Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: TVNZ: Emptied out

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  • Rob Stowell,

    why we do actually bother owning the thing

    It's been hard to see any rationale for a couple of decades. TVNZ doesn't serve us - does little to educate or inform - and doesn't return a decent percentage on the investment.
    It's a husk- a spandrel - left during our evolution from a society where the public good was considered important, to a society that's just a loose association of consumers and tax-payers.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Graham,

    There are $18m good reasons to keep it I would say, although it would be nice to see some of that money going back to fund another TVNZ7-type channel.

    Fat chance, of course, with this current govt who hide a scaly ideological bent behind an affable shrug and a 'don't worry, we have this under control' approach to social and economic management.

    There's no doubt TVNZ, as ever other media organisation out there, has to adapt to new realities post-GFC and internet impacts. Funny, one would have thought they would have been better prepared for the internet given I remember going to internal seminars on the coming changes way back in 1994.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 218 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    which will see the decommissioning of its Wellington outside broadcast truck, the one that brings you Back Benches.

    Does this mean the likely end for Back Benches, or just a transition to whichever entity buys the truck and gives it a new paint job? I've often thought of Back Benches as one of the more impressive news and current affairs shows that TVNZ developed, even though it ended up on Prime, because it shows politics and politicians from a different perspective than what's often shown in other media.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1142 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    why we do actually bother owning the thing

    The Gvt established Maori TV precisely to let TVNZ (and its Gvt shareholder) off the hook to serve the same purpose: preserve & foster te reo, and thereby enable the sale of the asset.

    But that was just a hurdle in the process initiated in the previous decade under Labour's SOE model, in which they split the broadcast function from funding. NZ on Air (aka The Broadcasting Commission) was tasked with "reflecting and developing NZ culture."

    There was precious little public service broadcasting when it happened, and there's been less since.

    But, nonetheless, that's why we bother to own it. Just that it's been completely stripped of any ability to serve that need. So, given that it's broken, do we flog it or fix it?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • Myles Thomas,

    Certainly the govt seem to have stripped away all the functions wihin TVNZ that made it difficult to sell this asset - TVNZ 6 & 7, the archive and now the Maori and PI programmes dept. Although the govt has sworn to never sell it, many wonder why we still own TVNZ because it's not doing the govt or NZ any good. The answer may be that there is no likely buyer. TV3 struggled to find one recently.

    The thing is that one day government will realise how important television and media are to NZ and that to own the most popular distributor is immensely important. Would we want Rupert Murdoch or similar to buy it?

    We no longer have a national TV broadcaster and that is shameful. The repercussions are huge - public education, weakened cultural values, political engagement, just having decent television for ALL NZers to watch and not just mainstream 18-54 year olds.

    It's important to remember that our nightly television fix still has a big impact with the general public. No doubt many who read PA now watch the internet but recent research shows TV is still the main source of entertainment.
    That the govt may soon suggest selling it off is definitely the point. Lose that and we lose control of the murky mirror that is television.

    Current govts may be forcing TVNZ to be rubbish, but that doesn't mean future govts won't turn it around.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2011 • 130 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Myles Thomas,

    Current govts may be forcing TVNZ to be rubbish, but that doesn’t mean future govts won’t turn it around.

    Hoping against hope that a Leveson-esque Royal Commission will be held and eventually sort things out (and yet another reminder to sign the petition). Maybe dust off the 1986 Royal Commission on Broadcasting and update it?

    TVNZ has been a state broadcaster in name only for the last 20-odd years, and the Clark Govt’s attempts to fix it, while worthy, didn’t go far enough in hindsight.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    the decommissioning of its Wellington outside broadcast truck, the one that brings you Back Benches.

    And presumably a hell of a lot of news as well?

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1717 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    And presumably a hell of a lot of news as well?

    Probably not. The news vans - some of them - have their own links, for those precious 'live' moments (where the reporter gazes earnestly at the camera, standing in front of something faintly news-worthy clutching their ear-piece and trying to stop the wind whipping their hair in their eyes, while the studio presenter asks them simple questions : 'Where are you now, Lindsay? Can you hear me?")
    TVNZ does precious little - if any - multicamera Outside Broadcast work.
    OSB (Australian) have been the big players in providing OB vans for a decade now. (TAB used to own quite a few, too). TVNZ would just be another client.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    hindsight

    didn't take that to see the flaws at the time

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Josie McNaught,

    Later in the show, I talk to three young journalism graduates about the realities of training for an industry where both employment and pay are shrinking.

    This is the key issue: forget about TVNZ’s shrinking executive offices.( When I worked there it always amazed me that we had just 2 floors MAKING telly and five floors “managing” it. If it’s balancing out – then I’m all for it! ) But as I say – the key issue is your young journos…. perhaps you could ask Richard about the realities for his students…his institution is taking $1000 of dollars off these kids each year… sure there will always be a job on the local paper in Invercargill or Whakatane, but local radio is being concentrated in Auckland and telly as you say is shrinking rapidly. Where does he see the career path going for these grads? With the commercial side being so important – what sort of clout do Pacific companies have to essentially fund Pacific media? Maori TV get over $30 million from the taxpayer in funding – but if that was cut off – would there be a Maori media? I don’t think iwi would be queuing up to fund it – do you? Also back to your students, how can they get well-paid work that will help them to pay off their loans and establish themselves in a community? Things like buying a house??A loan of $40,000 should be able to be paid off in four years post-study at around $8- $12,000 a year – but not if you are jumping from one low-paid media contract to another (even an experienced free lance sub can only get around $30 an hour b4 tax.) Or your students face having to work for free as an intern at a magazine or in TV. I’m doing law at AUT and I’ve met a few journo students there. They have incredible technical facilities at AUT and great training – but I’m not convinced the current labour market matches up with their expectations. I’m lucky I can retrain in Law (my first degree and post grad journo training was all free of course) and use my media skills to boot hopefully once I graduate – there are opportunities for me in Law – there certainly aren’t many for women journos in their late 40s! (Esp not in the kindergarten world of women on the telly although I see balding male walruses do alright (!) I wonder the same about opportunities for Pasifika journos…. perhaps the time has come for govt to fund Pasifika media as well…. ????

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Swain, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    a spandrel

    Thank you, sir. That is my new word for the day.

    Japan • Since Apr 2013 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    I would march in the street to stop our public assets being sold. I wouldn't cross the street to save TVNZ. They can flog it for all I care.

    It's not just the quantifiable dollars and cents (if the dividend is the strongest argument, we might as well have a state-owned brothel). It's the harder to measure intangibles - call it civic/national pride. For all its flaws, Radio NZ is worth saving. So are many other media creatures - Maori TV, the provincial local paper, even (gasp) some blogs. You want to know that they're still there.

    Putting aside the imported shows that could easily be on another channel (Coro et al), what would you miss if TVNZ closed down tomorrow? Shouting at Wendy and Simon, Toni and Mike? I'm happy to stop doing that.

    TVNZ's official motto is "We never forget you're stupid." It is a national embarrassment. Get rid, and start again.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    And presumably a hell of a lot of news as well?

    I wouldn't imagine so - the TVNZ OB unit mostly does sport and events, but given that they've not updated any of the fleet in a good long while (none have the capability to do HD for example) they don't even get a lot of that work anymore, most is handled by On Site Broadcasting (OSB) who have a much more modern fleet.

    The live news links are usually handled by one of a few Live Eye vans, or 4WDs, or Utes - but newer technology now means they can even to a live link from a small backpack using a few 4G modems.

    Beyond that there are a bunch of freelancers with the gear to do their own live links (TV3 relies on them for most of theirs).

    I wouldn't worry about news - they'll keep that going, it's still core to the current strategy.

    As for Back Benchers - I expect the OB trucks will be sold as-is, so someone could probably buy it and pick up right where they left off, but if not there are already a handful of independent companies who could do the work.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve,

    In my time at TVNZ (only a couple of years) I worked extensively with the Maori and Pacific department - I've cut every single one of the shows mentioned (except Fresh, which didn't exists when I was there, but I worked on it's predecessor I AM TV.

    I certainly hope for the best for the people already making those shows. And I'm sure they'll do just great assuming they can get out and form their own business(es?) to carry on with those shows.

    The biggest concern, I guess, is that the shows continue to have a platform for broadcast.

    The role of TVNZ has changed, and unlike some I don't place the blame for any of that on TVNZ - they have been told repeatedly that their mandate now is to return a profit to the shareholder, which is fine I guess, but the problem is that we as citizens generally expect something more from TVNZ, and it's not really something they have been told to deliver us.

    Our beef really should be with the government about trying to determine exactly what TVNZ should be to New Zealanders. A home for popular entertainment is all well and good, but is there more to it? How does that get codified?

    I hope my friends at in Maori and Pacific at TVNZ land on their feet and even prosper after this.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    the problem is that we as citizens generally expect something more from TVNZ, and it’s not really something they have been told to deliver us

    true, it has always been a political decision.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Josie McNaught,

    but local radio is being concentrated in Auckland and telly as you say is shrinking rapidly

    And even then it only truly caters to a narrow subset of Auckland. With the exception of Grey Lynn, whom RNZ still appeals.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    ...our evolution from a society where the public good was considered important, to a society that's just a loose association of consumers and tax-payers.

    We could form a guild of the gulled...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    the TVNZ OB unit mostly does sport and events,

    Yeah, well, its not as if they get advance notice of traffic accidents or missing dogs and lets face it, for any really important story they send the reporter into the street outside so all TVNZ really needs to own is an iPhone or equivalent Andriod device.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    looks like a doer-upper...

    So, given that it’s broken, do we flog it or fix it?

    How much for just the engine and the diff?
    ...and maybe the radials...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Attachment

    …or equivalent Andriod device.

    how about a lino half-cut…?
    this one has a palm!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    The news vans - some of them - have their own links, for those precious 'live' moments (where the reporter gazes earnestly at the camera, standing in front of something faintly news-worthy clutching their ear-piece and trying to stop the wind whipping their hair in their eyes, while the studio presenter asks them simple questions : 'Where are you now, Lindsay? Can you hear me?")

    My fave live cross location - on the balcony of the TVNZ cafeteria, chatting to the news presenter several floors below. I actually haven't seen this happen lately, but they used to do it a lot.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Attachment

    And with a little manipulation we reveal a White Elephant...

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    How much does this have to do with the revelation earlier this year that some staff in the Maori and Pacific unit were doing campaigning for the Labour Party using company resources, on company time?

    Are TVNZ wanting to remove the possibility of anything like this happening in the future? If it's an external production company with misbehaving staff, that's a lot less sticky than an in-house unit.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    How much does this have to do with the revelation earlier this year that some staff in the Maori and Pacific unit were doing campaigning for the Labour Party using company resources, on company time?

    Maybe nothing, maybe a lot. The revelation itself is more likely to be the part to look at since TVNZ seems to have no problem with National supporters being paid by them to produce actual programs that go to air. The revelation that there were Labour supporters even in the building has been portrayed as some kind of scandal that should be fought against at all cost, even to the point of destroying TVNZ itself.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • stever@cs.waikato.ac.nz, in reply to simon g,

    Yes!! This!!! Get rid!!!

    How about changing the "A" in ABC to Australasian? I'm just about to leave the West Island again, and ABC will be what I miss most :)

    No adverts!!!! Long interviews!!!

    And the Aussies moan about how awful it's become...but it's nirvana compared to almost all of NZ TV.

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2006 • 73 posts Report Reply

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