NZ on Air lets current affairs television die

The loss of more quality current affairs television shows the New Zealand on Air funding model is broken, Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran said today.  

“A huge amount of public money is being used to prop up television executives’ expensive, commercial visions which offer nothing new to the public, while Investigative journalism and current affairs shows are axed.

“TV3’s decision to end 3D, follows the end of Campbell Live, the replacement of Close Up with Seven Sharp, Sunday being shortened to half an hour and TV3’s news being halved in length on Sundays. 

“NZ on Air appears to have developed a kind of Stockholm Syndrome captured by the commercial television network schedulers, abandoning their public service mandate in favour of seeking large audiences. 

“Since 2009, NZ on Air has spent less than 2% of its overall  budget on current affairs media. Meanwhile it is considering spending $10 million, or one eighth of its annual discretionary budget, on a soap for TV3. 

“Does NZ need another soap? Not really, but TV3 executives sure do. So who is NZ on Air supposed to be working for? New Zealand or TV3?  

“NZ on Air’s annual report released yesterday claimed it ‘champions local content that engages, stimulates and satisfies intended audiences’. In reality, NZ on Air is putting a brave face on an unsustainable model. 

“As a result, many audiences in NZ suffer – ethnic groups and regional TV struggle on meagre funding that is likely to be cut. 

“Meanwhile the Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams remains silent on whether she is at all concerned about the erosion of meaningful current affairs in prime-time television,” says Clare Curran.