Media Ownership in New Zealand : 2015

By   /   December 11, 2015  /   16 Comments

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For those wondering why our quality of journalism has declined ,and why current affairs television has disappeared amidst a deluge of `reality` shows, tabloid pap and advertising, help is on its way. As co-director of a research centre entitled Journalism, Media and Democracy (JMAD) I announce the publication of our 2015 New Zealand Media Ownership report.

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For those wondering why our quality of journalism has declined ,and why current affairs television has disappeared amidst a deluge of `reality` shows, tabloid pap and advertising, help is on its way. As co-director of a research centre entitled Journalism, Media and Democracy (JMAD) I announce the publication of our 2015 New Zealand Media Ownership report.

Since 2011 these reports have been compiled by Merja Myllylahti a former London financial journalist who knows her way around company reports and corporate doublespeak. Five years ago there were four major players in the New Zealand media market; APN News and Media (now NZME), Fairfax media ,Mediaworks and Sky. These four companies, all overseas owned predominated. There was a near duopoly in print and radio, a monopoly in pay television and only three significant competitors in free-to –air television, including the state owned channels.

From 2012 to 2014 listed and unlisted financial operators (banks,hedge funds,private equity companies) acquired media holdings as a lucrative short term source of revenue. Thus the transnational media corporates that had colonised the New Zealand mediascape were themselves colonised by financial institutions .

Our two previous reports  outlined this process in the cases of Mediaworks, Fairfax and Sky Television. At the same time there was a growing convergence between New Zealand mass media and the communications sector generally. Spark, along with on-line video subscription services started to compete head-to-head with traditional broadcasters.

The consequences of these developments are clearly evident in this years media ownership report. As  hedge fund Oaktree Capital assumed control of Mediaworks tabloid shows and reality formats extinguished current affairs journalism. Traditional media moguls have not disappeared, in 2015 Rupert Murdoch became the second largest owner of NZME.

Across print and broadcasting newsrooms journalists were laid off,those remaining were expected to perform multiple tasks quickly  ie take pictures, shoot videos,sub-edit and produce stories all on precarious incomes.

This year`s report also reveals an increasingly competitive broadcasting market as Coliseum Sports Media challenges Sky television and as Netflix and Yahoo join the video streaming market alongside Lightbox ,Neon and Quickflix. There is some good news to report;  Scoop remains with us as a non-profit  trust owned  on-line newspaper and progressive parts of the blogosphere continue to challenge the slants of mainstream media.

In the latter context take a look at  our 2015 report here on the Daily Blog, share it among friends and file it next to all previous reports (freely available  on-line). None of this information will be published in the mainstream media

 

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16 Comments

  1. Across print and broadcasting newsrooms journalists were laid off,those remaining were expected to perform multiple tasks quickly ie take pictures, shoot videos,sub-edit and produce stories all on precarious incomes.

    I can confirm that. Anecdotal stories from my own contacts across the MSM have related precisely the same events to me.

    More being expected from fewer staff; experienced journalists being “exited” from media companies; de-unionisation; greater reliance on on-line formats, and a corresponding drop in morale.

    If these events were being conducted by an authoritarian government to suppress the msm, there would be mass protests in the streets.

    But because it is being carried out quietly; surreptitiously; by company managers – the public is largely unaware what is happening.

    The only indications that something is Rotten in the State of Aotearoa is the disappearance of current affairs shows; a predominance of “reality” tv (which is anything but reality); and newspapers which seem to be more and more tabloid with every passing year.

    The supreme irony is that in an age of near-instantaneous information facilitated by a global internet system, the public are less informed than ever.

    • Sam Sam says:

      The hedge funds are just looking for yields and IPO’s. When they start selling there stake in a company, that’s every ones signal to get out. Because they can no longer afford to borrow to prop up there share price. Or the CEO took off with secretary

    • Once was Tim says:

      “The supreme irony is that in an age of near-instantaneous information facilitated by a global internet system, the public are less informed than ever”
      @ Frank
      I believe that one of the main reasons for this (and an argument for PSB), is that with specialist TV channels and hyper commercialisation of outlets, EVERYTHING people are exposed to is that which they solicit.
      And within that highly commercialised ‘space’ (ew, pardon the expression) there has been a move to ‘sameness’ and monopoly – ironically a convergence which means that commercial radio becomes the same old pap across stations shouting at us.
      When people never get to see or hear unsolicited events, their world narrows further and further depending what is is they get off on – be it say talkback radio with the shock jock stars; or reality TV programming; or an iPod driven rap menu; etc.
      The worldly, the political, the non-sensational, the cultural, the historical never gets a look in to most people with any sort of context.

    • Brendon Harre says:

      Frank the missing segment in the MSM and fringe media is the trusted person who professionally collates and analyses what is happening.

      We all have access to a profusion of 24/7 news material from a huge number of internet sources. What is missing is the old fashioned trusted journalist who could put what is happening in today’s news item into some sort of logical context.

      That is why someone like yourself is so valuable.

      • Brendon, thank you for the compliment. I’m honoured.

      • Andrew says:

        You mean, “Tell us what to think”?

        I prefer the current arrangement by far: Endless choice, less parochial, varied opinion from international pundits and marvellous access to research material.

        You just don’t know how lucky you are! (ref Fred Dagg)

    • Pipi Reisch says:

      as a Technical Production Assistant in the TVNZ newsroom back in the ’80’s .. i watched the demise of current affairs as the Australian’s moved in with their game shows. I’m currently at Uni, and studying papers that encompass News Media Processes. I guarantee, if i walked back into that newsroom now, there would be less than 50’% of the journalists there was when i worked there, not ONE would have a specialist beat (except political journalists), and the rest would be ‘generalists’… churning out news regurgitated from internet platforms. And I too lost my job in news due to the dropping of news and current affairs programming

      • The scary thing, Pipi, is that you’re not alone.

        Judging by the redundancies and cuts to news/current affairs in the msm, it occurs to me that it’s seems to be pointless for Polytechs to be offering journalism/media courses for young people these days.

        The greatest threat to democracy is not from the Middle East or China or wherever. It is from within.

  2. countryboy says:

    @ Frank. It sure is irony but it’s no surprise.

    Society’s shaped by the media that services it. Whether it’s by cave paintings or a wrist watch that tells you that you have a new message in your Facebook account so you whip out your i-device and check it out. It’s kind of injecting [it ] directly into a vein over taking a pill.

    The thing I’ve never understood, on that level, is why? Why would any ruling, authoritarian regime do that? It’s unbelievably poor economics and the outcome is never good. Destruction, pain, starvation and a complete collapse of society into chaos which takes generations of deep contemplation to even begin to rebuild, heal and move on from is unbelievably self destructive. No authoritarian regime actually wants to have themselves shredded by some kind of revolution time and again surely?

    One would have thought that the best way to be filthy rich while plundering the earths resources , of which you and I are one, would be to keep your head down and your mouth shut and give back a little so as not to arouse suspicions.

    Any democracy that doesn’t have free-to-air TV and radio which would be above being preyed upon by monsters like murdock by the very fact that state funding is so immense and above reproach that people like murdock couldn’t get near it for cunning nor money. That, and some decent and protective laws forbidding such overtures perhaps?

    30 years of neo liberalism has seen New Zealanders become children of the neo-media. What a scary thought ! ?
    Would that mean that if we did actually get invaded ? We’d all rush off and build cheap houses then stab each other in the back while doing so and hope our invading foe all died laughing along the beaches from watching the debacle?

    Great news ( Irony ) re JMAD . I’ll certainly be participating in any way I can. Thanks for the effort @ Wayne Hope .

  3. Mike in Auckland says:

    Wayne, you are the last hope this country has, when reporting fairly and objectively on this matter!

    I listened to Garner on Radio Live this afternoon, not that I like his Drive Show, I follow media so I know what is going on, and also how bad they are getting. He had a man from Genesis on there, promoting their social engagements, and how they supposedly do “good things” in the community. I know Paul Henry has his show sponsored by AMP, I know also there are many reports now written in Fairfax and NZME (the Herald and so) that are “sponsored” or paid for by private interest parties. That seems to be where the private and commercial media is going, it is to fall for sponsorship and ties with big business, to pay for things.

    How much damned objectivity do we get with that happening?

    But even Radio NZ has changed, the last real public broadcaster, where the programs are now resembling ones with little questioning and debate, it is more like a dull newsreader program, whether it is Midday Report, Checkpoint or whatever, damned little analysis and asking questions, just report reading and the odd on site report, on increasingly weather, accident and crime incidents.

    We are truly losing media and journalism, I advocate for guerilla and independent media, by individuals or groups to take place now, as we can almost forget the traditional media, due to what is going on.

    Have you any better advice, that is apart from demanding more funds for truly public broadcasting, also with an online forum?

    • phillip ure phillip ure says:

      i have been banging away..doing what i can..for about ten yrs now..

      http://www.whoar.co.nz/

      (and i’ll link to the report..)

      ..and a recent change i have noticed..is that stuff and the herald have kinda changed roles..

      ..the first thing i do each morn is check stuff then herald sites..to see if there is anything worth linking to/noting..

      …and often from stuff there was nothing of any worth..it has long been thus..

      ..with the herald sometimes linking to interesting/often foreign-sourced material..

      ..and the recent change has been stuff breaking previous well-instituted patterns..and sometimes featuring interesting articles..

      ..and the herald becoming irredeemably more lite-weight..

      ..the purge of the interesting local-writers..and the retaining of the rightwing/neoliberal hacks..

      ..and a new propensity to drop any linking to the ‘quality’ english-rags and to instead turn to the likes of scout and the daily mail for material..

      ..with the herald i presume it is from murdoch increasing his shareholding..(the purging..and the changes in source-material..)

      ..and with the role-switch/improvement in stuff there has been a change of editor..

      ..(of course a disturbing side-story to all this..is that the former editor of the lite-weight stuff has moved onto something else…

      ..that former editor specialising in fluff and the irrelevant is now andrew littles’ main media person…

      ..make of that what you will..)

    • LilaR says:

      I listen to Nat Rad all the time, and I’ve heard plenty of fascinating – and questioning – documentaries, interviews, programmes like Insight, etc., though granted most of them are from the BBC. Nat Rad is doing a pretty good job, I think, given how underfunded it is.

      • Mike in Auckland says:

        Yes, I admit that RNZ do have some good programs, like on Sunday mornings, sometimes Saturday mornings and the occasional good week night show. I do particularly cherish Media Watch, which is a very good program, and I sincerely hope that Kevin can continue with his good reports on the state of the media, without future interference.

        But much in the daytime has declined in quality, I must say, that is week days, especially Kathryn Ryan is now only occasionally having good interviews, that are worth listening to.

        I worry about the longer term trend that we may note.

  4. Mike in Auckland says:

    People may love Netflix and such providers, but they are there to earn money, and although they offer variety and competitive prices, they hardly offer useful information in a political, social and economic sense, that is such that may be independent and valuable. Sadly most consumers do not consider this. I also saw an interesting documentary on Al Jazeera today, about apps, and how these are used to gather endless date on people, their behaviours and interests, and that is then sold to advertisers and businesses selling stuff, same as used by governments. People fall for this “free” stuff, but forget what comes with it, they give up their privacy and true independence.

    We face massive challenges, all over the show, and I rather use as little in the way of apps and gadgets that I can live with, rather than fall for all this cheap or free stuff to stay connected. We are being conned in a massive way.

  5. thekiwisonfire says:

    The only ‘positive’ aspect, is that if any competition wanted to set up in New Zealand, be it Russia Today, Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, and so on. Then it would be very easy to take the market share away from TVNZ, TV3, and the right-wing newspaper conglomerates, just by providing quality news on a decent but not excessive budget.



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