Greens straying towards state control of media

October 25, 2011

They just can’t help themselves can they?

Just as the Green Party was trying to prove it isn’t like a watermelon with a green shell hiding the red inside, it comes out with a media policy that includes state regulation .

The Green Party wants to make independent media watchdog the Press Council answerable to the Government.

The idea, outlined in the party’s broadcasting policy, involves creating a “Broadcasting Commission” that would set, monitor and enforce rules such as minimum local content quotas.

Will that be on all channels and stations or just the publicly owned ones? Will they decree when this local content is broadcast and make us listen to and watch it too? Who is going to pay for it, and how?

Did they watch the excellent series of New Zealand films on Sunday Theatre a few weeks ago? They were funded by the Platinum Fund through New Zealand On Air which got the money National redirected when it canned the charter.

There is an argument about whether there should be publicly funded broadcasting at all. But if we’re going to have it, it’s much better to fund quality programmes people watch instead of imposing arbitrary quotas and funding programmes that would have been produced anyway or others that few want to watch.

The policy document also suggests the Greens would want the commission to have ultimate authority over the Press Council. . .

. . . the Greens would bring the Advertising Standards Authority, Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Press Council into “a common framework based on the principle of responsible self-regulation”.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority is a statutory body funded by the Government but the Press Council and the Advertising Standards Authority are industry-funded independent bodies.

Are they going to give public money to these independent bodies, or will they expect industry-funded organisations to do their bidding?

Either way, the party is straying into the very dangerous territory of state control of the media.

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