Hard News by Russell Brown


Media7: Not your usual conference

I doubt anyone picked that this year's Spada conference would go the way it did. Although the delegates are always an interesting crowd, I've never seen a conference take on quite the momentum this one did.

The tone was set by Michael Stedman's urgent and extraordinary John O'Shea Memorial Lecture and continued, somewhat unexpectedly, when former Mediaworks CEO Brent Impey, on a panel on Thursday afternoon, offered a new proposal for the salvation of TVNZ 7 or an equivalent public service channel: it should be put into the care of Maori Television, which had proved its ability to make public-good television to a budget.

The proposal might simply have sat around as an interesting idea, had not Ian Taylor been passing through Auckland on his way to a business engagement.

The Dunedin-based broadcast entrepreneur (Virtual Spectator, Taylormade) is now the deputy chair of the Maori Television board. He arrived at the conference for meetings on Friday, then joined us on a panel for that afternoon's recording of the Media7 Spada special in the TVNZ Atrium.

He is a fan of Impey's idea and will take it to his board -- which doesn't mean it will happen, and doesn't account for the additional funding which still needs to be found from somewhere.

The programme also includes intervews with Stedman, who takes no prisoners, and the Minister of Broadcasting, Jonathan Coleman. You can make your own judgement about the latter, but in my opinion the unregulated dominance of Sky Television is developing into a problem in a similar way that Telecom's did in the 1990s.

I put it to the minister that Sky's reseller contracts would be illegal in many other jurisdictions, but he, predictably, continues to state that the government will not regulate, even if the present Commerce Commission study into "demand-side issues" for the uptake of ultra-fast broadband finds a problem.

Anyway: it's here for you to watch.

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