In the same month that Auckland hospital ran out of beds to treat acute
admissions, Helen Clark has announced that we do have our priorities right
and that $176m is going to be spent over the next four years on the
creation and operation of a Maori TV channel.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
So, if you're stupid enough to get really sick then you're out of luck -- but
if you're keen to watch some "politically correct" Maori TV then boy,
you're in luck!
Now I'm not going to criticise those who want to build a TV channel specifically
targeting Maori -- it's a laudable goal and they are to be commended.
We're told that the provision of Maori TV is a part of our "treaty obligation"
to preserve the Maori culture which I can accept -- but might we have found
a better, more cost-effective way to handle this commitment in such a hi-tech
Reports indicate that the Maori TV channel will reach just 70% of the target
population -- and many of the nation's poorer Maori, who live in rural areas,
will be out of luck. Does this start to smell a little of "toys for the boys"
rather than a serious attempt to reach heartland Maori?
What good will Maori TV be to those poor, underprivileged Maori up north who
can't even afford electricity to warm and light their substandard housing? Is
the best we can offer these people a Maori TV channel that they can't even
Now, just in case you think I've completely deviated from things Internet,
I'd like to float the idea of integrating the nation's treaty obligations
in respect to Maori culture with the government's already stated agenda
to bridge the digital divide.
What about this for an idea...
Instead of giving the silk-undies brigade yet another free lunch at the expense
of NZ"s taxpayers and the poor Maori who really need and deserve our assistance,
why not use the Net to deliver this cultural enlightenment?
I'm sure that a reasonably high percentage of those Maori households that have
the modern TV set and UHF aerial required to receive the proposed Maori TV
broadcasts will also have a PC of some kind. If the cultural obligation
was delivered via the Net then these people would be ready to go -- right from
Now stop and think about how many PCs and modems just $50m would buy for those
other Maori who want to access this material. I figure you could buy over
40,000 brand-new Net-capable PCs for that amount -- and probably three times
as many machines if you shopped on the second-hand market or tapped into the
huge number of ex-corporate machines that get biffed every year.
Even those who didn't have, want or qualify for a PC could still access
the material published on the Net by visiting their local cybercafe -- or in
many cases their local library.
However, here's the real strength of the Net as a delivery vehicle for this
material -- INTERACTION!
Television is a totally passive medium. It turns sensible, intelligent,
thinking people into couch-potatoes.
Now take the Maori language for example -- you can't effectively learn Maori
by watching people talk Maori -- you have to get involved and interact!
What's more -- those underprivileged Maori who qualified for a free or
subsidised PC for their kids under such a scheme would also be significantly
enhancing the educational opportunities open to them by way of the Net
or remote-learning resources. Being a skilled TV watcher doesn't usually
carry much sway when you're trying to find a job -- having even modest
computer skills often does!
Also consider the issue of content. The creation of broadcast-quality
TV content is incredibly expensive -- and this is the main reason that
so much money is being allocated to the Maori TV venture.
Net-based content is far cheaper to create -- but the real benefit is that,
if managed properly, Te Internet would, like so many interactive Net-services,
benefit from a huge amount of viewer-created content.
Take for example the need to discuss important issues relating to Maori culture.
If you're using TV as a medium then you're probably going to get the usual
line-up of "talking heads" who will discuss the issues while watched by the
viewing audience. Use the Net however, and *EVERY* person who wants to have
their say can be included.
Unlike some, I'm not opposed to Maori TV. I just think that it's absolute
folly to pour $176 million into such a limited medium when another could
be far better used to help preserve the culture -- while also bringing many
other social and educational benefits to those who need them most.
Also, unless someone gives Helen Clark a good slap upside her head so as to knock
some commonsense into her then we run the risk of good, honest Kiwis,
quite a number of them Maori, quite a number of them elderly, dying for lack
of effective and affordable hospital treatment. Remember Helen, dead people
don't make good viewers of Maori or any TV content!
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