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Press coverage

Check out the press coverage and comment on the Government's plans for Radio New Zealand. Click on any headline to read the full article:

Radio New Zealand Revolution

First published in "Your Weekend" 27/03/10
I used to wonder what it would take to inspire a revolution in New Zealand. As a young student of political science, I’d watch people going about their daily business and consider what issue might provide a tipping point for a popular uprising against the State. I couldn’t think of one then, but I reckon I’ve spotted one now – messing about with Radio New Zealand. Nothing has struck at many of our hearts like Broadcasting Minister Jonathon Coleman’s insistence that the National and Concert programmes must cut costs as they deal with a funding freeze for the next few years. This is despite a government-initiated review in 2007 which said RNZ was operating efficiently and recommended a funding increase of more than 20 percent to ensure existing services were sustained.
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A race to the bottom

New Zealand Listener, March 13-19 2010 Vol 222 No 3644
This situation has several unusual aspects. First, the Broadcasting Minister has suddenly gone public with his demands, including floating a number of options he wants the board to consider: closing studios, cutting staff and getting sponsorship for Radio NZ Concert’s programmes. This looks dangerously close to political interference in the management of the company, which the legislation expressly prohibits. Second, these developments are at odds with National’s previous stance on Radio NZ. The board is well aware it will get no increase in funding over the next few years; indeed its Statement of Intent 2009-2012 has a flat budget for each year to 2012. This document was signed off by the Government in May 2009, and it is understood the board has made cuts in overheads and delayed some planned expansion accordingly. What is the ­minister on about?
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Privatization of TVNZ moves into next phase

Tumeke! 13/03/10
If the 6pm National news is reduced to a mere 30 minutes because of duopoly conspiracy between TVNZ and TV3 that's simply 17 minutes of national news to illuminate what is happening in this country while National and ACT quietly conspire to ram their none mandated agenda through under a misuse of urgency. It's the reason why saving Radio NZ is so important.
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No justification for cutting the pulse of the nation

Dominion Post, 12/03/10
The prevailing spin has been that tax cuts are all that anyone really, really wants. The hits and knocks to public services have appealed to our sense of tax-paying entitlement. The recession blues soundtrack still plays persuasively in the background and it harmonises perfectly with the laissez faire neo- liberal violin. But with the RNZ issue something in our popular public discourse has shifted. People from all political persuasions have come out arguing very strongly that, actually, there are some things worth paying tax for.
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Don’t freeze Radio NZ’s funding, increase it, experts say

Te Waha Nui Online, 12/03/10
“If anything, there should be a campaign to increase funding so it can do more of what we need in this country, which is provide a good independent voice for the people of New Zealand to ask the important questions and to analyse the important issues we’re facing,” says Dr Hirst. Green Party MP, Keith Locke, agrees with Dr Hirst that rather than a funding freeze, Radio New Zealand’s funding should be increased so it can provide more programming and remain free from commercial considerations. “Other media run their programmes to get the maximum number of listeners. That doesn’t necessarily produce the best debate. It just means a dumbing down of the news, of public debate and a lack of minority programming because it doesn’t make enough money,” says Mr Locke.
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Facebook wars

Tumeke! 11/03/10
As at 9:30 am on Thursday 11 March 2010 the Save Radio New Zealand facebook group has more fans (on 18,973) than New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key (on 18,972). Well done!
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Right on cue, Radio NZ presents Oliver Twist

Dominion Post, 09/03/10
That still did not stop dear old Radio New Zealand, alone among the agencies of state, from doing its own Oliver Twist. On cue, supporters staged street marches and an internet campaign. It does not matter about the world economy, the Kiwi economy, or the budget crisis, RNZ wants more. It is a seductive argument. In the overall scheme of things, RNZ's $34 million allocation is pretty small cheese and they want just a few million more - just the price of a handful of heart operations and dialysis treatments.
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Crisis in public radio

Middle C, 08/03/10
Radio New Zealand is already labouring under severe budget cuts imposed over the past two decades, including staff cuts. It is dishonest to point to slightly increased staff numbers over recent years as bureaucratic growth: a small recovery has been made but numbers are still far below those of two decades ago. Staff simply do a great deal of unpaid, voluntary overtime. Ratings are not at all relevant (though RNZ Concert's ratings are remarkably high by international measures; contrary to Michael Law's remark in his scurrilous Sunday Star Times article, the ratings are published on the RNZ website). The role of RNZ Concert is comparable to that of a national library, a national art museum: a storehouse of material that is available for all, at any time people want or need it.
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Radio NZ: Endangered species in a commercial world

Dominion Post, 06/03/10
When the red emergency phone rang at Radio New Zealand's Wellington studio last weekend, the broadcaster was handed a golden chance to silence the critics. Amid vociferous debate about whether the organisation needs or deserves more public funding, they couldn't have engineered a better illustration of the value of a public service broadcaster. Morning Report presenter Sean Plunket was dragged in from his leisurely Sunday morning and programmes were ditched for fulltime, up-to-the minute coverage of the tsunami threat after Chile's 8.8 magnitude earthquake. Civil Defence Minister John Carter even applauded their coverage on air.
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KPMG report on Radio New Zealand, November 2007, released under OIA

The Hon Jonathan Coleman, NZ Minister for Broadcasting, in his reply to my email, and of course, dozens of others who also emailed him - is at pains to point out that he is a supporter of Radio New Zealand and simply wants to help them figure out ways of maintaining and improving services within their current budget. However, as the KPMG report below points out, this might be a bit harder than we,  and he,  anticipated. Among a number of other telling comments they baldly state, " we have concluded that RNZ is underfunded in terms of ensuring the sustainability of its current outputs".
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Chile quake showed RNZ importance – protester

3 News, 01/03/10
The organiser of a Radio New Zealand protest in Auckland today says the Chile quake and subsequent tsunami warnings were a key reminder of the importance of RNZ broadcasts.
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Reminder of public radio importance, 01/03/10
"Yesterday we had tsunami warnings for the entire country, guess how I found out? On Radio New Zealand," Save Radio New Zealand Facebook group founder and protest organiser, Jake Quinn told the crowd. He said when he formed a Facebook group he intially thought that the group would get 1000 fans. "We had 14,000 inside of a week and now it's about 16,700. Our goal is to put pressure on the minister and the government," he said.
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Quality radio easy target for the barbarians

Sunday Star-Times, 28/02/10
Let's have a go at it because it makes some pretence at responsible coverage of matters of public interest, doesn't play for laughs between commercials, and because Mary Wilson sounds so snappy on Checkpoint. Snappy sounds kind of serious. Who wants serious? A few screaming jocks could replace National Radio's news and current affairs tomorrow, and we'd all be loads better off. Let's shag about with it because it's taxpayer-funded. That's part of being a service to the old, the sick, the lonely; the people who lie awake at night while the clock ticks, and are comforted by the human voice. Don't get sentimental about people like that, whatever you do. They can always get drunk.
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Tumeke! 28/02/10
How amazing was Radio NZ coverage of the Tsunami today? Wasn't it interesting to be reminded that when you hear a major event within NZ is occurring that you turn straight away to Radio NZ to know what is happening. All the other 'free media' were jammed full of bee pollen adverts and deer horn aphrodisiac jingles.
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Why I'll be there on Monday – Save RNZ, save public broadcasting

Ethical Martini, 27/02/10
I am critical of RNZ and TVNZ programming from time to time, but I am a strong advocate of public ownership of the airwaves. I do not support the so-called democratic marketplace because the media market is inherently anti-democratic. It works on principles of price and profit so it favours the wealthy and powerful every time. Privately-owned media has a vested interest and strong interest in preserving the status quo. The public deserves more than that.
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Editorial: Pressure on Radio NZ

The Nelson Mail, 26/02/10
OPINION: A visitor to New Zealand waking up to Morning Report and the 7am news, and catching the raucous shriek of the wandering albatross, would surely wonder what he or she has struck. But to many Kiwis – those without feathers – Radio New Zealand is something of a national treasure. More than half a million of us tune into Nat Rad or the Concert programme every week.
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POLL: Majority says 'hands off RadioNZ'

NewsWire, 26/02/10
A MAJORITY of Wellingtonians opposes Radio NZ having its funding frozen, according to a NewsWire street poll this week. Of 80 people questioned, 44 (56%) were definitely against the proposed funding freeze. Of the rest, 13 (16%) were for and 23 (28%) did not care. RNZ currently gets $38 million and is facing cost-cutting demands from the government. The issue was raised at a parliamentary commerce select committee meeting on February 18.
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Facebook to the rescue of public radio

NZ Herald, 26/02/10
In opposition, National MPs sometimes branded RNZ Radio Labour, claiming it had a liberal bias - an accusation the right wing makes about many journalists. But the Nats have been intensely uninterested in broadcasting - beyond removing the threat of regulation for Sky TV. Many will be suspicious about National's interest in change at public radio.
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Protests over Radio New Zealand cuts, 25/02/10
Labour and Green MPs spoke at the protest about the need for an independent public broadcaster to freely carry out to a high standard the reporting of important events, including day-to-day politics without commercial intervention. Labour MP Grant Robertson said there were suspicions the Government was looking to starve RNZ of funding until it was forced down the road of commercialism and called for honesty about its long-term intentions for public broadcasting.
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Save Radio NZ protests

The Big Idea, 25/02/10
A series of ‘sit-in/tune-in’ protests seeking to raise awareness of the funding freeze facing Radio New Zealand took place in Wellington and Christchurch on Thursday after only two days planning, while another is planned for Auckland on Monday 1 March. Around 300 fans of Radio New Zealand came to show their support for the state broadcaster at Parliament and a smaller group formed outside the Christchurch offices of Radio New Zealand.
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Radio rallies in two cities

Red Alert, 25/02/10
Great turn-out today at the rallies in support of Radio NZ at Parliament and also in Christchurch. Labour and Green MPs turned out to support the 200+ people who arrived with just a day or two’s notice to express opposition to Government efforts to freeze-cut  Radio NZ’s services. Meanwhile I was addressing a smaller gathering outside Radio New Zealand House in my Christchurch electorate, saying  the Government should look across its broadcasting spend at what efficiencies that might be applied to support Radio New Zealand.
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First Day Of Save Radio NZ Protests Sends Clear Message To Minister Of Broadcasting, 25/02/10
A series of 'sit-in/tune-in' protests seeking to raise awareness of the funding freeze facing Radio New Zealand took place in Wellington and Christchurch today after only two days planning, while another is planned for Auckland on Monday 1 March. Around 300 fans of Radio New Zealand came to show their support for the state broadcaster at Parliament and a smaller group formed outside the Christchurch offices of Radio New Zealand. The protest action, entirely organised on the social media page Facebook through the group 'Save Radio New Zealand' was a massive success according to group founder, Jake Quinn.
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Save Radio NZ protest today

The Standard, 25/02/10
The Save Radio New Zealand group on Facebook now has 13,600 members and today (the 25th) there will be an event at Parliament between 1 and 2. It won’t be your typical rowdy protest, instead the idea is to bring along your radio and something to eat and drink, and have a mass picnic on the lawn while showing your support for National Radio.
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Facebook support leads to demonstration at Parliament in support of RadioNZ

Wellington Scoop, 25/02/10
A Facebook group, Save Radio New Zealand, has attracted over 13,500 fans since its creation one week ago, and is growing rapidly. The group was set up last week after the Minister of Broadcasting Jonathan Coleman told Radio New Zealand’s Board it had to deliver cost saving measures such as introducing sponsorship or reducing its Auckland operation.
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Not such a simple 'yes, minister'

Otago Daily Times, 24/02/10
It is no secret that to those on the right of the political and economic spectrum, Radio New Zealand has long been anathema. Failure to conform to a set of viewpoints dearly held by such critics, or to fall into the line propounded by the same, is seen as opposition and therefore as "bias", "liberalism", "socialism", "leftism", "elitism". They would find it so much more agreeable if Radio New Zealand was more directly answerable to the rules applicable to most other media in this country: that is, to the commercial and cultural imperatives of "the market".
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Save Radio New Zealand Facebook Site A Huge Hit With Kiwis, 24/02/10
"Radio New Zealand is the last true provider of public service broadcasting in this country. Coleman is talking about getting rid of FM frequencies, closing regional offices, making advertising and sponsorship an option for flagship shows. This is about the worst set of ideas I've ever heard," said Quinn. "Judging by the comments left on Facebook, thousands of people agree with me and they're willing to fight for their rights to listen to their beloved noncommercial station." "What's more, I think he just totally misread how Kiwis feel about their iconic state radio broadcaster. Even with National party supporters these moves are unpopular. Across rural New Zealand, in the city's, among young and old, RNZ National and Concert FM are a huge hit. Last year RNZ National won Radio Station of the Year at the Radio Awards and its currently pulling in its highest listenership and that is all with very minimal marketing and publicity."
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Editorial: Little to gain by cost cuts at Radio NZ

NZ Herald, 23/02/10
Indeed, Radio NZ's budget last year was just $38.2 million, of which $34.2 million was public money. That points to the swingeing nature of the Government's programme. While it is reasonable that all state-funded bodies should tighten their belts, it seems excessive to be waving a big stick at organisations where the potential savings are trifling.
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"Creative" and "Flexible"

Public Address - Hard News, 22/02/10
But the board has a credible answer to English's injunction that Radio NZ focus on being "creative and flexible, and providing better value for money," from its current operation. To wit: it is, and has been doing that, according to the KPMG review of its baseline funding in 2007, which found no fat to trim at the broadcaster. Indeed, the review found that Radio New Zealand was underfunded and understaffed and did not pay its existing staff enough. In the coming budget year, the shortfall, according to KPMG, will reach about $10 million.
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Why should we care about Radio New Zealand?

Brian Edwards Media, 20/02/10
Why should we care about Radio New Zealand? Not least because democracy requires an informed populace that has access to disinterested news reporting and the discursive and probing analysis of social and political issues and is beholden to no-one other than its listeners - not to government, not to political parties, not to power elites, not to commerce, not to the hawkers of goods and services.
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All-nighter may be axed in RNZ cuts, 19/02/10
Radio New Zealand is considering dumping its all-night show, cutting FM coverage and looking for commercial sponsorship as it faces Government pressure to cut costs. The Government has frozen RNZ's funding at $38 million and said it would have to live without an increase for years to come. Other cost-cutting options include cutting staff and the size of the board, holding fewer meetings, cancelling internal audits, dropping the advertising budget and pulling out of radio awards. The Auckland RNZ office held a sausage sizzle this week to raise money to pay for staff to enter the annual awards.
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Clark goes in to bat for Radio NZ

NZ Herald, 19/02/10
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has waded into the debate over the future of Radio NZ, saying it is an important service that provides in-depth and specialised reporting. "I'm a great believer in public radio," Helen Clark said in a brief visit to Wellington yesterday.
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Radio New Zealand has lots of new friends

Here in New Zealand, as I write at 11:30 am Friday, the Facebook group Save Radio New Zealand,  now has 4,110 fans. The group didn't exist yesterday morning.  People are signing up in droves because it has emerged in the last day or so that local broadcasting Minister, Jonathan Coleman has, since at least the November Radio NZ Board meeting, been making increasingly bellicose statements, both in public and in private, that Radio NZ needs to drastically cut its costs.
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Greens accuse Government of starving RNZ of money

Radio New Zealand News, 18/02/10
Green MP Sue Kedgley has accused the Government of starving Radio New Zealand of money in an attempt to threaten its viability. The future of the public broadcaster has come under question after the release of documents detailing Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman's concerns about whether Radio New Zealand is doing enough to live within its means.
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Expectations for Radio NZ board clear - Coleman

NZ Herald, 18/02/10
That challenge involved looking at all operational options including staffing numbers, sponsorship arrangements and studio budgets. "It's a matter of saying 'look, what can we do for the money that's available'. It's a matter of looking at all their operations, looking at what the public requirements are, taking a realistic look at a whole lot of things from programming services through to regional offices, how the head count has grown over the last 10-years from 214 to over 280 now..." Mr Coleman said the board needed to look at opportunities for generating new revenue, such as selling its news service, and reassess current "sacred cows" such as having no sponsorship during the concert programme.
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RNZ heading for showdown with Govt: report

Otago Daily Times, 17/02/10
Radio New Zealand bosses face a grilling at a select committee hearing tomorrow after it was reported tonight they are fighting the Government over cost cutting. TV One News said the RNZ board was heading for a major showdown and members could be sacked if they continued to defy requests to cut costs.
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RNZ, govt in showdown over funding

ONE News, 17/02/10
The radio station owned by taxpayers and listened to by hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders is heading for a major showdown with the government. ONE News can reveal the chairwoman and board members of Radio New Zealand could face the sack, if they continue to defy requests to cut costs.
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