Dear Supporter of Public Service Broadcasting
I hope you’re enjoying the last two weeks of TVNZ 7.
It’s great to see the channel has chosen to go out with a bang – lots of strong programmes, many series continuing right up to the last week and a visionary new series called The Big Idea.
It’s gutting that such a great channel is coming to an end. No more regular documentaries, local science programmes, The Learning Hub, Kiwi arts programmes, The Court Report and so much more. It’s great that Media7 will continue on a commercial broadcaster (and possibly Back Benches) and we hope they get the same level of support from their new broadcasters even if they don’t get seen in primetime.
TVNZ 7 seems to be ending at an especially bad time. Is it just me or has our news media become more trashy and tabloid – from newspapers to magazines to television? There’s less sources of thoughtful or analytical news and current affairs – and a plethora of loud, sensational and shallow content. Yet an informed, conscious and actively-involved public is vital for a functioning democracy, for accountable decision-making and for our future prosperity.
TVNZ 7 is also a cultural asset – one of the few places on TV where you see the real New Zealand in all its quirky, good-natured and eccentric beauty. TVNZ 7 is where the politicians don’t wear makeup, local authors are celebrated, children can learn something useful and where there’s always something worth watching that won’t insult your intelligence. It’s no surprise that a third of the country watches TVNZ 7 – it’s a great channel.
Sadly our government has shown it doesn’t care and on the 1st of July, New Zealand will for the first time since television began, be without a public service television channel. We will join Mexico as the only developed countries in the world with totally commercial television chasing ratings above all else.
Why is this tragedy happening? So the government can save $16m. Yet they’ll spend $100m selling our energy companies, or $760m to extend a motorway to Warkworth. In two years the digital dividend will earn government around $33m annually and of course they could’ve just slapped a levy onto SKY and the ISP/Telcos which would have fully funded TVNZ 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10!
But it’s not over yet.
You may have seen in the news lately Save TVNZ 7 is not giving up the fight. We’ve enlisted the help of New Zealand’s top public law expert, Mai Chen; we’re still running public meetings around the country and we have two big Save TVNZ 7 protest marches coming up at the end of this month. We’re still fighting because we believe this issue is simply too important to let go, and we hope you will join us to tell the government that NZ needs public service television.
Tell everyone you know.
Oddly, the best way to tell the government to save public service television is to tell your friends and family. That’s because the government makes decisions based on regular polling of Kiwis on their current views and concerns. U-turns such as teacher ratios and mining national parks came about after frantic polling. Other political decisions such as withholding the tea-pot tapes came about because it was found that Kiwis had less respect for the media than for politicians.
With our Billboards and newspaper ads, we’ve been trying to get into the mass consciousness but our main strength are our 31,000 + petition signatories. So, please talk about the closure of TVNZ 7 and public service television with your friends, family, flatmates and Facebook fans - and especially with the market research company who rings you on behalf of a major political organisation.
Please come to the Save TVNZ 7 marches
The Wellington march is on Thursday, 28th of June at lunchtime. It leaves Civic Square a little after 12pm walking to Parliament where we hope to present the petition to Minister of Broadcasting, Craig Foss (he’s just checking his diary before he gets back to us on this). We hope this will be a huge march opposing the closure of TVNZ 7. And we want to send a clear message to all politicians that New Zealanders want public service television – if not now then definitely in the future.
Later that day at 6.30pm, Labour Deputy Grant Robertson is holding a public meeting at St John’s Hall on the corner of Willis St and Dixon St in Wellington to discuss setting up a broader ‘Friends of Public Broadcasting’ organisation. All are welcome.
The Auckland march is on Saturday, 30th of June which is the last day of transmission for TVNZ 7. In a few days we’ll announce the route of the procession, which will end at St Matthew-in-the-City on Hobson Street at 5.15pm with speeches. Bring a candle or a flower to help us commemorate the demise of TVNZ 7, hear from people involved in the channel and the campaign to save it, and to think about new beginnings.
Sorry for the rant.
I guess in a nutshell what I’m trying to say is “Don’t give up. TVNZ 7 may seem lost but public service television is still possible in NZ and we must call for it. It is our right.”
Thanks very much also for all the donations, for coming to the meetings, writing to your MP and all your efforts already. We have already achieved great things and we have the momentum now to do even more.
Na matou, noa na
Myles Thomas and the Save TVNZ 7 team