10. Is there a risk when turning a media organisations funding entirely over to Govt funding rather than the market that the Govt of the day can abuse it?

10. Is there a risk when turning a media organisations funding entirely over to Govt funding rather than the market that the Govt of the day can abuse it?

Answer

We’re not advocating formation of a government media organization. We are selling TVNZ which is a government owned media organization funded by commercial revenues. There is little to no reason for government to own such an organization. On the other hand there is a role for a public good that promotes NZ content – that is NZ On Air – which can be distributed down any number of commercial channels, and also including free online. There is also a public good in the form of independent news and current affairs that is not tainted by agendas of its owners. Fox, Al Jazerra, RT, CNN are all examples of corporate media news gathering and packaging entities – as are Radio Network and Media Works in New Zealand.

All commercial entities compete to maximize “eyeballs” as this is the commercial imperative. Whether maximizing viewership of listenership is more successful if news is integrated with staff opinions is a commercial decision and a legitimate business strategy. But it is pollution or tainting, and the “news” then becomes less factual and less of a public good. Journalistic ethics would hold that a balanced presentation of truth is the ideal. In no way is that the agenda of audience-maximising commercial media.

Hence the need for the public good in this space. Radio NZ does a good job (of course it shouldn’t be above scrutiny either and at times presenter opinions do taint a balanced presentation here as well as the viewership imperative drives management). But when it’s taxpayer money involved the integrity of news and current affairs is paramount, no commercial tainting is acceptable.