COMMENT:

Well, I think we called it right on Friday didn't we?

The Kris Faafoi broadcasting review was your classic Labour headline grab: 'We are looking at doing something.'

The unfortunate thing about that was, one, we already knew that given it was leaked.
And two, talking isn't doing. That is a sad failing of the party that came up with the "year of delivery" strapline. They didn't deliver, they talked.

Advertisement

But while they talk and drum up some sort of business case over what to do with our beleaguered public broadcasters, we have the spectre of the radio arm laying a bunch of people off, so they can hire another bunch of people to do something different, and potentially wasteful.

READ MORE:
Petition soars as opposition hardens against gutting of RNZ's Concert programme
Concert FM: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern frustrated by RNZ move
RNZ-TVNZ possible merger: Government green-lights a study looking into the creation of a new size public media company
'Killing a museum': Should RNZ stick with Concert?

Friday's thought bubble was, of course, due before Christmas. And the trouble here for Kris Faafoi is he looked to be one of the brighter lights. He was the sole proper promotion in the minor Cabinet reshuffle stifled by lack of real talent last year. But even he appears bogged down in their quagmire of indecision.

Meanwhile, how you run businesses knowing they are fundamentally changing without any detail must make life hard.

So here's the point of public broadcasting of which Radio New Zealand is, and TVNZ isn't, which in and of itself is why they shouldn't be merged. It's an ideological train wreck just waiting to happen.

But a proper public broadcaster delivers content that other broadcasters don't, and they don't primarily because it's not fiscally viable.

The example right now is RNZ Concert. Not a lot of people listen to Concert but it fills a small gap. It plays classical music for those who like it, and can't get it elsewhere on the dial.

Radio NZ is laying the staff off, and putting it onto an AM frequency, which surely is the ultimate insult given classical music is about sound and clarity, and AM isn't.

Advertisement

But having shuffled them out the door, they're looking to launch a "youth" music station.

The fact they're calling it "youth" immediately shows how out of touch they already are, and hopefully they can hire someone whose pants aren't pulled up quite as high who can put them straight.

But the key question for us, the taxpayer footing this multi-million dollar bill is, does a taxpayer-funded station for "youth' serve a purpose? Does it fill a gap?

The answer is no.The market is saturated with them already. The audience is exceedingly well served by, they would argue, some of the finest talent and content anywhere.

Is it the government's business to enter a commercial market and undermine it by propping it up with taxpayers' cash from its bottomless pockets, and making an already fragile industry even more fragile by gouging audience and therefore revenue?

Don't think I need to answer that, do I?

Advertisement

There is much to be done in public broadcasting, and broadcasting generally, if the Government is of a mind to play sticky beak.

But starting something at our expense that's not needed isn't or shouldn't be part of it - and the annoying bit is I would have thought that's bleeding obvious.