I just saw previous posts about Broadcasting Act and NZ on Air mandates. I merely pointed out that there is nothing in the Act about how NZ on Air should act or what decisions it should make, or how it should make them because the Government (ie the Ministry for Culture and Heritage) is excluded from that in section 44. Sacha, if you want to disagree with my reading of the Act while not coming up with any interpretation of your own - that's fine. I'm a working, independent, hard gigging muso who hasn't got the time to argue. I also have plenty of my own capital and I don't need to get it from record companies or the Government. I'm interested in this debate for other reasons.
Likwise, Russell. Sorry, I haven't got time it takes to engage you fully on the points you raised on digital content. One thing I will say, though, is the Culture and Heritage briefing to Jonathan Coleman is a tad old (12 years), but the bit you quote mentions the trend of audience fragmentation. This actually highlights how NZ on Air is so out of date with its thinking, and why there is a case to be made for pursuing smaller niche markets, not the mass market (sorry, I haven't got time to make the case - I am hired for a recording session at 1pm, got to dash) . If market fragmentation is still Culture and Heritage thinking then we do have to ask the question how much influence do they really have on NZ on Air - not a lot it seems.
Ian, I don't think NZ on Air has any idea on what methods will achieve maximum penetration any more. Their thinking seems based on 20th century ways of doing things and takes no account of new media.
All new media has to be studied and, because NZ on Air goes on so much about maximum return for investment by going the commercial route, there should be proper cost/benefit analysis done on all media. We need to know that $50000 spent on one single artist going the commercial route produces desired outcomes more efficiently and cost-effectively than $50000 spent on multiple artists broadcasting, marketing and distributing their music by other means. Until there is a proper study (and this should likely be ongoing considering the rapid changes in technology) nobody can say with certainty what works best.
It's time for NZ on Air to back it's claims that the commercial route is still the best. Be accountable with the money.
The Broadcasting Act does not provide any mandate for NZ on Air. It merely has a section setting up the Broadcasting Commission and outlining its responsibilities, powers etc. The Broadcasting Commission's mandate is in section 36 of the Act. I posted parts of it earlier but here is the full section:
36 Functions of Commission
(1) The primary functions of the Commission are—
(a) to reflect and develop New Zealand identity and culture by—
(i) promoting programmes about New Zealand and New Zealand interests; and
(ii) promoting Maori language and Maori culture; and
(b) to maintain and, where the Commission considers that it is appropriate, extend the coverage of television and sound radio broadcasting to New Zealand communities that would otherwise not receive a commercially viable signal; and
(c) to ensure that a range of broadcasts is available to provide for the interests of—
(i) women; and
(ii) youth; and
(iii) children; and
(iv) persons with disabilities; and
(v) minorities in the community including ethnic minorities; and
ca) to encourage a range of broadcasts that reflects the diverse religious and ethical beliefs of New Zealanders; and
(d) to encourage the establishment and operation of archives of programmes that are likely to be of historical interest in New Zealand—
by making funds available, on such terms and conditions as the Commission thinks fit, for—
(e) broadcasting; and
(f) the production of programmes to be broadcast; and
(g) the archiving of programmes.
(2) The Commission may also make funds available (on the terms and conditions that it thinks fit and, as far as practicable, in a manner consistent with its primary functions) for—
(a) transmitting on demand; and
(b) producing content for transmitting on demand; and
(c) archiving content.
Section 44 makes it clear that the Government is not going to get involved over funding decisions or anything to do with cultural matters. Most of the relevant parts of this section come from 2004 when the Commission became a Crown Entity.
So you have an government organisation with a primary function "to reflect and develop New Zealand identity and culture" which is not directly or formally responsible to anyone but itself on issues of what is worthy of being reflected and developed. The Minister appoints the Board of Directors but his/her role looks pretty hands off as far as NZ on Air is concerned. It is ironic that politicians are specifically told to back off on issues of culture but so is everyone else (i.e. the culture itself), and decisions are left to a small body of "experts" on what has merit. Power to the people.
Here's the full Broadcasting Act:
Doing a cost benefit analysis on the efficacy of different media to reach audiences would be interesting, especially as the amount of money required to produce music for many of these media is a lot less than that demanded by commercial radio. It might show that there is a better return on investment by moving away from commercial media to some degree and funding more bands who would never be played on it.
Has NZ on Air ever done a cost benefit analysis on its policy of funding for airplay on commercial networks? It would be somewhat irresponsible of them as public servants if they haven't, considering their spin doctors go on about maximum return on investment from this approach in their literature.
I was making a distinction between the funding of Radio New Zealand and the lack of funding of music content that it might play. Same with B net and Kiwi.
With these stations, the audiences are there for the music but NZ on Air isn't bothering to help bands reach the audiences as they do with commercial pop acts, although it has helped to create the audiences. There is a bias and inconsistency with its music content funding policy.
Russell, we all know commercial networks are the gatekeepers of NZ on Air funding - that's what we're all talking about. What I am saying is there are a growing number of broadcasting/ distribution channels that they do not control and there needs to be a debate about NZ on Air's role vis-a-vis the new and old media, and the Broadcasting Commission's primary function to reflect and develop New Zealand identity and culture.
I don't think everyone is just watching commercial TV anymore. For example, you are ignoring popular alternatives such as Youtube. Most of the new NZ music videos I am discovering lately are viral postings on Facebook. I subscribe to Facebook pages that only post NZ videos and they have large, growing audiences. Every band has a MySpace page and is building up its own audience for its work. You can't ignore the alternatives - they all have to be considered and there are plenty of them.
You mention Radio NZ, which is interesting because you imply it is an alternative to commercial radio with its own large audience. The obvious question to ask is: why is NZ on Air not funding music to be played on Radio NZ? Why is Radio NZ not one of the gatekeepers? Then when NZ on Air goes to it with a bunch of tunes, the music programmer can say, "dunno about that mainstream pop stuff, mate, but that hippoid reggae-folkrock-alt-jazz-feral-fusion really spins my wheels."
We have a real problem when the Broadcasting Commission's primary function is to reflect and develop New Zealand identity and culture, and when it comes to music it has delegated this job to commercial broadcasting networks.
I agree Sacha. NZ on Air has to be part of the biggest cultural phenomenon since the invention of the printing press, or get swept aside by it.
Even in TV, nothing gets funded without a broadcast commitment -- no matter how authentic and great the idea is. The networks are essentially the gatekeepers of what can be made
I don't accept that argument. The point now is that there are so many alternative forms of broadcasting (eg internet radio and video channels, podcasting, phone applications, community radio, student radio etc) we need a proper debate on the future of NZ on Air. The commercial networks are not the gatekeepers anymore - everybody is jumping over the gate if they can raise enough money to produce and distribute something, but not everyone can afford to and there are many good projects out there that deserve to be at least considered for funding. Why is there still a NZ on Air focus on commercial radio and TV? It's outdated.
Besides all this, it is my understanding that NZ on Air does fund some b.net and Kiwi FM programmes (at least according to their last published report). They are just not putting their money where there mouth is and helping to fund the content that goes on them.
Robbie, if you don't trust existing music industry groups to lobby on behalf of your interests you need to start/join another lobby group. You will want to work at getting a broad constituency and building it up with members who are recognised as "credible". "expert", authoritative" etc., and appoint a good spokesperson who knows his/her stuff. It's not easy but it looks like there might be a mood out there for a new industry group.
I proposed the idea of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage putting out a discussion document on music funding to gauge feeling in the industry and see what ideas are out there. A discussion document is a public way for every stakeholder to have a say and it doesn't have to mean capture by some of these people you are suspicious of (although it might). I, for one, would like to see a proper debate that is inclusive and doesn't take place behind committee doors.
A NZ version of 'Later... with Jools Holland' would be an interesting way to get our music on TV.
That would be great. On the subject of programming, what about a radio station (can be internet) based on BBC1 in England. They don't follow trends - they make them, and it's all publicly funded. What did John Peel used to say:"tomorrow's hits today" or something like that? Publicly-funded music radio that is not beholden to advertisers has the same liberating effect as publicly-funded news and current affairs.