Congratulations on assuming the Broadcasting and Media role.
The announcement of your new portfolio put me in mind of Hercules as King Eurystheus told him there were a dozen small jobs he would like done.
Like Hercules, you will find that the tasks ahead are challenging. Some will seem insurmountable. Yet, the underlying message of that particular piece of Greek mythology is that nothing is impossible.
I would hesitate to suggest that success will lead to immortality, but you will certainly make an enduring name for yourself if you are able to ensure that New Zealand’s media ecosystem is fit for purpose.
The public media entity Establishment Board announced last week by broadcasting minister Kris Faafoi is well placed to successfully amalgamate Television New Zealand and RNZ. Sadly, that is all it will do.
The board has a full complement of experienced broadcasters, broadcasting executives, and board members from both existing organisations. It will be chaired by former New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin, who ably led the body that examined a business case for the new entity.
Faafoi says their job will be to “oversee the detailed design of the new entity and the change required to create it”. He also states that the new entity would be built on “the best of Television NZ and Radio NZ” but would be future-focused to meet the challenges of technology changes and global competition.
While they are beavering away, the government will be introducing the legislation that will govern the future organisation. I have no doubt that a draft already exists, given the timetable to have the Bill introduced by mid-year and through all its readings before the end of the year.
This suggests that much of the form of the new organisation will be pre-determined and the Establishment Board will be dealing with internal structures and functional issues. It will be watched over by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage which is charged with providing assistance, and with reporting independently to the minister.
We are witnessing a mechanical process – the merging of two Crown agencies, no more than that. The only unique aspect is an imperative that the public service broadcasting mandate of RNZ is not lost in the re-organisation. The Establishment Board has all the necessary credentials to successfully see through that process.
There is no real aspiration in the announcement and, indeed, in anything we have seen recently on the proposal. There is no sense that the new entity will usher in paradigm change and realise untapped opportunities. Continue reading “A new suit cut from old cloth”→