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TVNZ7 in distress - an open letter to the Minister

May 9th, 2011
By Malcolm Garrett

Like a lot of folk, I have always had trouble finding TVNZ7 in the programme listings in the newspapers and magazines. Many, including our own locals, Nelson Mail, Motueka Golden Bay News, and the Motueka Guardian don't seem to think it is important, or are they just porting in programme listings from a central source? I suspect that this is the case. There have been a number of letters to the editor of Nelson Mail, pointing out the lack of info on TV7, and Heartland also, without response so far.

Because 7 doesn't carry advertisements, I also suspect that advertising agencies are also colluding in keeping 7 to a very low profile with the general public.

How easy it is, to switch on, stay on TV1, watch the news and other well-advertised programmes for the rest of the evening, or simply switch off when the more mundane, pointless, and mostly gormless mainstream rubbish looms.

Even if you have Sky TV installed, it is still hard to locate 7, because it doesn't get any mention in their Magazine. You have to KNOW where to look, remember the channel number, and take a look there at what is coming up. So I can't help feeling that the Government, or its advisors, want rid of TV7, not just because it drains the Treasury of a large number of dollars and doesn't return any direct revenue, but its very existence threatens the commercial channels, TVNZ included.

The Government seem to be anxious to keep commercial TV alive; witness the propping up of TV3 and its allied radio channels when they couldn't pay their just dues.

If we wish to follow the rest of the world, which we seem anxious to do in many other respects, it would be well to remember that all the leading nations sponsor public, advertising-free, TV channels such as the BBC in UK, Australia's SBS, the USA's PBS, and so on. Wonderful programmes that arrive here via Sky frequently are shown to have emanated from these quality sources.

Journalists enjoy working away from the pressure to satisfy advertisers, where they can avoid conflict with commercial firms' interests, and follow worthy lines of enquiry and research. There have been cases where worthwhile items put together by TVNZ journalist teams have been pulled or placed in late evening slots away from general attention.

You know, one of the great pleasures we enjoy with TVNZ and its Channels 1 and 2, is the great freedom from ads that it provides on a few great memorial occasions, such as Good Friday. You see then the kind of TV depth of reporting that you would enjoy full time on TVNZ7.

What a pity that our Masters cannot see the relaxed, happy faces of their viewers, knowing that they will not have to brace themselves for another burst of noisy, intrusive interruptions - spoiling the continuity of thought, and causing more grinding of teeth. I wonder do advertisers know how many of their "captives" reach for the remote when the ads hit the screen?

Dr Coleman, you have spoken before about your desire that TVNZ's programme quality needs improvement. You only have to see the kind of work being streamed out by TVNZ7, to get a few examples of what you are speaking about. There is also widespread concern about the nature and content of "Children's Programmes". Frequent complaints about the advertising material that wraps around and sometimes ventures into the shows intended for our most vulnerable, demonstrate that ad-free kids' shows are the way to go - wintness the "Kidzone" commercial-free channel.

I plead with you, and the Government, to abandon plans to take this great Channel off air next year. Instead, pump up its profile with programme listings in the print media, and show your commitment to getting the voices of the population of NZ out to everyone.

Malcolm Garrett



Comment by Anne Holmes:
[Posted 12 October 2011]

Well done Malcolm Garrett, a great letter covering the subject well.

One thing that was not covered was, that this Government does not want an informed population. Dummed down is best for them. A thinking populaton is dangerous and must be avoided and chastised at all times. What a dream the RWC is to keep the public mind from the election and now the "Rena", what a dream for Mr. Key. Extraordinary coverage of that!

We can't lose TVNZ7, the only wonderful NZ channel joining the news channels BBC, Aljazeera & Stratos. The DVDs they use especially for their science programs are available to purchase.



Comment by Philip Grimmett:
[Posted 19 October 2011]

The Government has decided to axe TVNZ7. Period. No more advertisement free quality public broadcast TV channel. The government says we can't afford it. All you can do is directly contact your MP and give them the message. Loud and clear. For an informed and truly Democratic country, an educated public is essential. This is way more important than winning the RWC.




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