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The People's Commission on Public Broadcasting & Media

Summary of Submissions into The People's Commission on Public Broadcasting and Media.

23 October 2017 - Action Station and the Better Public Media Trust are pleased to release the Summary of Submissions into the People’s Commission on Public Broadcasting and Media.

This Summary is a preliminary report from the People’s Commission. It brings together views and aspirations of the hundreds of people who made submissions, attended public meetings, filled out the online survey and made speeches to our Panel.

The Panel are Bill Ralston, Lance Wiggs, Kay Ellmers, Lizzie Marvelly, Shamubeel Eaqub and Mark Jennings. They held seven public meetings in Wellington, Dunedin, Christchurch, Nelson, Tauranga and two in Auckland, asking for people’s views on public media - including drama, comedy, factual, children’s, media for minorities, and news media.

The many potential technologies and the future shape of platforms were also a big part of the discussions, as were methods of funding, and whether it should be publicly funded at all.

Thousands of documents and days’ worth of recordings were collected. All of that information, much of it detailed and carefully explained, has been brought together into the Summary document by Dr Sylvia Nissen and Dr Michael Schraa.

The key take-outs from the Summary are:

• INVESTMENT - Sufficient and sustainable public funding that is not vulnerable to political or commercial demands.

Investment was always the big issue at public meetings. The public overwhelmingly want better funding of public media in New Zealand. That includes a national television platform like ABC in Australia, radio at RNZ and online media. “Current 'public service broadcasting' on TV is a shining, glowing example of what happens when services are driven only by dollars: uneducated guesswork as to what we want and what we shall have at the cheapest possible cost.” - Richard, Whakatane.

• INDEPENDENCE - Robust and autonomous broadcasting and media that effectively holds power to account and supports healthy democratic debate.

Independence from government and from commercial imperatives is seen as very important by those who submitted. “Journalism should be well-researched and questioning comment, not for entertainment - the public is being short changed otherwise, in ways which damage democracy.” - Janet, Auckland.

• INCLUSIVENESS - Diverse content, perspectives and ideas connected to communities in a range of accessible formats and platforms.

Inclusiveness is the third pillar of public aspirations for public media. Perhaps it’s an idea not frequently considered but inclusiveness is vital because diversity of people and ideas on public media promotes social cohesion and progress. “I want to see people who reflect the demographics of NZ, I am NOT seeing that now in any way and it’s embarrassingly obvious.” - Pikiora, Marton.

The release of the Summary of Submissions into the People’s Commission on Public Broadcasting and Media is especially timely.

“The new government has an opportunity to easily address many of the concerns raised in these submissions,” says ActionStation spokesperson Marianne Elliott. “Given both NZ First and Labour media and broadcasting policies are to strengthen public media, with broad agreement from the Greens, these submissions serve as a reminder of the importance of broadcasting and media.”

The NZME/Stuff merger, currently being appealed in court, was addressed many times in submissions to the People’s Commission. Submitters were resoundingly against the merger because it would limit news and current affairs options for audiences, lead to job cuts for journalists, and weaken the fourth estate role of newsmedia in New Zealand through less journalists, commentators and ‘voices’.

None of the submitters accepted the argument put forward by NZME and Stuff that the merger would solve problems with the commercial news business model. It was often noted that these problems reinforced the argument that New Zealand urgently needs better public media, free from the need for sensational headlines and clickbait.

The rest of the Summary can be found here.

This release is a preliminary summary and the actual Report and Recommendations of the Panel will be released in November.

The Summary is available to download here and can be received by emailing here.

We’d like to thank all the contributors and Drs Nissen and Schraa for their great work compiling and summarising the submissions.


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