Public broadcaster funding

At a time when private media is being severely squeezed by shrinking advertising revenue, and they react by sacking journalists and dumbing down the news, there may be more need for publicly funded news and current affairs.

Radio New Zealand has had it’s funding frozen for ‘at least 8 years’. Should more funding boost what they can do?

I have tried breakfast television and largely given up on both TV and TV3. Too bland and padded with pap. So I know listen to RNZ from 6 am, they are much more informative.

I’m not a fan of everything RNZ does – I listen to a bit of John Campbell while driving in the afternoon and while he covers some interesting things he can be over the top with his advocacy and delivery – but I think they are an essential part of New Zealand’s media mix.

A peition that has been running over the last year is being given another push leading up to May’s budget.

Increase funding for Radio New Zealand in this year’s Budget. (Petition still going)

Radio New Zealand Limited, New Zealand’s only public service broadcaster. It delivers high-quality, impartial, journalism and a wide variety of content, including coverage of issues in the Pacific region. This organisation has had its funding frozen for at least eight years.

RNZ deserves a funding increase in this year’s Budget because it needs to be properly resourced, not just this year, but in future years so that it can continue to deliver on its charter and provide the same standard of content that has given RNZ its fine reputation.

Please sign this petition if you care about the future of RNZ and share it with your networks.

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.


Key questions on publicly funded ‘broadcasting’

Stuff reports on John Key talking about publicly funded broadcasting, asking Would people watch publicly funded broadcast TV?

He said it was unclear whether there would be enough demand for a public broadcaster in New Zealand, similar to the ABC or BBC.

“I mean I don’t know do you set up a public public broadcaster on television? Could you get enough people to watch it?”

Key said he suspected the review of Campbell Live was linked to the audience’s changing viewing habits.

“The real issue is the way we take news is changing. It’s not just news on the radio any more, it’s on your Facebook feed, it’s on your Twitter feed, it’s on all these websites. So when you sit down to watch the news, the question is at 6 o’clock at night is ‘is it news?’.

“I just wonder whether that’s the issue, capturing their imagination in a busy world.

“I just wonder whether people get to 7 o’clock and want to zone out on stuff. I don’t know but I assume that’s why stations are responding the way they are.”

One doesn’t need to be an acquaintance of Mark Weldon to come up with obvious possibilities like that.

Also on Stuff Paul Thompson opines in Audiences will dictate the changing face of news and current affairs.

(Thompson is chief executive of Radio New Zealand and former executive editor of Fairfax Media.)

So, it is pleasing to see broadcasting finally get its moment in the sun in the wake of MediaWorks’ decision to review the Campbell Live programme.

Suddenly, petitions have been launched to save the embattled programme.

There has been handwringing and fevered discussion and politicians of all stripes have waded in.

Some would have us believe that John Campbell was the last bastion of free speech and holding government to account in New Zealand. But Thompson looks a bit further than Campbell Live.

The real problem is not the likely demise of a crusading TV programme fronted by a passionate journalist, which is losing a ratings war.

Broadcasters and programmes – and styles of programming – will always come and go in the cut-throat world of New Zealand commercial broadcasting.

Instead, attention should focus on the seismic change that is shaking every media organisation, particularly those which rely on advertising revenue.

Campbell Live‘s vulnerability is a symptom of a wider struggle.

Advertising revenues across all forms of media are under duress as audiences revel in the choice, freedom and ease of access and interaction provided by the web.

So traditional media is failing to adapt quickly enough to a rapidly evolving media landscape.

All media outlets are trying their best to adapt, even if that means large and durable businesses are being replaced by smaller more vulnerable ones.

And they seem to be fighting a losing battle.

The underlying issue is understanding the impact of this upheaval on the quality, range and depth of journalism.

It is a mixed picture.

In many ways this is a golden age for journalism as the craft unleashes the story-telling and interactive potency of the web.

In time new forms of innovation will emerge that fuse this potency with robust business models.

But that is way off yet and in the meantime journalism is in choppy waters. This matters.

Perhaps now considerable experience has been built up in alternate media and alternate journalism a fresh approach could be taken – learning from the old but embracing the new.

Which brings me back to the role of broadcasting policy, and specifically Radio New Zealand, in this changing world.

Radio New Zealand plays a privileged and pivotal role in that we are publicly funded to provide credible, independent news, current affairs and cultural programming that are insulated from the commercial pressures that beset the wider news industry.

We have always played this important role and the events and trends which are currently the focus of such concern means we have an even more crucial part to play in future.

Radio New Zealand, the country’s last remaining public service media organisation, is determined to be a positive force in this new era. We will continue to provide comprehensive, searching journalism and to get it to as many people as possible.

So we have public broadcasting. We just don’t have a big investigative presence on television. Perhaps that’s not the best medium for it now. Key could be right, television is evolving more towards entertainment, where there is better revenue potential.

It is no longer sufficient to look in isolation at radio, television, online and print and to think it is possible to shore up the old models which are under such strain.

A new, converged world is emerging, one in which audiences are in command, and that requires new thinking.

The problem is with a radio medium or a newspaper medium or a television medium trying to be all things in multi-media.

The Paul Henry Show is the latest attempt to cross the forms – it is trying to be a concurrent television and radio show with social media tacked on.

What I think we need is a fresh approach looking at the whole.

This could pick up on experience in social media – but the problem with the major forums in social media is they have been dominated by partisan interests wanting to control the message so they can somehow control politics.

That has also proven to be a failure. You just have to look at where Whale Oil, The Standard, The Daily Blog and to an extent Kiwiblog have gone. And Red Alert. They have all established sizeable audiences, relative to others, but they are small niches that most of the public know nothing about.

They overplay their perceived power and self destruct as credible media sources and open forums.

I think there are ways it could be done. And public funding may be the way to achieve it. Compared to television and to radio it could be done relatively cheaply.

I think a media umbrella could harness the potential across all media, gathering the best of public broadcasting, commercial radio, television, print and web plus building citizen journalism.

This would need to be politically independent, and would preferably be commercially independent.

Would John Key consider providing public funding for a new way of harnessing the many facets of modern media?

New Zealand is small enough to make this work. If there is a political will to provide it.

It should use the expertise of current public and commercial media, without being dominated by one. Plus the new wave of online media, which could provide the umbrella.

Tom Scott on and off Radio NZ

Tom Scott (the musician one, not the cartoonist one) featured on Radio NZ’s Playing Favourites with Kim Hill this morning. Discussion started on Scott and his music but moved on to talk about his infamous song that featured in the election campaign. See PM death threat in hip hop song.

ain’t doin’ nothin’ so I’m gonna kill the prime minister I been tryin’ to get a job but they got none so I instead I got a sawnoff shotgun and ‘pop’


That’s why I’m going to kill the Prime Minister. I’m going to kill the Prime Minister, because we are down and suffering and the motherfucker ain’t doing nothing. Going to kill the Prime Minister.

There was more controversy over references to Key’s daughter in the lyrics.

One of these days I’m going to fuck your daughter. This poor boy going to make his seed, going to wake up in your girl – well hello Miss Key.

This came up in the discussions. Scott didn’t like Hill’s line of questioning. He dropped an f-bomb and soon afterwards walked out.


Transcript (excluding the general music stuff).

Hill: You also got yourself into a spot of bother. We’ll talk about that. Scott: Oh yep. What bother? I’m not bothered. Hill: No. No you don’t look bothered, but plenty of other people were quite bothered.

The next song was discussed and played, then discussed again.

Hill: Let us talk about the bother. The song that @Peace brought out. About you know, getting rid of the Prime Minister. And more importantly and more offensively targeting his daughter, the song… Scott: No, more importantly should be I’m trying to kill this man. Why, why are we not addressing the murder in this song? Hill: Well because everybody thinks that that’s full of nonsense but… Scott: That’s nonsense but the other part’s not… Hill: Well pulling family into the public eye… Scott: But I’m talking about murdering this man. Hill: Well you can stress that factor if you like… Scott: …so you should get me, should get me…you should call the police right now ’cause I’m obviously a murderer and a rapist… Hill: Ah I see what you’re meaning, where you’re going… Scott: You you can’t pick and choose what lyric you want to take out of someone’s song. I mean… Hill: What? Scott: Obviously, obviously I might regret what I said, I probably should have said I was going to rape his son. Hill: What do you mean obviously you might regret what you said, do you or do you not regret what you said… Scott: …I I don’t regret what I said actually. Screw that. Hill: Ok. Lot’s of people disssssss, dissed you for it. Scott: I I don’t like the man one bit. I mean I’m sure his daughter’s a lovely person but… Hill: Well yeah, so why bring her into it? Scott: Just ’cause that will piss him off more. Hill: Have you got any kids? Scott: No. And if someone said they were gonna – I never said I was going to rape her, I just said that one day I was going to come home with her. Hill: I don’t care what you said, you shouldn’t have talked about her at all is the feeling. Scott: Yeah well I did. Hill: Yeah I know. You won’t do it again though will you? Scott: I don’t know, I don’t like John key one bit… Hill: Yeah so you say, but you know you can’t go round threatening to kill people even songs… Scott: But I can, cause I did that. Hill: Come on. Did you vote? Scott: Yes. I tried my best to get everyone in my fanbase, in my demographic to vote and it didn’t work, and I think the system’s, it doesn’t cater for people that are getting the disadvantages of it… Hill: One of the justifications you said, um, about the song was that it was written with a purpose of getting young people to enrol, which most people … Scott: Yeah and it made more noise than any song I’ve ever made so… Hill: Yeah but it was hardly an endorsement of the democratic process Tom… Scott: But I wasn’t talking to your generation Kim. Hill: Oh. Scott: So your generation are always going to be offended by that. Hill: I’m too old to understand… Scott: Well you’re already voting. Hill: I don’t think that anybody who heard that song would think “oh, I must go and vote now”. Scott: Well they at least understood that maybe this man that is running their country isn’t liked by a lot of people. I think a lot of kids grow up when their parents are like, you know, this is a great man, he’s helping us, we own a business, um you know he’s the , the economy’s booming because of this man, and you know a lot of these things might be true. But these kids have no idea that this guy is the enemy to the working class. Hill: Oh hang on… Scott: So I just want, yeah a lot of my fanbase are wealthy middle class upper class kids who you know dream of  being the ‘have not, but they don’t understand the politics behind that kind of, um, being the ‘have not’, they don’t understand that this guy is making life hard for some people. Hill: Are you portraying yourself as a have not? Scott: Well growing up I was definitely a have not, I have a lot more, ah to be thankful now but i grew up in a working class neighbourhood where we needed people like Helen Clark and we needed people like David Lange, you know and the down my street that I grew on are still poor, and now they’ve got kids and now I go to the dairy and now the dairy owner’s son is running the place and nothing’s changed, it’s the same working class neighbourhood. People are still struggling. Hill: Well if it’s still poor Tom then David Lange and Helen Clark didn’t make much difference either, did they. Scott: Well I don’t think they did. I don’t think, I mean I’m quite disillusioned with it all after that election to be honest. It was really heartbreaking for me ’cause I really put a lot of effort in. I mean that was one song that ah old boy Whale Rider or whatever his name was chose to pick up and you know make a big fuss about, because that was going to make the left look like a bunch of morons, and you know I never chose to release that song, it’s not like it was some kind of song I was going to be proud of, I just hate when people pick it apart when, you know, you should be focussed on the part about me saying I’m going to murder this man if you’re going to be focused on anything. Hill: And it was um pointed out that it’s all very well to talk about have nots but you did quite well out of New Zealand On Air… Scott: What do you mean? Hill: Well New Zealand On Air granted @Peace something like thirty thousand quid, ah dollars, and so you can hardly, oh well you feel free to bite the hand that fed you in some peculiar way didn’t you? Scott: Well what does that, I don’t understand. Hill: Well if you get money from New Zealand On Air can you simultaneously use that money to say that nobody’s helping us and John Key is leading us to hell in a hand basket because he’s mean and nasty? Scott: That that money goes straight to making a music video, it doesn’t go to paying the rent, it doesn’t go towards anything like that, it goes to making a creative piece of work and what we made out of that was a video for a song called Matter which ah shows the funeral of an average bum who never meant anything, and I thought we depicted that in a good way, and spent the taxpayers money well. But um, I mean I’m not asking for taxpayers money to go around and blow it on things that aren’t important, you know, I mean this this, every musician gets grants from the Government. Hill: Whoa. Some might say not. Scott: And it’s not like John Key set up New Zealand On Air. Hill: Poor John Key. Scott: He’s probably doing everything he can to get rid of it. Hill: I, well, I’m not sure whether you could say that, and I’m inviting John Key to respond to that calumnious accusation… Scott: I just really worry about how misled the population are by this dude. And I know he runs this, I know the reason I’m sitting in this room is because the Government are paying for it. But this is not a good leader. I’m no better. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just a musician but… Hill: How are politics in Australia? Scott: Worse. Hill: Yeah I would have thought they might be a spot worse… Scott: And that’s why we need to make action now I think. And look I honestly don’t, I honestly don’t claim to be some kinda leader or some kinda politician… Hill: No no no no but what kind of action do you think is… Scott: I just came to play music. Hill: I know. But music that immediately got yourself into political hot water, and it’s not the first time, so you know you need to take the heat. Scott: No no I came onto this show to play music, look I was told I was just here to play three songs, I didn’t know I was coming to get executed on public TV, on public radio… Hill: Oh. Do you feel like I’m executing you? Scott: I don’t know, I just think it’s a bit of a played out issue bringing that song back up when that was like months ago and look, who lost in this, who who really lost? The guy I voted for didn’t even get anywhere near close getting in. Hill: Now we’re not talking about that… Scott: So at the end of the day you don’t have to worry about Tom Scott, ’cause him and the working class got fucked. Hill: Well I don’t think you can say that on National Radio Tom. So let’s edit you out… Scott: Well it’s nothing less than that. Hill: Let us edit you out, try to persuade people to forget you said the f word, and play your next track which is Free Life – There’s Something Better, which should make you feel better. Um what’s Free Life, I don’t know them? Scott: I don’t know. Some group. Hill: Some group. Also from the seventies? Scott: Uh-hmm. Hill: Let’s have a listen.

The song played.

Hill: That’s Free Life, There’s Something Better, from the 1979 single from an album Free Life, that was one of Tom Scott’s picks. Ah Tom, having become perturbed at the question line about his song threatening to kill John Key, has ah bailed on the rest of the Playing Favourites, good on you Tom. Um leaving with the f-bomb which is always a nice touch.

Audio. Listen to Kill The Prime Minister

EDIT: Joel has asked me to take down a photo, I’ve no reason to doubt his claim that he took it so fair enough. It can be found on Google images and this is the source at The Orange Press on a post TOM SCOTT – DANCING BY MYSELF MIXTAPE that says:

Tom Scott from Home Brew and @Peace is a pretty interesting character, full of dichotomies and contradictions. An man of impressive intellect, who seems to court controversy at virtually any opportunity…

Scott does court controversy, deliberately with his promotiion of Kill The Prime Minister. “Impressive intellect” is debatable.

Prentice irritated by Labour links

Why do Standard authors try to hide from Labour connections?

Lynn Prentice has been “getting irritated about some of the comments in the media by ignorant fools about The Standard and its authors”. 

Prentice has posted Irritated and up early at The Standard. He includes this reference to me.

Steven Joyce on Morning Report and the obsessively self-aggrandizing commenter Pete George come to mind as being particularly ignorant about the blogging world and its participants.

I did my first ever live radio interview with Checkpoint last night.

Being called “self-aggrandizing” by Prentice is very funny, as people who have seen his many self-puff pieces at The Standard will know. One of his nicknames is “the world’s best sysop”.

And claiming I’m “being particularly ignorant about the blogging world and its participants” is also funny.

Radio New Zealand has had a look at party connections with blogs in The Beehive and the blogosphere. This quotes Prentice – he usually won’t talk to media so this is a rare occasion.

Lynn Prentice runs The Standard – a left-wing blog often accused of being a mouthpiece of the Labour Party.

That’s one of the easiest ways to irritate Prentice.

He says bloggers on the site get their information almost entirely from public sources, library research, or their own knowledge from being in political parties for decades.

Yeah, right. And they all live as hermits with no contact with people in politics.

Greg Presland (mickysavage) has a close association with David Cunliffe via his electorate, and famously as his trust lawyer.

Occasional author and co-trustee (with Prentice) at the Standard is Mike Smith is a former general secretary of the Labour Party who worked in David Shearer’s office.

Prentice is actively involved in politics still, recently attending different party conferences.

“It is completely obvious in the posts where the information comes from because we always either link to it or state how we acquired it. We don’t have a “tipline” of ministers dishing the dirt on enemies.

Of course they don’t have a tipline of Ministers, Labour, Greens and Mana don’t have any Ministers.

But it is not always completely obvious where the information comes from – especially in the recent past when ‘Eddie’ and ‘James Henderson’ were posting.

Who is Zetetic (still posting)? They have been quite involved in some of the more political posts. Maybe a tipline of unionists.

And who is recent addition to the author ranks,’Rocky’? See for yourself if their latest post <a href=””>But the door was open…</a> looks like it was sourced from the library.

“To be complicit in that kind of sock-puppetry requires the kind of compliant deference to authority that comes naturally to people on the right.”

Mr Prentice says the accusations by the National Party that The Standard is ghost written by Labour staffers is “bullshit”.

That may be true as of now.

Eddie stopped posting in January, James Henderson in December. Election year? Sure, it’s not certain if they had links to or were staffers, but their anonymity and the nature of their posts suggests they didn’t source all their content from library research.

Apart from self-aggrandizing Prentice says in his ‘irritated’ post:

The idea of being the “mouthpiece of the Labour Party” is a rather amusing. 

Irritated and amused in one post. 

Of course The Standard isn’t “the mouthpiece of the Labour Party”. It has a variety of authors with a variety of interests. Author ‘karol’ is a prolific promoter of the Green Party.

But there’s no doubt that some of the mouthpieces have strong Labour links, including Prentice.

“Some mouthpieces of a faction of the Labour Party” would be more accurate.

There’s nothing wrong with this. Why shouldn’t bloggers promote Labour Party interests. Labour is the preferred party of about a quarter of voters (according to current polls, Fairfax has them on 22.5% today) so it’s reasonable to assume there could be a quarter or so of bloggers with Labour interests.

Of course each blog author has their own reasons for posting and their own sources – and I doubt that many go anywhere near a library to source current political material.

What’s really funny is that Prentice gets so irritated when The Standard is linked to Labour. Why aren’t some of them proud of their associations and proud of supporting and promoting Labour?

But what would I know, I’m particularly ignorant about the blogging world and its participants, apparently.