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Govt sham support for RNZ laid bare

The National Government’s flaccid support for public broadcasting was highlighted last night as a Bill reviewing RNZ’s charter was finally passed after a seven year wait while the broadcaster remains severely underfunded and forced to cut staff, Labour’s broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran says.

“The Government pretends to support RNZ’s role as an independent, commercial-free public service broadcaster but has kept its funding frozen for the last eight years, forcing it to cut staff and restrict some functions while it tries to adapt to the changing media environment.

“RNZ has done a great job in adapting but the strain is showing. Chair Richard Griffin recently told a select committee it would not make a Budget bid for more funding this year, this indicates a clear message from the Government that it would be a waste of time.

“The Radio New Zealand Amendment Bill was introduced to parliament in 2009, following a 2005 review of its charter. It is ridiculous it has taken so long for the government to get this through Parliament. There is a statutory requirement for a charter review to occur every five years. In essence, we have skipped two reviews.

“This is a demonstration of the lack of commitment the Government has shown towards public broadcasting. It clearly does not value the role RNZ plays in our democracy, and the importance of state broadcasting for public debate and commercial-free discussion and programming,” says Clare Curran.