When Bauer Media offered the Government a whole host of iconic magazine titles for a mere $1, the idea was met with bemusement.
‘Why would NZ want to own magazines’ cried most media pundits with vested interests in the Government funding their pet projects instead. Chris Trotter righteously pointed out such a big idea could have been a god send to public broadcasting but Chris is a unique thinker.
So here we have another deal with the magical $1 price tag, but this time it’s a very, very different proposition.
This time it’s not the Government being asked to buy iconic media brands, but the opportunity for a foreign owned media conglomerate – NZME – to buy Stuff for $1.
Clearly NZME knows Stuff is about to be dumped in a very public manner and huge damage to the media world in NZ about to occur.
NZME is calculating that the Government would not want half the newspaper industry collapsing before an election and so will allow them to gain an outright monopoly by legislating around the Commerce Commission.
This would be madness.
Why would you allow the incredibly right wing and foreign owned NZME to own the entire NZ Newspaper market? A newspaper that hides behind a Paywall and produces a never ending stream of right wing propaganda from ZB – that’s who will own every Newspaper?
The problem foreign owned media face in NZ is a market failure, and their existence and dominance here IS PART OF THAT MARKET FAILURE!
The fundamental problem is that the advertising market has been bled dry by Google and Facebook while being owned by vulture capitalists who are only interested in using profits to cover the debt they’ve used to buy the companies.
Labour are allergic when it comes to big ideas needed to combat neoliberalism and market failure and the hollowing out of journalism by the financialization of that free market is a challenge that looks beyond the capacity of the Minister, who despite Australia considering one of my ideas below, still doesn’t seem to know what to do.
1 – Public Funded Media in the nations interest
The RNZ-TVNZ merger should be occurring immediately with the following inclusions.
- TV1 commercial free (so existing advertising can go to Mediaworks).
- RNZ launch a commercial free youth radio station.
- RNZ/TVNZ launch a 24 hour news station on one of their existing Freeview+ channels.
2 – Tax Google & Facebook and ring fence that for direct funding of corporate journalism
Google & Facebook charged a percentage on all revenue from NZ, that money is specifically ring fenced to a contestable fund available to established Media to specifically provide Fourth Estate Journalism.
3 – NZ on Air ‘Read between the Flags’ Kiwi journalism
In a world of disinformation, we need journalism we can trust. We all get the ‘swim between the flag’ model of surf life saving, NZ on Air should be given extra funding for ‘Read between the flags’ Kiwi Journalism. This money is to break the current elite opinion NZ on Air circle jerk and provide revenue for smaller blogs and citizen journalism who become eligible if they agree to a set of Journalistic Principles. If you do agree and sign up, you are entitled to funding and must have a Kiwi Journalism flag on your site to show you are obliged to the Journalistic Principles Code of conduct.
You would have an awareness campaign to urge NZers to ‘read between the flags’ for trusted information.
The NZ population has always been too small for advertiser funded journalism, it has ALWAYS needed State support, add a broken market where vulture capitalists use media profits to pay the interest on their debt and you have a hollowed out Fourth Estate that can’t be a watchdog to anything other than their self interest.
Big ideas are needed, but allowing one foreign owned media conglomerate to have a monopoly over the entire newspaper market is NOT a solution.
Sometimes you have to let the village burn. This is one of those times.
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