The People’s Commission into Public Broadcasting? Only if you define ‘the People’ as self interested lobby groups


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.

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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.



  1. Thank you Martin, well said.

    Why have none of the people involved questioned the utter idiocy of funding news media through advertising given to commercial media?
    (Which is what we have allowed state-owned media to become, apart from beleaguered and underfunded RNZ…

  2. Every word a gem Martyn thank you very much you are a lightening rod that should also be on that panel.

    Very strange bed fellows we have now with Donald trump today again soundly attacking the Media as totally corrupt and he has vowed to drain the swamp and restore honest media ,and it sounds like he with his canning the TPPA has done more for our cause than anyone else did.

    What a turn up, and if he succeeds it may spill over to our global corrupt overseas bank owned media also eh?

  3. Al Jazeera’s “Up Front” programme (rebroadcast tomorrow – Monday – at 9.30PM) has some interesting insights into the failings of commercialsed MSM. It is insightful and well worth a look.

    I’ll be curious to see what this “People’s Commission” comes up with. It is disappointing though, that people of the calibre listed by Martyn have not been included. Perhaps even a blogger or two, expert at media affairs (not me, I don’t consider myself sufficiently expert enough).

  4. “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.”

    That is certainly one main problem, and I am myself mystified and confused about the composition of that panel to travel the country and hear submissions.

    Is this supposed to be the last fighting troupe for better broadcasting, or such a desperate effort by some to get ideas from the public, which they may not have themselves already?

    God help us with this kind of action.

    The Nats made sure they forced community broadcasters such as Triangle TV off the airwaves years ago, as their programs did not seem to be to their liking. High fees for digital communication, that few can pay, that made it a largely exclusive club of commercial interests that now rule Freeview and what else there is.

    It is beyond belief, that we get only TVNZ and Newshub or Mediaworks and their repeat channels, Maori TV and Te Reo, and otherwise almost only shopping channels, FOUR CHINESE TV channels (!) and a couple of religious ones and Indian APNA on Freeview here in Auckland.

    And TVNZ feed us with endless commercials same as the opposition, at least there is Al Jazeera.

    Radio is full of music stations, the odd student radio station and then there is only really RNZ left for at least some information to get. The NZ media scape does more look like a desert these days, void of quality and substance.

  5. Agree totally Martyn. Once long ago NZ news was dominated by world events and how they may or may not affect us.This did much to at least educate the NZ population about world affairs. Politics in NZ also featured with in depth reporting and debate. More provincial news items were delegated a post-news slot.

    Today the opening news item may feature a lengthy cover of a celebrity wedding/divorce, a 2 minute cover of Trump’s latest rantings, an update of the PM’s jaunts around the country/globe and 20 minutes of sport. Rarely mentioned is the growing poverty, homelessness, hopelessness, or unemployment. Rarely is there any debate allowed from opposition parties on these issues . It is no wonder that when we rely on recycled news from the MSM around the world that this country’s population has become ‘dumbed down’ .

  6. The stirring might make the Government do something serious to give credibility to the exercise. You know, go full bore and expect us to accept what comes out. Add someone who is a real expert to the commission. You know, (drumroll, because that in their fuckwittery is what they would expect) Steven Joyce !!!

  7. You echo my sentiments Martyn. The panel on the Commission did not excite me either. They seemed to represent more of the problem than the solution. Knowledge is power, ignorance is weakness. Hence the rationale for poor quality media by our so called leaders.

  8. That everybody’s economist supported the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan as the ACT Party friendly, supposedly “independent hearing panel” recommended it.

    That was the last time I listened to what Shamubeel may have to say.

    He is flirting with Generation Zero Future and with this lot now, as Martyn writes, ulterior self interest holding lobbyists of whatever colour.

    NO thanks, you guys cannot represent me, and will in all likelihood just run a BS submission process, that will at best only tell us what we have already known for years.

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