Monday, October 29, 2012

New Zealand on Air?

Is it time to review New Zealand on Air?

A bit of background.

Firstly, I'm going to be using the term "trash culture" a bit. It's a term a friend used used recently (I'm also looking for ways to use the term "presstitute" though I guess I'm just not trying hard enough) and it's something that I've been thinking about more and more. It conjures up a couple of different things for me. The culture of waste prevalent in American culture (Look at the size of a drink at Wendy's or Google's warranty policy on Chromebooks - doesn't matter how you spin it, reuse is better than recycling). The rampant sexualisation of music videos targetted at a young audience. But mostly, for me, it's about "reality shows".

New Zealand on Air, on their own website, describes itself thusly:

NZ On Air is a government broadcast funding agency

We invest in a colourful range of local television, radio, music and digital media content to extend choices for New Zealand audiences.


You'll note that NZ On Air has in recent times been putting funding toward some ludicrous ventures. Need I mention the G.C.? "The G.C." was pitched as a documentary showing Successful Maori in Australia. The promos showed one guy describing how he liked "all aunties" supposedly meaning girls/females. It seems what the pitch didn't say is that they were showing successful douchebags (really, did anyone care that the douche was Maori or was it just the fact that he was a douche that turned people off?) from NZ in Australia. Okay, so NZ On Air may have been mislead.

But there's absolutely no excuse for the $1.6 million given to "New Zealand Has Talent". In reality these types of shows are commercial ventures relying not only on advertising revenue but also the revenue generated by polls (either telephone or text). I think they've even got voting packages nowadays.

The interesting bit is that one contestant pulled out of NZ's got talent - Kylie Price - due to the show trying to force her to sign an exclusive contract. If the NZ Government, through NZ on Air, has provided funding for this programme then I am of the belief that terms around licensing HAS to take into account the New Zealand public. i.e. if Kylie Price chooses to perform outside of the show, then it's really just a reflection of the government's funding.

New Zealand on Air is in charge with a huge amount of money which could be put to better uses if all it is really doing is to increase the profit margins on trash culture. You'll notice "The Ridges" wasn't funded by New Zealand on Air - it's singular redeeming feature. It's completely possible to fund trash culture through traditional models (i.e. advertising). $1.6 million can probably go a long way to building a couple of houses. Hell, chuck in a few camera's, talk about earthquake proofing (resistance?), make it a little educational with a little bit of engineering and you've probably got an interesting show with a moral conscience.
So back to the original question, is it time for a review? Are you particularly happy about your tax money being spent to make programmes like "The GC" or "NZ's got Talent"? 

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