Category: Radio

Free Speech Coalition Challenges Morning Report Was Brash Choice RNZ Payback Time?

Don Brash – a politicised choice.

A Morning Report focus on Don Brash for the freedom of speech issue raises questions about its motivations. The public broadcaster went to extraordinary lengths to place Brash – a contentious but minor player at the Free Speech Coalition – front and centre of the debate. The Guyon Espiner interview ran on July 11.

According to the coalition, Brash told Morning Report he was not the best person to front. But Morning Report insisted and turned away six suggestions from the coalition, including academics and two official spokespeople. The coalition includes a dozen lawyers and academics and journalist Chris Trotter, Williams said. 

TVNZ’s Cori9n dean was objective on Goff issue

The coalition is legally challenging Auckland mayor Phil Goff, and his ban on Canadian right wing activists – Lauren Southern an Stefan Molyneux – from using Auckland Council venues Subsequently many agreed and disagreed with Goff’s stance. some of the anti criticism focused on Brash. The coalition has raised more than $100,000 for its legal challenge.

According to Williams, it was made apparent that if Brash did not front for the Coalition, no-one else could. Brash initially turned Morning Report down – but eventually demurred. On air Brash, maintained a reasoned stance, but Espiner focused on his personal background and conservatism, including his stance criticising Radio New Zealand for use of te reo in news.

Jordan Williams(right)

Jordan Williams said: “They insisted on having Don Brash to take an agenda-driven approach to an interview that did not serve the listener.

The approach deliberately chose to ignore a fundamental issue for the purpose of short-term gamesmanship. Williams said.Morning Report used to be authoritative and credible and yet more and more it plays these silly games,” he said.Morning Report wanted the actor to play the Punch and Judy role, and that does not suit the listener, Williams said. Then then they chose to mock him for being the spokesperson.

The upshot was that the public broadcaster portrays the freedom speech is issue as about a personality and politician.

To be fair, the coalition could have handled it better, calling Morning Report’s bluff.

The use of Brash created a political edge, and he should have stayed away, in my opinion.  Media must be free to take the angle and the people they like. That is freedom of the press. Media always likes fireworks. But we are taught RNZ is better than that.

But in my opinion this item looked like a stitch up – and a payback to politician who had publicly challenged RNZ, and Morning Report in particular. Radio New Zealand was invited on Tuesday to respond the the criticism.

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RNZ Folding Liberal Wireless Into Main Website Is RNZ changing for the better?

Radio New Zealand is folding its struggling youth website “The Wireless” into RNZ.co.nz.

Partly this is because “The Wireless” has been superseded by commercial media like “The Spinoff” and Vice.

Three’s 7pm show “The Project” is also aimed at the young urban liberal audience. It is a well trodden path, and that is fine for private media companies.

That new competition was inevitable. it makes you wonder why the state broadcaster continued travelling down this path.

It was first cab off the rank.

Now it is pushed out by commercial competitors who see an attraction for advertisers.

Wireless alumni Megan Whelan has been made RNZ head of digital

Merger of “The Wireless” into the growing rnz.co.nz main website is a prelude to the government’s creating a new funding set-up for RNZ.

As part of the change, New Zealand On Air has said that as of November, it will no longer provide a $200,000 annual subsidy for Wireless content, 40 per cent of its claimed $500,000 budget.

So the Wireless was becoming unsustainable, and RNZ have had to dig in to its other taxpayer funding.

The transition is already underway for “The Wireless” into the vastly more popular mainstream site is already underway.

In a memo to RNZ staff on May 31, the head of news and digital, Glen Scanlon, who recently replaced Carol Hirschfeld as head of news, said that “The Wireless” content will remain accessible,

The technical transition is expected to happen in the background over the next three months. “The Wireless” team will be the foundation of the new long form investigative unit,” said the RNZ head of news.

“The Wireless” was launched in October 2013.

Support for the website was good in the first years. But a source familiar with the situation said it’s numbers have diminished substantially over the past two years.

Glen Scanlon

Nielsen figures for May 2018 show The Wireless had 44,534 unique browsers compared to 584,483 for its” commercial competitor “The Spinoff” and 1.7 million for the mainstream rnz.co.nz website.

So the change makes sense.

RNZ played down the May results from Nielsen, saying that unique results varied month by month. RNZ declined to provide requested details for specific dates.

On dates selected by RNZ “The Wireless” delivered 66,000 unique browsers, 82500 and 101,400. There was no need to announce anything publically, because the change was not yet apparent to the public.

There is no shame in trying and failing to reach a young demographic, All media are looking ways to tap into millennials and their media habits.

Former RNZ digital boss Glen Scanlon has replaced Carol Hirschfeld.

The question is why a cash-strapped public broadcaster targeted a specific social demographic, ignoring the mainstream youth audience. It appears to have misjudged its role as a public broadcaster.

Internally, some RNZ staff have neen antsy about the resources RNZ has pumped into The Wireless – and its video venture – while cutting costs on primary services such as news. and sound radio.

RNZ bosses insist that “The Wireless” met the same journalist standards as its main operations.

But three RNZ journalists who have worked in system said that was not the case. There was less scrutiny for content on The Wireless and lower expectations of a younger audience, they said.

Certainly, “The Wireless” appeared to have a greater concerns of identity politics, immigration, and human rights.  more than the challenges for Palmerston North twenty somethings getting a job

Which is not to say that these were relevant to a young urban liberal audience.

Maybe the hoi-polloi the non-politically correct audience does not consume online media, so there is no point in focusing on them.

There has been an overblown cliché about RNZ promoted by Right Wing – that it is Red Radio, divorced

Glen Scanlon

One event during the election campaign illustrated how The Wireless saw its role.

The Wireless commissioned a Green Party Young Greens co-convenor Meg Williams to interview Chloe Swarbrick.

The Spinoff had a similar schmooze fest. But it is a private company that had promoted Labour and the Greens in the run up to the election, Don’t we expect better from public radio? 

The Wireless perception was that the younger demographic was urban and liberal, like its staff.

Glen Scanlon – now the overall head of news – would not rule out similar items where activists get to interview allied politicians. Beyond that RNZ is in the midst of major changes that saw the departure of Carol Hirschfeld and a new push to develop more Maori content and closer ties with Maori TV

RNZ spokesman John Barr said “The Wireless” has broken new ground when it was launched and contributed some “strong journalism.”

The Wireless was feeding into and contributing the big growth in viewership for the main website, rnz.co.nz website.

He agreed the new competition had been a factor in the challenges,

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Will Jim Mather Hasten A More Maori RNZ?

CAPTION: Jim Mather with the his partner Annabel Lee, the executive producer of The Hui.

Jim Mather has been appointed chairman of Radio New Zealand. The new appointment comes at the end of an extended term for Richard Griffin  He held the post for two-three year terms and agreed to stay on for an extra year. The chairmanship of Radio NZ in the 2000-teens was difficult. The National Party starved Radio NZ of money and it had to sell assets. Finally the Nats relented.

Problems were resolved last year with extra funding in the Budget. When Labour got elected to lead the Government, the problem became too much political attention from Government, rather than too little.

Richard Griffin I

Griffin had been associated with National through his past role as press secretary to Jim Bolger. He had enjoyed good relationship withe Labour in the past. But he had never gotten on with Clare Curran, the new and pro-active minister of broadcasting. Curran formed an ambitious policy pf a new TV channel without talking Radio NZ/ Griffin and Radio NZ chief executive Paul Thompson resisted Labour plans to create the new TV channel. The Government and Radio NZ were looking in different directions. Then came the sudden departure of Carol Hirschfeld. The senior executive left after she was found her bosses about a meeting with Curran. It was a bizarre incident and we still do not know what happened

Clare Curran and Carol Hirschfeld

But it has left stain on the relationship between Radio NZ and the minister.

The upshot is that Jim Mather and the chief executive Paul Thompson will need to establish good relations with Labour before it can even try to maintain them. Mather may have the right manner for that approach. As chief executive of Maori Television for nine years. he maintained an efficient and mostly happy media workplace that spun out after he left. He went on to run the Maori educational body Te Waning o Aotearoa. He will not be as media savvy as Richard Griffin. But he knows people who know their way around. Mather is the partner of the Maori broadcaster Annabel Lee. who was executive producer for the Maori TV current affairs show Native Affairs. Currently she makes The Hui for TV3.

A key question now will be whether the appointment of Mather – a Maori – will hasten Radio NZ moves to increase its Maori content. That cause was promoted by Willie Jackson, a former leader of Maori broadcaster with past ties to Mather. Jackson is also a leader in the Maori Labour caucus and has close inks to Maori broadcasters.

Willie Jackson.

Radio NZ needs to better reflect Maori in its programming. But the Radio NZ networks are finely tuned to its listener.he question be whether Radio NZ can make changes and take existing listeners along with it. That was not the case last year when RNZ introduced of basic Maori language content . It was done without consultation with specific staff but little consultation with listeners. Some inside Radio NZ are wary that the top – management of RNZ – combined with the reforming zeal of Labour – lack the nuance and skills to create the transition to a more Maori Radio NZ.

 

 

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Branding Checkpoint

CAPTION. Mary Wilson would have conducted a more rigorous interview with Renae Maihi.

The Checkpoint interview: https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018633295/we-ve-had-enough-of-racism-in-nz

 

RNZ star presenter John Campbell has worked hard to diminish the worst excesses of celebrity journalism from his days at Campbell Live on TV3. The editorialising. The personal takes.

Sir Robert Jones.

This week he interviewed a Rotorua filmmaker and writer Renae Maihi who is organising a petition to remove Sir Bob Jones knighthood because of his comments in a scrapped NBR column, deemed racist by some.  In my opinion the interview was deficient. It was more about identifying the branding of Campbell and Checkpoint than it was about debating an issue. Maihi was articulate – a media person – and capable of dealing with challenges to her position. It was a debate on free speech not feelings and Campbell should have challenged her assumptions. That is what Checkpoint would have done before Campbell when “Scary Mary” Wilson was in charge.

Checkpoint has some serious wins under Campbell, but Campbell reverts to chat when he agrees with protagonists.  I understand a change in approach to the show had been recognised when senior executive Gael Woods was at RNZ. Woods was made redundant last year and has lodged personal grievance case was due to be heard by the Employment Relations Authority in Wellington in April. A different approach seems to have won approval from senior management at RNZ.

Two weeks after the brouhaha over Bob Jones’ offending column in NBR. Checkpoint revisited the issue with a Skype article on Maihi who had organised the petition with 58,000 signatures. Jones has a reputation as a stirrer and publicity seeker.

Renea Maihi – writer and film-maker.

His column that included a small segment suggesting Maori should use Waitangi Day to show their gratitude to their colonisers. Jones’ insists it was satire. It was only online for a day before the NBR responded to criricism and took it down.  Jones resigned his commission with NBR.

Jacinda Ardern has said the government was not going to remove Jones’s knighthood. In that context, the ongoing story is a debate on freedom of speech . The main problem with the column was that I was not very good. Screen grabs of the offending article were on the internet. But it’s still not clear how many people actually read it in full; Maihi  is entitled to her view. But for seven minutes on Checkpoint we had the state broadcaster examining the hurt she felt – that people were saying such things 250 years after colonisation that hurt Maori people’s mana. She felt media should not publish material that was disparaging toward Maori. She did not buy the satire argument.

“We have to be very responsible what we are putting out in the media, We want people feeling good about it. To which some would say. that’s the price of freedom of speech.

“You just get to a point where we are still having to defend out mana, and we need to sort this out because it has to stop.  Messaging is very important,” Maihi said.

So this will no doubt add to the campaign for those who believe some things cannot be said.

Campbell related to Maihi’s angst, and that seemed to colour his interview. We were treated to an insight into the morals of Campbell household which he said had a policy to “not be a dick”. But it was a soft interview on an important topic. Freedom-of-speech versus the right to not be offended. There was no debate on the premise of the campaign: That the state should punish people who say things that cause offense to others. Checkpoint did not question whether opinion should be regulated.

In my opinion, this interview was more about branding for RNZ. Signalling its priorities. It’s what you would expect from The Project. The Wireless, and The Spinoff,  not Checkpoint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s keep an eye on the new State TV channel

CAPTION . Can Broadcasting minister Clare Curran ensure that the new RNZ TV is independent?

channel

Call me a doubting Thomas, but I’m wary about government plans to establish a new TV channel with public broadcasting values. The National Party neglected broadcasting for nine years, and punished Radio New Zealand by starving it of funding. However,  I worry that Labour will be too hands on.

I can understand that RNZ is grateful that Labour is promising expansion with a new TV channel to run in tandem with its radio and digital arm.

But politicians have a love affair with TV, and the public should maintain a sceptical eye on how Labour runs its new low budget TV channel. Labour needs to spell out again how the new channel will be independent and non- partisan.

John Campbell will likely be a star of RNZ TV

Labour has promised  it will be independent. But we need some more details before its plans for a new public media commission are pushed into place. The surprising Labour manifesto item developed late in the piece turned swiftly into policy,  and now it has turned into action. When the policy was announced two weeks before the election, few thought Labour would win.

Labour discussions included the Coalition for Better Broadcasting and academics including Dr Peter Thompson, a media lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington.. I guess that other cultural folk and individual broadcasters would have been asked. But RNZ itself was not consulted, nor were Fairfax and MediaWorks, which have complained that the creation of another state TV channel  will make it hard for commercial channels to achieve scale.

Private sector objections are no a reason to scuttle the plan. The New Zealand public has been diddled for decdes with NZ On Air commercial TV shows ignoring the need for genuine public interest media. And journalism is in trouble. We need to be careful the government profiles a solution and does not make the problems worse. 

 

Kim Hill has TV experience.

Curran said that Labour had set aside $38 million had been set aside for the new channel in the upcoming budget. It s a very small amount given the costs associated with starting a TV channel. Curran has talked encouragingly about setting up a public media funding committee for RNZ +, distinct from NZ on Air,  to allocate funding for projects. The Ministers office says that the appointees to that Commission will decided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The makeup of the Commission – and the definition on what RNZ + will show, will decide the integrity of RNZ +.

it is essential that Labour and RNZ take a wide interpretation of pubic broadcasting and serves the wider audience – including working class people. Curran insists that the Public Media Commission will be apolitical and independent. But the public need to be sure that RNZ + does not solely become a vehicle for identity and interest groups,  and the ideological liberal view of the world that has dominated at RNZ.

New Zealand media is at a pivotal point and Labour is enjoying an extended honeymoon with the media. Globally there are big changes afoot with the growth of big social campaigns.  We need to ensure that RNZ + stands apart from ideological fashion – it remains objective and sceptical in the tradition of public broadcasting, dealing with different points of view.

Will Wallace Chapman get a TV show?

The NZ Herald reported yesterday that RNZ is already facing big challenges, in part over the costs for its existing focus on televising existing radio shows, such as Checkpoint. There have been question marks over the potential for a pro- Left bias in the RNZ digital product.

Clare Curran and Labour may do a fabulous job  creating a new  public broadcasting service, however, in my opinion,  there is good reason for the public to keep an eye on how RNZ+ develops. 

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Oliver-Kerby Exits ZB – Heads For Coast

NZME announced today (Monday) Bernadine Oliver-Kerby, is to co-host the new Coast Breakfast show with Jason Reeves from January 22. Oliver-Kerby is newsreader for NewstalkZB on Mike Hosking Breakfast. She launched her radio career 13 years ago.  A replacement on ZB will be announced in the coming weeks. Oliver-Kerby is also well known for her work as a presenter and reporter on TVNZ.  NZ Herald Focus and Sky Sport. The decision follows a controversy over a new sports quiz show on Sky T, hosted by her and including other sports reporters. The show was set to start before Christmas but was delayed to early 2018 over Tony Veitch big noting his role in the show. His involvement led to attacks by activists and journalists who believed that he shouldn’t be allowed on TV due to his past assault of his partner. . At best, Veitch’s comments that it marked his return to TV and were disrespectful to Oliver- Kerby. who is the main host. Veitch subsequently withdrew from the Sky show.  Footnote: Good luck to her. She is a good newsreader and will be missed.

 

 

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Turning Checkpoint into Campbell Live: Two Years On. Opinion

Friday, December 15 marks the two-year anniversary of John Campbell being appointed to replace Mary Wilson presenting Checkpoint  – a heavily promoted event that marked the start of celebrification at Radio New Zealand. Clearly. it was not a wholly bad idea. After decades of presenting itself as an objective purveyor of news and opinion. RNZ decided to offered heart on sleeve broadcaster and nice guy match the profile of Paddy Gower, and Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB.

Has the appointment of a celebrity broadcaster been good for RNZ as an institution? Continue reading Turning Checkpoint into Campbell Live: Two Years On. Opinion

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RNZ: From Red Radio To Celebrity Radio Spinoff

All Media have gone a little haywire since the advent of Jacindamania, with a leftward slide that reflects the more liberal mood under a Labour government. Mainstream media are catering to the new mood. but RNZ is leading the pack.

Third wave feminist activism is in fashion and we older men who purportedly run the world are ruling it as well,  even if the main critics are are just younger pale folk from well-heeled suburbs.

Under head of content Carol Hirschfeld RNZ has assembled a team of “stars” led by John Campbell. with Jesse Mulligan and to a lesser extent Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson.

A public broadcaster needs to think about reflecting a range of views, some of which will not be shared at journalist get togethers at nice city restaurants or dinner parties in Grey Lynn and Parnell.

I sense this a phase we are going through – this madness of activist led media and twitter virtue signalling each day – it Is inevitable after nine years of a conservative government with knives out for media.

While the new Government settles in and we wait for somebody to take charge. – we are living in a nether world of twitter storms and Facebook outages. Remember the election campaign:

 

Continue reading “RNZ: From Red Radio To Celebrity Radio Spinoff”

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Ryan Rathbone: Leaning Over The Edge

CAPTION: Ryan Rathbone is National Content Director for the top rating music station, The Edge FM.

Ryan Rathbone was headed for Canadian radio, but detoured to New Zealand instead to take up an offer overseeing youth stations at MediaWorks. Rathbone later took over as national content director the Edge, a jewel in the crown for MediaWorks, the top-rating radio network nationwide.

The Edge FM breakfast teams a ratings winner,

Rathbone had given it a big makeover and the quarter three survey from GfK saw a big boost.“When you make change to a heritage brand you usually go down, not up, so it was a massive relief,” he said. The gods were on his side. The new GfK ratings system incorporated smaller provincial centres, which had been ignored in the past, and The Edge had an unrecognised big following. MediaWorks has been on the ascendancy lately in Auckland, taking audience away from NZME, which controls the other half of New Zealand’s commercial radio duopoly.

Three years after leaving his job programming 2Day FM in Sydney, Rathbone sees subtle differences in the two markets.

For the rest of the story. read Mediaweek: https://www.mediaweek.com.au/mediaweek-nz-profile-mediaworks-ryan-rathbone/

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The Edge FM: Cruise, Crotchgate And Cucumbers

The Edge breakfast crew  – Dom Harvey, Jay Jay Harvey and Chris Randell – are such a big revenue earners for MediaWorks they are even allowed to undermine colleagues at More FM. In case you missed it, last week, The Edge tricked More FM Christchurch breakfast co-host Simon Barnett into thinking he was interviewing Tom Cruise, when it was a Tom Cruise impersonator. Barnett looked silly and sounded devastated. He did not get the joke.

Simon Barnett – tricked.

His co-host, Gary McCormick, was furious and producer Samantha Baxter started sobbing and told her fellow The Edge hosts to “Get a life.  It’s embarrassing. But its hard to be upset for them. Fake celebrity calls are a standard for commercial breakfast radio. But it was surprising they were duped by their own colleagues. In the last survey The Edge had the country’s biggest weekly cumulative reach of 662,300 listeners, ahead of More FM om 517,000.

With The Edge ratings so high Dom, Jay Jay and Chris might feel unstoppable. But there is an old maxim in the media business – be nice to people on your way to the top, because you might meet them again on the way down. They are obliged to be outrageous but they are in the unusual role as husband and wife shock jocks.

Occasionally, the quest for outrage has seen the Edge Breakfast show lose the plot.

In August 2015 the Edge crew had contestants in the  Bachelor competition – women who under contract to Mediaworks – to swallow a cucumber. in my opinion it was demeaning and sleazy at a network that has a lot of kids and teen females innit audience. In April Dom Harvey had published a crotch shot of Bachelorette Chrystal Chenery with a lewd comment.

In October last year the NZ Herald’s Spy reported:

Jay-Jay Harvey disappeared from her morning radio show yesterday morning and hasn’t returned since.

This morning, co-hosts Clinton Randall Dom Harvey opened up about her mysterious disappearance.

“It’s probably time to address the elephant in the room, what is up with Jay-Jay… She was here with us yesterday morning and then mysteriously mid-show she just disappeared.

“It turns out Jay-Jay was in one of the toilet cubicles crying at the time,” the hosts explained.

“Jay-Jay is a sufferer of depression and exhaustion I guess as well. She takes a lot on and she gets to the point where things can get a little bit too much,” said Dom, who said there was “a lot of family stuff going on” in their lives.

Jay Jay cancelled a book tour at the time which described her battle with depression. Media have rightly g0ne out of their way to respect Harvey’s condition and its challenges. It can’t always be easy being a shock jock.

 

 

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