Speaking up for public radio

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes speaks at a public meeting. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
Green Party MP Gareth Hughes speaks at a public meeting. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
The "mainstream media'' will not report on Radio New Zealand's funding plight because of commercial concerns, a public meeting in Dunedin was told yesterday.

Meeting organiser Jo Bond said the state broadcaster had had its funding frozen since 2008 and this was having a major effect on its coverage and reach.

She said there had been mass redundancies, transmission infrastructure cuts, and reductions in drama, Pacific programmes, and other coverage.

``We need to get the word out. It's not going to get out through the mainstream media.''

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes told the meeting he believed Radio New Zealand would get a moderate funding increase in this year's Budget, but it would not be enough.

The increase would probably be funded out of the proceeds from selling its Auckland building.

The proceeds from the sale go to the Government, Mr Hughes said.

An audience member questioned its wisdom, given it probably meant Radio New Zealand would have to rent the premises back from the new owner once the sale goes through.

Mr Hughes said public broadcasting was especially vital at present because of upheaval in the rest of the media.

Media giants like Facebook did not produce New Zealand news content, he said.

About 30 people attended the meeting, which was held at the University of Otago.

Ms Bond's online petition calling for more Radio New Zealand funding has more than 10,800 signatures.



Whether social 'media giants like Facebook' produce NZ content rather depends on what users post to the sites. There are certainly links to ODT, NY Times and The Guardian.