This. Is. Huge.
Stuff Ltd chief executive Sinead Boucher has bought the company from its Australian owners Nine Entertainment, ending months of speculation about a potential takeover.
The management buyout led by Boucher is understood to have been planned and executed very quickly, with the chief executive buying the company for a direct price of $1, and returning the company to New Zealand ownership. The sale is expected to be completed by May 31.
The major issue about bailing out Stuff was that the Government didn’t want to get caught in the politically embarrassing situation of having helped a foreign media owner who would then cut and run.
Sinead taking this enormously brave and courageous decision herself by buying the entire company is not only testament to her personal conviction to support NZ journalism but now must also radically reconstruct the role the State should play in protecting that NZ journalism.
We haven’t had an enormous media organisation fully owned by NZers outside of TVNZ and RNZ since the deregulation era so this is a precious democratic treasure that now must be supported by Government.
When Stuff was foreign owned, fuck ’em. Now it’s NZ owned, love, cherish and support them!
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 but the hollowing out of journalism by the free market is a challenge that demands the same taxation on multinationals thinking that Australia is now considering…
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.
Stuff now being owned by NZers is a Fourth Estate worth supporting and defending.
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