6 Nov 2019

Midweek Mediawatch 6 Nov 2019

From Mediawatch, 12:50 pm on 6 November 2019

Mediawatch's weekly catch-up with Lately. Colin Peacock talks to Karyn Hay about New Zealand on Air feeding the big public media policy debate - and discovering people still hate ads; a pair of (mostly) pointless interviews and a single startling speech.

NZ on Air feeds into media policy debate

The cover of NZOA's hefty 30-year retrospective research.

The cover of NZOA's hefty 30-year retrospective research. Photo: supplied

In one of several events to mark 30 years of being the government broadcasting funding agency, New Zealand on Air  had a do at Parliament today hosted by the broadcasting minister Kris Faafoi. 

He’s currently presiding over an eagerly-awaited review of media policy due for a big reveal before the end of the year.

Mediawatch went along to see if he would drop any hints. 

He didn't.

But NZOA boss did drop a discussion paper into the debate that “sets out some of the issues . . . the wider industry need to mull over.” 

This says:

"New Zealand media will only survive the onslaught of global media giants by acting collectively to create the content audiences want, and make it easier for them to find and enjoy it. NZ On Ai-funded content is a fraction of the local media content consumed today – we can lead but we can’t make an impact without a collective industry response"

With respect to it's finding that "New Zealanders want news media that is independent and informative"
NZOA says:

"This is an area of interest for NZ On Air due to the fragile news media environment and the need for further funding intervention. To be fair, journalists always get a bad rap – right down there with car salesmen and politicians. But there may be a message here for the commercial news media that are struggling to survive – New Zealanders want less click-bait and more serious reporting. It’s also vital to a functioning democracy.

Due to the failing market, NZ On Air is taking an active interest in further investment in journalism – in particular in investigative journalism and serious current affairs as these are the higher cost outputs that the industry is struggling to fund."

NZOA also released some hefty research "which revisits a study carried out in 1989. The research examines how our perceptions of identity and culture have changed in 30 years, and the role of the media in connecting and reflecting Aotearoa."

One startling finding:

"Less than one-half of New Zealanders believe that New Zealand-made (television, radio and online) content currently shapes and reflects our national identity"

Just like the 1989 report, people still hate ad breaks:

"Around 40% want ad-free viewing. What we don’t know is whether they are prepared to pay for it. We can’t assume from the Netflix figures that viewers would also pay a subscription to view local content ad free (partly because we don’t know how many people actually pay for their Netflix subscription). And in the case of NZ On Air-funded content the current policy requires a free-to-view outcome somewhere in the distribution mix.

The alternative of an ad-free platform would require significant government investment, but fragmented audiences won’t suddenly converge on one platform. Creating the content viewers want, and ensuring ease of access via the technology audiences are using, is vital."

There's also bad new about the news: only 18 per cent disagreed with the statement: "news reporting in NZ is too biased."


Similar concerns in 1989 BTW:

No caption

Photo: screenshot

The full 70-page 2019 report is here (PDF). The 1989 one is here (PDF)

What do we want?

Today, a pro-public broadcasting lobby group  - Better Public Media - also released research aimed at influencing the media policy review. 

“We at Better Public Media thought it was about time someone asked the public what they want from their government,” said BPM Director Myles Thomas.

It says its opinion polling results show strong support for non-commercial TV.

Almost two thirds of 1,000 respondents support ad-free weekends on TVNZ1 and six out of ten support making the state-owned channel completely non-commercial. Only one in ten didn't like that idea - which would cost TVNZ a whole lot of its $300 m a year revenue.  

A majority was also keen on taxing big tech companies like Facebook and Google to support New Zealand programmes and media, expanding RNZ to include an ad-free TV  - or to amalgamate TVNZ, RNZ and Māori Television into a large ad-free broadcaster and media outlet.

No caption

Photo: supplied

Interestingly there was strong support for an app or streaming service to carry NZ programmes. A nice idea, but sadly many publicly-funded programmes wouldn't be on the services because the producers own the rights.  

High Commissioner lowlights - and a highlight

UK High Commissioner Laura Clark on Q+A

UK High Commissioner Laura Clark on Q+A Photo: screenshot

Both of the NZOA-funded TV politics shows this week interviewed the outgoing UK High Commissioner Laura Clarke.

Both shows wanted her to comment on Brexit and the forthcoming British election, but ambassadors hardly ever express a political opinion about anything. They simply serve the government of the day in foreign policy.

Laura Clark made it clear on The Nation she couldn't comment on any of that.

She said absolutely nothing significant about anything regarding the UK - and said "going forward a lot".

It got more interesting when she said this:

"I have got a particularly high place or high priority on building the UK's relationship with Māoridom across New Zealand"

She said there would be a Māori delegation going to the United Kingdom later this month to learn about taonga held in British museums.

On TVNZ's Q+A the next day started off with more pointless stuff about trade, Brexit and Boris Johnson- but then Jack Tame asked about human remains still held in British museums.

"The UK's representative in New Zealand was unaware preserved tattooed Māori heads still remain in the British Museum's collection despite requests for them to be returned to this country," TVNZ reported subsequently.

Interesting and relevant given she told Q+A and The Nation she has increasing the UK's engagement and relationship with Māoridom was "a personal priority."

But Jack Tame didn't press her on that any further and too much of the interview was aimless diplo-speak about UK NZ relations.

However, having said that - I read this speech Laura Clark gave at my old secondary school for Anzac Day this year:

"While I hesitate as a 40 year old woman to give advice to young men like you, I'm going to give it a go anyway . . .

No-one ever said anything like that on stage when I was there 30 years ago.


  • be comfortable in your own skin, be yourself, and don’t try to fit a mould or meet others’ expectations of what you should be

  • be a feminist: because the work is not yet done. Reflect on what it means to be a feminist, and how that should guide your behaviour. Respect women - not just because it’s the right thing to do (which of course it is), but because you will not succeed in life if you don’t

  • and finally: love – in every sense of the word. Build friendship and understanding. Listen, learn, be empathetic. Support those around you, particularly those who are less fortunate, and do what you can to build a better world

No-one ever said anything like that on stage when I was there 30 years ago. She also began and ended in more te reo than I could muster . . .