MEDIAWATCH: What RNZ/TVNZ Merger should be vs what it will actually be


RNZ/TVNZ merger is coming…

RNZ, TVNZ’s future: Mega public media entity likely to be unveiled tomorrow

It is understood the two companies will be dis-established to operate under one big new organisation with a public service mandate, but there will be a lengthy transition period through which the broadcasting operations of both would continue.

…here’s what THEY SHOULD do.

The steady rise of conspiracy theories spread on social media platforms risks undermining our society while creating a toxic polarisation and we see external powers manipulating debate on social media to influence elections. This all means that Public Broadcasting is becoming essential for the well being of our democracy.
We have a market failure in Public Broadcasting and we need to think of a TVNZ-RNZ merger as the spine of our public broadcasting body alongside a NZ on Air targeted journalism fund to ensure plurality of voice while also educating the public on fake news.

1 – RNZ-TVNZ merger – the spine of our public broadcasting vision.

The RNZ-TVNZ merger should be occurring immediately with the following inclusions.

    • TV1 commercial free
    • 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 NZ on Air journalism fund

Google & Facebook charged a percentage on all revenue from NZ, that money is specifically ring fenced to a contestable fund available through NZ on Air.

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3 – NZ on Air ‘Read between the Flags’ Kiwi journalism 

This fund would be where Facebook and Google tax goes to. 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 ensure plurality of voice for independent media, Māori media, specific communities,  news blogs and mainstream news media 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.

4 – Promoting Journalism in the Pacifc to counter other influences

I think one way NZ could uniquely promote its interests into the Pacific could be via Journalism. AUT run the excellent Pacific Media Centre to promote quality Journalism throughout the Pacific. What if NZ saw the promotion of quality Journalism as a craft throughout the Pacific as a strong way to counter corruption and external influence? Scholarships, Pacific News Media websites and support of local ethical journalism, these could be the pillars of promoting corruption free politics and holding those Governments to account. Promotion of Journalistic standards throughout the Pacific could counter external influences and promote NZs strategic interests.

5 – Māori Media 

Māori TV & Māori Radio need a baseline increase rather than extra budget for collaborations because the bigger players give very little back.

The NZ population has always been too small for advertiser funded journalism, it has ALWAYS needed State support, add a broken market where social media takes all the revenue while providing none of the journalism and you have a hollowed out Fourth Estate that can’t be a watchdog to anything other than their own self interest.

Current Government policy is simply adding more money to Corporate News to cover the news they should be covering anyway and to fund echo chambers of elite opinion so that the Spinoff Story gets posted on RNZ who then co post it on Stuff who then co post it on newshub.

It’s the same people saying the same thing to the same echo chambers.

The last election was a warning that disinformation campaigns can wreck the trust in our system, a strong public broadcaster like a merged RNZ-TVNZ alongside an expanded NZ on Air journalism fund paid for via taxes on the social media currently gutting traditional journalism would be a bold vision that would seek to genuinely rebuild public broadcasting.

That’s what they NEED to do, what will they do?

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Labour have shown no appetite to counter the interests of the broken market in a host of other fields, I have very little faith they will do anything meaningful here.


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  1. Meanwhile another right wing former National politician will head up TVNZ

    When are we going to get a non partisan appointment to run what is apparently a trusted NZ brand ?

    For to long we have had political bias in our media and when you see an ad featuring Mike fucking Hosking during the 6 PM news that I only watched for the first time in a year because someone at work wanted to watch the cops break up the parliament occupation there is something fundamentally wrong and why is this not an issue when free speech gets debated ?

  2. Meanwhile another right wing former National politician will head up TVNZ

    When are we going to get a non partisan appointment to run what is apparently a trusted NZ brand ?

    For to long we have had political bias in our media and when you see an ad featuring Mike fucking Hosking during the 6 PM news that I only watched for the first time in a year because someone at work wanted to watch the cops break up the parliament occupation there is something fundamentally wrong and why is this not an issue when free speech gets debated ?

    • Yes, the corporates were not slow getting their man Power into top media position.

      Why that was allowed to happen, I don’t understand.

      • Easy answer @ Kheala. Because fundamentally most of them drank the cool aid nearly 40 years ago.
        I notice that already some of them are talking about ‘brands’ before the details of what is being proposed hasn’t even been determined.
        Thankfully, even tho’ generation present buy into the whole POLS and Marketing BS, and those going through their various mid-life crises trying to be down with the kuds, many are starting to wake up to the fact the we’re heading for the latest Big Con (apologoes Gordon McLauchlan).
        Christ how I wish my gorgeous Labour Party would wake up to the numbers in various demographics they’ve managed to alienate. And they really can’t blame JA either – Her being a product of Her time and place – in this space, going forward.
        Her fundamentals remain intact – shame about some of Her colleagues.
        WAY WAY past time for a reshuffle and ‘reset’.

  3. You’re worry about “external influences” when TVNZ and RNZ already copy & paste large chunks of their output from fake news outlets like CNN?
    These days I watch the TV1 News just to see what the enemy is saying and extract my actual news from overseas bloggers and pundits.

  4. All good suggestions @ Martyn, but they don’t really go far enough.

    – For the services we get, we have one of the most over-managed systems you could possibly imagine.
    We now have RNZ. TVNZ, NZoA, Kordia all with their own highly paid CEOs, boards, administrators, and 3 of them each having their own sales and meerkating ‘teams’. Then of course we also have the Ministry for Everything shoving its pervasive little mits in the system with spectrum allocation and radio interference – the latter it has done bugger all about. Bear in mind the last TVNZ CEO was raking in a supposedly well-deserved $4m a year.
    – Public assets that were once part of the commons, and which served the commons were stripped away and turned into a profit making cash cows. The money earned should always have been put directly back into funding PSB but for neo-liberal managerialist ideology that was supposedly going to be so much more efficient and effective. (Not to mention of other assets flogged off in the name of efficiency and effectiveness bullshit, such as the NFU, Natural History Unit, or the demolition of Broadcasting House.. People must now pay to see what they or their descendants now produce)
    By all means tax the Googles and Facebooks to compensate for commercial broadcasting [ as in ‘one to many] losses, but also use Kordia profits to directly assist in funding.

    I’m a fan of the Reithian Trinity BUT we have to realise Reith operated in a very homogenous and imperialistic era. We now realise that diversity of voice, and opinion and freedom of expression is as necessary a part of a functioning democracy. There’s nothing hard about providing that but for the will of the politicians and those with vested interests in preserving the status quo (including some of those CEO$, managerialist$ and big star media whore$).

    To use the language of the neo-liberal: What would be truly “efficient and effective” would be to “right size” a lot of the managerialism in this space, rationalising IT services, administration and secretarial services, boards and other baggage, AND use the savings to provide a DECENT LIVING for the actual producers of content.

    If I ruled the world, I’d:
    1. Encourage all producers of content to form an Independent Media Trust. That’d include you @Martyn, and everyone from Newsroom to Stuff. to The Kaka, various podcasters and regional broadcasters. Indigenous (NZ) content producers – the Discoveries, Netflixes and Skies can look after themselves and charge what they bloody like as they already do while indigenous content producers use subscription models basically because they have to beg to remain viable.

    The next steps you’ll have to put aside any prejudices about people involved in the system. It’s about a workable structure that allows for information, educational and entertainment services while taking account of diversity of voice and provision for minority interests.

    2. Use NZonEar as the primary funding and support agency. Have it as 2 Divisions: PUBLIC – with ringfenced funding, and COMMERCIAL SERVICES. The Commercial Services Div already has a Sales and Meerkating ‘team’ who I understand are well-versed in junkets to film festivals and promotional activity.
    KORDIA becomes part of MZonEar Commercial services and some of its specialist technical ‘team’ provide the necessary expertise to continue to generate revenue. Merge and “rightsize” sales and meerkating teams.
    Take the whole frequency allocation stuff away from the Ministry for Everything. It’s such a monolith its never been able to walk and chew gum at the same time, nor will it ever be.

    3. NZonEar Commercial Services provides a free FTA television channel, and probably a second at reduced cost to The Independent Media Trust which will have its trustees and bureaucracy schedule the programming from beneficiary content producers and distribute the money generated from advertising

    4 NZonEar PUBLIC provides the following – no ‘rebranding’ needed:
    – RNZ National 101FM with AM frequencies used as necessary
    – Concert FM 102 FM or whatever – there’s nothing inherently magical about frequencies
    – The Wireless 103FM (or whatever the online incarnation is these days)
    – RNZ Pacific
    – Television 1. NO advertising. Predominantly, but not exclusively News, Current Affairs & Education
    – Television 2. Limited sponsorship to take account of existing material produced. Predominantly, but not exclusively Arts, Sport – Drama and Kulcha

    You’ll notice Maori Broadcasters have not been included in the above. NZonEar should also provide the necessary radio and tv frequencies to allow for local operators to operate locally and nationally as they see fit. Te Māngai Pāho probably has ideas on what’s best – last I heard, a very capable bloke (Sam Bishara) was part of it.

    What we’ll get though is a bit of tinkering and nothing that contributes to reducing the digital divide or improving the current system in any way.

  5. It’s all a bit last century though Martyn, who watches TVNZ or listens to RNZ anymore. The Aussies spend a billion of public money on ABC, a network that seems to regard the Aussie public, the people paying their wages, with complete contempt. Lead by out-of-touch, obsessive anti Australian ideologues and staffed by wet wokelets. No thanks.

    • Quite a few people still do – even if it’s merely background noise. RNZ still does quite well in the ratings game – which isn’t really what PSB is (or should be) all about.
      But if you want to operate in an environment where you only ever actively solicit the information of your choice, and closing your mind and senses to the stuff you don’t agree with – you’re in for the life of the bubble.
      Fuck those that are digitally divided eh? Fuck all those other people that have no right to exist in the Public Sphere. Theys are them, We’s are US.
      I’m surprised at you @David. I might have got you all wrong, but as me ole granny used to say: NEVER judge a book by its cover, and in your case, What a fucking gorgeous cover!
      You’ll opt for the destiny you deserve and I don’t think it will work out that well when you reach the Pearly Gates and realise the comforts you’ve been accustomed to no longer exist.
      What a fucking prat gittus comment.
      Hopefully you’ll not be part of what’s required in the new generation. If so you’ll be truly Farked

      • Thanks OWT, I suspect you’ve missed my point, essentially that RNZ/TVNZ are not reaching across “the divide” at all. Their generally older audience is declining but of more concern is that, far from being a non partisan source, they are very much part of the current orthodoxy themselves. An actual bubble or echo chamber in their own right. Do you ever hear anything contentious and challenging and interesting on there that questions the orthodox, approved, view on climate change for example. No, I didn’t think so.

        People have a very good instinct for propaganda, given that there’s at least two sides to every story, to every explanation of reality, when you only hear one side you’re almost certainly being manipulated and, by omission or commission, lied to. No thanks.

        • David George
          I didn’t know that you could talk so much nonsense. Congratulations. That is one side to the story and I know that the truth is being manipulated somewhere near you. Let it out now! Are we wiser since I said that?

          I do not want to listen or read every half-baked opinion that argues for freedom whatever. The wind will blow those away and the people that hold them are merely sportsmen and women, tossing ideas around like balls. And getting goals in sport may just be throwing something through a ring. Goals for real life, come from people that think of good outcomes and the best and most effective, principled way to get them – to benefit society and people.

          Not the argument as a feature, but whether it can produce something worthy that aids society. Otherwise might as well watch Michael Palin and John Cleese in their skit Arguments. It’s funny for a while, then leaves those who think often, thoughtful.

        • “not reaching across the divide”.
          Mmmmm. I’m not so sure about that.
          I think maybe you turned off and have never gone back, preferring to just solicit only material that gets you off.
          RNZ is at least making an attempt, although how that Willie from the Chocolate Factory managed to keep his job after the Concert FM debacle, I’ll never know.

          I’m guilty of the same at times with commercial media but it’s for different reasons
          I can’t watch ‘Breakfast’ or the ‘AM’ show. The level of advertising is utterly intrusive and stuffs up any continuity there might be on any issue. Every time I try to flick over to Breakfast or AM from Morning Report or a more relaxing Concert FM, or Smooth Jazz (Monterrey) or Radio Schizoid from the ageing hippie Mumbai freaks, or African radio – courtesy, I strike a hideous ad break screaming at me trying to sell me shit I don’t need or want. Just can’t do it.
          It’s either an ad break or ‘personality stars’ waffling on about nothing in particular.
          The ‘personalities though are of course utterly gorgeous and even Jesus Christ decided he just lerved being on “the telly”.
          (Not sure whatever happened to that pledge from broadcasters either when they agreed to keep advertising volume at the same level as programme content. It lasted about 5 minutes).
          Broadcast radio and television is not going away anytime soon, unless of course we (that team of us) want to increase the digital/media divide and have people retreat into their own little bubbles further reducing their spatial awareness. It’s bad enough as it is ffs!

          • the thing is the loud ads can be self defeating….guy I know will buy nothing from JB HIFI or NOEL LEEMING because of their SCREAMMMINNGGGG ads,
            I wonder if this is a common reaction….possibly an area for proper research…after all if you’re paying for ads that your market hates maybe you need a new agency.

      • OwT
        You make valid points about what is, was and what should be in our media. What is planned, we knew really was unchangeable and no talk of good policy or good public service would filter in to political ears to brain, and good public practice prevail. NZ is a small country and has prostituted itself to the capitalist world and has been sliced and diced in so many ways for so many golden fingers holding their tiny pies that they can squeeze money out of., this will keep going until we reach nano-size for everything., and be utterly tawdry.

        In 1999 there was a sudden lurch in television and John Hawkesby Senior who had been a well-spoken familiar face was not wanted. He sued for loss of contract and was paid $millions and now grows grapes on Waiheke Island I think, and wrote The Spirit of Waiheke about how nice and creative they are (more than other places like South Auckland no doubt).
        Payment to Hawkesby over $5 million
        TV3 got involved.
        Graeme Hart one of NZ richest men has a daughter married to a Hawkesby.

        This is one example of the slush money that becomes available when private interests get into the media. That we are going further along this path shows how juvenile our politicians are; how open to blandishments of importance as they mingle with, as google states for high society, ‘the aggregate of people who are fashionable, wealthy, and influential, regarded as forming a distinct group in a community’, the beautiful people, or in common language, nobs, toffs, swells!

        There are a number of families that have found it easier to acquire wealth and power under the neoliberal economic system, but particularly have slipped in when our jewels belonging to the public have been opened up to private interests so giving them the opportunity to build profit-taking from them. The loss of commons can be seen here, and the rise of a semi-aristocratic class lording it over the peasants, which would include a number of us. It isn’t bad to be a peasant able to afford a full, simple lifestyle, but when lack of agency and variable genteel poverty is the most that can be hoped and worked for, it sucks.

        Millions of dollars being received from what is basically public relations and advertising with some gravitas news or facts thrown in. Our PM gets under half a million, that difference in amounts is an indication of where power lies in the country. As talkers and electronic players in retail or development swerve further away from the physical, and delivering human skills for humans as needed, the money goes now firstly towards electronics and aesthetics, efficiency and speed. AI Rules OK!!

        Having a republic instead of being under a monarchy wouldn’t make any difference to the way the country is run, those who have sharp business acumen and training at university (note Hart’s MBA at Otago Uni) in wealthy positions will impose what they want through their political purchases and their machinations. A media CEO paid $4 million for running something that is a known entity and part of the basic framework of society, no profit demanded by ‘shareholders’ is just neoliberal gouging. Effective, efficient and not-for-profit can only be obtained as a public entity which also should keep out bias, buying favours or special purpose broadcasting time, except for advancing public interests of advising and informing..

        The taxes we pay, the prices we pay for everything, it is us that pay out these huge sums for these self-important smiling, serious-looking gargoyles. They take themselves and their positions seriously; us they manipulate knowing a touch of scandal, a reference to blood, violence, or certain misfortunes which people have decided to care about, will turn our sensitive eyes and brains to pay attention. And we lose our ability to intelligently use all that higher education in favour of a circus of being amused, awakened briefly to what passes as the news, that is presented to us and politicians from around the world that fill the clown section perhaps on kiddies’ slides or the sports field, or news that leads to shock and awe, as Putin is now.

        One thing that is essential, is to have good well-funded humanities departments that don’t specialise in woke subjects, but humanity as a whole, social anthropology perhaps would be a basic course, and also include a human economics model; while in business a social anthropology course would be a basic. Otherwise we just bring forth people with no cohesive humanity in them, aching for upper-class lifestyles for themselves, as pestiferous as argentine ants and spreading as copiously.

        • You’re a thinker incha @Grey.
          Want to marry me? We could sit in our rockers and make each other cups of tea while we reminisce and worry about our kids futures. ;

  6. Just shut the lot. It’s all dead tree media now that hardly anyone reads, watches or listens to. Once the boomers die off they’ll be no one left to tune in.

    The bigger challenge that lies before us as a society is how do we educate and equip people with the critical thinkers skills needed to parse good from bad information. Legacy media is dying and will soon be gone. Alternative forms of information are already there and will only continue to grow. Add to this the complete breakdown in trust between the media and broad segments of our country (and many others) during the pandemic – the likes of Stuff and the Spin Off taking Labours shilling in return for an agreed position on some concepts certainly hasn’t helped either.

    The gated institutional narrative is being broken down, the elite are losing control of what they want us to hear and this is just a pathetic attempt to hold on to that control.

    The very fact that this blog and some others can not only succeed but thrive along with the likes of The Working Group podcast clearly points the way forward.

    • well yeti at least the boomers received a decent education unlike your yoof saviours….they aren’t the twatter generation…look to y’self

  7. It’s like putting another layer of management over the top and ‘bigging’ it up is all this government knows.

    “RNZ and TVNZ to be folded into new mega public media entity, Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi confirms”

    Meanwhile grass roots media and journos (aka TDB) get nothing for the work they do and voice they provide.

    Funding for anything in NZ, has to be spun and identity based where as the majority of Kiwis don’t actually fall into that ‘special’ funding group aka woke or right wing and special interest group, and thus are unrepresented in the media.

    Not just this ‘mega entity approach’, 3 waters, the polytech reforms, everything is getting more management and less agile and further away from grass roots and consumers.

    ACT were blamed for supercity and fell to 1%, people don’t actually like massive entities, surprise, surprise.

    Management and asset pulls are not very popular and makes the driver of those look like control freaks while also they often put the right wingers with woke in charge, to be even less representative.

    • Its called public ownership.

      It is root of everything that is good and decent in this country. It is the only way we can get decent TV, health and education services. Not privatisation and ‘competition’.

  8. If shows like ‘Checkpoint’ and ‘Party People’ are anything to go by, the merger of RedRadio and TVNZ will just be an expansion of the echo-chamber.

    The same credential lacking “experts” will be trotted out and the NZ broadcasting schools will feed the new, hungry RedTV Beast with cheap labor. Graduates lacking nuance will to whip a Maori/Treaty lens on ALL issues whether appropriate or not.

    It’ll probably end in tears [poor ratings], with a few walking away with large chunk of the funding pie.

    Blogs and news sites like The Daily Blog have a HUGE advantage! RedTV with foolishly waste money hand-over-fist on whiteboards, paintings, ceremonies, logos, advisers, taxi accounts, letterheads, milquetoast people, whatever! ALT media will keep banging out the content.

    Martyn and his team’s proverbial stock just went up!

  9. it doesn’t matter how much cash you give it or how ‘inspirational’ the mission statement if they employ the same mediocrities.

  10. Endorsing Yeti, brilliant; SaveNZ and Zack, most pertinent. I am retired and never watch TV and only occasionally listen to music/news on the radio and only the news to see what the spin is. My sources are varied and interesting, go TDB!
    However there are many people who do rely on TV and radio for information and entertainment and although dwindling they would be disadvantaged without it as they are not savvy with online media.
    The bottom line is nothing will change. Yes Minister.


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