More corporate welfare for Mediaworks?
You would think the $43 million loan at a rate Mediaworks could not gain on the open market to pay for Ironbridge's interest costs would be enough corporate welfare for one foreign owned media company, especially as this Government choose to let public broadcasting whither and die.
News just released shows that National have staggeringly decided to give Mediaworks the Kiwi FM frequencies back to Mediaworks again. What can't Steven Joyce give the company he once owned?
It's not like there weren't better solutions made available for Kiwi FM. May last year I contacted Richard Griffin when he was searching for funding options for Radio NZ that went beyond selling the pianos at Concert FM, and explained to him that the Government owned more than Radio NZ, that they owned Kiwi Fm as well.
Kiwi FM are the old Youth Radio Network frequencies put aside by Jenny Shipley, for reasons no Labour Party MP has ever been able to explain to me, Labour handed these 3 frequencies (valued at $2 million a piece) over to Mediaworks to run a 100% NZ music content.
I argued at the time that was a waste and that it would become a NZ music ghetto, lo and behold Kiwi FM flopped with the worst ratings results possible, .1%. Those results led to the joke, 'what's shit brown and can't fly? Kiwi FM'. It was vital for Mediaworks to have the frequencies however because a non-commercial youth radio network would have been a body blow to Mediaworks other youth brand radio stations. Who on earth would listen to the Morning Madhouse on the Edge with their awful adverts if you could hear the same music with no adverts?
Kiwi FM finally admitted defeat last year when they dumped the 100% NZ music mandate which begs the question why the bloody hell they have the frequencies now? The idea I put to Griffin was the same as I published in a guest column in Metro this year, that Kiwi FM be shut down and becomes RNZ2. It would be the next generation of Gen X broadcasters doing a talkback based news and current affairs format, it could compete in the market place against Radio LIVE and ZB as both these stations are hard right talkback stations and something more liberal and educated could attract a large chunk of audience.
RNZ2 would have sponsorship on it (you could pipe the RNZ news down to RNZ2 and wrap a sponsorship package around it) and this money would be funding for RNZ. My idea was embraced and was discussed at the RNZ Board and went as high as Cabinet. Everyone was on board with the idea which was by miles the best concept for raising funding for Radio NZ, but Peter Cavanagh refused to allow the idea to get beyond discussion.
It's interesting to note that it was after my name was attached to the RNZ2 project that I was suddenly banned from RNZ. The first to speak officially about my banning was none other than Peter Cavanagh on Mediawatch the Sunday after my banning.
Why $6million worth of state capital is being allowed to rust under Mediaworks because they would prefer to block anyone else from using the 3 frequencies is a question worth asking. The frustration here is that National's competition ethos should direct them into using the stations in a PPP to fund public broadcasting and create a station that generated revenue by using the brand strength of RNZ.
The utter lack of good ideas and vision by people who should know better is depressing. I understand the country is out of money, but there are better, more creative ways to face those financial pressures and champion public broadcasting than just handing the 3 frequencies over to bloody Mediaworks again.
If National were smart they would wait to bring this idea to life just before the election as a broadcasting policy to run on (it was after all Jenny Shipley's idea), if Labour were smart they would have never given the frequencies to Mediaworks in the first place.
More dumb times in the land of the wrong uptight crowd.