Tag: RNZ

Can Radio New Zealand Trust Labour?

CAPTION: Clare Curran and Carol Hirschfeld.

Labour Party plans for big changes at Radio New Zealand are in a deep hole, after the Broadcasting Minister’s errant breakfast meeting with RNZ news boss Carol Hirschfeld.
Revelations about the encounter sparked a political storm, but Clare Curran has kept digging, and said this week that “this is a democracy” and she can meet with whomever she likes.
Th upshot is that Labour should consider abandoning its broadcasting policy, or the minister. There has been a breach of trust.

Can Labour implement its transformation of RNZ + ?

Curran’s breakfast with Hirschfeld, at the Astoria cafe on Wellington’s Lambton Quay, came two days before the minister was due to meet RNZ chairman Richard Griffin and chief executive Paul Thompson. Both men are known to be sceptical about Labour’s plans.

We don’t know the topics the two women discussed. It beggars belief, though, that either of them thought the breakfast date was acceptable.
The issue of most concern, however, is not that Hirschfeld attended an inappropriate meeting with a Cabinet minister. (There are strict rules against ministers trying to influence state-owned media.) It is that she repeatedly misled Thompson, her boss, by insisting that she had merely bumped into Curran at the Astoria. He, in turn, assured a parliamentary committee that the encounter had not been not pre-arranged.

Remember, this breakfast was back in December. Hirschfeld was then RNZ’s head of news and New Zealand was in the full flushes of Jacinda euphoria. The Labour Party, in its broadcasting policy, was dangling a $38 million funding carrot in front of RNZ.

But staff say that apart from Hirschfeld, RNZ’s top management was treating the policy – for a full-scale TV channel, RNZ Plus – with caution.

RNZ was right to accept Hirschfeld’s resignation. The incident has damaged the state broadcaster, which has long tried to overcome the overblown claims that it was biased in favour of the Left.

But RNZ staff I spoke to said Curran was getting off scot-free. Given the tensions between Curran and RNZ, should the PM step in to ensure Labour’s policy can be implemented?

eGriffin and Thompson have been wary of Labour’s plans for an RNZ TV channel. But in light of the Government’s belligerence on the issue, they couldn’t ignore the policy, and Hirschfeld was appointed to a new job overseeing the development of video, with a particular focus on Morning Report and Checkpoint.

Hirschfeld – who has a background in television – is said to have been a big supporter of the Labour proposal.
Staff I spoke to shared the concerns of Griffin and Thompson. They viewed the policy as unsustainable and feared it would take resources away from RNZ’s core skill base – radio.

The number of people watching video is so tiny that the cost cannot be justified. As one staffer said: “Ever since she [Hirschfeld] got here, it has been about putting in TV everywhere.”
More video content is seen as inevitable, but television is expensive and the proposed $38 million is a drop in the ocean.

Richard Griffin Inadvertantly lied to a select committee.

Now seems a strange time to be moving into the challenging TV business.
Labour’s policy rightly addresses a need for public broadcasting that is ignored under the present commercial-focused broadcast system.
But turning RNZ into a TV channel while ignoring Television New Zealand seems irrational.
Maybe with a minister cooperating with the RNZ board, such a move could be made to work.
But Curran’s action has severely threatened the trust relationship with RNZ. It is hard to see how RNZ Plus can proceed, under this minister at least.

 

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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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RNZ Can’t Succeed Too Much Govt does not want RNZ to undermine commercial radio

Caption: Morning Report has improved.

RNZ is damned if it rates poorly and damned if it rates well. RNZ did well in the latest second radio ratings survey from new research firm GfK recently, including growth in Morning Report and Checkpoint. It appears that online growth has resulted in an increase in the radio audience, which suggests a strategic success. Yet you will not see RNZ heavily promoting the win by rubbing it in noses of individual commercial radio stations in promotions

Continue reading RNZ Can’t Succeed Too Much Govt does not want RNZ to undermine commercial radio

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Why does the media love itself so much? Ginga of the Nation Replaces St Hilary

CAPTION: I imagine Sam Hayes will develop a warmer style now she is on the weekday 6pm bulletin.

Congratulations to Samantha Hayes for winning her new role as Newshub newsreader. And good luck for her transition to the permanent 6pm role. To be honest, I have always thought her delivery somewhat cold and aloof  – but as a TV3 insider told me – she is experienced now and capable of changing for the new role. My understanding is that Hayes was always the first choice. She has weathered the celebrity storm in the past. As one pal pointed out, Hayes was hammered by the gossip columnist Rachel Glucina. But that is not going to happen while Glucina works with TV3.

Continue reading Why does the media love itself so much? Ginga of the Nation Replaces St Hilary

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