TVNZ is kicking out Maori and Pacific Island production. Photo / Radio NZ
PFF, Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS Sat 25 October 2014 -
Cutbacks to Maori and Pacific Islands production by TVNZ in New Zealand are a threat to democracy and claims to regional leadership, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.
“TVNZ outsourcing news, current affairs and culture to private contractors are happening against a background of years of cutbacks,” says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.
"News media are an integral part of any democracy but New Zealand is, yet again, showing that it places little value on independent journalism.”
PFF joins the Pacific Islands Media Association in New Zealand warning that these cuts could be “catastrophic."
State-owned TVNZ announced the cuts barely two months after declaring a NZD$18 million profit.
More than 30 jobs could be lost from TVNZ under the outsourcing move.
Long running programmes such as Tagata Pasifika, now in its 27th year, along with others such as Marae, Fresh and Waka Huia will be outsourced to private contractors. Any efforts to continue them will now have to compete with other contractors applying state funding bodies, which focus mainly on entertainment, not news and current affairs.
An afternoon programme, Te Karere, will be the sole surviving Maori news on TVNZ.
Maori broadcasting funder, Te Mangai Paho, welcomed the news, claiming it would create greater "transparency" and give them more control over content.
Cuts at TVNZ follow a controversial restructuring at state-funded Maori Television by a former TVNZ manager. Two award winning senior staff resigned after their news and current affairs positions were disbanded in favour of generic content and production titles.
The only other state media organisation, Radio New Zealand, has suffered a funding "freeze" for years despite accounting firm KPMG recommending increases as part of an official review of its statutory obligations.
"Successive New Zealand governments have shown long-term hostility towards journalism, news and current affairs," says Gabi.
"Talk of a journalism crisis will not be eased by these latest steps, and that is of deep and serious concern to its future as a democracy."
PFF Co-Chair Monica Miller said the cutbacks could have an equally serious impact on the identity of New Zealand as a South Seas state.
"Plans to axe the country's Maori and Pacific Island television news and culture shows risk robbing New Zealand of what makes it unique in the world.
"New Zealand's government needs to remind itself that it is founded on a partnership with its indigenous Polynesian people, with TVNZ headquartered in the world’s biggest Polynesian city."
Miller says that both TVNZ and Maori Television had done some excellent work covering not just New Zealand issues but those of the wider region.
This coverage is now at risk, she says.
"New Zealand's role as a partner to the region means little if it does not place equal importance on providing independent information."
TVNZ PR: Maori and Pacific Programme Production
TVNZ plans to outsource Māori and Pacific programmes
TVNZ to outsource most of Maori unit
TVNZ outsourcing Maori, Pacific shows
TVNZ proposes to outsource Māori and Pacific programmes
TVNZ outsourcing affects 30 jobs
NZ: TVNZ programme outsourcing plan 'catastrophic' for Pasifika, says PIMA
Politics alleged behind TVNZ shift
PR: What next for TVNZ? Outsourcing the news?
Concern at TVNZ plan to outsource Maori and Pacific programs
PR: Maori party 'shock' at cuts to TVNZ Maori programmes
PR: ‘Come Clean on Agenda for TVNZ’
PR: Outsourcing production provides increased transparency
PFF CHAIR | Titi Gabi | PNGEdge.com | Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea | PO Box 7776, Boroko, NCD, PNG | Mob: +675 70686875 | firstname.lastname@example.org
PFF CO-CHAIR | Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | Pago Pago, America Samoa | Mob: +684 258 4197 | Office: +684 633 7793 | email@example.com
The Pacific Freedom Forum is a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.
. . .