Stuff boycotting Facebook

Facebook taking advertising has been a big problem for media companies that were already struggling to adapt to an online orientated world. Many news outlets decided to feed Facebook with content to try to keep some crumbs for themselves.

But the newly owned Stuff is cutting off their connections with Facebook.

Stuff: Stuff stops all activity on Facebook in trial ‘inspired by principle’

New Zealand publisher Stuff is hitting pause on all Facebook activity as it reassesses its relationship with the under fire social media giant.

An internal email sent to Stuff editorial managers on Monday said it was trialling ceasing all activity on Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram effective immediately.

The trial would apply across all titles owned by Stuff. Nearly 953,000 people follow the Stuff news Facebook page and 134,000 follow its Instagram account. It has dozens of other Facebook pages for its various titles and brands.

Stuff is New Zealand’s largest media company and was recently bought for $1 by its chief executive Sinead Boucher from its previous owner, Australian media company Nine.

The email said Stuff stopped advertising on Facebook soon after the 2019 mosque attacks in Christchurch, as the company did not want to contribute financially to a platform that profited from publishing hate speech and violence.

The latest experiment was in the context of an international boycott Facebook movement, and applied until further notice, the email said.

“It is an experiment though, and we’ll monitor the results closely,” it said.

Large international brands such as Coca-Cola, Unilever, Verizon and Starbucks are boycotting spending their advertising dollar with Facebook over accusations the tech company hasn’t done enough to curb hate-speech and disinformation.

It’s a risky experiment for a company trying to find a way to survive.

They will lose some readership of their articles, but they won’t get much revenue from being on Facebook.

(I rarely see or link to news on Facebook but may not be a typical news reader).

The Spinoff:  Stuff has taken the sword to Facebook. Is it the start of a media revolution?

While Stuff’s “experiment” in pulling news from Facebook may seem like just another sign-up to the global advertising boycott that began as a reaction to hate speech on the platform, it’s in keeping with an independent trend for NZ’s biggest news site.

It’s also symbolically important, with a news company putting its money where its mouth has been and foregoing significant traffic. Since 2018, Facebook has increasingly been the whipping boy of columnists all over the world, but publishers have continued to post their content on the platform.

Unfortunately we may never find out whether I am right in that guess, because Stuff have pulled out of the monthly measurement tool that allowed NZ news sites to be ranked by audience size.

Since at least 2016 – that’s as far as my records go back – Stuff have dominated the Nielsen news rankings. Now they are no longer part of the system, they don’t have to worry about nemesis NZ Herald claiming victory. The usual margin between these arch-rivals has been roughly 10%.

In its unilateral action, Stuff has partially made real a threat doing the rounds in media: a news boycott of Facebook and Google. Facebook has responded – in the face of impending regulation in Australia – stating it doesn’t need news and that its business wouldn’t skip a beat without it. While I think it may have underestimated the social capital of accurate news, I believe it about the business. Most people in news think Facebook is either bluffing or deluded.

I don’t think we’ll ever find out. The Stuff experiment will probably end when the struggle for audience becomes even more acute than it is now.

Maybe, maybe not.

RNZ Mediawatch: Stuff’s fighting talk on Facebook

Not long before striking a $1 deal to buy the company last month, Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher made it clear she was no fan of Facebook.

“They have built businesses off the quality content others have created,” she told Mediawatch in April.

“News companies like us haven’t seen any of the benefits.

“We stand opposite to them in a lot of ways and it is good for us to keep them at arm’s length – because the work we produce, the code of ethics we adhere to and the fact that we produce journalism that is fair and balanced is at odds to Facebook and the fact it permitted massacres to be live-streamed, and personal data to be misused to manipulate elections.”

She also told Mediawatch she objected to Facebook propagating conspiracy theories that Covid-19 was caused by 5G technology.

“Those things are damaging and we need to stand in opposition to that.”

Now she has.

Dealing with toxic comments online

Stuff also decided it was time to civilise the often unpleasant space “below the line”.

It stopped publishing online comments on news stories about the topics that got readers the most wound-up – including the mosque shootings, 1080, climate change, suicide and even transport.

Many other local media outlets had already abandoned comments for similar reasons (including RNZ, which dropped them just a year after introducing them, after it didn’t act quickly enough when unpleasant and extreme comments appeared on Checkpoint’s Facebook page).

“In an era when many media outlets simply outsource comments to the unmoderated wilds of Facebook, we continue to see value in a curated conversation,” Stuff’s chief editor, Patrick Crewdson, said at the time.

But online engagement with the audience is vital to any media company operating in the online era, so why would Stuff cut off such a critical conduit?

“We get 7000 comments a day from a daily audience of 1.2 million unique browsers. It’s actually a drop in the bucket,” Crewdson previously told Mediawatch.

On Monday, Crewdson told RNZ readers could still share Stuff stories from their own Facebook feeds, but the plethora of accounts for Stuff’s various sections’ and mastheads became officially “dormant” from Monday morning.

“Seven hundred and 50 large companies around the world are boycotting Facebook in terms of ads because is is not doing enough on fake news and hate speech,” Crewdson said.

Less online traffic back to Stuff’s site means less income per advert placed on the site, so pulling content altogether will come at a cost, though Crewdson is not sure what that will be.

“We’re going to measure the impact of this but we have a large loyal audience that comes directly to us each day. Some which come via Facebook will come directly,” he said.

Wee will see if Stuff holds out, or goes back to feeding the DFacebook monster.

 

 

NZME versus Stuff gets messier, heading to court

Media have been increasingly under pressure over the past decade due to loss of revenue, with a lot of advertising being siphoned off by international Internet companies such as Google and Facebook.

An application for approval for a merger between the two largest New Zealand media companies, NZME and Stuff (Fairfax), was declined by the Commerce Commission in 2017 – details here.

Last year (November 2019) NZME tried again – StuffMe is back, but will the Commerce Commission play ball?

News that NZME has initiated a second attempt to acquire Stuff, after its first was shot down by the Commerce Commission and the Court of Appeal last year, underlines the exacting position the modern media finds itself in.

It’s been clear for some time that the media industry is in trouble. It’s also clear that the media and competition regulators have been even slower than the companies they regulate to fully appreciate the scale and scope of the change.

When the Stuff-NZMEmerger was first rejected by the Commerce Commission, it said that the synergy benefits of between $40 million and $200m a year did not outweigh the loss of a “plurality” of voices and quality in the news media.

Those questions look to be set to rest by a new proposal that would ring fence the editorial operations of the two companies, keeping them independent and competitive, whilst taking advantage of backroom synergies.

This means we could be headed back to the Commerce Commission, which is under new leadership after Mark Berry, the previous chairman, left last year.

Stuff (December 2019): Minister won’t intervene with regulator over media merger, but deal could help

Commerce Minister Kris Faafoi won’t intervene to encourage or advise the Commerce Commission to look again at the case for allowing NZME and Stuff to merge, a spokesman for the minister says.

However, he said the Government could look at a “Kiwi Share” undertaking floated by NZME that would commit the company to maintain certain, unnamed mastheads and “protect journalists’ jobs” if a takeover was allowed.

With the added pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic the possibility of a merger came up again but it has become very messy.

RNZ (11 May): NZME makes offer to buy rival Stuff for $1

NZME is insisting a deal for it to purchase media rival Stuff is still on the cards, despite Stuff’s owner saying it has wrapped up talks with no deal.

NZME said this morning it was asking the government to allow it to buy Stuff for a nominal $1.

Stuff’s owner, Australia’s Nine Entertainment, responded that it had terminated talks with NZME over a purchase plan last week and no deal was in place.

In the latest twist, NZME has since told the NZX that it believed it was still in a “binding exclusive negotiation period with Nine and does not accept that exclusivity has been validly terminated.”

NZ Herald (14 May): NZME seeks interim injunction against Stuff-owner Nine Entertainment

NZME’s bid to buy rival Stuff is heading to the High Court as it locks horns with Stuff’s Australian owner amid an increasingly bitter process.

NZME – owner of the NZ Herald – has applied to the High Court at Auckland for an interim injunction against ASX-listed Nine Entertainment to enforce exclusive takeover negotiations.

The move follows an exchange of statements earlier this week after NZME filed an urgent Commerce Commission application to purchase Nine’s New Zealand media assets for a nominal sum of $1.

Nine responded with a statement saying the parties had withdrawn from the bid last week and had terminated talks.

NZME hit back, saying it still had exclusivity and is now taking legal action to enforce it.
A hearing on the interim injunction is set down for tomorrow.

In a statement to the Herald, an NZME spokesman said the company did not accept that exclusivity had been validly terminated.

“NZME has filed an application for an interim injunction against Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Limited seeking orders to enforce this binding agreement entered into between NZME and Nine on 23 April 2020.”

NZME has spent the best part of five years attempting to buy Stuff but has previously been declined Commerce Commission clearance.

It says the media landscape has been so wildly impacted by Covid-19 and foreign digital giants such as Facebook and Google that it is the best owner in order to save newspapers and journalism jobs.

“NZME’s proposed acquisition of Stuff is important to the continued operation of a robust fourth estate and plurality of voice in this country,” NZME told the NZX on Monday.

NZME and Stuff own most of New Zealand’s daily metropolitan and regional mastheads. As well as the NZ Herald, NZME owns the Northern Advocate, Bay of Plenty Times, Hawke’s Bay Today, Rotorua Daily Post and Whanganui Chronicle.

Stuff’s stable includes the Sunday Star-Times, The Press in Christchurch and the Dominion Post in Wellington.

Stuff (14 May): Proposed media merger turns septic as NZME seeks injunction in bid to buy Stuff

Auckland media company NZME has gone to the High Court to seek an injunction forcing Stuff’s Australian owner Nine not to turn its back on negotiations to sell Stuff to NZME.

NZME said on Thursday it had filed an application for an interim injunction against Nine “seeking orders to enforce this binding agreement entered into between NZME and Nine on 23 April 2020”.

The injunction hearing is due to take place at Auckland High Court on Friday.

Sounds very messy, and expensive for companies that are struggling to survive.

A strong and diverse media is an essential in a healthy democracy, so this is not looking good.

Are the media critical enough of the Government?

The media, in particular political journalists, are seen as playing a critical role in a healthy democracy, being required to hold politicians and parliaments to account.

While commenters at Kiwiblog are as bitter about media coverage of the Ardern government, commenters at The Standard were as disatisfied with media coverage of the Key Government. It seems you can never please any of the opponents any of the time.

But for most of us do our media do a good enough job of casting a critical eye and pen and camera over the actions of the incumbent government? Media certainly earn some criticism, but that not just from the public, it also comes from politicians being criticised.

A few days ago the Government announced an initial support package for media, who were struggling to compete with online megacompanies for revenue before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, and now have been hit by a major business pause and another major drop in advertising revenue. Even before the support package a lot of advertising revenue was from the Government via Covid messages.

Going by comments at Kiwiblog (noting that there they are dominated by strongly anti-Government views) one might think that the support package makes the media a paid-for extension of Government public relations. They represent just a small but vocal right wing minority never happy with a left leaning government is in power – and again yesterday in response to a post ridiculing a ridiculous president comments predictably swung to ‘but Biden’, ‘but Clinton’, ‘but Obama’, ‘but Ardern’ (they are well indoctrinated by Trump’s anti ‘fake news’/critical media diversions).

It’s always easy to find things to criticise about the media in general – too much over sensationalising and too much ‘click bait’ trivia were problems long before Covid.

Media have a very important role to play in a democracy, which is why in 1787 Edmund Burke said (from Thomas Carlyle in his book On Heroes and Hero Worship):

“There were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.”

Political journalists have difficult jobs to do. They spend a lot of time with a few politicians and risk getting too personally affected. And they constantly have to battle against ex-journalists now working in large politician defending PR departments.

Jacinda Ardern has had an unusually good ride with journalists, quite a few of whom are fellow females of a similar age or younger, so empathy with Ardern probably came naturally.

But John Key was popular with media too – he was also easy to get on with and he could be entertaining in an often dour field. Helen Clark had a lot to overcome in her early years as Labour leader but became widely admired (most of the time) in her job as Prime Minister for nine years.

Media tend to favour the people in power, incumbent Governments, in part simply because that’s who the biggest stories come from.

But media also have a tendency to hunt in a vicious-looking pack when they smell political blood, no matter who the victim. One problem is that if some media get their teeth into a big and damaging story the rest tend to join the frenzy because that’s where the attention grabbing stories come from. David Lange referred to this media mob mentality as “demented reef fish”.

Media will never do enough for everyone, and will never do any good for those wallowing in opposition to the current government.

Are media critical enough of our politicians and our Government? Or as well as could be expected in the circumstances?

Even if seen as poor at times, the alternative to inadequate political journalism – no political journalism – is far worse.

Are media critical enough of our Government and politicians?

Are we too critical of media?

 

NZME sacking 200 staff

Media company NZME have issued a market update this morning. This includes:

  • In accordance with offers made by the CEO and independent directors, reduced directors’ fees and CEO salary by 20% from March 2020.
  • Implemented a wide scale workforce restructuring project, resulting in the reduction of over 200 positions, including redundancies and removal of vacant positions across the business, representing over 15% of NZME’s workforce.
  • Today started the process of asking all remaining employees to continue on a reduced salary basis for a twelve-week period.

The full update:

Market Update: COVID-19 initiatives

AUCKLAND, 14 April 2020: NZME Limited (NZX: NZM, ASX: NZM) (“NZME”) continues to actively monitor the impact of COVID-19 on its business and wishes to update the market on the steps it is taking to mitigate the extent of the impact on NZME and its financial performance.

NZME’s core news and broadcast media business is operating as an Essential Service and is continuing to keep Kiwis in the know. Record audience levels are being seen on nzherald.co.nz and on NZME’s digital radio platform iHeartRadio.

Operational update
NZME is operating effectively with the majority of staff operating from home. However, a number of NZME’s people are required to operate from NZME’s premises to ensure its core business continues to operate effectively, but are doing so with measures in place to protect them. These arrangements will continue to be monitored as we move down the New Zealand Government’s COVID-19 alert levels.

Cost saving initiatives
In its 23 March 2020 announcement NZME disclosed that it was implementing a number of initiatives to reduce costs and capital expenditure across the business. All operating expenses have been reviewed with a view to minimising overall costs and cash outflows. To date NZME has:

  • Applied for and received the government wage subsidy for all eligible employees.
  • In accordance with offers made by the CEO and independent directors, reduced directors’ fees and CEO salary by 20% from March 2020.
  • Implemented a wide scale workforce restructuring project, resulting in the reduction of over 200 positions, including redundancies and removal of vacant positions across the business, representing over 15% of NZME’s workforce.
  • Requested employees to take annual leave.
  • Temporarily suspended products, including a number of newspaper inserted magazines covering real estate, motoring and travel, and reduced sports coverage and publication of community newspapers.
  • Ceased broadcasting Radio Sport and reduced the size of NZME’s sports coverage teams, with the expectation that NZME can substantially transfer the revenues from these operations to other NZME products.
  • Reduced overall discretionary spend and sought rental abatement from its landlords.
  • Reduced planned capital expenditure for the remainder of 2020.
  • Today started the process of asking all remaining employees to continue on a reduced salary basis for a twelve-week period.

FY20 Outlook

With the Alert Level 4 lockdown in place, NZME is expecting April 2020 advertising revenues to be approximately 50% lower than April 2019. While it remains impossible to predict with any accuracy the impact of the pandemic on NZME’s full year financial performance, it is anticipated that revenue will be significantly down on the corresponding period in 2019. The cost saving initiatives above will partially offset the anticipated revenue declines. NZME will continue to monitor the revenue performance and the potential cost saving initiatives into the future.

The economic impact of Covid-19 was always going to hit media companies hard. They were already struggling with the massive move of advertising revenue online to global companies like Google and Facebook.

Business case now planned for RNZ/TVNZ merger before legislating

Plans to merge RNZ and TVNZ have slowed further, with  business case process now under way. This is expected to be completed by about mid-year, after which ‘final decisions’ will be made. With the election due in September it seems unlikely much will actually happen this year.

Minister of Broadcasting Kris Faafoi had wanted to get a decision from Cabinet last December to rush through legislation under urgency to disestablish RNZ and TVNZ and do a business case later. He was supposed to be one of the more competent ministers.

RNZ last November:  Govt to consider replacing RNZ, TVNZ with new public broadcaster

The fate of RNZ and TVNZ may soon be in the hands of Cabinet ministers, with a proposal to disestablish both broadcasters and create an entirely new public media entity.

An advisory group, with representatives from both media companies and a range of public service agencies, was set up to look at future funding options.

RNZ understands there were three options: merge the RNZ and TVNZ newsrooms, put more money into New Zealand On Air, or the third, preferred option now heading for Cabinet – most likely in early December.

17 December Government plans for RNZ and TVNZ remain up in the air

A Cabinet decision on the future on RNZ and TVNZ has been delayed until early next year.

The Broadcasting Minister will not meet his commitment to announce the government plan for public media by Christmas, because ministers want more work done before making a final decision.

Cabinet had one proposal to consider – disestablish RNZ and TVNZ and create one new public media entity.

Minister Kris Faafoi said he intended to make a public announcement by Christmas, but that was not going to happen.

“Cabinet colleagues had a few questions and I think that’s fair to go and make sure that those issues are addressed before we make a final decision.”

29 January: New details revealed as Cabinet agrees on RNZ, TVNZ public broadcasting decision

Cabinet is forging ahead with the plan to create a new, super-sized public broadcaster, but ministers have taken some convincing.

RNZ understands they have signed off on a high-level decision to proceed and to commission a business case, after the Minister for Broadcasting, Kris Faafoi, presented a revised paper on Monday.

RNZ understands there was pushback from some senior Labour and New Zealand First ministers about the way the preferred option was landed on, the implications for public broadcasting if RNZ ceased to be a standalone company, and the speed at which it had been progressing.

However, this may not necessarily change the timetable – the plan was to work towards having the new media company in place by about 2023 and that appears to still be the goal.

It’s already taken Labour most of this term to get to this point; Clare Curran’s plans for ‘RNZ+’ were canned when she lost the Broadcasting portfolio in 2018 and Faafoi took over.

Curran established a ministerial advisory group headed by Michael Stiassny that started the work on the new model; through that process and subsequent work by consultants three options would emerge – merge the RNZ and TVNZ newsrooms, boost NZ On Air funding and the third – create a substantial new media organisation.

Those three options were given to a working group to thrash out, comprising representatives of TVNZ, RNZ and a range of public agencies, including DPMC and Treasury.

Its recommendations formed the basis of the December Cabinet paper that concluded the status quo was “unsustainable” and that the working group had “collectively recommended the government agree to disestablish TVNZ and RNZ and to establish a new public media entity”.

That paper laid out guidelines for how it would operate, including having a “clearly defined public media mandate and purpose, with the core functions of a globally recognised public media entity”.

It would provide public media services across a variety of platforms, “some of which may be advertising free”.

The new entity would have a “mixed funding model” that would be funded both directly from the Crown, and from a range of “non-Crown” sources including advertising, sponsorship and subscriptions.

It would operate as a not-for-profit, and would have “statutory protection for editorial and operational independence”.

2 February:  New public media plan still a work in progress behind closed doors

Cabinet has approved the idea of a new public service outfit to replace state-owned RNZ and TVNZ by 2023 – but they want more details from the broadcasting minister. So does the public and the rest of the media. 

…the proposal went before Cabinet again last Monday and this time ministers approved it, according to Jane Patterson’s RNZ scoop.

But they still want to see more details and a completed business case.

Jane Patterson said ministers wanted it “crystal clear” that this would be a public broadcasting outfit with a charter to uphold, but it is still not clear how public funding and commercial revenue will be blended.

That point was made last Wednesday by Victoria University’s associate professor of media and communication studies Peter Thompson on RNZ’s The Panel.

“If you look at other entities overseas like Ireland’s RTE or Canada’s CBC, successful and sustainable hybrid models of public broadcasting require at least 50 percent of their funding from public sources,” he said.

“It is high time the government announced its blueprint for the new public media entity, and sought public feedback to ensure the best outcome and informed debate before the 2020 election,” Dr Thompson said in a statement issued by the pressure group he chairs, Better Public Media.

7 February: Work to begin on business case for new RNZ, TVNZ public broadcaster

Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi has confirmed work will begin on a business case for creating a new, super-sized public broadcaster.

He said Cabinet has approved a business case to examine the viability of establishing a new public media entity as an independent multiple-platform, multi-media operation.

When asked about the impact the proposal would have on the commercial market, Faafoi said he would need to wait for the business case.

One could wonder why a business case wasn’t sought in the first place. Faaafoi had wanted a decision on the merging from Cabinet last year.

Final decisions about the future of RNZ and TVNZ will be made once the business case is completed.

Faafoi said he wanted the new entity to be more nimble and designed for a digital 21st century environment.

He said PricewaterhouseCoopers will conduct the business case, and it is expected to report back by the middle of this year.

While Labour may want a proposed plan in place before the election it seems unlikely legislation will happen in time.

New Zealand First broadcasting spokesperson Jenny Marcroft said her party supports the decision to commission a business case.

“We need to see what the options are, the design and cost, and the likely timeframes.

“In a media environment that is increasingly dominated by digital platforms, and people receiving their news from dubious sources. It is clear that the future of organisations such as TVNZ and RNZ are preserved”, Marcroft said.

Sounds like NZ First weren’t keen on Faafoi fast tracking the merger. And natikonal aren’t keen on the proposal at all.

In the lead up to the election, the National Party has already made clear it does not support the idea of having one big public broadcaster.

The National Party’s Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media spokesperson Melissa Lee criticised the Government for leaving the future of public broadcasting in a state of uncertainty.

“There is no plan still, this is almost three years down the line [and] we are no clearer as to what they are going to do,” she said.

Lee was also unhappy with what was known about the proposal so far.

“We want plurality of voice in the media space and anything that reduces that voice is something we would be very concerned about,” she said.

Faafoi said the future of RNZ and TVNZ will become a political football whether the Government liked it or not.

I wonder why he thought he could rush it through.

Last month RNZ reported that it understood Faafoi’s original plan presented to Cabinet in December was to prepare legislation under urgency to disestablish RNZ and TVNZ, and then proceed with a business plan later this year.

That seems a crazy way to go about things – rush the changes through, and then see if it’s a good idea later.

Faafoi has been seen as one of the more competent Government ministers, but this isn’t good for his reputation.

 

RNZ propose dumping Concert programme and targeting ‘youth’

Someone at RNZ thinks it is a good idea to turn off an older audience and cater for younger people by dumping the Concert programme (and 17 staff), and converting to something targeting a younger audience (who tend to live online).

This has stirred up protest by older people, including Kiri Te Kanawa and Helen Clark.

RNZ: RNZ set to cut back Concert and launch new youth service

In the biggest overhaul of its music services in years, RNZ is planning to cut back its classical music station RNZ Concert and replace it on FM radio with music for a younger audience as part of a new multimedia music brand. Mediawatch asks RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson and music content director Willy Macalister to explain the move.

The broadcaster is proposing to remove RNZ Concert from its FM frequencies and transform it into an automated non-stop music station which will stream online and play on AM radio.

It would be replaced on FM by a service aimed at a younger, more diverse audience as part of a new multimedia “music brand”.

RNZ Concert would be taken off FM radio on May 29 and the youth platform would be phased in ahead of its full launch on August 28.

RNZ’s music staff were informed about the proposed changes this morning in an emotional, occasionally heated meeting with the RNZ music content director Willy Macalister, head of radio and music David Allan, and chief executive Paul Thompson.

According to documents for staff, the move would eliminate 17 jobs at RNZ Music, including all RNZ Concert presenter roles, from late March.

Those would be replaced with 13 jobs at the new youth platform, while four remain in the downsized RNZ Concert service and RNZ Music in Wellington.

The documents for staff say the proposed changes are aimed at securing new audiences for RNZ.

While its listenership is predominantly Pākehā and skewed towards older people, the new music brand would target people aged 18 to 34, including Māori and Pasifika audiences, the proposal says.

If they are after new audiences, why not ditch news and current affairs programmes and replace them with talk back about trivial topics?

Why not ditch radio altogether and switch to streaming? That’s where the growth in audiences is.

Some dismay has been expressed.

Stuff: Axing of Concert FM ‘disenfranchising’ for older RNZ listeners

According to RNZ, the weekly cumulative audience for RNZ Concert is 173,300 – or 4 per cent of the population aged 10+.

A Facebook group named Save RNZ Concert had more than 5000 members, and a change.org petition had more than 2000 signatures as of Friday morning.

Arts Centre of Christchurch chairwoman and the former chairwoman of Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Felicity Price, said it was a “bizarre decision”.

“To sack all its engaging hosts and use taxpayers’ money to instead set up an Auckland radio/online radical sharing alternative that would be more appealing to the non-white youth market is simply absurd, short-sighted and surely in breach of its charter of ‘reflecting New Zealand’s cultural identity’ and ‘recognising the interests of all age groups’,” she said.

Many Concert FM listeners were elderly and enjoyed interacting with the presenters. Having an automated service would disenfranchise that sector of society, she said.

University of Canterbury senior lecturer Patrick Shepherd said there was a ground-swell of protest against the proposal.

“The musical community are up in arms and I think rightly so … Having a contemporary and classical music station doesn’t make the books balance but as a society we want that there because it has value in our community and is a vital part of our culture. It’s like closing down an art gallery because not enough people are going there,” he said.

Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi said he was working on a plan to address concerns raised by “loyal listeners”.

He met with RNZ’s chief executive and chairman last week and “made some concerns clear to them” about aspects of the plan.

A spokesman for Faafoi said the concerns were reminding RNZ of its charter and ensuring it understood the feedback of all listeners.

The organisation was struggling to attract a youth audience, and the proposed youth station was one way to address that.

They may still struggle to attract a youth audience, and turn off the audience they currently have.

Stuff: Dame Kiri te Kanawa calls RNZ proposal to dial down Concert an ‘inestimable blow to the arts’

New Zealand opera legend Dame Kiri te Kanawa is leading the chorus of outrage over a proposal that will gut RNZ Concert in favour of a youth-focused radio station.

In a statement, the world-renowned opera singer said losing the station would be “an inestimable blow to the arts in New Zealand”.

“So many of our young artists have become known to a wide audience thanks to broadcast on RNZ Concert. I sincerely hope that the powers that be in RNZ will reconsider the backward step announced in the media today.”

Clark, who held the arts and culture portfolio during her nine years as prime minster, said the decision was a “severe diminution of the cultural services available to New Zealanders”.

“The plans to decimate the Concert programme need to be seen in the context of the National Library no longer wanting to have an overseas collection and the National Archives deciding to drastically reduce its opening hours,” she said.

“What will be next? Such decisions raise serious concern about the level of support for cultural services available to New Zealanders.”

NZ Herald: Former Prime Minister Helen Clark wants Ministers to scrap plans to ditch Concert FM

She tagged Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi in the tweet.

Clark even went as far as saying there was a “pattern here of destruction of cultural services available to New Zealanders”.

In response, Robertson said he was looking into the issue.

“I am advised it is still a consultation and we will be talking to RNZ about their options.”

Speaking to media this morning, Faafoi said he was also looking at ways to mitigate some issues around Concert FM.

Faafoi said that he met with RNZ’s board last week and outlined some of his concerned about the proposed move.

Maybe it’s an RNZ decision and not up to the Government, but I guess the current Labour leadership can just blame this u-turn on NZ First.

Save RNZ Concert on Facebook now has 6,910 members.

The Minister, please Save RNZ Concert AND fund the new youth network petition currently has 4,083 signatures.

 

Tsunami of coverage of Climate Change Now

It is not a matter of whether measures will be taken to try to combat climate change, it is how much will be done, and how quickly. Momentum is building in New Zealand, with a burst of media activity this week.

ODT

…the Otago Daily Times has joined an international news media initiative in the run-up to the UN Climate Action Summit.

More than 250 newsrooms representing 32 countries with a combined monthly reach of more than a billion people are co-operating under the banner Covering Climate Now.

During the week leading into the summit, we have agreed to share resources and focus coverage in a way that does justice to the defining story of our time.

Also:

RNZ

Newsroom

The Spinoff

Stuff

Stuff has a section devoted to Climate Change News

NZ Herald

Media watch

14 June 2019

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information.

Media watch

13 June 2019

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information.

Media watch

12 June 2019

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information.