Public broadcasting takes big hit under National Government

Public broadcasting funding has been cut by 25 per cent in real terms since the National Government took office in 2009, leading to the erosion of our once world-class news and current affairs culture, says Labour Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran. 

“A seven year funding squeeze for Radio NZ and NZ on Air, after accounting for inflation and population growth, means public funding of broadcasting is now at an all-time low. 

“While it appears there’s been a tiny increase to public broadcasting funding in Budget 2015, the amount is actually unchanged from last May, as the Government reduced NZ on Air funding following Budget 2014.

“Given the increased size and diversity of New Zealand's population over the last six years, Budget 2015's provision for public broadcasting is now at the lowest level of any Budget in modern New Zealand history. 

“While the slashing of funding is bad enough, the quality of decision-making regarding the use of public broadcasting money has also been highly questionable under National. 

“I’m sure many people would be surprised to know money for broadcasting New Zealand voices is now regularly shipped overseas, with NZ on Air effectively covering the cost of licences for foreign reality TV show formats and subsidising appearance fees for people such as Natalia Kills and Willy Moon.

“National's negative attitude to public broadcasting is baffling. A strong and healthy level of public debate is vital in connecting society. 

“Something needs to change, and soon, before the diverse breadth of New Zealand culture is extinguished from our screens and airwaves,” Clare Curran says.