Radio NZ on the scrap heap

by Jake Quinn

The news that the National government is putting the very existence of Radio New Zealand at risk makes for sobering reading (I’m not exaggerating, one suggestion is – quite seriously – to ditch the FM frequency outside of Auckland).  Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman says he will sack the board and appoint his cronies if they don’t tow the line and radically cut costs.

Radio New Zealand costs the country about $38 million per year, according to the TVNZ report (correct figure, however, is $34 million).  Lets, just for shits and giggles, grab some perspective.  The government has just launched a $26 million charm offensive to try to convince the nations’ parents that national standards are *like* totally awesome.  That’s a PR campaign costing about two-thirds of RNZ’s annual budget.  Seriously.

Radio New Zealand National are the only public service broadcaster left in New Zealand.  TVNZ was doing a pretty poor job even with the charter, now that that’s been scrapped any notion of public service broadcasting, that is news rather than profit values, will surely to be lost.

Radio New Zealand National is the country’s most popular radio station.  It is the highest ranking Station out in the regions (rural NZ), it’s the highest rating in Wellington, and I believe the second or third highest rating in Auckland (RNZ don’t enter the commercial surveys, which they would dominate).  Jim Mora’s Afternoons is the highest rating afternoons show for god’s sake.  This is with pretty much no promotional budget and, refreshingly, with no twenty-something offensive smack-talking shock-jocks.

The problem is that death by a thousand cuts doesn’t get noticed much by the public.  The government can get away with systematically undermining a state funded service like RNZ and no one notices until it’s too late.  That is why we people need to take action.

Radio New Zealand National and its sister channel Concert FM are bloody national treasures.  If you agree, please show your support by writing to your local National MPs explaining how much you appreciate Radio NZ’s service and how disappointed you’d be if their service suffered under this government’s watch.  And while your at it join these Facebook groups.