MEDIAWATCH: What RNZ/TVNZ Merger should be vs what it will actually be

RNZ/TVNZ merger is coming…

RNZ, TVNZ’s future: Mega public media entity likely to be unveiled tomorrow

It is understood the two companies will be dis-established to operate under one big new organisation with a public service mandate, but there will be a lengthy transition period through which the broadcasting operations of both would continue.

…here’s what THEY SHOULD do.

The steady rise of conspiracy theories spread on social media platforms risks undermining our society while creating a toxic polarisation and we see external powers manipulating debate on social media to influence elections. This all means that Public Broadcasting is becoming essential for the well being of our democracy.
We have a market failure in Public Broadcasting and we need to think of a TVNZ-RNZ merger as the spine of our public broadcasting body alongside a NZ on Air targeted journalism fund to ensure plurality of voice while also educating the public on fake news.

1 – RNZ-TVNZ merger – the spine of our public broadcasting vision.

The RNZ-TVNZ merger should be occurring immediately with the following inclusions.

    • TV1 commercial free
    • RNZ launch a commercial free youth radio station.
    • RNZ/TVNZ launch a 24 hour news station on one of their existing Freeview+ channels.

2 – Tax Google & Facebook and ring fence that for direct funding of NZ on Air journalism fund

Google & Facebook charged a percentage on all revenue from NZ, that money is specifically ring fenced to a contestable fund available through NZ on Air.

3 – NZ on Air ‘Read between the Flags’ Kiwi journalism 

This fund would be where Facebook and Google tax goes to. In a world of disinformation, we need journalism we can trust. We all get the ‘swim between the flag’ model of surf life saving, NZ on Air should be given extra funding for ‘Read between the flags’ Kiwi Journalism. This money is to ensure plurality of voice for independent media, Māori media, specific communities,  news blogs and mainstream news media who become eligible if they agree to a set of Journalistic Principles. If you do agree and sign up, you are entitled to funding and must have a Kiwi Journalism flag on your site to show you are obliged to the Journalistic Principles Code of conduct.

You would have an awareness campaign to urge NZers to ‘read between the flags’ for trusted information.

4 – Promoting Journalism in the Pacifc to counter other influences

I think one way NZ could uniquely promote its interests into the Pacific could be via Journalism. AUT run the excellent Pacific Media Centre to promote quality Journalism throughout the Pacific. What if NZ saw the promotion of quality Journalism as a craft throughout the Pacific as a strong way to counter corruption and external influence? Scholarships, Pacific News Media websites and support of local ethical journalism, these could be the pillars of promoting corruption free politics and holding those Governments to account. Promotion of Journalistic standards throughout the Pacific could counter external influences and promote NZs strategic interests.

5 – Māori Media 

Māori TV & Māori Radio need a baseline increase rather than extra budget for collaborations because the bigger players give very little back.

The NZ population has always been too small for advertiser funded journalism, it has ALWAYS needed State support, add a broken market where social media takes all the revenue while providing none of the journalism and you have a hollowed out Fourth Estate that can’t be a watchdog to anything other than their own self interest.

Current Government policy is simply adding more money to Corporate News to cover the news they should be covering anyway and to fund echo chambers of elite opinion so that the Spinoff Story gets posted on RNZ who then co post it on Stuff who then co post it on newshub.

It’s the same people saying the same thing to the same echo chambers.

The last election was a warning that disinformation campaigns can wreck the trust in our system, a strong public broadcaster like a merged RNZ-TVNZ alongside an expanded NZ on Air journalism fund paid for via taxes on the social media currently gutting traditional journalism would be a bold vision that would seek to genuinely rebuild public broadcasting.

That’s what they NEED to do, what will they do?

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Labour have shown no appetite to counter the interests of the broken market in a host of other fields, I have very little faith they will do anything meaningful here.


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