Current affairs going online

Mediawatch on Radio New Zealand on Sunday looked at Current affairs drifts online – will funding follow? (includes audio link of the programme)

Current affairs programmes that once aired on national networks are now reappearing online. Is this a trend that could loosen the broadcasters’ hold on the bulk of public funding?

Two weeks ago, broadcaster Willie Jackson and left-leaning blogger Martyn Bradbury launched a daily discussion show called Waatea 5th Estate. It screens on on Auckland’s local channel Face TV, which is available nationally on Sky TV. The show is streamed live on YouTube, and on the websites of Willie Jackson’s Waatea News and Martyn Bradbury’s The Daily Blog.

It’s a multimedia counterpoint to, in Bradbury’s words, “dumbed down tabloid trash served up as current affairs on other channels at 7pm”. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it does show what can be done on TV and online these days with a small budget.

On an episode last Monday about broadcasting, AUT media lecturer Dr Wayne Hope said government broadcasting funding agency New Zealand on Air “should broaden its remit to fund more programmes like this one”.

It’s not clear how Fifth Estate is funded.

NZ on Air already fund some online content:

Last year NZME – owner of the New Zealand Herald and Newstalk ZB – launched an online video channel called Watch Me.

Two video series on it were funded by NZOA to the tune of $100,000 each. One is a video version of satirical political website The Civilian, and a recent online episode tore into contemporary television news.

If public money is available to satirise TV journalism online, there seems no reason not to use it to put journalism which TV broadcasters have abandoned – such as 3D – online as well.

It will be interesting to see whether public funding of current affairs moves online.