist: Pakistan, Mexico, Philippines, Brazil, Russia
Journalists who were physically attacked or threatened: 1,959
Journalists who were arrested: 1,044
Bloggers/netizens who were arrested: 199

When compared to the terrible things many Governments do to journalists around the planet, World Press Freedom Day loses some of its loftier goals in NZ. However, while we don't torture, murder or detain journalists here in NZ, we face the opposite problem, a bought Press that is just as unfree as any run by an Authoritarian regime.

Our mainstream media's casual self censorship and lack of Journalists prepared to rock the boat leads to a silence of debate crowded out by unregulated multi-channel entertainment that holds nothing to account.

Public Broadcasting is what makes a Free Press Free in NZ. When left to the entertainment driven ratings focus of media corporates, holding the powerful to account is well below the importance of profit margins.Fair Go found that out this year. The UK inquiry into Media ethics this week found Rupert Murdoch not fit to run an international media company, Rupert of course owns our largest media outlet, Sky TV.

Sky TV enjoys an unchallenged near monopoly in NZ, Mediaworks got multi-millions in loan deferments and it's an open secret that TVNZ is on the block to be sold off. So the Government are in Sky TV's pocket, while keeping Mediaworks in their pocket while selling all of TVNZ's pockets.

Hardly Free Press. Social media is increasingly the only media that isn't redneck conservative masquerading as public debate, but our lack of critical public broadcasting creates a political environment where leaders are not accountable and are not challenged.

It's no surprise that our electoral apathy has risen with the demise of public broadcasting.

With TVNZ7 about to be whored off to a shopping channel and NZ on Air handing out public money to NZ's got talent and the GC, World Press Freedom Day should remind NZers that a free press isn't free.

Just because they broadcast it to the public, doesn't make it public broadcasting.



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