In case you hadn't noticed, TVNZ is presently congratulating itself for fifty years of television. It comes at a time when the last embers of public television are about to be be snuffed out by the Minister of Broadcasting Jonathan Coleman.
One would of thought TVNZ would have, by now, seriously investigated the issues and dangers confronting public television in this country. Instead it has stayed well clear of them.
Of course this is the broadcaster that allows presenters like Paul Henry and Mark Sainsbury to show favouritism toward a government they obviously support and its not at all obvious that TVNZ itself is that bothered that it is in danger of being privatised.
The broadcaster that suddenly pulls quality drama off the air mid series when it doesn't rate (eg Damages) is tonight devoting two hours of its prime time schedule to Cheers To 5o Years Of Television. Hosted by light entertainment hack Jason Gunn, the publicity says it is 'an entertainment game show in which two teams of celebrities look back at 50 years of television in New Zealand.'
Doesn't this about sum up TVNZ? When some real examination of the issues confronting public television in New Zealand is required, TVNZ gives us a game show featuring TVNZ 'celebrities' . It's pathetic. If TVNZ wants to engage in some ego gratification then it should do so behind closed doors instead of dressing it up as 'light entertainment'.
The Television New Zealand Amendment Bill is presently making its way through Parliament. Once passed TVNZ will simply become a straightforward commercial operator. It won't even have to pretend to meet any public service obligations.
Once the bill goes through New Zealand will have become the first country in the OECD not to have a public broadcaster. I doubt that even Jason Gunn will be making any of his cheesy and unfunny jokes about this broadcasting travesty although Paul Henry will no doubt get a laugh out of it. As a former talkback host on Radio Live he often opined that TVNZ should be privatised.
Of course having divested TVNZ of any public service obligations, it can be privatised by a second-term National Government.
As the Green's Sue Kedgley said in Parliament in March, National wants to complete 'unfinished business'. Said Kedgley:
'It is finishing the unfinished business, because in the 1990s the intention was to sell TVNZ, but it did not succeed then, so, clearly, the Government is about to finish that unfinished agenda.'
The Minister of Broadcasting must be very happy that he can pursue his privatisation agenda with TVNZ itself not even raising a fuss.
While the Key Government is readying TVNZ for sale, it was Labour's disastrous broadcasting polices that opened the door to the commercial media moguls.
The ludicrous hybrid model under which TVHNZ was supposed to deliver dividends to the Government while at the same time meeting pubic service obligations, was always doomed to fail - and so it proved.
All Labour 'achieved' was to make TVNZ vulnerable to the insidious designs of the enemies of public broadcasting The vultures are already circling and one of them is called Rupert.