By: Mike Hosking | Tuesday, April 24, 2012
There is a raging debate, I use the word ‘raging’ loosely given it’s largely confined to the chattering classes, but there is a debate on at the moment over the closure of TVNZ7.
TVNZ7 is regarded by some as this country’s nod to public service television. The Labour Government threw a lot of money at it and come June the money will have run out. They’ve had a look at its viability on a commercial basis and it doesn't< seem to stack up, so that's that. The lights get turned out, the project is over.
If you peruse certain publications or read letters to the editor you’ll find those lamenting its passing lambasting the Government and New Zealand On Air and TVNZ for not keeping it alive. They argue we need public broadcasting. They argue modern commercial television is a domain of cheap nonsensical reality rubbish and all good cultures preserve the arts and culture and debate through a televisual outlet funded by the state.
The trouble with their argument sadly is that the simple truth is no one watches it. Not now, not since it’s been on. One article I read last week shouted of a cumulative audience of 1.5 million people a month which on the surface seems a not unreasonable figure, until you actually break it down and it gives you an average of 50,000 a day, which when you divide that into an hourly number it’s barely more than 2,000. I can tell you those sort of numbers don’t justify the millions it takes to make TV.
The trouble with the argument is it’s always been so very high brow and condescending. It’s always come from people who tell you that what the rest of us watch is crap and we really should know better. They always have an excuse for why their programmes and channels haven’t worked – they’re on at the wrong time, they weren’t promoted properly, people weren’t exposed for long enough. But the truth is we simply, when given the chance, don't want to watch. The other truth is that in a country of four and a half million people, we don’t have the money.
TVNZ7 had some excellent programmes. I appeared on one purely because I thought it was very clever, but no one saw it. If no ones sees it, then it’s nothing more than a state-funded job scheme.
Modern media, and I live this every day, is about giving people what they want. To lecture to an empty theatre while espousing your brilliance or indeed preaching about the quality of something no one cares about is condescension of a pretty high order.
Photo: Getty Images
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