RNZ funding questions

Radio New Zealand (and other media) have justifiably been praised for their coverage of the earthquakes this week. In times of disaster most trivia gets sidelined as media rises to the occasion (except for a few diversions on cows and paua).

RNZ is state funded and the Government purse strings have been tightened over the past few years. Their funding in relation to their earthquake coverage came up in Parliament yesterday.

Garth Hughes took the opportunity to push for more money for RNZ – at a time when Government funding of things like rescuing Kaikorai from devastation and isolation and fixing a few roads and railway lines may be a tad more important.

Bill English responded by saying that RNZ had used the money it does receive wisely, and demonstrating the ability to use the money it receives well does not on it’s own justify giving them more money.

MediaSupport for Media and Radio New Zealand Funding

9. GARETH HUGHES (Green) to the Minister of Broadcasting: Will she join with me to acknowledge the work of all media in New Zealand, which is so important in times of natural disaster and crisis; if so, will she consider increasing our public broadcaster Radio New Zealand’s funding in Budget 2017?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Minister of Broadcasting: Yes, I do agree with the member. The media has done an excellent job of the vital task of keeping the public informed about what they should do at a time of stress. In terms of Radio New Zealand’s (RNZ’s) funding—and, of course, Radio New Zealand, uniquely among media organisations, has a guarantee of revenue for future years, something that many media organisations would regard with envy. However, any bids will be considered in due course as part of the usual Budget process.

Gareth Hughes: How long does the Minister think our only public broadcaster, Radio New Zealand, can continue to provide the high standard of broadcasting we have seen in the past few days, when its funding has not been increased for 8 years?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, clearly up until now it has done a very good job. I have not seen any noticeable deterioration, in fact, I have seen some improvements in the broadcasting of Radio New Zealand on the guaranteed funding that it has, which, as I said, makes it unique among media organisations, a number of which are fighting simply to stay alive.

Gareth Hughes: Given the Minister’s comments around the ability to lodge a Budget bid, is the Minister concerned Radio New Zealand did not put in a funding bid in the last Budget round, with the chairman describing it as: “pointless beating your head against a brick wall of reality.”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, I was not disappointed at all. I know for public organisations it can be a sort of automatic reflex that they bid for more money just because they had some last year and think can do more good next year. In the case of RNZ though, over a number of years it has changed with the times. I am particularly complimentary of its website development. It sees itself now less as an owner of a broadcasting system and more as a content provider. I am sure that the wider media sees benefit in broadcasting content of the quality of RNZ’s.

Gareth Hughes: Given the excellent work that Radio New Zealand has done in the last few days despite a real-term funding cut of $4 million since this Government came to office, would the Minister encourage Radio New Zealand to put in a Budget bid for the next funding round?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, not on that basis. I mean, we do not give a public organisation more money just because it has demonstrated its ability to use the money it has. If there is a greater need for the long-term sustainability of the organisation then I am sure the board and executive of Radio New Zealand will see merit in putting up a bid. Equally, we also try not to give money to organisations where their services habitually fail, because that would also be rewarding organisations, rather than just applying money to obvious need.


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  1. I think RNZ needs to take a long, hard look at its lack of impartiality. It’s got past the point of a joke. There’s no attempt now at even a pretence of political balance. The panel is packed with leftist liberals and now advocacy journalist Campbell is installed in the evenings, and no-holds barred blatant government hater Dita Boni is to produce Kim Hill in the New Year the entire team there looks more Maoist by the day. I thoroughly support a government funded radio, but when they’re just another branch of the Labour Party I’ll say no, as will this government.

    It’s obvious they’re not on any sort of fence politically when their main supporters for extra t funding read like a Who’s who of left wing.

    • duperez

       /  16th November 2016

      “…lack of impartiality … no attempt now at even a pretence of political balance.”

      I heard an interview on RNZ with a Minister recently and thought the questions and persistence of the interviewer were good in getting the picture we should have. The old “holding to account.” An incy teeny weeny bit more searching than being questioned in Parliament with someone and the protocols running defence.

      Sometimes the inference from prevarication and evasion is that the interviewee has something to hide, is lying or does not have the courage to answer fully, openly and honestly.

      On occasion, leaving it at that is enough, a point has emerged. At other times we want the actual answers. The frustration at not getting a real answer sometimes sees the dog chasing the elusive one around, barking more and more, and more loudly.

      Whatever, whoever it was recently, I thought at the time there would be calls about Red Radio and its left wing scumbag staff, lacking impartiality with no attempt at even a pretence of political balance.

      So who should ask the hard questions? Who should decide which questions get asked of whom? Should Ministers be interviewed only by Mike Hosking, Paul Henry and Andrew Mulligan? Should there be questions at all?

      Notions of State involvement in media have changed dramatically over the years and will continue to change.

      Clearly the Kim Jong-un model of media control is favoured by a lot of New Zealanders. You know, the model we scoff at, shake our heads about and laugh at.
      Clearly the big business USA media model is favoured by a lot here too. You know, the model we scoffed at, sneered at, shook our heads about and laughed at after recent events.

    • Mefrostate

       /  17th November 2016

      I’m open to a discussion about the impartiality of RNZ, and ways in which their charter could better ensure a more balanced approach, but that should really be a separate discussion from whether or not their funding should be increased.

  2. If RNZ need more mooolah then they should set up a Supporter of RNZ subscription. People power – Hundy a year. I would take one up as some of the content is great. Yeah its a little leftie at times but that is NZ’s middle class for ya.

    They won’t go down a simple fund raising approach because they are statist and they will want taxpayers funding – and divert thousands and thousands into John Campbells pocket which could be use to fund childrens healthcare… think of the children : )

    • Corky

       /  16th November 2016

      Must be hard on Johnny. Going from the bright studio lights and national recognition, to working in a dank studio talking to 500 people nation-wide while sucking cheap home-brand tea and nibbling gingernut biscuits. Its not called National Socialist Radio for nothing.

      • I’d call it National Social or National Community Radio Corky, which we otherwise wouldn’t have … We’d only have Private Music Gimmick Radio and Private Rightie Talk-Back Radio

        As to listener numbers … Read it and weep … Add 29 + three zeros to your figure …


        • Well then let them use a subscriber model. The reason it’s fi beloved of the left is because, politically, it mirrors their opinions. There is precious little of the journalistic model that either criticises the left, or that supports government initiatives. There’s literally no credit where credit is due, and certain issues like charter schools and government v private prisons are straight out of the Labour caucus and Public Service Union handbook. It’s often quite pathetic in it’s bias.

          • Gezza

             /  16th November 2016

            Garn, Trav. 🙄 Keeps the government on its toes. Who knows what mischief they’d get up to without RNZ keeping its beady eyes on them.

        • Corky

           /  16th November 2016

          You pay for it then, I’m not interested. As for talk-back. Hey, when you aren’t plundering other peoples money to keep yourselves afloat, you have to earn a living. Nothing stopping Lefties starting their own radio stations. Why don’t they?

          ”As to listener numbers … Read it and weep … Add 29 + three zeros to your figure”

          Don’t be disingenuous, you knew I was joking. But about those figures …they will drop like a lead balloon as the older generation die off. My friend, time for you to weep.

          That bring us back to Johnny in a dank studio

          • Corky

             /  16th November 2016

            Opps, pressed the wrong button. ” That brings us back to Johnny in a dank studio with a great audience…but?”

          • The problem starting a Left radio station is the Night show would schism form the Afternoon show and the Morning show. And then someone would call the mid Morning show Trotskeyites and the ice picks would come out…

            Blood on the mixing desk and it would all be over…

    • Mefrostate

       /  17th November 2016

      “If RNZ need more mooolah then they should set up a Supporter of RNZ subscription.”

      The entire point of state-funded journalism is that it provides content which benefits society as a whole, but which individuals may not value enough to put their money into. Positive externalities in political accountability and cultural promotion. Sure, a supporter system might be a good way to help RNZ out, but they should not be required to rely on it for their own existence, lest we begin the slippery slope to them becoming a tabloid like the Herald.

      “could be use to fund childrens healthcare… think of the children”

      Classic red herring. Government spending should be evaluated on its own merits. If childrens’ healthcare needs more funding then give it more funding and raise taxes. For some people there is always some other, more morally laudable, cause which should receive funding instead of the one being examined.

      • Mefro – raise taxes. Brilliant answer. brilliant. NO is my response.

        You make a plausible sounding case, but frankly RNZ DOESN’T reflect the community. The lack of balance is oft times blatant.

        Again it is adequately funded as it is. If it wants more dosh then ask the community to fund it directly – I paid more than enough tax and have no desire to be taxed more so Kathryn and St John can push their barrows whilst receive a transfer of wealth from a big chunk of the population who are tired of the pulpit preaching. And yes Kathryn is just a tad biased – just listen to her exasparation in the politics seggment on a Monday, she is plainly frustrated her favour party is balls it up so much…

        And I am glad you claim think of the children is a classic red herring – it was thrown in there as satire on the typical Labour/Greens method of shaming and “think of the children” rhetoric

        • Mefrostate

           /  18th November 2016

          “Again it is adequately funded as it is”

          How are you measuring this? Were they over-funded in 2008, and 8 years of erosion has brought them back to where they should have been?

          • Its still on the air, for a start.

            Its hired a very expensive “talent” in John Campbell.

            Its got enough money to push further online and play with simulcasting.

            Prima facie it has enough money.

            IF you believe in it so very, very much – then get together with like minded people and pledge an annual subscription to RNZ. Convince the RNZ management its a good idea. You know follow through for once with the socialist ideal of collective action.

            But you won’t because that is not what statists do – they believe in using other peoples money and getting their way through coercion or shame or shouting or stupid online petitions etc etc

            I think my contribution to RNZ via my taxes is adequate as it stands. I would prefer any decision about $1 more for RNZ or $1 more for health falls to the health spend side of the equation from now until the additional funding is consumed…


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