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History repeats

by admin on March 24th, 2010
Labour’s broadcasting spokesman Brendon Burns wants you to support his e-petition for Radio New Zealand – He says this is only the latest attack on Radio NZ ... Some things don’t change. Like entrenched attitudes by some politicians to Radio New Zealand. As a young journalist working for Radio NZ, I experienced then Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s dislike and combative attitude when we had the temerity to ask questions he didn’t want to answer. In the early 90s, I reported with growing disbelief the then National Government’s disastrous move to flatten Radio New Zealand’s headquarters, Broadcasting House for a Parliamentary expansion that never happened. A few years later, Tony Ryall, as the Broadcasting Minister in the last National Government was sharpening the knife for cuts which only a change of government prevented. He once suggested Concert FM could be run out of his local radio station in Whakatane! Ok, I am being political, but only because I am a passionate, committed believer in the importance of Radio NZ. I singled it out in my maiden speech 16 months ago as a national “taonga.” A background in journalism and now politics has led me to the unshakeable belief that Radio NZ is crucial to our functioning as a nation. There is no other medium that, day in and day out, provides the same honest reflection on ourselves as New Zealanders, political warts and all. Make no mistake. Some of my colleagues grumble about Radio NZ. It’s no cakewalk to be pulverised by Sean Plunket or minced by Mary Wilson. I can’t say that Radio NZ always gets it right. But I vouch that it gets it right more often than most, if not all other New Zealand media. In large part that’s because it has no need to touch its cap to the power of advertisers or the dividend demands of owners, be they foreign media moguls or Cabinet Ministers. Let’s acknowledge the importance of this medium and how it’s always been the poor cousin of state broadcasting. Don’t take my word, look at KPMG’s report saying Radio NZ is significantly under-funded at around $30m of government funding for the services expected. Labour’s last budget provided an additional $2.6m, most of it swallowed up by bringing staff towards prevailing state sector levels. Parliament will soon debate the new Radio NZ Charter, introduced by Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman last year. It pledges there will be no sponsorship – yet that is among the options he is now suggesting. Given the history, I say it’s a slippery slope. Dr Coleman should commit to his own charter legislation and stop trying to force Radio New Zealand into a old National Party mould.

From → Guest Blog

  1. Sophie Glendorran permalink

    Hi Brendon! I liked your article on History Repeats. good read. Sophie Glendorran

  2. Campbell McFarlane permalink

    I’m a big supporter of Radio N.Z.. God help us if this “B” Government takes that away from us as well. Enough is enough.

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