08 October 2009

TVNZ is not a Taonga

Brian Rudman is sad that TVNZ is to broadcast programming of a wide appeal, which he describes as "lowest common denominator pap". He ignores, like all of the elitist snobs in the cultural subsidy industry, that the very people he claims to give a damn about - the poor, the less well educated, the needy - are in fact the broad mass of people who like what he calls "lowest common denominator pap". They are, the lowest common denominators. Those celebrated by the left are also sneered at, for their cultural (lack of) taste, in preferring cheaply made entertainment to local content, American sitcoms to documentaries about the union movement in the 1950s.

They wont admit it, but the overwhelming attitude is supremely condescending, like a ruling elite intellectual class that knows what's best for those poor unfortunate souls that capitalism has rendered victims of its heartless system. Woe is they who must watch TV of such low brow that we must tax them and force them to pay for what is good for them.

To fix the appalling choices of the proletariat, Brian Rudman calling for TVNZ to get special taxpayer money for New Zealand programming (which is also a breach of CER and a breach of New Zealand's GATS commitments). He thinks TVNZ is a treasure and harks back to better days at TVNZ, when it had programming he liked.

He is right that news and current affairs were better, but not by much of course. He then misrepresents considerably the TV licence fee, which ceased directly funding TVNZ in the 1980s, as NZ On Air was created and the licence fee was used to fund programming to all broadcasters on a case by case basis. Indeed all of the licence fee money was replaced by taxpayer funding when it was abolished in 1999, much to the chagrin of those who wanted rid of NZ On Air altogether. The statement "Government was supposed to make up the $100 a household licence fee but that never eventuated." is dead wrong.

The Ministry of Culture and Heritage, which has a demonstrable vested interest in maintaining and expanding this role, said "Important parts of our cultural life would simply not be present without intelligent intervention from the government."

Important to whom? People unwilling to pay for it? The suppliers who couldn't get people to pay for what they provide if given the choice?

Public broadcasting makes cultural elitists feel good, and the left like it for providing more in depth news and current affairs that inevitably has a statist bias. Why? Because by being forcibly funded by the state, such a broadcaster can find it difficult to build a culture to challenge the role of the state in that and other arenas. How CAN you question state funding of businesses, health, education, welfare and the like if YOU are a beneficiary of it?

Public broadcasting becomes a creature of the status quo and an advocate of statist solutions. How often on Radio NZ do you hear someone arguing for less government against one arguing for more government, rather than 3 all talking about different ways of having more government to resolve an issue of the day?

No. TVNZ is not a Taonga. TVNZ is a commercial broadcaster that seeks to maximise audiences, it is no more special than TV3. The fact it thinks it is, is a good reason to shut it down.


Jeremy Harris said...

While I disagree with you on transport issues Liberty on broadcasting we think alike... I only found out as an adult that TVNZ was state owned, when you've been spending 2 - 3 hours a day comparing two products or 18 years and can't tell the difference (TV2 compared to TV3) and one is state funded and the other profitable it is definitely time to sell, sell, sell..!

Anonymous said...

Jeremy, TVNZ makes a profit whereas TV3 has lost money consistently since it was set up in 1989.
If this was a genuine right wing rant backed up with a few facts I might have been entertained but all it was in the end was a snivel, a bleat about the state owned broadcaster. So what exactly what is your problem? It can't be the "dumbing down" aspect of modern television, the private broadcasters are into that in a big way. It's paying its way so that should make you happy. It does screen some good stuff and let's face it its journos are hardly threatening types these days, witness Guyon Espiner "interviewing" any government minister. I'm sure you have watched Q&A. I would hardly call that left wing. In fact it is not until someone like Willie Jackson is a guest that any acid at all is put the governments way.
What evidence do you have that public broadcasting make "cultural elitists" feel good? What is a cultural elitist? Do you know these people personally? Are they the Wadestown/Thorndon/Roseneath/MT Victoria set? Of course you can ask questions of the government that employs you. What makes you think that you can't?
At first glance it would appear that Brian Rudman set you off but of course he simply provided you with a lame excuse to trot out yet again your blinkered right wing ideology. Have to go now, TV3 is screening repeats of Target. It's that episode where they fingered a shady plumber, same as the week before and the week before that. Thank goodness for private broadcasters and hidden cameras.

Libertyscott said...

Anonymous: Who cares if TV3 lost money, you weren't forced to pay for it.

My point was that some on the left want to use TVNZ for "public broadcasting" for the "good of everyone". I reject that.

I know TVNZ is as bad as TV3 in terms of programming quality, you have put up another straw man in thinking I couldn't condemn TVNZ for acting like a private broadcaster, well I can - it is a matter of taste and judgment. I think TV3 is appalling, but I need not watch it and I do not own it. TVNZ on the other hand is owned by taxpayers, so in effect has some sort of endorsement that it is the "people's television". I think it is worse because it embodies a philosophy that is obsessed with image and whim worshipping, and uninterested in depth and critical analysis.

I have yet to see TVNZ have a debate about the role of the state or seriously discuss major issues of the day about whether the government should be involved at all in them. I have lost count of times Radio NZ has a debate and every single one of those in the debate were statists. I have yet to hear a debate on Radio NZ about whether Radio NZ should remain publicly funded that doesn't just dismiss any alternative as ridiculous with little debate.

Cultural elitist is a person who wants to force others to pay for arts and culture they like, which they think is good for everyone else. The reason Concert FM exists as a state funded commercial free station, for example (notwithstanding that I enjoy it, I don't approve of how it is funded).

Like I said, I wouldn't care if TVNZ was privately owned, it can be absolutely shit as much as it likes - but it wouldn't have the impression of state endorsement, nor would it be using taxpayers' capital that they may otherwise prefer to be put elsewhere.