RadioNZ National’s website features photos of its listeners listening in many varied locations.
The people are as diverse as the places from which they listen.
Quite how diverse has been brought home to me because since I’ve been contributing to Critical Mass on Afternoons all sorts of people in all sorts of places have told me they’ve heard me on the radio.
In theory my blue political leanings should lead me to question whether there should be a public broadcaster but given how often I listen to it I’d be on very shaky ground in doing so.
I am in good company here because many people on the right listen to what most of us still refer to as National Radio and support the concept of public broadcasting even though it tends to have a leftward lean.
Karl du Fresne discussed this in a recent post and concluded:
. . . what could be more boring than listening to people expressing the same views as your own? This is known as the echo chamber effect, where the same opinions are heard and repeated over and over again.
It’s not only tedious, it’s bad for democracy, because democracy depends on a degree of tolerance and understanding of other people’s positions. That’s why I continue to listen to Radio New Zealand, much to my friend’s puzzlement, even though I sometimes fume and splutter at the views being expressed.
I don’t want to be bombarded with ideas that I’m comfortable with. All I insist is that the state broadcaster presents us with information and opinion that fully reflects the diversity of the population it ostensibly serves.
I agree it is good to be challenged but a public broadcaster shouldn’t just be challenging the views of those on the right.
Feedback to programmes like Morning Report, Checkpoint, Nine to Noon and Afternoons seems to get a reasonable spread of support and opposition from across the political spectrum which suggests that they generally balanced in their approaches.
If there is any bias it seems to be strongest in Maori and Pacific programmes on both radio and television. It could be that I haven’t listened to or watched a representative selection or programmes, but those I have paid attention to do seem to have a distinctly leftward lean.