Radio NZ facing death by 1000 cuts

The National Government’s seven year funding freeze on Radio New Zealand has put its vital public broadcasting services in serious jeopardy, Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran says.

"The axing of 20 jobs at our only publicly funded broadcaster shows the stress it’s under.

"It has been starved by being kept at around $31.8 million in funding since 2008/9; that’s a 25 per cent funding cut in real terms.

"In response to questions at a parliamentary select committee earlier this year RNZ board chair Richard Griffin said cost cutting could not go on ‘much longer’ and it would have to seriously look at cutting back on core functions if its situation did not change. 

"Despite proclaiming in Parliament earlier this month that Radio New Zealand is one of our most respected and indispensable cultural institutions, Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams sits deliberately idle while the broadcaster is forced to make yet more cuts to stay afloat. 

"It’s time for the community to demand the Government fund Radio New Zealand adequately to provide the vital public service of news gathering and investigation unencumbered by commercial interests.

"New Zealand is the only country in the OECD which does not have a publicly-funded public television broadcaster, which makes us stand out as a country that doesn’t value public interest discourse. We have the second lowest level of public broadcasting funding per head of population in the developed world.

"Cuts to Radio New Zealand are cuts to the public interest as this is the last bastion of public discourse.

"If Radio New Zealand is under threat, then we should all be shouting ‘stand up and fight back’," Clare Curran says.