Trust putting money where mouths are


The save TVNZ7 campaign was never going to succeed.

But it has spawned a trust, fronted by David Beatson, which is prepared to put money where the pro-public broadcasting mouths are:

 I am now driving the formation of a new, not-for-profit trust to establish a nationwide, free-to-air, public television service. . .

The disappearance of TVNZ 7 signals the completion of TVNZ’s transformation into TCTV – Totally Commercial Television.

For six years, as chairman of NZ On Air under both a National-led government and a Labour-led government, I confronted the difficulties of striking the balance between the commercially-driven interest of our major television networks and the public interest mission. It was tough enough in 1995-2001. It will be even tougher now. . .

Totally Commercial Television has a clear and simple mission: build audiences of active consumers who generate business for advertisers who generate profits for the shareholder.

The public broadcasting mission is much more complex: its purpose is to add value to all our lives – regardless of our age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, geographic location, or our consumption habits. Real public broadcasting enhances education, promotes health, encourages participation in public life, builds understanding between majorities and minorities, and constantly engages with its audiences. We don’t see much of that on TCTV.

We need a dedicated, non-commercial, free-to-air, public broadcasting TV channel, to put some balance back into our TV diet, to take some of the commercial pressure off NZ On Air, and to secure important components of the broader public broadcasting service mission from the vagaries of the advertising market.

No other country in the developed world relies solely on the good will of advertising-funded, free-to-air commercial television broadcasters to deliver the public interest values that define the public broadcasting mission. . .

. . . I’m establishing a not-for-profit Trust to raise the funds required to set up a bare-bones, non-commercial, nationwide channel to fill the public TV broadcasting role that TVNZ 7 has vacated. We’ll work together to keep the momentum for change growing.

We’ll be looking for support from corporate sponsors, public interest charities, community organisations, individual philanthropists, education and health service providers, cultural institutions and community organisations, minority and special interest groups.  – people who can see the public benefits from a small, Kiwi adaption of the American Public Broadcasting Service [PBS]model.

I can’t see any reason for the state to continue owning two commercial TV channels.

It would be far better to sell both and have a dedicated non-commercial, free-to-air, public channel. But given that is unlikely, a Trust could be the best vehicle to deliver the sort of programmes for which commercial channels and their advertisers have no appetite.

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