The Coalition for Better Broadcasting welcomes Clare Curran’s Private Members Bill – Radio New Zealand (Catch-up Funding) Amendment Bill.
It’s worth noting that internationally, nations similar to New Zealand spend far more on their national radio broadcasters than NZ.
Australians pay $15 each for ABC radio and the British spend over $20. It’s not just about having a larger population – the Irish spend almost $20 each and Scandinavian countries are all up there and higher.
Meanwhile each NZer spends a measly $7.19 each year keeping Radio NZ afloat.
And bear in mind that research consistently shows that the vast majority of NZers believe Radio NZ is important to New Zealand – between 84% to 87% over the last 6 years. [Colmar Brunton/Nielsen, sample 1000]
“Radio NZ fulfils a vital role” says CBB Chief Executive, Myles Thomas. “Not only is it the voice of record for daily events. It also leads disaster relief broadcasting without adverts, long-form informative programmes that aren’t just talkback, and genuine diversity when it comes to programme genres, voices and viewpoints.”
Radio NZ is struggling under a frozen budget which has effectively cut its funding by more than 11% since the freeze was imposed in 2008. Even though in 2007 a KPMG report stated Radio NZ was significantly under-funded. RNZ internal finances have gotten so tight that Chief Executive Paul Thompson actually admitted to select committee in 2014, “To answer the question, how much longer can we cut the cloth? Not much longer.”
“That was last year,” Mr Thomas said. “Anecdotally, we’ve heard that prior to this year’s budget Radio NZ made a strong proposal to Minister Amy Adams for an increase in funding to match Radio NZ’s ambitions to stay relevant in a converging media environment. Apparently her response was a firm ‘No’. OIA attempts to confirm this have been refused and it is currently with the Ombudsman.”
“So while the government applauds Radio NZ’s ambition to innovate, increase audiences and meet digital convergence, they will not increase the funding that would allow it to do so. Or even to maintain existing services. Even with a budgetary surplus on the horizon.”
The Radio New Zealand (Catch-up Funding) Amendment Bill will address this issue and we urge the government to support it if drawn from the ballot.
The CBB supports index-linking the funding for public media provisions across the sector. We also support in principle the notion of taking account of population growth in funding, although we think this should be tied specifically to increasing the diversity and representation of local content across different regions and cultures.