Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Storm About To Blow Up Over Gold Coast

Storm About To Blow Up Over Gold Coast


Another embarrassing political storm is about engulf the government’s broadcast funding agency, NZ on Air, as last night’s screening of the first episode of “reality” tv show, The G.C. (TV3, 8pm) raises questions about its funding.

Originally called “Golden Mozzies”, the series of eight 23-minute episodes received $419,408 in August last year from NZ on Air which classified it as a “documentary.” The agency’s newsletter that month said the series would be about “seven Maori families living on Australia’s Gold Coast” and “explore emigration from a Maori perspective and how Tikanga Maori supports them as they adapt to life in a new country.”

TV3’s pre-publicity, however, describes a completely different show which “follows the lives of a group of talented young Maori as they work and play even harder in Australia’s playground, the glittering Gold Coast.” Last night’s first episode revealed that The G.C. is nowhere near as good as its models, Jersey Shore and The Only Way is Essex.

Initial critical appraisal was overwhelmingly negative with some viewers reported to have branded it “fake” and “pathetic” and a Facebook page calling for the show to be cancelled had attracted more than 2000 “likes” within a couple of hours.

But adding to the embarrassment of backing a ratings disaster, NZ on Air will face questions about its management of public funds. They must have known that, although the money went to a production company called Black Inc Media Ltd, that company is 90%-owned by Eyeworks New Zealand Ltd, a subsidiary of Eyeworks Holding, a giant international television production company based in The Netherlands with global revenue estimated at around $460 million. Known for developing successful “reality tv” formats, Eyeworks has affiliated companies in 17 countries and came to New Zealand after buying local reality TV production company, Touchdown, from Auckland producer Julie Christie for an undisclosed sum in February 2006.

Christie, who remained at the helm of her company, purchased a controlling 51% shareholding in Black Inc Media from its founder, Bailey Mackey, an Auckland Maori television presenter/producer, in October 2009, increasing Eyeworks’s holding to 90% last December. With Christie and Mackey as co-directors, Black Inc has secured about $3 million in funding from NZ on Air in the last three years, including $420,000 for The G.C. and $104,594 for last month’s Anzac dawn service, broadcast this year on the Maori Television channel, already fully-funded by almost $60 million a year to cover running costs and programme production.

As well as exposing itself to the perception of New Zealand taxpayers subsidising international companies making purely commercial entertainment programmes, NZ on Air must explain the loosening of programme genre definitions to allow funding of reality television shows under the pretence that they are factual documentaries.

The relaxation of genre definitions has occurred in the period that the prime minister’s electorate chairman, Stephen McElrea, has been on the NZ on Air board and leading a working group specialising in factual programming. The same period has also seen growing dominance of the agency by independent television production companies and their lobby SPADA, the previous employer the last two NZ on Air chief executives, Jo Tyndall and Jane Wrightson.

At the same time as reviewing eligibility for funding, the board’s new chairwoman, Miriam Dean, needs to clarify the role of subsidiary companies acting as fronts for larger producers.

Ms Dean takes over the chair from Neil Walter after confidence in NZ on Air’s political independence was shaken by Mr McElrea’s botched intervention after the screening of the child poverty documentary in the week before the election. She now needs to assert the agency’s independence from the independent production companies that are its main beneficiaries.

The growing controversy over Julie Christie’s latest venture could be the catalyst for a long-overdue audit of a government agency that turns a deaf ear on calls to save TVNZ7 while pouring money into revenue-earning entertainment programmes for commercial networks.

ends


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

David Swanson: Torture Is Mainstream Now

As Rebecca Gordon notes in her new book, Mainstreaming Torture, polls find greater support in the United States for torture now than when Bush was president. And it's not hard to see why that would be the case. More>>

Uri Avnery: In One Word: Poof!

Poor John Kerry. This week he emitted a sound that was more expressive than pages of diplomatic babble. In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations committee he explained how the actions of the Israeli government had torpedoed the “peace ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: The Poverty Incentive: Making The Poor Carry The Refugee Can

The poorer you are, the more likely you need to shoulder more. This axiomatic rule of social intercourse, engagement and daily living is simple and brutal enough: the poor shall hold, conserve, preserve. More>>

Nureddin Sabir: BBC Misreports John Kerry On Talks Failure

For once, US Secretary of State John Kerry was not mincing his words when he blamed Israel for the breakdown of talks with the Palestinians. But you would not have known this if you were following the story from the BBC News website. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Narendra Modi, And The Elections In India

On the upside, the gigantic election process that began yesterday in India is the largest exercise in democracy on the planet. Reportedly, a staggering five million people are employed, directly or indirectly, in the election process. The likely outcome is not quite so welcome... More>>

ALSO:

Ramzy Baroud: Kerry’s Looming Deadline And The Peace Process Industry

As the US-imposed April 29 deadline for a ‘framework’ agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority looms, time is also running out for the American administration itself. More>>

Harvey Wasserman: Fighting Our Fossil-Nuke Extinction

The 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster has brought critical new evidence that petro-pollution is destroying our global ecosystem. The third anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan confirms that radioactive reactor ... More>>

Shobha Shukla: Rise In Global Health Financing, But Funding Priorities Shift

A new research done by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), at the University of Washington, indicates that globally the total development assistance for health (DAH) hit an all-time high of $31.3 billion in 2013 (a year-over-year ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
TEDxAuckland
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news