The costly furore over amalgamating TVNZ and Radio NZ is specially amusing for me.
That’s because over 3 decades ago they were one entity, Broadcasting NZ and I was one of the government appointed small committee formed to consider their splitting into separate entities.
We were assailed by an English, allegedly specialist consultancy on this issue, brought out to persuade us to split. For the life of me I couldn’t see any merit in this, moreso as the guts of their argument from memory, seemed to be in that era of radical change, every other country was doing this. However, I was a sole objector and my committee colleagues ran with the consultants.
But here’s another perspective on the matter. The underlying proposition in that revolutionary era was that governments should not do what the private sector can. So the hotels, travel agencies, insurance companies, shipping, airlines, banks and so on were all rightly sold off. Why then was radio and television retained?
I suspect as with most western nations the sentiment was that a non-commercial radio network delivering a straight unbiased news service etc was a necessity. But television? Study TVNZ’s daily fare. It’s simply low level entertainment rather than supposedly uplifting material.
I suppose the argument for its retention is not everyone can afford Sky for example, offering a rich variety of major news channels. But surely most folk could manage its circa $25 weekly cost.
There’s no longer any supportable argument for the state running a television channel and it should be sold while it still has some value.