Sunday, May 22, 2011

ownership blues (or, diversity rag?)

A few nights ago the "public service broadcaster" TV One had prime minister John Key live on the evening of the governments latest budget. They employed a very weak trope to fill this half an hour: an average white family, 2 kids + dog and mortgage, asking questions to the prime minister from location in their suburban home. In another stroke of brilliant political television the prime minister had been prepared prior to the event with background economic information on the family on the other side of his monitor, as he quite freely confessed. When asked by the scruffy Close-Up presenter Mark Sainsbury how the budget was going to impact them financially the father sort of shyly responded "actually ... not much". Wow! This was to be a thrilling people's counterpoint to the smug pinstriped accountant now sitting in the highest seat of power in New Zealand@!!!! Not. Our public service broadcaster? Controversial budget during tough economic times in a continued global recession plus an upcoming election ... and this is what the public service broadcaster came up with in the face of having the governments leader in the studio. Oh boy :-(

I'm increasingly distressed by the sense that the New Zealand public sphere and subsequently our democracy is a failed modernist experiment in need of revision. Television in New Zealand is truly depressing; and the level of commercialism we seem willing to tolerate just cripples our pride and deepens our inability to grow as a nation. I actually believe that what holds us back from being the truly innovative and sustainable country we would like to believe we are, is the rampant commercialisation and almost total international ownership of our media. When a government comes to New Zealand that can return the media landscape to a more equitable diversity of ownership and use of media, then we can start again on moving forward politically and socially.

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