Mike's Minute: NZ on Air needs reining in

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Monday, 20 August 2018, 8:05a.m.

Almost as practical as Paul Goldsmith's bill to let restricted drivers like 17 year olds get work exemptions to drive home after hours, is Melissa Lee's bill, which has been pulled from the ballot, to make New Zealand On Air and its Maori equivalent to be made accountable in terms of ratings, as to what it actually funds and whether it's been successful.  

NZ on Air is in charge of millions of our dollars, and they fund programmes which look to be getting increasingly eclectic, and watched by fewer and fewer people.  

We don’t know all of it for sure, because NZ on Air only publish the numbers for their 10 most popular shows.  

But given they fund hundreds that's a lot of dross that never really gets under the light of the public scrutiny.

The most famous of late is, of course, Spinoff TV.  

The website, which for reasons no one can really fathom, got $700,000 to indulge themselves in a more visual version of what they do on their website.  

Given they had never made TV before it went pretty much the way you thought it would, straight to the dustbin of TV history. Virtually no one saw it after the handful who watched the first one ran for the hills, or in this case the remote.  

And here is where part of the problem is, the snobbishness that drives NZ on Air.

As regards releasing figures as to the success of their choices, they said, "I don’t know there would be a great deal of appetite for it, because you are sort of inviting the court of public opinion to make decisions about things".

Oh my god. Public money for public consumption of product?! Heaven forbid those who pay and consume have a say! What on earth would we know about what we want to watch?

As a person who lives and dies in the court of public opinion every day, and has done for 36 years, can I offer this piece of experience?

Give it a go. It might sharpen your act, your outlook, and curtail some of your arrogance that is clearly present to make such an outlandish statement.  

Now, ratings aren't everything, but they are without question a very concrete set of evidence that tells you whether you’ve hit the mark you were wanting to hit or not.

And yes NZ on Air makes shows that may not be prime time or mainstream. But what it can't be allowed to be and clearly increasingly is, is a workshop for the unemployed artist who has an issue to pursue, or an agenda to push,or a creative itch to scratch.  

And it's timely to do this because NZ on Air has already got a funding boost under this government and is due for even more as the Minister pushes her agenda of more public TV, whatever that means.  

Melissa Lee's bill potentially opens the door into a cloistered world of elitism, and very little accountability.  

If she can change that all power to her.     


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