I met our Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran recently.

It was at the New Zealand Radio Awards and she handed me a lifetime achievement award.

She was very gracious both on the night and in tweeting out something along the lines of me being deserving of it.


She was responding I suspect to her supporters who were probably choking on the fact that she was ever put in a position to be in the same room as me far less hand me an award.

If I ever went into politics I'd want to be broadcasting minister.

Because many a government hasn't taken it particularly seriously and has handed the job to people who don't have a clue.

Marian Hobbs of a previous Labour government was one of those.

Marian dreamed up the charter for TVNZ and what a farcical exercise that was.

An idea that meant everything or nothing, all contained on an A4 page that took forever to come up with and resulted yet again in the state broadcaster TVNZ going through bizarre convulsions that hurt the bottom line merely to appease an ideologically driven government.

I know all this because I was there at the time and got immersed in some of the bizarre out-workings of having a government omnipresent in a company's life, including some particularly colourful contract negotiations that will one day be revealed in my book.

What I learned is government's don't run companies well, and broadcasting, especially broadcasting in 2018, with its myriad of issues and change, needs government in its office like it needs a hole in the head.


Which makes Clare's idea of public TV even more bizarre.

Clare wants a publicly funded TV channel, even though she already has one.

The one she has she can't really do a lot with, given past political issues and the cold hard realisation that TVNZ is on a path these days you'd be an idiot to mess with.

So she decided she'd hand the money to Radio New Zealand.

Radio NZ aren't that keen on TV either given they've never done it.

And that's before you get to the fact the money Clare is handing out is peanuts.

Oh, and no one would watch it.

I am not sure whether the fact no one would watch it really bothers her. It should of course, but in handing out a chunk of this new broadcasting money the other day ($15 million) Clare Curran once again reiterated she is in full favour of a public TV service.

Despite the fact TVNZ doesn't want it, Radio New Zealand doesn't want it, and the industry says we don't need it.

Left-leaning governments and pointy heads who like "quality" viewing have long laboured under the belief that if only we had a BBC-style model all would be well with the world.

We can of course have that model, but Clare's $15 million doesn't buy it. Make it 7 zeros instead of 6, and you might be in the market.

Does New Zealand have $150 million just to watch a bit of high brow drama and some bird docos? No we don't.

New Zealand on Air already funds an absurd amount of rubbish that no one watches.

The simple truth is this: broadcasting is entertainment and information, and it needs to either pay its way, or if it's subsidised by the taxpayer it has to have an audience.

We are saturated with content. There isn't a categorical nook or cranny that isn't catered for these days, and it doesn't have to be paid for by the State.

It takes a remarkable blindness, deafness or could it be even arrogance to have an entire industry of experts tell you your idea is not needed, if not dumb, and to still want to plough on with it using other peoples money.

Marian was a disaster. Clare still has time not to make the same mistake.