Alliance Party statement on Broadcasting
The profit motive should not control the dissemination of ideas, according to the Alliance Party.
Announcing the Party's broadcasting policy today, Party co-leader Paul Piesse said that many older New Zealanders would remember "the bliss of the absence of television advertising we once enjoyed".
"The Alliance Party believes that New Zealand should have a strong non-commercial element in our television, just as we do with National Radio and Concert FM", he said
"There should be at least one TV channel immune from the crass commercialism currently inflicted on us".
"New Zealand is in serious danger of having its language, culture and values swamped by the lowest-common-denominator demands of commercial competition", he said.
"Television stations, obliged to compete for the advertisers' dollars, concentrate on delivering the largest possible captive audience to advertisers, rather than on enhancing the quality of what they produce", Mr Piesse said.
"And that diminishes the quality of our civilisation by promoting capitalist consumerism. The airwaves are public property, and commercialising them effectively privatises them", Mr Piesse said.
National Radio is ad-free and largely untainted by commercial influences, but there is no equivalent in television, despite massive public investment.
Digital technology offers unprecedented programming choices, but it brings with it the danger of further increasing US influence on our society and massive profits for the global media corporations. We need to ensure that benefits arising from these developments are shared by all and do not compromise the uniqueness of our culture and society.
When the Alliance was in Government (1999-2002), we increased funding of NZ on Air, including a one-off cash injection of $27 million to cover the shortfall created by the National Government when they abruptly abolished the broadcasting fee.
Maori TV, also set up during the Alliance time in Government, plays a key role in promoting Maori language and culture.
The next steps
Public ownership: The Alliance believes it is essential that significant broadcasting organisations in both radio and television should remain in public ownership. Alliance policies in respect of overseas ownership apply to broadcasting.
Public television: We support a fully funded public television channel free of both commercials and commercial influence.
Maori TV: We support continued funding for Maori TV; the community focus of Maori TV is an example of what a non-commercial broadcaster could do.
Free-to-air TV: The Alliance is fully committed to legislation which protects and restores live free-to-air broadcasting of significant national sporting events and series.
Control of the airwaves: The airwaves and broadcasting spectrum are public property. The Government has an important role as custodian of these in the public interest.
Broadcasting policy: We would shift responsibility for broadcasting policy to a Ministry of Cultural Affairs rather than Commerce, where it sits now. This would emphasise the critical role of broadcasting in our democracy.
Local broadcasting content: We will legislate to establish minimum quotas for local content of 30% for television and for music radio.
Funding: NZ On Air should be adequately funded to ensure more programming reflective of the diversity of our community (different ethnic and religious groups, people with disabilities, gay, lesbian and transgendered people, older people).
Children’s programming: The Alliance supports limits on commercial advertising in children’s programming. We need more emphasis on locally produced children’s programmes which convey New Zealand cultural messages to growing New Zealanders.