The fate of RNZ and TVNZ may soon be in the hands of Cabinet ministers, with a proposal to disestablish both broadcasters and create an entirely new public media entity.
The coalition government has been grappling with what to do with public broadcasting in New Zealand, and now there’s a greater sense of urgency with the media industry under real financial threat.
Labour campaigned on RNZ+ with annual funding of $38 million in 2017, but that was canned after the resignation of Clare Curran as Broadcasting Minister.
The portfolio was handed to Kris Faafoi, who has signalled a different approach to public broadcasting.
An advisory group, with representatives from both media companies and a range of public service agencies, was set up to look at future funding options.
RNZ understands there were three options: merge the RNZ and TVNZ newsrooms, put more money into New Zealand On Air, or the third, preferred option now heading for Cabinet – most likely in early December.
The advisory group concluded the status quo was “unsustainable” and “collectively recommended the government agree to disestablish TVNZ and RNZ and to establish a new public media entity”.[…]
The departure of ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie just two-and-a-half years into her five-year term reflects the board’s decision to seek “fresh leadership”, according to Chairman Justin Milne. Announcing Guthrie’s sacking today, Milne said “the board’s foremost consideration was the long-term interests of our own people and the millions of Australians who engage with ABC content every week”.
What Milne didn’t talk about was the millions of listeners, viewers and online visitors to the ABC who have been lost since the federal government and the ABC itself made cuts to its international output. The appointment of a new Managing Director opens up the opportunity for Guthrie’s replacement to re-engage the ABC with its international audience, particularly in the Pacific.
As respected former international broadcasting executives Ian MacIntosh and Bruce Dover pointed out last month on The Interpreter: “Australia’s international voice, once strong, influential and broadcast across much of the Asia Pacific, has become little more than a croak into the ether.”
The demise of a strong Australian media voice throughout the Pacific has seen Radio NZ Pacific (formerly Radio NZ International) become the dominant international media outlet in the south-west Pacific, Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia. Lurking in the background is Radio China International, which has taken many of the ABC’s shortwave frequencies, and is reportedly spending billions in foreign language programming to boost its presence.[…]
The Papua New Guinea government is contemplating restoring short wave radio services to Bougainville, after they were shut down during the civil war.
[…]The Bougainville regional member in the PNG parliament, Joe Lera, has raised concerns that the region’s mostly rural population lacks access to information.
He said in the absence of other media these people can be won over by groups like former combatants pushing just one view – that of independence.
Mr Lera said the Minister of Communications, Sam Basil, will take a team from the national broadcaster to Bougainville later this month.
“His thinking is two options. One, national government to immediately buy two shortwave transmitters and bring Radio Bougainville back to where it was before the crisis, and two, we want to keep FM. He is also talking national government paying for two FM transmitters.”
There is a push in Australia to re-establish Radio Australia’s services to the Asia/Pacific region.
Supporters of RA in Australia hope people around the Pacific will join them in sending submissions to inquiries underway in Canberra.
It comes after savage cuts at RA that included shutting down shortwave transmission, which is seen as a critical service in many parts of the Pacific, particularly during natural disasters.
It has recently been reported that those transmission frequencies have been taken over by China Radio International.
Former RA journalist Sean Dorney said the group, of which he’s part, is trying to convince the Australian government to get back into that space.
“So there is a bit of concern in Canberra about this and I suppose the group that I’m part of are trying to convince the Australian government that it’s time to re-focus our attention on the broadcast to the region.”
RANGITAIKI, New Zealand — Radio New Zealand Pacific, the official international arm of Radio New Zealand, is using Digital Radio Mondiale digital radio transmission/reception equipment to feed studio-quality audio to some of its 20 relay stations in the Pacific Ocean region. The others use satellite feeds or web downloads.
The locations being served by DRM include the Cook Islands, where RNZ Pacific’s programs are rebroadcast locally in analog mode by Aitutaki 88FM, the islands’ only broadcaster. RNZ Pacific also serves Tonga, Samoa, and the Solomon Islands using DRM; among others. Previously, RNZ Pacific had fed its relays using analog AM shortwave radio, with that transmission mode’s limited audio range and interference issues.
“When DRM became available to us in 2005, we saw it as a great opportunity to provide high quality audio to Pacific radio stations that relayed our news broadcasts from our AM transmitter,” said RNZ Pacific’s Technical Manager Adrian Sainsbury. “As a platform to deliver good quality audio to remote island FM stations, it has been a great success.”[…]
As the article points out, RNZ has been using DRM as a feed for quite a few years. I think this is a brilliant use of the technology. Of course, those of us in the rest of the world can snag RNZ DRM broadcasts as well.
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