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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 23rd year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Buying the media

13 September 2017

There is an election in just a matter of days.

Political parties right across the spectrum are working hard to curry favour with the public and the media. They all know that "he who controls the media controls public opinion" so it's worth investing a huge amount of time trying to get the media on your side.

So, call me a cynic, but I can't help but wonder if Labour's proposal to pour gobs of money into RNZ and also add a TV channel to its offerings might not be a blatant attempt to get the state-funded broadcaster on-side.

A lot of people consider RNZ to be rather left-leaning as it is but surely the prospect of "bigger, better, more full-funded" would sway, even if subconsciously, even the most ethical and dedicated broadcaster -- right?

Even if my cynicism is misplaced one must surely ask - do we need *another* publicly owned TV channel? Don't we already have two?

It strikes me that, especially given the falling profits coming out of the SOE that is TVNZ, we'd be much better to simply repurpose TV1 as a non-commercial state-funded broadcaster and let RNZ stick to its knitting.

In fact, given that all the research shows how people are turning away from broadcast content in favour of streamed content -- isn't RNZ already well-positioned to carry on in this market-space, thanks to the live-streaming they do from their studios?

Why the hell would you want to waste taxpayers' money on radio spectrum and the overheads of broadcasting and linear delivery when streaming and VOD is increasingly what people want?

Which again brings me back to the belief that this is a very cynical attempt to buy favour with RNZ in the lead-up to what will be a very close election.

It is not the job of an efficient government to run three state-owned TV channel and I don't know of any other country that does (but I could be wrong). Hell, if they had some half-sensible analysts on the Labour team they'd be saying "Sell TVNZ now, while it still retains some value"... but instead they've said they won't be selling, they'll be adding a new RNZ channel.

Aaaargh!

Personally I'd love to see a return to in-depth, investigative journalism both on radio and perhaps on a state-funded video stream (or VOD). Just look at what the NZH and Stuff are doing now with their "in depth" feature series -- which includes quite a bit of video content. These in-depth pieces have set new records for readers and viewers -- at the same time broadcast TV (both FTA and Sky) is crumbling.

To be honest, I was thinking of voting for Labour but they have just shown how naive they really are. I could never vote for a party that would either try to buy favour with the national radio broadcaster or invest taxpayer dollars in something as 20th-century as broadcast TV, without selling their commercial stations first.

What do readers think?

Is my cynicism misplaced?

Are you in favour of the taxpayer actually increasing the number of broadcast TV channels they own at a time when there's a massive transition *away* from linear broadcast TV?

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