Action Station, The Spinoff, Scoop, some investment manager, a failed right wing Local politician, a Herald columnist , a Producer/Director, the man who couldn’t protect TV3 from Mark Weldon and everyones favourite economist Shamubeel Eaqub…
…cough, (yes he really posed for that image), are launching a People’s Commission into Public Broadcasting.
Good luck to them.
With the make up of that group though, it sounds like the ‘solution’ (surprise, surprise) will be more tax payer funds into their own online pet media projects rather than a serious examination of public broadcasting in terms of our democracy and the free market dynamics that have allowed an utterly unregulated media landscape to deteriorate into the market failure of a monopoly and a duopoly.
If this was a serious attempt to look at what has gone wrong in NZ Broadcasting and wasn’t just some lobby group dressed up as the ‘concerns of the People’ trying to fund their own blogs you would have Dr Wayne Hope, Brian Edwards, Mihingarangi Forbes, Dr Peter Thompson, Dr David Robbie, Dr Gavin Ellis and the brilliant Dr Merja Myllylahti involved.
Without any of those names attached, this just looks like some sort of C list celebrity version of Family Feud.
They may as well throw in Matthew Hooton, Michelle Boag and Jono and Ben.
Here are the fundamental problems and solutions facing the NZ Broadcasting landscape.
Money and a splintered and fragmented media spectrum.
As Dr Wayne Hope and Dr Merja Myllylahti so powerfully explained on their TDB livestream late last year, it is the ownership models of NZ media that are most damaging.
NZME is 86% owned by Banking interests, so of course there is no counter economic narrative to their never ending economic growth model and high house valuations are great.
It is our insane neoliberal free market environment where corporations can own different media across the whole media market that is to blame. This allows newspapers radio and TV to all subserviently recycle the same myths, the same voices of power and the same fake news as gospel.
The fact that Sky TV has gone so long without any specific levy aimed at them is testament to how well they have bribed and paid off all major political parties.
The splintering of the media spectrum has devolved Habermas’s Public Square into an ocean of narcissists taking selfies and re-feeding each other echo chamber fantasies.
If we are to pull Public Broadcasting back from the brink so that our democracy watchdog isn’t a lap dog we need harsh regulation that sets a levy on telecommunication providers and Sky TV.
This levy is then channelled back into solidifying the existing public media assets (RNZ & TVNZ) while also expanding to buy up and purchase the NZ Herald as a public newspaper.
For our democracy to function, we need to take back our mass media Public Squares. Some youtube documentary posted up online amongst millions of others only manages to highlight how empty a solution that really is.
Yes NZ on Air has a role to fund new media and experiment with new delivery methods of media, but we need to resource mass media platforms to truly engage and provoke the public.
Social media and the internet are mere transmission platforms, they are not a replacement for Public Broadcasting. What is needed is a strong commitment from the next Government to impose levies on the existing telecommunication players and Sky so that we can properly fund TVNZ, RNZ and operate and buy the NZ Herald.
Building around public radio, public TV and a public newspaper is how you save public broadcasting, further fragmentation and money for online pet projects isn’t a solution.