In a media environment dominated by corporate interests and the political regurgitation of free market values, public broadcasting can no longer remain gagged by the objective, it must be openly partisan.
In the Hollow Men, the advisors to Don Brash note gleefully how right wing the corporate radio stations are and how their racist one law for all meme would be carried without question, with that in mind the latest Radio survey ratings make for interesting reading. 193 400 listeners each week tune into ZBs virulent right wing Talkback, while the lite right offerings from RadioLive garner a much smaller 63 700 listeners. If you like your redneck talkback scarlet, you won’t settle for faded orange. Radio Live is offering the market something it already has in the form of ZB, hence its long crawl through the lower ranks of survey.
What’s most interesting to note is that Radio NZ is not included in this survey at all. As easily the largest player in the radio market, its remaining outside the ratings survey means it has an untapped value that decision makers needing to raise funds for public broadcasting should consider.
I am glad that Labour’s new spokesperson for Broadcasting, Kris Faafoi has grasped the possibilities presented by the RNZ 2 option and is looking into it.
My argument for Radio NZ 2 has always been that it is madness to hand over $6million worth of capital to a foreign owned company with bugger all in return for public broadcasting.
Kiwi FM, which drew a mere 15 100 listeners per week, has 3 frequencies, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. At $2m per station, that’s $6m worth of capital that we have simply handed over to Mediaworks, a foreign owned media company, with very little in return.
I say we take those stations away from MediaWorks and relaunch it as Radio NZ2. It’s a talk based news station utilizing the next generation of broadcasters to debate and discuss the issues of the day. Who wouldn’t want to tune into Wallace Chapman 6am-9am in the morning for concise dissection of the days events, followed by Noelle McCarthy 9-11am to debate the issues, followed by Russell Brown 11am-midday to chat about science and technology, etc etc.
You get the flavor.
Allowing sponsorship on the station would utilize the huge number of RNZ listeners who are excluded from the survey and provide the market with a counter weight to the right wing talkback, all without having to make any changes on RNZ. The elderly could still delight to radio plays about 19th Century colonial women or coming of age sexuality stories based in 1970s Wellington.
Waiting for NZers to hit 50 before they start tuning into RNZ is a nice way to avoid having to engage, if Labour win Government, they must adopt an aggressive approach to public broadcasting our risk being ripped to pieces by the corporate media. The market can’t and won’t provide ideological balance in the spectrum, so it’s the Governments responsibility to. If MediaWorks dare complain, point out the obscene largesse Joyce and Key have handed over to them over the last 5 years.
It makes sense for the Kiwi FM asset to be used for NZ public broadcasting purposes and not a foreign owned media consortium. Relaunching Kiwi FM as Radio NZ 2 would do more for raising revenue for RNZ and providing balance in the corporate radio industry than any other move Labour could adopt.