Labour won't do the right thing and turn TV1 into a non-commercial public broadcaster.

A few months ago Labour's spokesperson on broadcasting , Clare Curran, commented that Labour was 'committed to a strong independent public media'.

At the time I said that Curran's comments had to be viewed with scepticism and Labour's announced intention to create a new public broadcaster has justified that scepticism. It has failed to deliver.

Instead of doing the right thing and transforming TV1 into a non-commercial public broadcaster, Labour proposes to create what looks like a cut-price organisation using TVNZ7 and the resources of Radio New Zealand. Indeed this is similar to the model that the National Government was considering before it decided to pull the plug on TVNZ7. Ironically a previous Labour spokesperson on broadcasting , Brendon Burns, described National's idea of turning TVNZ7 into a 'public broadcaster' as a 'face saving measure'.

A national broadcaster should be at the heart of a country's media affairs and a important part of is cultural life. But Labour's 'national public broadcaster' would be little more than a niche provider broadcasting to a minority audience on the fringes.

It would exist out on the periphery allowing the commercial operators (including TVNZ) to rule the roost - and the ratings.

This is what the commercial operators want and it looks like Labour is happy to oblige.

When a radical shakeup of broadcasting is required in this country, Labour 's offering is weak and ineffectual. It displays, again, Labour's continued obsession with pandering to the needs of 'the market'

Curran says that will be a public debate which will allow New Zealanders to shape the future of public broadcasting,

This is nonsense. Labour already have an agenda in mind and any discussion on turning TV1 into public broadcaster will certainly not be part of that agenda - which, incidentally, is the policy of both the Green Party and Mana.

Curran has accused National of killing public broadcasting in New Zealand, but Labour's new initiative will certainly not bring it back to life.


  1. It might also help if we had some real journalists here in NZ. At present all seem to have is a pool of journo's too scared to really investigate in case they ruin their chances of getting a job as a spin doctor for some politician in the future . bah humbug...rant over.


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