Hard News by Russell Brown

31

TVNZ: The Sub's Pencil Strikes

One thing that can confidently be said about TVNZ's provisional redraft of its own Charter is that it's considerably better written than the current document.

The sub's pencil has been taken to the flabby committee prose of the original, and the effect is somewhat revelatory. So, to take an excerpt from the section on diversity:

(a) (i)feature programming across all genres that informs, entertains and educates New Zealand audiences.

(a) (v)feature programming that serves the varied interests and informational needs and age groups within New Zealand society, including tastes and interests not generally catered for by other national television broadcasters.

(a) (vi)maintain a balance between programmes of general appeal and programmes of interest to smaller audiences.

(b) (iv)feature programmes that reflect the regions to the nation as a whole.

Becomes:

(a)Feature programming across all genres;

(b)Feature programming that caters for tastes not normally taken care of by other national television broadcasters;

(c)Balance the programming needs of general and smaller audiences;

(d)Feature programming that reflects the different cultures and regions of New Zealand;

The new economy extends even to the official media release, in which Rick Ellis is rather more concise than Ian Fraser was in officially launching the Charter in 2004. Interestingly, this week's release contains something else new: an implicit comparison between TVNZ and Radio New Zealand.

The optimistic view is that the more practical language of the new draft (which has been released as a prompt for public submissions) represents a more practical attitude to the obligations of public broadcasting; as opposed to something conceived at the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

I've been in there to talk several times lately, and I think some optimism is justified. The chip-on-the-shoulder attitude towards the Charter doesn't seem to be present any more, and there is a more positive embrace of public broadcasting obligations. In large part, of course, that is because the new delivery platforms emerging this year allow for the warm, fuzzy feeling of delivering public value, without the cold reality of shedding viewers on the two core channels.

I also don't think I'm alone in detecting a change of emphasis in news and current affairs. I have had the vaguely disorientating experience of switching on Close Up and feeling informed, rather than irritated.

But as the Charter is being re-drafted, it would be nice to see something else change: the accounting of TVNZ's Charter funding. We know what goes in: we don't know much at all about how it's spent, and that's just not adequate.

Meanwhile, TVNZ, Sky, TV3 and Maori Television make a joint vow to defy the new rules on the use of Parliamentary TV pictures.

I'm continuing to like Colin Espiner's blog. His day-with-the-Prime-Minister post contains this interesting observation:

The PM is a master at working a room. Clark’s press secretaries say they can always tell when she’s ready to move on because she looks across at them, which is their signal to get her away from whatever loony (or press gallery journalist) has cornered her. If she doesn’t look up, it means she doesn’t want to be interrupted.

He's getting the inevitable angry wingnut commenters and, to his credit, is actually responding (which is surprisingly rare for journalists who blog as part of their day jobs).

Speaking of wingnuts, the lovely Instaputz has the Funniest wingnut book contest, which he has kicked off by nominating five works - including The Leadership Genius of George W. Bush - which, he notes, "almost all look like Onion-esque parodies."

While every has a chuckle about Al Gore's son getting busted for drugs while driving a Prius (who knew hybrid cars could even go that fast?), there's Rudy Giuliani's South Carolina campaign chair and facing ethics questions.

The Fundy Post reads Ian Wishart's blog so you don't have to.

And, finally, I can see why Kate Moss still likes Pete Doherty. In his interview on Friday night with Jonathan Ross last week he was funny and charming - and also a very good mimic. Part 1, including a performance of a new Babyshambles song, is here, and Part 2 is here.

PS: Our friends at Spare Room now have an email update service. Which is probably a good excuse to remind you that you can also sign up for the daily email heads-up from Public Address.

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