The future of broadcasting is in Faafoi’s hands (which might not be as fumble-free as CEOs decided last year)

Back  in  September,  when reporting  its annual assessment  of  what it calls  “Mood  of  the  Boardroom”,  the New Zealand Herald featured  an article on how  CEOs ranked  Cabinet  ministers on  performance.

Lo and behold,  17th-ranked  Kris  Faafoi  emerged   as  the minister  who  most  impressed  “top  chief  executives”.

The   report    quoted   a  “leading  banker”  (who  sensibly  remained anonymous)  as   saying the

“ … unsung performers of this  Cabinet   are  David Parker and  Kris Faafoi.  Both have  reached out to the business  community to  genuinely ask for  our  views and  listened. They also put  government policies  in their  areas  into perspective”.

 Point  of  Order   can only wonder   whether   those   top  CEOs   are still clinging to the  view  they  expressed  last  September  that   Faafoi  is  a  “safe  pair of hands”.

After  months of speculation  on the future of  Radio  NZ  and TVNZ  and the prospect these organisations might be merged to  form  a new public media  entity, Faafoi  (as  Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media) announced work will begin on a business case to assess the viability of  that new public media entity.

Only  once the  business  case is   completed, maybe  by  June or  July, will   Cabinet    make  a final decision about the future of RNZ and TVNZ.

Given  the  country then be  about  to embark on  an election campaign,  Point of Order reckons  the  chance   of  Cabinet signing  off then  on  a   new public  media  entity  are  virtually zero.

Yet  as  Faafoi admits,  NZ’s   media sector, both public and private, is facing unprecedented challenges with competition from the likes of Google and Facebook, declining revenue shares, and changes in when and how audiences access their information and entertainment.

TV3  is  up  for   sale   and  private-sector  media  companies  like  NZME  and  Stuff    are struggling  to  survive.   And  it  was  Faafoi  as  Commerce  Minister    who  accepted the  Commerce Commission’s ruling  against  a  merger of  NZME  and Stuff —a  merger  which  most  authorities in  the media  business  believe is  essential for   their survival.

So  when  Faafoi  spouts  about  the  government’s  need  to ensure New Zealanders have a strong independent public media service for decades to come, shouldn’t  he  be  applying the greatest  urgency  to resolving the issue?

The difficulty, Point of  Order  suspects,  is that Faafoi   has  no idea  of  what  a  new public media  entity   would and/or should look  like.

Trying to  merge  Radio NZ,  which relies  on  government money for  funding, with the  commercial  operations  of   TVNZ    would be a demanding challenge.

Faafoi  concedes   the viability  of  both Radio NZ  and  TVNZ  are  at risk,  and  some  authorities   believe  TVNZ –  once  a  cash cow for the  government – is  beginning to  head in the same  direction  as  its  privately  owned  rival.

Anybody  in the  media  business  has been  aware   for some years  of   how  the  commercial operations of  locally owned  media  outlets have nose-dived.

So    would those  “top CEOs”  still  think   Faafoi  is  the  “safe pair of hands”    they  believed he was last  September (when maybe they all had  a  great  lunch  together)?   But we wonder about the quality of the CEOs who made that judgement and would like to think the very best of our top CEOs  were hard  at  it  in their own business,  rather than flannelling  about    ministerial performance.

There’ll  be   some    who might think  Faafoi is  politically  astute   in  ensuring   that a  decision is  left   until  after the election.  By  then he   might not be  Minister of  Broadcasting

So will   Cabinet    make  a final decision about the future of RNZ and TVNZ once the business case is completed?

The chances  of  establishing the best way of providing NZers with a range of trusted news, information, and entertainment hangs in the air.

It is all  very well  spruiking  the  need for any new public entity  to have the flexibility and the strength to meet future change and challenges  —  but  what  if   PwC, entrusted with  coming up with the business  case  for  a new publicly funded media  outlet,  frames a  hefty  bill  for the taxpayer  in  funding   an independent multiple-platform, multi-media operation?

Faced  with that  kind of   political headache,  Faafoi  has  decided  it   would be a  good idea    not to  worry   voters in the  Mana  electorate  in September. Instead  he has  chosen to   go on  the party  list.


3 thoughts on “The future of broadcasting is in Faafoi’s hands (which might not be as fumble-free as CEOs decided last year)

  1. Faafoi is useless; I have never rated him. The only reason he got the Broadcasting Ministerial position is because he is a former television presenter. In my opinion, he was a mediocre television news reader with a patchy grasp of the English language who frequently used the wrong words and mispronounced others. He looked good early in his tenure, according to some, because he did nothing. Now, like most of the cabinet members, when he is asked to perform he is not up to it.


  2. If these so-called broadcasters stopped insulting their audiences intelligence actually provided quality balanced news journalism without some much infantile programming they wouldn’t be in such a dire position.

    Liked by 1 person

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