Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Budget 2018: The broadcasting shambles

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  • Tom Semmens,

    And the award of the utterly unflattering urn of uselessness for being a clusterfuck of cluelessness goes to....

    Clare Curran.

    She was a totally inactive infection of inability in opposition, and she is proving in government to be a wandering wazoo of unwitting nescience.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2197 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I wouldn’t sheet home the whole thing to Curran, and I gather she fought even for the rubbish deal she got.

    Frankly, one of the big issues here – apart from the continued mystery about who gets what – is the one-year window, when almost all other Budget commitments span four years. Neither NZ On Air or RNZ – and really no responsible organisation – can strategise on that basis.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    Whose policy was this again?

    Not NZF’s presumably. Mental health might also have faired better if that was an area NZF was concerned with.

    Since Nov 2016 • 211 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    TV3's ex news head chimes in.

    Yesterday’s budget announcement that the promised $38 million had been slashed to just $15 million was met with an exasperated groan from public media advocates.
    ...
    Curran remains optimistic and says she has been instructed by Robertson to prepare a clear business case for the money that public media needs. "We are going to truly look at what long term funding is needed,” she said.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19518 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    Curran remains optimistic and says she has been instructed by Robertson to prepare a clear business case for the money that public media needs. “We are going to truly look at what long term funding is needed,” she said.

    And the final paragraph that follows:

    “This will be a serious piece of work which I don’t think has ever been done before. We will make this happen.”

    I think Mark's wrong on some counts – NZ On Air isn't really looking to profit from RNZ's misfortune – but I think it's clear that Curran hasn't been able to present a coherent business case. And RNZ and NZ On Air can't go around her.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • martinb,

    Is the one year time frame a kick of a can down the road?

    Some projects are ready and just needing a funding tick. Is it possibily that this, for whatever reason and we can hazard a few, is an ambitious pubic broadcasting initiative that is not ready to apply for funding at this time.

    Does the one year thing mean- get your house in order and apply for further funding when you have things organised?

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 201 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to martinb,

    Does the one year thing mean- get your house in order and apply for further funding when you have things organised?

    Except that it's not RNZ and NZ On Air who don't have things organised.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Worth noting that this isn’t a broader MCH issue and only seems to affect the agencies that have to go through the Broadcasting minister.

    The press release from Minister Ardern details modest, targeted funding for capacity-building at the ministry and specific projects. And congrats to the NZ Music Commission!

    “New Zealand’s music culture is also an important facet of our identity. I am delighted that Budget 2018 recognises this with a $2.6 million increase in operating funding over four years for the New Zealand Music Commission.

    “This investment significantly increases support for our musicians to tour internationally, puts more resource into increasing New Zealand’s music exports, and increases opportunities for our young people to gain skills in the music sector.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • mpledger,

    My immediate reaction was that they are holding back the money until Richard Griffen leaves - 'cause why reward him when he's been particularly obstructive.

    Since Oct 2012 • 92 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to mpledger,

    It would be sensible to wait until the board under the new chair Jim Mather is up to speed. Hopefully there will also be some public broadcasting enthusiasts among new board appointees.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3142 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to mpledger,

    My immediate reaction was that they are holding back the money until Richard Griffen leaves – ’cause why reward him when he’s been particularly obstructive.

    He's gone. And I don't think he was that bad, frankly. RNZ's revival and audience growth has happened on his watch, after all.

    But that would be a really, really terrible reason to withhold funding to the organisation. Disgraceful, even. It also wouldn't explain why NZ On Air has copped the same treatment.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • philg,

    The Minister is clarely out of her depth. At a public meeting in Wellington to save TV7, I asked her the same question 3 times, she fumbled and flustered causing Grant Robertson to intervene and answer on her behalf! I agree, this entire portfolio is a mess and the Minister doesn't know what to do. Years ago I asked a previous Labour Minister of Broadcasting Marian Hobbes to provide one quality TV state channel, and she said she had a just appointed a good man, Ian Fraser, to sort it out. That was 20 years ago and I've given up waiting . I've switched off.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2011 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    yes, wouldn't go that far.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19518 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to philg,

    The Minister is clarely out of her depth.

    Nice pun.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2897 posts Report Reply

  • Tinakori, in reply to mpledger,

    "Particularly obstructive" How so? He has been defending an organisation, RNZ, for which he was a long herm employee, political editor and under whom, as Chairman, it has been going through a particularly successful and creative period in which it has also deftly made a generational change to its on air staff, all while increasing ist audience size. And then along comes Clare Curran and a senior employee who lies to their CE and Chair causing the Chair and CE to mislead a Select Committee..............It ain't Richard Griffin who is being "particularly obstructive".

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • mpledger, in reply to Tinakori,

    Of course a senior administrator and leader is being obstructive if he dumps his minister in the shit repeatedly. He could have done everything in a diplomatic way but he chose to go nuclear.

    Since Oct 2012 • 92 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to mpledger,

    He could have done everything in a diplomatic way but he chose to go nuclear.

    Griffin’s only direct role in this was very late in the piece, when he was told that the ill-advised meeting was in fact pre-arranged and told Paul Thompson – which was a proper course of action, given that, because they’d been lied to, both of them misled a select committee and would need to go back and correct their statements.

    By that point, Curran had herself misled a select committee and then eventually had to admit under questioning in the House that the meeting happened. She was still insisting it was a chance meeting and it was three more weeks before her office contacted RNZ to say the meeting had actually been pre-arranged. All this happened before Griffin contacted his CEO. Then Curran tried to dissuade Griffin from going before the committee to correct himself.

    A Broadcasting minister needs to understand that RNZ is vulnerable to being made a political football, and do things by the book. This minister acted in a way that hopelessly politicised everything and damaged RNZ along the way.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    It would be sensible to wait until the board under the new chair Jim Mather is up to speed. Hopefully there will also be some public broadcasting enthusiasts among new board appointees.

    Jim Mather's appointment is a great one. But making RNZ wait even longer to end a nine-year funding freeze, while it closes down regional offices and curtails services, is not good at all.

    If the minister really couldn't come up with a plan in time for the Budget, the proper response would have been to give RNZ and NZ On Air $7.5m each to meet their immediate needs and said "see you next year". Punting it all off to an advisory group formed for a completely different purpose to make a decision some time this year is an awful outcome for everyone.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Someone asked me if I was planning to put myself forward for one of the digital advisor panels and I said "Not if Clare Curran is minister". I try not to criticise her too much (ex sister-in-law) but I am not expecting anything startling in the broadcasting or ICT sectors while she is in place. Bags of enthusiasm but no real nous in this area. Trouble is that Labour hasn't got anyone better for ICT. Gareth Hughes would have been a good choice, IMHO.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2897 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    Gareth Hughes would have been a good choice

    Verily. Good grasp of the portfolios.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19518 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    A couple of people have directed me this Facebook video, in which Curran basically says what we already know: that she's been told to go away and come back with a plan, which will in turn will be provided to her by her ministerial advisory group, which as far as I know has yet to even talk to stakeholders.

    Both her key stakeholders have a good grasp on their own needs, and she's had every chance to find that out. But she's buggered that up. She ends up by generically promising high-quality news and current affairs and more services for Māori and Pasifika, the disabled and children, all from the unallocated $15m.

    Which is fine, but I get the impression she literally doesn't know what the two organisations are already doing. I guess she'll find out more when she officiates at the launch of Hei Hei, TVNZ and NZ On Air's new children's media platform this Friday.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Attachment

    Hei Hei, TVNZ and NZ On Air’s new children’s media platform

    As a modern digital-age media platform Heihei seems to be missing a radio component.
    Radio NZ really only has the weekend early morning story slot for kids (insofar as I am aware) – and nothing to match Dick Weir’s lost lamented evening show Ears (1988-96) – Kids imaginations need to get a little ‘Weired’ – or the really great school holiday programmes I remember as a kid in the ‘60s, presented by Gavin Yates.
    I don’t think RNZ’s Wire caters to young kids.

    I understand the name Heihei was arrived at by kids and parents, and translates from Maori as ’noise or commotion, or chicken’ – not sure about the subliminal takeaway from that …
    Just as the logo above, I’m guessing, is meant to emulate the geometry of weaving or tukutuku panels, but to my jaundiced and otherwise-programmed brain I just see a truncated ‘HEIL’ and an exploded swastika – which would be fine if that ancient symbol signifying the “surya (sun), prosperity and good luck” had not been subverted by darker European forces in the 1930s…
    …maybe it’s just a personal problem.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7704 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'd forgotten this Newsroom report backgrounding Carol Hirschfeld's departure, which made it clear quite how strongly Griffin in particular defended his executive:

    Going over a record of the select committee underscores how strongly Griffin and Thompson backed Hirschfeld and her initial story. Fourteen minutes of the 50 minute meeting were devoted to discussing the meeting in excoriating detail, with Griffin in particular getting increasingly frustrated with Lee’s persistent questioning. Each time, he defended Hirschfeld.

    “How important is it to remain independent?” asked Lee.

    “It’s essential. It's enshrined in our legislation and our ability to conduct our news operations and make our editorial decisions free from any kind of interference is pivotal,” responded Griffin.

    “Your vision for RNZ+ will be similar independence?” Lee asked.

    “Absolutely,” said Thompson, “In my time as CEO in four years I’ve never had one whiff of editorial interference.”

    “Talking about independence should shareholding ministers, in your case did the Minister of Broadcasting, Communication and Digital media have any influence over content or news?” Lee continued.

    How dare you ask that question?

    Indignant, Griffin responded, “Why would you ask that Melissa?”

    “We ask the questions, Mr Griffin, you answer them,” interrupted National MP, Christopher Finlayson, another member of the committee.

    Lee then went on to raise the Hirschfeld-Curran meeting with Griffin who said that he would be worried if the meeting occurred “in the nature” Lee put it, but not in the context he then believed to be the case. We now know Lee’s version of events to be correct, meaning Griffin would be worried.

    The questioning went on. Griffin became increasingly frustrated, saying he did not see it as “sinister” and that, “in a perfect world” serendipitous meetings would probably not take place, but Wellington, small and compact, was not a perfect word.

    “That’s the way it is and you know it,” he said, by then noticeably frustrated.

    “It was not a meeting!” he added, when Lee repeatedly asserted that it was.

    And the conclusion:

    The episode was embarrassing for both Griffin and Thompson who repeatedly defended Hirschfeld, delving into the minutiae of her story and appearing exasperated at Lee’s line of questioning. Their reactions suggested Lee’s questions were facetious. The record now proves her to be correct.

    In the corridors afterwards, National Party figures could be heard describing RNZ as “the broadcasting wing of the Labour Party”. RNZ guards its independence closely. This protects it from influence under National and Labour Governments. This latest episode shows they might not have guarded it closely enough.

    I really can understand how pissed off they both were when the truth emerged.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Radio NZ really only has the weekend early morning story slot for kids (insofar as I am aware) – and nothing to match Dick Weir’s lost lamented evening show Ears (1988-96) – Kids imaginations need to get a little ‘Weired’ – or the really great school holiday programmes I remember as a kid in the ‘60s, presented by Gavin Yates.
    I don’t think RNZ’s Wire caters to young kids.

    Yeah, The Wireless is for young adults/millenials. There's a decent archive of children's stories on the RNZ website and I do tend to think the way to reach kids these days is online and interactive. In some ways it's akin to the issue faced by Music 101 – which is consistently good radio, but relies on a different audience to the day-to-day RNZ National listener turning up at the appointed time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    but to my jaundiced and otherwise-programmed brain I just see a truncated ‘HEIL’ and an exploded swastika

    the subtle effects of living in Chch ..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19518 posts Report Reply

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