The case for Simon Bridges as Chair of RNZ/TVNZ Merger

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TVNZ/RNZ merger: Cabinet committee set to decide whether Simon Bridges will be chairman – will Jacinda Ardern reject it?

A recommendation for former National Party leader Simon Bridges to chair the board of the merged TVNZ-RNZ public media entity is set to go before a Cabinet committee next week, the NZ Herald understands.

However, the proposal being put forward by Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson could end up being scotched at that point by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

The Herald was told both Ardern and Robertson have concerns about putting a former politician of any stripe into key positions on the board of the merged company, which comes into being in March 2023.

The appointment has to get through the Cabinet Appointments and Honours committee before going to a full Cabinet.

When Claire Trevett is getting leaks like this, it means Andrew Campbell has officially moved into her office for a week.

Executing Simon Bridges before the Cabinet is even held is the kind of self sabotage only highly trained self-hating dolphins and the Wellington Political Management Class can pull off.

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The case for Simon Bridges to become the Chair of the Aotearoa Public Broadcasting Agency Mouthful Stupid Name is incredibly good and before the Mandarins can tsk tsk the appointment, the argument for Simon Bridges as Chair of the RNZ/TVNZ Merger should be heard!

The case for:

I’m not overstating it when I say appointing Simon Bridges as the Chair of Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media is probably the best strategic move Labour have pulled since appointing the incredibly talented Tracey Martin to oversee its development in the first place.

Bridges is a former Communications Minister who oversaw RNZ and TVNZ, he was on the receiving end of intense Press Gallery Journalism as a Minister and as a Political Leader and is well versed in the Fourth Estate importance of public broadcasting. He has executive level experience, he is the current Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO and he has the practical experience of actually podcasting in the media so his talent alone should get him this position from the pure meritocracy of it.

However, I also acknowledge that the less said about his Retro Rocket performance on the Masked Singer, the better.

If his meritocracy doesn’t convince you (and it should), then consider the political implications.

Appointing Bridges gives the Jim Bolger inoculation vaccine. Labour developed this vaccine when getting KiwiBank over the line, and it’s worked ever since.

Create a new State Entity that the National Party hate on philosophical principle and then appoint a former National Party leader to lead it and boom, National have to shut up!

The RNZ/TVNZ merger has become an endless political target for the right, appointing Bridges shuts down that entire political attack line, you literally are removing a political target for the entirety of the election year!

How many appointments can do that?

If the politics don’t convince you (and they should), look at the way a cross party support gesture like this empowers Labour’s sense of statesmanship at a time of allegations of nepotism while rebuilding the independent editorial strength of the ANZPM!

If the symbolism doesn’t convince you (and it should), consider the end product for the consumer. A dream Board could be created here for the ANZPM that could herald in a new golden age of public broadcasting!

Imagine an ANZPM Board comprising of Simon Bridges, Tracey Martin, Simon Power, Paul Thompson, Dr Jim Mather, Julian Wilcox and Carol Hirschfeld with a few other Industry Heavyweights thrown in.

Imagine what that Board utilising RNZs journalism and public broadcasting ethos into the enormous platform that TVNZ is could produce in terms of quality content that would reshape the Fourth Estate in an age of disinformation and misinformation.

The case against and why those arguments are bullshit:

The push back is Simon’s past social conservatism on rainbow issues rules him out from Chairing the Public Broadcaster.

This is bullshit.

His opinion on those issues doesn’t rule him out. Only extremely woke acolytes  of cancel culture and deplatforming will get upset about this, and where are they going to go vote?

Green Party?

Fine. Off you go. See you after the election when your vote will still bolster the left block.

There were very legitimate reasons to push back on the Gay Conversion Bill. Criminalising someone and punishing them for years in jail for consenting acts is draconian in the extreme and the fact no one has even utilised the law begs the question, how much of an issue was this in the 21st century?

As someone who holds socially conservative views, Simon is acutely aware of the need for civil debate and both sides of the story journalism values which are desperately needed in an age of media echo chambers.

Him holding those views doesn’t disqualify him from the job nor do they eclipse all the other extremely good reasons why this is a strategic master stroke.

Some will argue he doesn’t have the experience, but he does.

Dear Cabinet – totes your call, but….:

Look, it’s totally your call, but appointing Simon has an enormous amount of upside and if you don’t do it, you make the TVNZ/RNZ Merger a political target for the rest of the year, which would be unfortunate because if you get this through, it will represent the first thing you’ve actually achieved from your original 2017 manifesto.

I know, 5 years in and you still haven’t actually achieved anything (other than saving us all from a once in century pandemic), so this merger really does need to actually get over the line or else you won’t have much to point to for half a decade in terms of success (other than saving us all from a once in century pandemic).

A Media Board, Chaired by Simon Bridges with the kind of talent I’ve mentioned above could rebuild and reestablish public broadcasting in a truly exciting way.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Soymun? why not, it will get the natzo media channel filth pump turned down a few notches at the very least.

    The merger will need promoting to the public that are paying for it, so to bring more people on board a conservative figure in the leadership team may be an asset.

    I would generally prefer Mr Bridges was kept well away from public appointments, but Jim Bolger redeemed himself a little with Kiwibank and new labour legislation so maybe…

  2. It doesn’t matter, though I get your political angle on Bridges. I know you hate The Spinoff but they have three articles on why this merger doesn’t matter:
    20 years of TV ratings that show the immense scale of audience decline

    Ratings show people under 50 are abandoning television.
    Also NZ On Air themselves:
    The generational divide widens in latest NZ On Air audience survey

    It’s dying, and the pace of death increasing. I know people in their 70’s and 80’s who still tune for the 6pm News and bitch and rage about the Maori words, general woke coverage and celebrity shallowness of it all and when asked why they watch something that pisses them off so much they say it’s because they’ve always watched it. But they’re departing this world fast.

    The good news is that people are listening to things like The Working Group. That’s the future.

    • Fuck the oldies, it’s a new world.
      Well at least thats what was captured on the tape recording between Key and Banks.They weren’t worried about Peter’s core voter base.
      So you can thank National and ACT for the wankfest that is T.V. NZ.

  3. Great diversity hire that’s all that counts.
    They won’t look at actual ability, we know this because look at the MPs in Labour and the greens: Maori, women and Mexicans over represented.

  4. Depends? It will depend on if she reads the Cabinet paper(s) and is made aware of it? Her attention to detail(s) these days is questionable.

    • No difference between Bridges and Robertson?? Bridges is an old-fashioned Conservative, Robertson is a woke progressive neoliberal. There, fixed it for you.

  5. Ormsby Corp will decide who controls the government’s propaganda machine….they are now running the country….

  6. I tend to agree with Tom Hunter here. Although this merger is a bit more of the co-governance 2 Broadcasters, it’s a dying industry. Whatever power Willie thinks it will hold over us, it will rely enormously on people tuning in. They won’t and I suspect RNZ has been in decline for the last few years now and will continue to do so, as will TVNZ.

  7. Wrong move.

    Appointing Bridges would shout out that the new dominant source of news is entirely political- with its leadership chosen for political purposes.

Comments are closed.