Tuesday, 23 March 2010

NZ: State Radio and TV funding cuts threaten regional security

New Zealand needs to review strategic importance of public broadcasting before forcing further cuts to already depleted news services, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.

"Failure to support state radio and television threatens New Zealand's ability to help maintain regional security." 

State-owned TVNZ this week announced plans to sack 75 newsroom workers for a planned savings of NZ$5 million.

"Losing more than six dozen news room workers from a single organisation will see New Zealand fall further behind other developed countries."

"On top of a quarter century of restructuring to news media, these cuts leave New Zealand's ability to deliver independent and credible information to the region dangerously impaired."

"This impacts regional security among island nations that rely heavily on bigger partners for good governance leadership."

A 2005 study ranked New Zealand at 14th among 30 countries in the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation.

PFF says funding cuts since then may have pushed New Zealand even further down the OECD broadcasting ranks.

TVNZ cut $30 million from its budget last year, for a loss of 90 jobs.

A funding freeze at Radio New Zealand has been put at place despite a KPMG review that shows RNZ is already operating at maximum efficiency – and in fact recommended funding increases to meet its statutory obligations.

"The fact that the current government ignores the advice of one the world's big four accounting companies strongly suggests New Zealand is not as in step with free market models as it likes to think."

"In continuing to freeze funding and require dividends, New Zealand is also out of step with its closest economic partner, Australia.

State broadcaster ABC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, last year announced a "record funding boost" for its operations.

"Unlike New Zealand, Australia recognises that economic crisis is a time to invest in identity and information – not make cutbacks."

"If New Zealand truly wants to match Australia for economic performance, as it says, then governments needs to urgently review the strategic importance of its state broadcasting services."

"Information is the frontline of any national interest."

"In the case of New Zealand, those interests include the world's largest region.

PFF says the corporate profit and dividend model ruling TVNZ also needs urgent review, and may have outlived its usefulness.

Cuts are to restore "profitability."

The cuts and funding freeze at Radio New Zealand compare with hundreds of millions spent on "strategic" state assets like Air New Zealand and New Zealand Rail.

Meantime, TVNZ is still expected to pay government a "dividend" despite some $270 million disappearing from the advertising market in the last year.

PFF says that the islands are also dependent on organisations like TVNZ and RNZ for independent information following a decade or more of corporatisation and privatisation pushed by New Zealand and Australia.

"These measures seem to have fallen heavily on public media in the islands, with countries like Samoa and the Cook Islands having no state broadcasters at all."

"This has caused a dramatic and continuing loss of good governance information, in some cases leading to loss of life, and may arguably have added to regional insecurity."

"The first line of defence against regional insecurity is and always will be information – free, fair and without favour."

PFF calls on New Zealand to follow the KPMG recommendations and drop the TVNZ dividend to avoid further loss in regional public broadcasting capacity.


1 comment:

  1. Let's hope the cuts will end soon!!


    Vincent - www.kiwiradio.fm


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