A SHORT HISTORY OF THE PRIVATISATION
OF A FREE AND INDEPENDENT NZ PRESS 2000 – May 2015.
By BEN VIDGEN.
Lets take a look at the record of this government in assuring we have strong robust media capable of doing more than just “entertaining us”. One capable of making us all aware of important issues like the US sponsored Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and Corporate subversion of the democratic process.
2015 May: Its announced that John Campbell’s is living TV3 and that Campbell Live is to be axed:
2015 May: The company in charge of running the change the NZ Flag social media page turns out to be owned by a media advisor to John Key.
2015 April: US investment house Oaktree Capital become majority owner of Mediaworks including Radio Live and TV3. Oaktree Capital has a tradition for investing in firms with with strong ties to Oil and Gas industry. The words “energy” appear 58 times on their page promoting Oaktree portfolio for companies including; Energy Solutions International, Inc -oil and gas , GoodCents -energy utilities, Kirlin construction for military and private contractors, OpTerra Energy Group renewable energy sources, Osmose Holdings, Inc.utility services, Remedial Construction Services, L.P.Remedial Construction Services, L.P. (RECON) Construction for the energy sector RSH Energy oil and gas ,Shermco maintenance, repair, engineering, training and commissioning services for low, medium and high voltage electrical equipment, including substations, switchgear, transformers, motors and generators, Solomon Corporation the leading provider of refurbishment, repair and salvage services for electrical transformers and related oil-filled equipment. TenKsolar designs, manufactures and markets highly efficient, reliable and low cost photovoltaic solutions centered around its proprietary RAIS module technology.
2015 April: TV3 annouces they will reduce TV Sunday news to 30 minutes.’ That of course will no doubt be 30 minutes broken into 15 minutes of sport, six minutes of fluffy kitten stories and two ad breaks. But don’t worry you will still have Paul Henry and Mike Hosking to give you a fair an balanced perspective (face palm).
2015 March: Gordon Campbell covers the planned axing of Campbell Live in-depth by Mediaworks and the political links.
2014 June: NZ Court rules that books do not count as journalism (something the Pulitzer award, the wold’s most distinguised journalism accolade, would dispute having its own special section for authors). The High Court ruled that a book written by a veteran New Zealand Herald journalist David Fisher, about internet tycoon Kim Dotcom, is not “news activity” and does not get special legal protections. Media commentators fear the ruling could have a “chilling effect” on New Zealand journalism if reporters are no longer unable to protect their sources.
2014: Nick Hager release Dirty Politics which demonstrates how the National Party leak to right wing blogger, also employed by public relation firms on behalf of alchol and tobacco companies, like Cameron Slater, to attack their enemies and push their agenda. Police later raid Hager’s house in what is seen as a revenge raid.
Winston Peters reveals that Mediaworks formerly chaired by national Cabinet Minister Stephen Joyce planed recievership is a means for Media Works to avoid a 22 million dollar tax bill, 700 million in debt (largely aquired under Joyces tenure as Media Works CEO) and to break existing international contracts The new board wll include Mark Waldon (CEO) and Julie Christie. Individuals who the National Party has courted intensively, during its administration, by apointing them to several high paid government advisory committess such as the $650.00 a day Flag Change advisory comittee, which Christie sits on. National Cabinet minister Gerry Brownlee is said to have a close frienship with Christie outside of parliamaent.
2011:National announce that the contract to cover the 2011 election has being awarded to Mediaworks at the time given by the government five years to pay off an unpaid bill worth 43 million.
2011: TVNZ Charter is abolished by the National government “meaning the state-owned broadcaster will not have specific provisions to show a wide variety of New Zealand-made content. The Television New Zealand (TVNZ) Amendment Bill passed its third reading by 64 votes to 56 and replaces the Charter with a “less prescriptive list of functions and leaves the state broadcaster free to concentrate on being a successful television company without the constraints of an unrealistic dual mandate,” Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman said”.
2011: Otago University Student Association toys with the idea of selling Radio One to an unnamed buyer. Musicians and media hit back at plans to sell student radio calling it an attack on the cultural heart of Dunedin. The idea is promptly shelved.
2011: Police raid newspaper offices looking for taped conversation held between John Banks and John Key at a crowded cafe full of invited journalists and the public. The conversation is deemed a breech of the privacy act by a NZ Court (whose Judge had made the ruling after first post poning until after the General election was complete). The judge rules the cafe ‘Tea Gate’ conversation, held in a crowded public place, a breach of the privacy act. This is despite the Crimes Act being quite explicit that for conversation to be deemed private partipants must have taken reasonable steps to insure their privacy was protected in the first place.
2010: Supporters of public broadcaster Radio New Zealand (RNZ) descended on parliament with portable radios last week to protest a cost-cutting directive aimed at RNZ by Broadcasting Minister Jonathon Coleman. This follows the 17 February 2010 announcement by Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman that Radio New Zealand’s funding would be frozen “for the foreseeable future” and that he had asked the Chair of the Board “to come back to me with a plan for how Radio New Zealand is going to sustain its services.”
2008: National announces public service programming on TVNZ could disappear under a plan by the National Party to axe the broadcaster’s charter, along with $15 million in funding. Under the party’s broadcasting policy “TVNZ would lose all its charter funding earmarked for programmes that would not otherwise make it to air under a purely commercial funding model. Instead, the $15 million would be allocated to a contestable pool administered by New Zealand On Air, with all free-to-air channels and independent producers able to pitch for a share, National broadcasting spokesman Jonathan Coleman said. National has ruled out selling TVNZ”
2007: The king kicks out the jester: “Satire, ridicule and denigration of MPs using any television footage shot from parliamentary galleries is to be banned under rules proposed by the standing orders committee. The move on freedom of expression is not the only controversy the rules have caused. They also create anomalies between what television cameras can show and what newspapers photographers are allowed to show, giving television the advantage. The television cameras will be able to show wider shots than are allowed now, such as an MP’s response to an answer, but photographers won’t be. For example, if an MP asking a minister a question gave the fingers to the minister, the television cameras under the new rules could film it and broadcast it, but a newspaper photographer could not take it or run it in the paper. The newspaper would be allowed to take the shot from the television footage but not to produce its own”.
2007: Award winning cartoonists Malcolm Evans and Trace Hodgeson both claim political pressure is bought to bear on their satire by editorial staff who in turn face objections at being lampooned by the standing government.
2006: Nicky Hager Book Hallow Men documents the rise of the well paid spin doctors in NZ politics and the use of right wing public relation firms to push right wing pro corporate doctrine in NZ on a unsuspecting public being manipulated with deliberate falsehoods and half truths.
2001 Oct 3: 100 of TNVZ jobs axed after The state broadcaster decided to bring its two channels under one manager, breaking up its marketing department and scrapping the position of the man who led TVNZ’s digital television strategy. Painted as a marketing strategy the decision glosses over the fact it has removed political and cultural diversity from the media and made it easy to create a homogeneous easily managed media
Note: The attack on journalism in NZ has accelerated under National and John Key specifically. Yet the roots go back to Labour as will and stem from the influence, in my belief, of the neo-liberal infiltration of our political process which is if nothing bipartisan. Yet none of this would be possible if those in the media did not just remain quiet and act as if each step has had nothing to do with the steps taken before hand. This has all happened in just over a decade imagine what our media will be like if those within the media continue to remain silent in another ten years time?