Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Reading the Numbers

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  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Ken Sparks,

    Elementary my dear, what's on?

    They’ve never promoted it or provided programme listings for publication.

    To be fair The Press in Chchch has run TVNZ7 listing for quite some time, if not from the outset. Though I wonder what will take its place when the plug is pulled - maybe they will run the TV1 +1 hour listing, but in an ironic and sarcastic way....

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4555 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    that $70 million of the $79 million put up for TVNZ 6 and 7 by the last Labour government actually took the form of a special dividend from TVNZ itself.

    I heard that over the weekend and it stunned me. I found this link to a 2007 Stuff article that says " that all taxpayers had contributed a share of the $79 million allocated to TVNZ to fund the new channels."

    And this Philip Wakefield article about how Freeview was influencing Sky's response reminds us that Mediaworks was advantaged by the Govt paying for digital TV. It makes fascinating reading because Sky now has TV ads advertising that Freeview is now "free" on Sky whereas in this article they are actively fighting the switchover by offering cheap deals.

    And this one talks about how much it will cost.

    And just to remind us all what we could/can get (Stratos is a gonna) this Herald Chris Barton article tells all about it and the Sky Fight of 07.

    But the telling bit in the articles I found all refer to the funding being Govt sourced and "given" to TVNZ to get Freeview and TV6 and TV7 on air. All the articles make it appear that it was all taxpayers money. Even DPF was sucked in.

    There is no doubt it was a Labour deal with important bits missing but there is no doubt the Nats are having no probs making the point that the funding was for a short time only and why should the govt pay to keep it going.

    Jeez. That broadcasting license fee ($35 per year if I remember right) looks a good deal from out here eh what?

    We've been, are, and will be right royally screwed.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1479 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Ross Mason,

    In the video from the Wellington Save TVNZ7 meeting I posted, Dr Peter Thompson said the licence fee would be too controversial to bring back - given the original was cumbersome enough to enforce - and a voluntary licence fee wouldn't have enough takers.

    Hence, he suggested either a "must carry, must pay" clause that would force SKY TV to actually pay FTA broadcasters their fair share of revenue; or his favoured policy, a communications levy on pay TV companies and ISPs which would be a small impost but still raise considerable amounts, and who would simply pass on the costs to subscribers.

    SKY and the ISPs would naturally go psycho about the last proposal, but would they really cut off their noses to spite the face by declaring bankruptcy just to avoid it?

    On a side note, I asked Clare Curran, who was on the panel, about the possibility of a Royal Commission on the whole issue. She basically said afterwards that it would only be warranted in the event of a systemic and catastrophic scandal - in other words, something on the intensity of Arthur Allan Thomas or Hackgate.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4065 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    RT just announced Julian Assange to be extradited to Sweden.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5924 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    RT just announced Julian Assange to be extradited to Sweden.

    They can silence men, but they can't silence ideas.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4065 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to DeepRed,

    I think I was having a snap at comparing the costs of TV today v broadcasting fee days. You are right, the collection is a nightmare . Not to mention the TV finder van and people like me who hid their TV in the cupboard.....

    The BBC model has a lot going for it. But convincing both houses to adopt it won't have much traction while the hate/love/control relationship with the minority-questioning-NZ-media is living in both. The classic "ignore me " by Key of Radio NZ prior to the election is the case in point. It must have got up his craw that an organisation funded by him, the master, had the audacity to want to ask nasty questions. It reeks of a fear for the truth. We are the poorer for it.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1479 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    That broadcasting license fee ($35 per year if I remember right) looks a good deal from out here eh what?

    You bet. I gather from conversations with former NZOA board members that they were actually highly effective in collecting. While lots of people I knew then as youngsters (aaah yes) tended to evade it, apparently, they picked up about 90% of the total payable. The BBC sent folks here to see how they did it.

    Happy to be corrected on that if anyone knows better.

    It's cancellation was the last vengeful act of the tired, outgoing National gummint in 1999.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 191 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Ross Mason,

    The BBC model has a lot going for it. But convincing both houses to adopt it won't have much traction while the hate/love/control relationship with the minority-questioning-NZ-media is living in both. The classic "ignore me " by Key of Radio NZ prior to the election is the case in point. It must have got up his craw that an organisation funded by him, the master, had the audacity to want to ask nasty questions. It reeks of a fear for the truth. We are the poorer for it.

    John Howard tried to kneecap the ABC because he thought it was full of liberal intellectuals - but thankfully failed to do so. Where did the ABC succeed where NZ failed? Was it because of Australia having an upper house?

    We'll have to see what comes of Grant Robertson's idea for a Campaign for Public Broadcasting in due course.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4065 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    Golly, a quick google of “BBC licence fee” reveals two things.

    1. 145 pounds. Ouch.
    2. The following spends (pounds) of the licence revenue for 2010/11:
    - TV: 2.3b on 10 channels
    - Radio: 600m on 16 stations
    - Web: 200m
    - Other: 400m (digital broadcast, new tech, ops & … licence fee collection)

    That’s about a 3.5b spend on 62m Brits = about 56 ea. (pounds) (most of whom would not have paid)
    $80m (for TVNZ7) / 3.5m kiwis = about $22 ea. (effectively all of whom paid through tax)

    Add in whatever it costs to run two Radio NZ stations.

    Also, what the hell ever happened to TVNZ6? That had tons of the sort of programmes of which Tom Semmens was bemoaning the absence. Presumably that all came out of the same $79m?

    Did I do that right?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 191 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    Also, what the hell ever happened to TVNZ6? That had tons of the sort of programmes of which Tom Semmens was bemoaning the absence. Presumably that all came out of the same $79m?

    TVNZ6 got bastardised into TVNZ U, a kind of MTV rip-off.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4065 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to DeepRed,

    John Howard tried to kneecap the ABC because he thought it was full of liberal intellectuals - but thankfully failed to do so. Where did the ABC succeed where NZ failed? Was it because of Australia having an upper house?

    Critical mass and geography? Though critical population size is probably the reason that Australia was able to retain a federal senate. Much as Howard would have loved to repeat the savage cuts to public broadcasting of the Fraser years he never had the numbers, and was forced to do his worst by less direct means.

    While Howard's portrayal of the ABC as elitist found ready support from his commercial media allies, there was a lot of ingrained RARARA (Regional Rural & Remote Australia) support for Aunty ABC. Even some of Howard's cabinet didn't take too much persuading to reminisce on air about their childhood memories of being ABC Argonauts.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3328 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    Presumably that all came out of the same $79m?

    Yes. That was for 5 years too.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Many older NZers would enjoy the Heartland channel, yet now you need to subscribe to Sky to access it. That cuts out many people who just cannot afford the $50 + monthly subscription to Sky. Many of those programmes were made with NZers money. That exemplifies the injustice of the system, and it was not surprising that many at the Save TVNZ7 meeting I went to were angry specifically at Sky. The annual broadcasting fee was a fraction of the current annual Sky bill, so why should it be a problem reinstating it, if everyone can access a full range of content (including sport).

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2009 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    The BBC license fee is enforced by mustachioed officials in (alleged) detector vans, with a success rate of around 95%.

    I guess the risk for them is that some bright spark decides they could get that to nearly 100% (and cut enforcement costs) by encrypting the signal and requiring Sky/Freeview to collect the fee as part of the basic package. Which would then lead to a whole bunch of people deciding they could live without the BBC and getting their TV by other channels.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4362 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Having lived in Australia way back when Whitlam abolished the license fee, I can't help but feel that it's an anachronism. The argument made back then was that it was a hangover from a time when simply owning the means to receive TV - and radio before that - was an expensive option.

    Once licenses were abolished the ABC adopted the 8 cents a day slogan, and has used it ever since. I believe that it's now closer to 7 cents for every Australian. If it can be done from general revenue in the country where Murdoch is more entrenched than anywhere on earth, couldn't we manage something similar? Or are we hell bent on becoming the Dirty Digger's personal third world?

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3328 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    Golly, a quick google of “BBC licence fee” reveals two things.1. 145 pounds. Ouch.

    Average Sky subscription $600 (double the amount) a year. Makes the licence fee attractive no?.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4613 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Years a go I had a wee book - literally(!) about 100mm x 70mm - that gave a neat potted history of news taxes and how the Brits controlled the news. I have 'misplaced' the bloody thing!!

    I found this article that is close to what the book was about. As you will see taxes on knowledge are not knew and I am certain we can call the Sky rents another version be it a private one. The lack of a public service (future?) radio and imminent demise of a public TV service is just another way of controlling information. Not feeding the service is just another way of deminishing the 'clear and present danger'.

    " The government announced that it hoped that this stamp duty would stop the publication of newspapers and pamphlets that tended to "excite hatred and contempt of the Government and holy religion."

    Not forgetting that the old broadcasting house existed close to Parliament so that the Prime Minister's Dept could run over with today's news bulletins, the only way I can see that a "Public Broadcasting Service " could function is to have a special tax that is collected on a per capita basis and locked down in legislation given to an independent organisation to run the PBS services.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1479 posts Report Reply

  • NBH,

    The UK licence fee (or at least the need to justify it) also led to possibly the best promo of all time:

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 90 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Many of those programmes were made with NZers money.

    All of them.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Ross Mason,

    the only way I can see that a "Public Broadcasting Service " could function is to have a special tax that is collected on a per capita basis and locked down in legislation given to an independent organisation to run the PBS services.

    Or Dr Thompson's idea of levying SKY and the Internet providers, but I'm not sure how strongly that could outlast the electoral cycle. Many do seem to agree that TVNZ has too much baggage to have any involvement.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4065 posts Report Reply

  • JLM, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    What gets me about the way tv broadcasting has gone in this country is the way poor people are being excluded from what the rest of the world is watching. Beneficiaries are berated for having Sky satellite dishes on their roof, but if they don't have Sky they have less and less to watch and talk about with others. It's socially divisive, like the digital divide over again.

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 222 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr, in reply to DeepRed,

    Thanks. One more signature!

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 394 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to JLM,

    I completely agree. And Sky is so expensive at about $88 per month for only some of the channels and including all that sport that used to be on free to air. $88 is a lot of money when you are surviving on a very limited income - it's a lot of weetbix, milk and apples, or a very quick visit to the dentist.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2009 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to JLM,

    the way poor people are being excluded

    I have pointed out before that the 85% coverage provided by terrestrial broadcast is in reality just the main centres. All those living outside of those areas will need a satellite dish. A dish plus installation costs plus the decoder (TVs don't come with satellite decoders, terrestrial only) looks expensive compared to signing up, so Sky win by default and if you can't afford Sky you may well have to go without.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4613 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to DeepRed,

    Or Dr Thompson's idea of levying SKY and the Internet providers

    Bloody Steven Joyce always quotes the Labour government's statement that TVNZ 7 was expected to be self-sustaining after five years, but never the basis for that statement at the time it was made.

    The original business plan was based on a must-offer-must-pay regulated regime. So the two channels would be available to pay providers -- but at a regulated price. Along with some programme sponsorship, that would have done the trick.

    But when National came in, the minister first leaned on TVNZ to make the digital channels available free to Sky, and then on the Kordia SOE to cut a sweet deal for Prime to get Freeview transmission. Sigh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18521 posts Report Reply

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