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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mixed media: what is better broadcasting?

Who could disagree with the objectives of a lobby group like the Coalition for Better Broadcasting?
In 2013, some of the people behind Save RNZ and Save TVNZ 7 joined together, along with media, legal and government-relations experts, to form the Coalition for Better Broadcasting Trust. The CBB aims to grow into a well-established and vocal supporter of public service broadcasting and media for many years to come. [...] The aim is the long-term education, enrichment and entertainment of all New Zealanders (not just Household Shoppers aged 18-49).

And who could disagree with the first point of their ten point plan? A public service television channel.
Such a channel could be similar to the hugely popular TVNZ 7. It could include elements of Maori TV, Open University, Parliament TV or access television like Triangle/Stratos. It could follow the SBS model, a BBC2 model, or it could simply be TV One without advertising.

Could be any format, so it draws no objection.  Who doesn't want a public service - ie. ad-free - TV channel paid for by other people?  I have advocated for much the same thing in principle in several blogs here and over at The Daily Blog.

Apart from a logo like a collapsed neon sign, who could disagree with anything in CBB Chief Executive Myles Thomas puts forward in his post at The Daily Blog:
1.         Defrost Radio NZ funding
2.         Establish a non-commercial television channel
3.         Fund these with a small levy on SkyTV and other commercial broadcasters, and on ISPs/Telcos

But.  Why is funding the issue with RNZ? RNZ is a white's-only Europhilic diversity fail. RNZ meets the CBB's own definition of 'what isn't better broadcasting': "limits contributions based on age, race, religion, politics, wealth, dress-sense or hairstyle."

I have demonstrated and quantified the racial exclusivity of RNZ in several posts on The Daily Blog.  Any additional funding would be to fill the pockets of white people in an organisation that does not employ or permit non-white people to contribute in any meaningful way.  RNZ is a Pakeha institution for and by Pakeha: they are the audience, the voice, the editors, the management, the staff.  No equivalent Maori radio network exists.

While RNZ broadcasts everything in English and under-delivers on its pathetic target of sub-one hour per day average Maori content (most of which is in English), Maori TV is 51/49 Reo/English.  Which is better? Which is more representative of the nation?  It's like black and white on the discrimination metric.  RNZ is bad broadcasting.

As for point 2. MTS and Maori TV have been here for 10 years as a public service broadcaster - a Maori broadcaster, for everyone. The equivalent state Pakeha TV channels are TVNZ One and 2 - which is the rub - they are not commercial-free and never have been.  Basically the CBB want a white version of Maori TV from what I can work out through the Pakeha jungle of nomenclature: 'Kiwis' and 'New Zealand' being the controlling concepts.  What the ambitious lobby group of elderly production staff, academics, government types and people wanting to pay to be on the Roll of Honour don't seem to appreciate in any of their website statements is the cultural binary.  

By government convention in its public service budget allocations all of radio goes to RNZ and all of TV goes to MTS.  Each get about $32m pa in direct funding by the government.  And TVNZ sits there beaming out vulgar populism in between ads and gives that profit to the government.  That's broadcasting policy under National and was no different under Labour before them when MTS was set up to satisfy the language obligations flowing from Waitangi Tribunal litigation.  

In part the CBB is overlooking Maori TV as qualifying as public service broadcasting, or worse.  Maori TV has minimal advertising - of which most is public service notices anyway - it is difficult to maintain it is not essentially (if not technically) public service broadcasting in its current state.  But CBB is born from Save RNZ and Save TVNZ7 campaigns dominated by the self-interested white middle class insiders who want to establish a permanent lobby outfit for their conservative/orthodox vision.  Such a group have little comprehension or interest in recognising Maori or any Treaty obligation, let alone anyone else outside the Anglosphere given Diversity is at No.9 on the ten point plan and their definition of minorities is always subsets of Pakeha. Those are my observations from what they have put out.

So Radio NZ gets the same amount as MTS in direct funding - that is how the government splits its public service broadcast funding - straight down the middle.  But MTS doesn't have a radio mandate or radio channel, and RNZ doesn't have a TV mandate or TV channel.  It's an asymetrical split - and a product of legacy and inertia and not of design or consistent policy.  It is fair to ask why things are the way they are and then suggest how things could be rationalised or realised.  But I am not sure the CBB are asking these questions and whether they represent the status quo or reform.  

How can a combined cheer squad of RNZ and TVNZ7 fans be pro-reform?  Just about nigh on impossible.  They are institutional and pro-establishment.  They are fighting defensively on the basis of status quo ante being progress.  They are a creation of the reaction inside a government system of policy, lobbyists, lawyers and the overlap of professional careers, ie. high wank in Wellington.  The CBB say they stand for all the audience, but from available data they are composed of a narrow segment of audience that most people would describe as grumpy old farts in their cardis, on a committee, writing grumpy letters to the editor.

The nation's basis - according to the government at least - is applied to broadcasting.  One Treaty partner is a proud and noble warrior-conqueror people living in a state of war with their neighbouring tribes before they found their way by ingenius navigation to settle in Aotearoa many generations ago.  They are represented by RNZ operating the National and Concert radio networks.  The other partner is the indigenous people, the Tangata Whenua, represented by the Maori Television Service operating the Maori TV and Reo channels on Freeview.  That is the binary. This is the dynamic.

Public service broadcasting - by which we mean no f***ing ads and nothing moronic - is a big umbrella in the shit storm of commercial TV under which shelters very strange company.  I recall discussions from Act members back in the day when formulating broadcasting policy: many Pakeha people who were willing to sell every state asset imaginable fought like Devils for their precious RNZ and the NZSO.

Why make those peculiar exceptions when they are prepared to sacrifice every other form of cultural subsidy?  To them those institutions are the agency of European heritage vital to maintain a sense of their identity.  **everyone elses's identity.  These organs, like the Universities, are crucial to the Pakeha infrastructure of self-belief and status.  It is an elite concern.  It is a government concern.

From what it appears, the CBB is another manifestation of this Eurocentric mentality of the Pakeha, clinging to foreign content and notions in a far away land from their origin and pretending this is national self-expression.  It is thoughtless colonialism.  The CBB refer to the European Union definition, they do things like refer to Mexico, Ghana and Fiji as 'third world'.  NZ with its National and Concert programmes and its symphony orchestra is therefore supposedly... first world?  A first world thoughtless colony.


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