CAPTION: The ABC was at war with it;s government. Radio NZ has the opposite problem. It is too close to Labour and The Greens,
The ABC fiasco across the Tasman is a timely warning about the potential for political meddling in New Zealand state media. The circumstances are different. RNZ is too aligned with the liberal agenda. The ABC has been embattled with political masters. But the dangers are there nevertheless.
Hands-on broadcasting minister Clare Curran is gone, and that will be a relief to many at RNZ. But the government giving RNZ a central role to more “diverse” content,. In the current mood i would expect that to mean a drift to the Left, which RNZ does not need.
Broadcasting and communications portfolios are insignificant. But media and the dministyration of media frequently get politicians into trouble. The sacking of the ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie and the resignation of the bungling chairman Justin Milne is a reminder hoe hard it is to keep public media independent.
The ABC fiasco goes to the heart of independence for state media. The chairman Justin Milne – a pal of Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull – told Michelle Guthrie to sack a journalist that Turnbull did not like.
Rightly or wrongly public media is most often accused of being biased Left, That was certainly the perception of the Australian coalition against the ABC.
New Zealand has had own less dramatic scandals over questionable dealings and RNZ has long suffered the abusefrom National that it is biased. Usually it is not, but RNZ needs to take care to not go don this road,
In theory Curran was sacked was due to failure and murky process for appointment of Derek Handley as CTO. Curran’s replacement as broadcasting minister Kris Faafoi is competent and a former reporer for the Holmes show, so will be aware of the need for independence. Jacinda Ardern was implicated in the Handley decision. It appears that IT initiatives were being mixed with personal friendships. Handley even approached the president of Labour Party. This government is prepared to dabble in purportedly independent processes
Plus there are links to and more prescient meeting she organised with Carol Hirschfeld who was the the head of content at RNZ.
One source suggests that the secret meeting between Hirschfeld and Curran was linked to government wishes to boost Maori content on National Radio – an initiative that was already underway.
Hirschfeld left after repeatedly misleading RNZ bosses about the planning for the unrecorded meeting. She is now a senior executive at Stuff.
While RNZ is often accused of being biased to the Left, in my opinion TVNZ commentary tends biased to the government of the day.
TVNZ news tends to be straight. But was it coincidence post-election when the PC Hilary Barry replaced Right wing Mike Hosking on Seven Sharp. When Helen Clark was PM TVNZ gave Pam Corkery her own news show. political attentions
Labour broadcasting policy – shambolic as it is – puts Radio NZ front and centre of its deological mission. Not least a call to increase Maori content. In my opinion RNZ needs to keep this government at arms length. The National Party was accused of trying to damage RNZ – the way the Liberal Party has with it’s the ABC. The danger for RNZ is being hugged to death by the Labour and Green Party.