He claims imposing a funding freeze is "bullying", but can't for the life of him figure out that making everyone pay for a station most don't listen to ISN'T bullying. "I like Radio NZ, I am happy to pay for it, but only if I make you pay for it too" is rather distasteful.
He throws up some strawmen, like the Ministry of Culture and Heritage commissioned study by KPMG that said Radio NZ was underfunded. Hardly surprising, since the report was part of the Ministry's wider strategy to get more state funding for its remit. Consultants can be adept at giving clients reports that tell them what they want.
The UNITEC study for the Ministry (PDF) was another strawman. Setting aside the minor mistakes throughout (like calling South Korea - "Democratic Republic"), the figures quoted on per capita spending on public broadcasting are seriously flawed. The report itself admits the figures for each country used are from different years. All of the figures are converted from local currencies into US$, with no transparency about the exchange rates. Moreover, the per capita spending is not on a Purchasing Power Parity basis. In shorthand that means the report thinks £10 buys the same in London as it does in Wellington, which is nonsense. The figures make New Zealand look cheap and nasty when that isn't the truth. The report is also full of ridiculous statements like:
“there is much evidence of market failure insofar as a purely commercial model of broadcasting tends to overlook the needs of commercially unattractive segments of the audience (such as ethnic minorities),”
although the US is full of minority language radio stations all commercially run.
It also has a distinctly anti-commercial broadcasting bias:
"That is certainly not to say that commercial broadcasters can never produce high quality content, but where they do so on a consistent basis there are usually factors other than market forces and commercial revenue at work.”
The word "quality" is in the eye of the beholder of course, but this sort of statement is absurd. It is like saying that without state funded books, newspapers, websites, art or music, there wouldn't be any "quality".
However, it is when Brian talks about the small cost of Radio NZ that he actually makes a point that Radio NZ supporters are closing their ears to.
He says "Of all our state-funded cultural institutions, Radio New Zealand is probably the most vital of all. It's the town hall of a community of 4.35 million people, widely dispersed from North Cape to Stewart Island.”
No Brian, it is 650,000 people, given only 15% of radio listeners tune in to RNZ stations.
Then he says "It costs under $9 per person a year to run. For that small outlay we provide ourselves the only venue to hear extended and serious discussions on politics, the arts, medicine, lifestyle - you name it. We also provide for ourselves a newsroom with valuable competition for the two or three big metropolitan papers."
Well if you leave out those who don't listen, then you mean $60 per person a year. Not a lot of money is it?
So go on Brian, cough up, ask Radio NZ supporters to cough up. Stop wanting non-listening taxpayers to fund what YOU like, indeed if it is so valuable you should be jumping at the chance.
Does it just speak volumes about the hypocrisy of those who say how "valuable" it is, how much "we" should appreciate it, that THEY wont spend a dollar of their own cash to help out?
THAT Ladies and Gentleman is the difference between those who are statists and those who are libertarians. Those that think something is good, and want everyone else to pay for it, and those who think if you like something, YOU should pay for it.
I like reading the Economist and the Spectator, will you pay for my subscriptions? If not, why the hell is it any different?
UPDATE: Facebook now has a group OPPOSED to further state funding of Radio NZ.