I don't have much time for the politics of Willie Jackson.

Anyone who has heard him on his Radio Live show will know he peddles the reactionary views of the Maori Party and invariably dismisses contrary views as 'anti-Maori'.

Professor Elizabeth Rata - why do her views never get any prominence in the media? - has identified what is essentially a new Maori capitalism - what she refers to as a 'neotribal capitalist regime of accumulation.'

She writes:

'Under neotribal capitalism, this access to what paltry resources have been returned to Maori is effectively exclusively controlled by the new tribal capitalist elite.'

Jackson is a member of that new Maori elite and it comes as no surprise that he has gravitated to the party that represents that elite -the Maori Party.

While Maori like Jackson have done well out of the new Maori capitalism, working class iwi have been much less fortunate.

Jackson though does his bit to obscure this exploitative relationship by encouraging the Maori working class to identify with its culture and community above all else.

Listen to Jackson and you will hear him talking about 'Maori' as if they were all one homogenous social strata. Like the Maori Party, Jackson rarely talks about economic class.

So after TVNZ announced it was axing his interview show Eye To Eye last week he was predictably quick to claim that there was 'no room for opinionated Maori' at TVNZ - despite the fact that his show had been on air for some six years. Kim Hill's show, I think, only got two years or so.

Jackson hasn't been shut out of TVNZ because he is an 'opinionated Maori' - he is simply another casualty of a media organisation that is a public broadcaster in name only.

Eye To Eye was wholly funded by taxpayer money, through TVNZ's charter cash. However that charter money is now contestable and the Key Government has given control over to NZ On Air. It's focus is the prime time schedules and it demands that TVNZ also contributes to the funding of shows.

That means shows have to deliver ratings and the crucial advertising revenue.

Instead of bleating nonsense that he was shown the door because he is an 'opinionated Maori' Jackson should be calling for the transformation of TVNZ, and especially Television One, into a non-commercial public service broadcaster.

That way, programmes like Eye To Eye would still get airtime.

I'd also like to think that a public broadcaster would also give airtime to political opinions other than the reactionary Maori nationalism of Willie Jackson. The New Zealand left has been shut out of state television for more years than I care to remember - we have more reason to feel aggrieved than Mr Jackson.


  1. Who do you propose would pay to make TVOne an non-commercial public service channel ?
    Do you have any idea how many millions TVNZ would loose by doing so- do you want to fund it to increased taxes ?
    NZ has no licence fee to pay for this kind of venture.
    New Zealand already has two non-commercial public service channels, TVNZ6 and TVNZ7. Support these instead of arguing for completely unrealistic changes to TVOne.

  2. The idea that a non-commercial TV1 is not affordable is a myth promoted by those who wish to see the market model prevail.

    This is what Peter Thaompson has to say on this issue. Thompson is a lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies, Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland.

    He writes:

    Of course, with a population of only 4 million people, New Zealand cannot afford to set up a Kiwi version of the BBC and fund it to the tune of $8 billion per year. However, while $15m was never enough to transform a commercial TV schedule into a public service schedule, the amount required to make a substantial and positive difference is not huge. Consider the following figures: If you look at Sky’s annual reports, last year, Sky made around $144m profit ($98m after tax) on $659m operating income. That’s 22% profit (before tax) going to shareholders like Rupert Murdoch, not into programmes (which one reason why public-value-per-dollar is lower when taxpayer funds are distributed to private broadcasters). Sky’s total operating expenses were $470m with $210m of that going into programming. Meanwhile, 88% of Sky’s overall income came from subscriptions which represent roughly 46% of the 1.585 million households in New Zealand. The average subscription is about $66 per month, which over a year is $792 per household. But suppose for a moment that the operating costs of $470m were spread across all those households: That would work out at $297 per year, or roughly $25 per month- just over $6 per week per household. And that’s for a commercial-free service comparable with a full range of Sky’s channels. In fact it works out cheaper than the BBC licence fee in the UK which costs around $350 per household.

    Of course, this is not to suggest for a moment that a fully-funded public service broadcaster ought to have all the same channels and content as Sky. In particular, the cost of local production and high quality news and current affairs would be higher than many imported services. But to put that in context, with $470m of revenue per year, one could easily cover TVNZ’s operating costs of around $365m (for 2008), get rid of all the commercials and give it an additional $100m to put into Charter content. This is all for around $6 a week per household, remember. Too much? Okay, if you retain the $339m in annual commercial revenue from TV One and TV2, that leaves around $131m to raise to help fund public service Charter- type programming (whether on TVNZ 6 & 7 or an additional commercial-free public service channel). That works out at $83 per household per year; just $7 per month or less than $2 per week. One can go through other possible models, but the point would be the same: New Zealand could afford public service television.

  3. Anon: if TVNZ is already funding 2 non-commercial channels why is it not losing millions of dollars by doing so? As you've suggested would be the case if TV1 was non-commercial.


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