Radio New Zealand: “They say cut back, we say fight back!”

A good crowd turned up today outside Radio New Zealand’s HQ in Hobson Street, Auckland to protest against the government’s planned cuts to the broadcasters already tight budget.

A good start, but we have to keep going and build the pressure. If you don’t do anything else, at least sign the online petition at Hands Off Our Dial

Jake and friends at the Auckland protest 1 March

Jake and friends at the Auckland protest 1 March

Over 100 people gathered to hear a few short speeches and to let Broadcasting Minister Jonathon Coleman know that he won’t get away with his ‘slash and burn’ strategy.

The arguments for retaining – and extending – RNZ’s budget are not difficult. It is the national broadcaster and it provides a vital service for all New Zealanders.

As many speakers outlined, it is a service that we have come to rely on and Sunday’s Tsunami alerts and the special extended Sunday morning Morning Report are one example among many.

I supported the rally and made a few remarks of my own. The key message I wanted to get across was to point out that critics who say “Why should I pay for Radio New Zealand, when I can listen to commercial radio for free?” are actually totally wrong.

Commercial radio is not free. In fact, the clue is in the very name ‘commercial’ radio. Advertising is the lifeblood of the commercial media – the harvesting of eyeballs and ears. Without advertising there would be no commercial radio.

But who actually pays? Well, the advertisers do don’t they?

No, in fact we pay for commercial radio every time we buy a packet of busciuts at Pack’n’Save, or when we fill up our tanks with petrol.

Advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide and advertising or marketing budgets are built into the cost and price of every commodity we buy.

You see, we in fact pay and pay and pay again for advertising every day.

So commerical radio is not free and it costs us a lot more than the paltry amount of our taxes that currently goes to supporting Radio New Zealand.

The other point I made is that RNZ is on the bones of its arse already. It has suffered cuts now for a decade under both Labor and National governments.

No government in power likes the scrutiny and independent analysis that RNZ provides. It is an irritant to any government and that’s how it should be.

You can't argue with intelligence

So when a Labor MP says that her party fully supports RNZ, what does this mean?

If it’s to mean anything at all it must mean a Manifesto commitment to restore and extend RNZ funding if they’re re-elected.


So that RNZ can continue to provide the quality programming that it does. Who else is going to promote Kiwi music and art and science and so on?

But there’s another reason to increase the funding to RNZ – so that it can continue to innovate and to extend its services.

If you look at the Australian example – go on, just for a minute – you can see that the ABC provides local radio services to every major population centre across the country. This was invaluable during last summer’s dreadful bushfires. ABC local radio kept communities informed and saved many lives through providing up-to-the-minute news about fire fronts and rescue or evacuation plans.

Then there’s the youth network TripleJ. This is a fantastic service for the youth of Australia. It talks to them in the language they appreciate and it gives them access to useful public interest information. It helps young people connect with politics and the big ideas.

Finally, the ABC provides a fantastic online presence called Unleashed that creates the space for a truly national debate about politics, policies and culture.

Honest journalism without advertising. Now there's a thought

This is what RNZ should be doing to. For that it needs much more money.

I think it is a national shame that this government is hell-bent on cutting it even more.

I think that in Wellington the ACT Party tail is wagging the National dog. And it is a dog.

Now we have to keep the protests going and keep them growing. There’s a long way to go in this fight.

They say cut back, we say fight back.

5 Responses to Radio New Zealand: “They say cut back, we say fight back!”

  1. the deity formerly known as nigel6888 says:

    Actually you mean the “paltry” amount of someone else’s taxes that you want to steal to fund YOUR radio station of preference.

    RNZ is an affectation. It has blown its credibility with its choice of hosts and issues, it is simply the labour party at rest.

    Sad really, I still enjoy morning report, but when the total audience is less than half a million for all shows over an entire week, you gotta admit thats not a lot of ears. But it works out to about $80-100 per listener.

    You really not prepared to pony up $100 a year to have your prejudices deliciously confirmed?

    Shame on you. Thats 26 lattes worth. Are Kim Hill and the twittering drones of left wing correctness not worth even that much?

  2. Cnr Joe says:

    It is a dog – I know what you mean but dogs don’t deserve the mauling-of-image this association creates.
    God (and Queen) Save (Radio) NZ!

    [Tx Joe, I mean dog as in dog and lemon – broken, rusty, sawdust in the gearbox, only goes in reverse, polluting and too dangerous to be on the road, but looks shiny on the outside and costs a bomb to run.]

  3. Daniel Bell says:

    But when I pay for those biscuits or the petrol it is of mutual benefit to me and the radio station. Taxes paying for Radio NZ only benefit those who listen to Radio NZ.

    The question should be asked, why should I be FORCED to pay for a Radio station which I do not listen to?

    If the station cannot survive as a voluntarily funded non-profit entity that is simply because not enough people do not want to pay for it.
    [Right back at you Daniel: Why should I be forced to pay for advertising that I hate and resent and that encourages my children to get fat on high sugar, high sodium, high cholesterol junk food? I note “the king is coming”.
    Taxes, unlike advertising revenues, are levied for the greater public good – “Yes Margaret, there such a thing as society.”
    You might never get sick, but do you resent paying taxes to get free care in a hospital.
    I don’t want to spend my money on some crap new helicopters for the airforce that don’t even work, why should I be FORCED to contribute to defence spending. Argue by all means, but be real about it.]

  4. Daniel Bell says:

    How are you forced to pay for the advertising of biscuits? Don’t buy them. Really it’s as simple as that.

    I can’t pay to get anything free, that statement is a redundancy. I do not think I should be forced to pay for YOUR health care, and neither should you be forced to pay for mine, though.

    I don’t want to spend your money on crap helicopters either, so at least we agree on something

    [Daniel: did you go to school? Who paid for that? If it was MY money I demand a refund]

  5. Daniel Bell says:

    I went to school until I was 15, yes. However at the time both of my parents were also paying taxes, however I understand your demand for a refund if you do not have children, and I will be back in New Zealand on the 20th of May and would be happy to arrange a date with you to go to Parliament and demand it. I didn’t take your money, or my parents money, the Government did. Then I was forced to go to school, (I got an exemption at 15 due to family reasons).

    So again, why should I be forced to pay for a radio station I don’t listen to?

    So far you only make presumptions about me and respond with questions aimed at pointing out a contradiction in my opinion, without actually answering the question I have asked you.

    What makes you feel entitled to a radio station, funded by people with no interest in it?

    [Your question is exactly the one I am asking about commercial radio. That’s the point I was trying to make. The reason for funding National Radio is that it provides a service for the whole nation that also has a much broader agenda than most commercial radio and it is independent of government and advertisers.
    Your suggestion that I don’t buy biscuits is a nonsense. Where does it stop? There is an advertising tax on everything. Are you suggesting we go back to hunting and gathering, or subsistence farming, that is a nonsense too.
    I can’t choose to buy products without paying the advertising tax and I don’t get a refund if I say “But I don’t watch your commercials, or read them in the newspaper.”

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