Broadcasting Minister is right to call out MediaWorks CEO Michael Anderson’s strategy re TVNZ and RNZ for what it is – totally self serving.
Its actually more cunning than the Murdoch Press’s campaign against the ABC and SBS. Anderson wants the Government to make TVNZ ad free, thereby gifting the free to air television space to MediaWorks, itself owned by an American fund. In doing this Anderson knows there is a constituency in NZ for an ad free TVNZ or at least channel One.
Channel Three was started by some very brave people about 30 years ago. Like all free to air TV companies it is struggling. The proposition that our Government should gift the current American owners, the removal of a commercial competitor, is Trump like in its audacity.
Anderson is right that the state (i.e. us) should not fund RNZ to start linear channels. I believe there is a widespread view amongst Kiwis that they want to see more of themselves on air, which is why we have a funding entity of that name. The only issue to be worked through is how best to distribute those funds.
If MediaWorks thinks it cannot survive for much longer in the current environment, it should sell or close its two TV channels. That would leave it owning a profitable network of radio stations. One possible owner of their TV channels is the Nine Network in Australia, which is gaining control of Fairfax, publisher of the DomPost and other newspapers in NZ.
If the Commerce Commission could live with that, Nine would run channel three and four on a very low cost basis, as an extension of its Australian network. Interesting times.