TVNZ cuts – one finger now, but soon the heart?

March 17, 2009

So the axe is falling again at TVNZ. Yesterday’s announcement that TVNZ management will shave $25 million from the national broadcaster’s budget was not a surprise.  In some circles it’s what we might call a “pre-emptive buckle”.

That is, the organisation has chosen to chop off it’s own little finger, rather than have the Nationals’ Razor Gang do the job. The Yakuza has a similar punishment ritual, it’s meant to demonstrate iron discipline, instill fear and, through fear, loyalty.

Understandable really. Better to be in charge of your own destiny, even if it’s the death of a thousand cuts. At least when hacking into your own flesh (if it’s not a death wish) you can have a decent first aid kit on hand to stem the blood flow.

On paper (on screen?) it looks like the cuts are evenly spread.

The top executives have agreed to a pay-freeze (head-shaking, “Why?”). I guess this demonstrates their commitment to the organisation and it’s supposed to send a signal that the pain is being shared and that the top rung is leading from the front.

Though, if you’re lemmings heading for a clifftop fall, who wants to be in the front line. Tired cliche I know and lemmings don’t actually rush head-long off clifftops, but why let the truth get in the way of a good urban-myth-as-metaphor line.

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Get Hager: A National priority?

July 12, 2008

I was on holidays when the latest “Get Hager” campaign began after the Wellington-based independent journalist Nicky Hager wrote recently about the National Party’s continuing relationship with Australian political spin-meisters the Crosby/Textor group. The story appeared in the Sunday Star Times and seems to be a detailed rundown of C/T’s activities behind the scenes in the Nationals’ election strategy for 2008.

But Key has not been disclosing an important secret about his leadership: that each step of his campaign to become prime minister has been overseen and directed by the same professional manipulators used (and also kept secret) by his predecessor, Don Brash. They are the Australian political tacticians, Crosby/Textor. Their role advising Key is known to National Party staff, including some who are uneasy about Crosby/Textor’s involvement, but has been kept secret from the public.

[Nat’s secret advisors accused of dirty tricks in Aussie]

From time to time Nicky comes under fire for his strong views, persistent digging and the exposure of political spin for what it is. I’m not surprised that the National apparatchiks and politicians despise him and try to discredit him at every turn.

However, I was surprised to read an attack on Hager’s credibility by Fran O’Sullivan in Saturday’s (13 July) New Zealand Herald.  The Herald is published by the SST‘s rival newspaper company, so perhaps there’s a commercial agenda in play here. But I suspect it’s more than that. O’Sullivan refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of Hager’s journalistic credentials; instead she calls him an “activist”, though I know that Hager is careful not to be involved upfront in political campaigning today.

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