Broadcasting merger – why and what will it mean?

Barrie Saunders comments on the government’s proposals for restructuring public broadcasting (based on what we have been told so far) …

TVNZ and RNZ are to be merged but absent is a credible rationale or even the end point.   All that is being left to the yet to be appointed establishment board.

First, a bouquet to those journalists who have analysed the announcement and pointed out the information gaps.   Pretty amazing when you think this is all about communication entities.

In summary, what we know is they will come under one company umbrella, the budget for which has yet to be announced.  And yes, it will have a charter full of worthy objectives and will be required to cater better for minorities.

What will happen over the next year?

  • Massive lobbying by many to be on the new board, including current members of the RNZ and TVNZ boards.
  • Massive lobbying from the supporters of “public broadcasting”, some of whom are dismayed at the thought the commercial TVNZ culture will permeate their beloved RNZ.
  • Massive time spent inside parts of RNZ and TVNZ as staff lobby for key roles and speculate on what may happen.  A general loss of productivity.
  • Current CEOs of TVNZ and RNZ, Simon Power and Paul Thompson respectively, expected to be preoccupied with the merger and how they might head it, all at the expense of their day jobs.
  • Other media heads, including Discovery, to engage in the process to ensure they are advantaged or at least not disadvantaged.
  • Lots of media speculation about what’s going on.
  • General public confusion.

Continue reading “Broadcasting merger – why and what will it mean?”

Pulling the FM plug on the Concert programme was a matter for Parliament to decide

This post by TOM FREWEN is one of two being published on Point of Order today on the restructuring of state broadcasting and the fate of RNZ’s Concert programme.   

Tom is a journalist and broadcaster who has worked for both commercial and publicly funded media. He reported on the NZ House of Representatives for 22 years, starting the Today/Week in Parliament programmes in 1994, and he established Mediawatch on RNZ, fronted first by Russell Brown and now by Colin Peacock.   

There was never any need for the QC trio, hired by local orchestras to fight RNZ’s plan to turf Concert off its high-quality FM frequency, to go past the first of the three legs of their proposed legal action.

That was the claim that RNZ was in breach of the Radiocommunications Act 1989 which, together with the Broadcasting Act of the same year, provides the legislated foundations for the broadcasting system established by the Fourth Labour government 31 years ago.

Section 174 of the Radiocommunications Act entitles RNZ to use “certain frequencies” for “the operation of four services including “the service known as the FM Concert Programme”. Section 175 specifies the conditions of the licences relating to the FM Concert Programme and National Radio

RNZ’s chief executive, Paul Thompson, assured Lisa Owen on Checkpoint on Tuesday this week that legal advice had been obtained when they hatched what they call their “strategy” to become more relevant to younger people. Continue reading “Pulling the FM plug on the Concert programme was a matter for Parliament to decide”

The TVNZ–RNZ merger – is this another broadcasting train wreck? 

This post by BARRIE SAUNDERS is one of two being published on Point of Order today on the restructuring of state broadcasting and the fate of RNZ’s Concert programme.   

In the 1970s Barrie worked for the NZBC, ABC, UPITN, NBR and the BBC, he  was a director of TVNZ from 2011-2017, and he listens via the internet to the ABC, BBC and other public radio.   

The RNZ Concert programme train wreck is but a prelude to what is likely if the proposed RNZ-TVNZ merger goes ahead.

The Government has asked PWC to flesh out a plan that doesn’t stack up.  But we can be 100% confident that PWC will find the proposed merger is viable when they report to the government in mid-year.   Consultants rarely produce reports that customer don’t like and – unlike the private sector – this one will be taxpayer underwritten.  And we all know what that means.

In a small democracy and economy, I accept there is a case for a publicly owned broadcaster.  But it should exist alongside a thriving private media, which at present is in deep trouble as foreign digital media hoover up most of the digital advertising, without providing any real NZ content. Continue reading “The TVNZ–RNZ merger – is this another broadcasting train wreck? “