Worse still, Willie Jackson just doesn’t care, and is hell-bent on ramming the merger through because it is not about money, he says, rather it is about controlling the narrative and messaging as they seek to exert even more state control over media in New Zealand.
Melissa Lee: Is he aware that the combined net worth of TVNZ and Radio New Zealand (RNZ) is less than the $370 million he will spend merging the two entities into Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media (ANZPM); if so, can he explain how spending more to merge those entities than what they are worth is a good use of taxpayers’ money during a cost of living crisis?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Unfortunately, that member fails to understand what the problem is. The problem is not about the budgets or the numbers; it’s about what’s happening in Aotearoa at the moment. So, yes, we understand all the numbers and the figures, but the most important thing here is that we have a changing landscape in terms of the media. We have people disappearing down rabbit holes. We need to have a trusted public media entity—that’s the absolute priority—that reflects all New Zealanders. People can’t see themselves. They can’t hear themselves. They want to see all New Zealanders and hear from all New Zealanders—Maori, Pasifika, Asian, young people. It’s not just about the dollars.
And he further clarifies that this merger is more about control, and reshaping ideology. He does that by abusing anyone with a differing opinion
Melissa Lee: Does the Minister believe his statement at the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee—and I quote him: “We need them to change their attitude. We need them to understand what we want.” is exactly the sort of interference that submitters have raised concerns about—that the editorial independence guaranteed by the bill is illusionary?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: That’s a sad statement from the member. I absolutely stand by that comment at the select committee, and what we require is a cultural change. Of course, that’s very hard because 99 percent of the Opposition haven’t got any culture, so they don’t understand what we’re talking about. We’re trying to bring together a commercial entity and a non-commercial entity, and it’s not just about the dollars, dollars, dollars, which is all about what the National Party is saying. The member has chosen to interpret my response to the select committee in a very strange, ugly, and unique way. So I’ll be much clearer to her: I’m working really collaboratively with TVNZ at the moment. I have a great relationship with its chief executive, Simon Power, whose only weakness was that he joined the National Party earlier in his life. TVNZ currently has a commercial focus while the new entity will focus on public media, which will require a shift in terms of their view. Why? Because it’s not just about the dollars, dollars, dollars. It’s about the people. It’s about hearing ourselves. It’s about seeing ourselves. We don’t just want to look at what the National Party has put up. This is about seeing the new Aotearoa, the new New Zealand that the Leader of the Opposition wouldn’t have a clue about.
Naisi Chen: Mr Speaker. How will New Zealand audiences benefit from the creation of the new public media entity?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: What a wonderful question. [Interruption—if I could just have a second here. Providing public media services is the prime objective of Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media. This isn’t just about entertainment, as the National Party would have it. Public media is also about news—independent, quality journalism—and for New Zealanders, they need entities they can trust. Our culture will be better reflected, with more accessible content and entertainment, and all New Zealanders—all New Zealanders—will be represented. Our democracy will be better supported through people being able to find trusted news and information and being better informed, and our public media system will be fairer, with a wide range of New Zealanders, including young people, having access to relevant content.
Cam Slater is a New Zealand-based blogger, best known for his role in Dirty Politics and publishing the Whale Oil Beef Hooked blog, which operated from 2005 until it closed in 2019. This article was first published HERE