Media3, Backbenchers, Q&A and The Nation to be cancelled? Has Richard Griffin won for RNZ?

By   /   May 25, 2013  /   17 Comments

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This could be the best thing ever to happen to current affairs. A dedicated political channel with a wide range of interview shows creates an opportunity to hold politicians to account and critique policy in a way that simply isn’t being done.

MEDIA3-1505The Daily Blog tip line is running hot that NZ on Air has pulled funding for Media3, Backbenchers and Q&A. If Q&A is seriously on the block then that means The Nation will also be for the chop.

If this sudden axing of every current affairs show on all networks is happening, either two things have occurred…

1: NZ on Air has gone mad and decided to kill off all current affairs in the lead up to an election year and will have done so under vast amounts of pressure from the Government who don’t want the risk of any critical media in what will be a close election.


2: Richard Griffin has managed to pull off the greatest coup for public broadcasting since the creation of Radio NZ.

I don’t think it can be option 1. If anything, Seven Sharp has generated so much resentment at the dumbing down of news, it’s almost inconceivable that NZ on Air would risk a backlash as severe as the one that erupted from their perceived acquiescence to National over the Child Poverty Documentary by killing off all the current affairs shows.

I think – and this is simply a guess – I think that the sudden pulling of the funding for all these shows means that Richard Griffin’s vision of a Radio NZ TV station utilizing the down time of Parliament TV is about to be realized and launched.

This could be the best thing ever to happen to current affairs. A dedicated political channel with a wide range of interview shows creates an opportunity to hold politicians to account and critique policy in a way that simply isn’t being done is something our country is screaming out for.

Interesting times ahead.

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  1. Mark S says:

    Martyn, I really want to believe this is true. But I’m having real troubles seeing the connection you’re drawing here.

    If this funding is being shifted, I don’t believe that it can be to run a new network. When TVNZ7 was going down, there was a lot of noise about NZoA being a possible source of funding, and my understanding is that they came out very clearly to say that their directives allowed them to fund content only. This would preclude them from being able to provide any funding to a dedicated politics network.

    While it is feasible that they will be looking to fund content on a new network, should it arise, I have yet to hear a business case for how any new PSB network could/would be funded, in any way that would see it launch prior to the next election. And I seriously doubt that the government kept a funding stream aside for it in the budget.

    • The Daily Blog Martyn Bradbury says:

      I disagree. Q&A, The Nation, Media3 & Backbenchers budgets combined run to $3m+ per year – that’s plenty to run RNZ TV on Parliament TV

      • Mark S says:

        Plenty of money, yes. But NZoA isn’t *allowed* to fund platform.

        • The Daily Blog Martyn Bradbury says:

          It wouldn’t be used to fund the platform Mark – the Platform already exists – it’s Parliament TV – the money would be used to fund programmes on that already existing platform

          • Mark S says:

            That’s just broadcast space. There are significant additional expenses that would go in to running a network.

            Also, I’d be very surprised if Parliament TV were to just surrender their dead air for free. I know that it doesn’t cost them any more, but they’ll be looking to receive recompense for that.

            Don’t get me wrong, I would *love* this to happen. I just think we’re still missing a source of funding to make this a reality. It’s feasible they could try to do it on a crowd-sourcing/crowd-funding/pledge-drive style funding model, a la PBS in the US. But I’m not convinced NZ is big enough to make that work, unless a couple of hefty private donors came on board.

          • Mark S says:

            No no, I’ve read that. Quoting from the article:

            “But it would still cost more to produce than it does currently, and given National’s antipathy to RNZ it may have a battle securing Government support.

            Griffin said RNZ had not raised the issue on how any extended services would be funded.”

            That’s the funding concern that I have yet to see an answer to, and one that the $3m+ would not be able to be used for.

  2. If this is true, I have a really, really, bad feeling about this.

    Please let me be 100% wrong in my suspicions.

  3. Seaweed says:

    So political content is to be removed from the “everyday” channels ? About time too ! We have had far too much political awareness in this country in the past resulting in people believing that they are entitled to participate and interfere in the political process. Politics should be left to politicians.

    • Nitrium Nitrium says:

      Your down votes suggest many people still don’t “get” sarcasm. Best to use /sarc tag.

  4. Procrastinator says:

    Option 2 is great, but I think it requires a good dose of optimism. Option 1 wouldn’t surprise me the slightest given this government’s track record especially, as well as past governments neglect towards broadcasting.

  5. dwnats says:

    If this is truly an option to create a dedicated and free to air current affairs channel, it should be announced first, before the axing of the best shows on the other channels! You can bet that TVNZ would then throw ALL of their most popular scheduling against the timing of the C A shows, to dilute any chance of a citizen stumbling across real news free to air. I’m horrified at the prospect of trusting TVNZ under this government.

  6. Jane Wrightson says:

    NZ On Air has no idea what you are talking about. No funding has been pulled.
    All these series will continue their 2013 series as funded and we will consider funding for 2014 in the usual way assuming they all continue to receive broadcaster support.

  7. Melanie says:

    I would hate to see the end of these shows on their current channels. I think the main stream tv channels are vital for bringing current affairs to the masses. They are more likely to watch tv1 or tv3 than parliament tv – most people don’t even know parliament tv exists! Shame because they should see how those clowns behave in their natural habitat.

  8. John Drinnan says:

    Any facts?

  9. Brian says:

    Who watches T.V? That’s sure to get them young ones talking about politics. Focus people, the next big population bubble is just starting school. Time to teach them well. Forget about the – not young and entrenched watching TV politics. Take that money and start teaching kids wtf a democracy can be, how it can be corrupted and how to take back ownership. Im just saying.

    Much love.

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