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Fairfax ignores regional New Zealand's strength

1 July 2008

Fairfax ignores regional New Zealandâ's strength

Ongoing cuts to regional media are worrying Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton.

He said the resources of regional media are being cut back at a time when regional economies are recovering strongly.

Fairfax has announced it is slashing regional sub-editing staff and dumping the jobs into the main centres. APN made similar cuts recently, and in the past decade, former Radio New Zealand community stations were networked, effectively reducing services in most parts of the country. Television has long abandoned any real presence in most of regional New Zealand.

"Cuts to regional media are cuts to the strength of New Zealand outside the main centres. It undermines the ability of those communities to tell stories about themselves, to see their own culture and people, and to strengthen community networks.

"Most of New Zealand's wealth is generated in regional New Zealand, and in many parts of the country there are enormous shortages of skilled workers. The lifestyle is one of the main attractions of living and raising in a family in New Zealand's regional centres. There needs to be enough local services to attract and retain people. Back when the failed policies of the 80s and 90s were destroying regional economies, services were being withdrawn. As hospitals, post offices, banks, and other services were moved away, the pressure went more strongly on other services. Today, those services are returning. But media companies don't seem to be part of the trend.

"It doesn't make sense that services are being reduced in centres where local GDP is much higher than it was in the past.

"It's ironic that the withdrawal of media from New Zealand's regions is a serious issue for the affected communities, but there is almost no chance of the issues getting a fair hearing in local media.

"Fairfax editors get plenty of entertainment bashing the government on a regular basis. They are not so courageous at confronting their own corporate masters over decisions that affect their readers and their communities," Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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