Labour killed public broadcasting in New Zealand. National just disposed of the body.

According to Labour MP Clare Curran, the passing of the TVNZ Amendment Bill, which freed TVNZ of any public service obligations, has killed public service television in New Zealand.

Clare Curran should stop making things up and own up to Labour's role in the murder of public broadcasting in this country.

Public service television died when Labour imposed its ludicrous hybrid model on TVNZ. Labour's astonishingly inept view that TVNZ could somehow meet public service obligations while at the same deliver a commercial dividend to the Government was always a recipe for disaster. It was Steve Maharey, Labour's ideological cheerleader for 'Third Way' politics, who dropped this nonsense on TVNZ.

I said at the time that Maharey's broadcasting model would not work and so did many other people including former TVNZ chairman Ian Fraser. He urged that the Labour Government turn TV1 into a purely public service channel along the lines of the BBC in the United Kingdom and ABC in Australia.

Labour's ideological distaste for Fraser's argument though was obvious from the start and he was basically run out of town by the very same Labourites who are now lambasting National for removing the TVNZ Charter. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Labour's hybrid model opened the doors to the avalanche of dumb shows that clog the programming schedules of TVNZ today, including a third rate news and current affairs service that is barely watchable.

The Key Government has itself given up any pretence that it is interested in public service broadcasting .

Initially the Minister of Jonathan Coleman was suggesting that TVNZ7 could become a public service channel.It was little more than an attempt to ghettoise public broadcasting as some kind of 'niche provider', but Coleman has even given up on this paltry offering as well. TVNZ7 will go off air next year, assuming the National Party is re-elected, because the Government has declined to continue its funding.

But, at the same time, it was more than happy to bail out Mediaworks, the owners of TV3 and 4, to the tune of $43 million. Mediaworks publicly endorsed National's broadcasting policy in 2008.

Clare Curran says that 'Labour is committed to a strong independent public media' although what she means by this is anyone's guess.

Unlike the Green Party, who want to transform TV1 into a non-commercial public broadcaster, Labour is conspicuously silent on the subject.

I expect that the Mana Party will also advocate resurrecting public broadcasting in this country.

Given Labour's dismal track record on public broadcasting, Curran's self-congratulatory comments should be approached with considerable caution.


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