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‘We need public service TV’ in NZ

04 Nov

‘We need public service TV’ protest

As I posted here, NZ is sadly lacking in journalism that relentless pursues half-hidden and many-sided truths in a way that is neccessary for democracy to thrive. TV news and current affairs programmes are particularly influential in with their coverage of political issues.  As Nicky Hager argued, we are in need of journalism that reports in the interest of the public and those with least power; a journalism that speaks truth to power. For television, this need has been heightened since the demise of Stratos and TVNZ7 on Freeview.

Yesterday, The Scoop Team reported that there have been big pay rises for top TVNZ people.

A sharp rise in the number of high earners at TVNZ is revealed in the crown-owned television company’s 2011-12 annual report.

The number of employees in the $100,000-$120,000pa bracket has jumped from 73 to 87, an increase of just under 20% in a year.

Of the 87 employees in that salary range, 56 earned $100,000-$110,000 and 31 were on $110,001-$120,000. The comparable figures in 2010-2011 were 41 and 32, hinting at a big boost in numbers and pay for the broadcaster’s middle management.

At least the new CEO of TVNZ is not earning as much as Rick Ellis was getting by the time he left.

Meanwhile, last night people in the TV industry were congratulating themselves on their efforts.  It was all wrapt up in a celebrity-worshipping entertainment event, as reported by Stuff in an article with the title “Stars turn out for NZTV Awards”:

With the awards for best TV News and Current Affairs, the shift from public broadcasting to infotainment and commercial imperatives is evident.  The competition was largely between the neoliberalised TVNZ and TV3….. the exception is a well-deserved award for Maori TV.

Best Scheduled News Programme – 3 News
Best News or Current Affairs Presenter – Julian Wilcox, Political All In (Native Affairs, Maori TV)
Journalist of the Year – Melanie Reid, Eye of the Storm (60 Minutes)
Best News Reporting – Duncan Garner and Patrick Gower, Secret Tea Tapes (3 News)
Best Current Affairs Series – 60 Minutes (TV3)
Investigation of the Year – Melanie Reid and Eugene Bingham, The Eye of the Storm (60 Minutes)
Best Current Affairs Reporting for a Weekly Programme or One-Off Current Affairs Special – Mark Crysell and Julie Clothier – Cherry Blossom Tragedy (Sunday)
Best Current Affairs Reporting for a Daily Programme – Gill Higgins and Chris Lynch, Online Predators (Close Up)
Best Breaking News Coverage – One News, Carterton Ballooning Tragedy

Note all the awards for hard-hitting and critical treatment of political stories!  The main politcal story included was for the John Key-John Banks “Tea Tapes”.  This was a story that focused on journalists and news organisiations – how self-serving!

Where’s the awards for John Campbell’s relentless pursuit of the gaps and evasions in the Dotcom story, or for his highlighting of the crucial issue of child poverty? And where is the award for Rachel Smalley, rising in stature for calmly pursuing stories, with more informed and critically probing depth than is currently being done by most other TV news journalists and interviewers?

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