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Coalition for Better Broadcasting on Triangle Deal with Sky

Coalition for Better Broadcasting

Comment on Triangle Deal with Sky

SKY TV and Triangle have announced a new public service television channel – The Face on SKY channel 89 as of February 2013. SKY says they’re “giving” Triangle TV the channel while Jim Blackman of Triangle claims it as a “welcome move for public service broadcasting in New Zealand, particularly after the demise of Stratos and TVNZ7”.

There’s a couple of problems with this.

The first is the question of who is doing the “giving”. SKY normally pays hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for channels like the Farming Channel, Living, and the Documentary Channel. But SKY it seems will pay Triangle nothing despite it being likely to give their business much-needed growth, as Fairfax reporter, William Mace discovered “Sky chief executive John Fellet said the rationale for hosting the channel was commercial as he had noticed a dip in Sky subscribers' overall viewership when Stratos went off the air.”

So despite the spin that says SKY is giving public service television to audiences and that SKY is giving Triangle a place to broadcast, it seems that Triangle will be doing all the giving. But the question remains how they plan to fund their programming when NZ On Air won’t fund programmes that air solely on SKY, and advertising doesn’t sit well on a public service channel.

The second ‘problem’ with this arrangement is more integral – public service television must be free-to-air to be a public service. If 50% of the public can’t watch it then how is it serving the public exactly? It’s a bit like a school that claims to be doing a public service yet it has fees so high only half the local children can enter its gates.

Public service television is by definition a service to the public, the whole public or at least all who want to watch. In the same way that Quench or Raro are described as orange flavoured drink and not orange juice, Face should be described as “public service style” programming because it certainly won’t be the real thing.

Despite the nonsense around the publicity, we recognise the difficulty Triangle has faced over the years with poor support from NZ On Air, Kordia and Freeview. Like Triangle and Stratos before it, The Face will be better than nothing and we look forward to seeing what it does. Whether it truly is a new face for old channels like TVNZ 7, how it funds the content, and what quality its programmes will be.


The Coalition for Better Broadcasting (CBB) is forming from the Save TVNZ 7 campaign which ended in July 2012 with the closure of NZ's last public service television channel.

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