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1. A Public Service TV Channel for NZ

Death by a thousand cuts


Once upon a time there was the NZ Broadcasting Corporation, New Zealand's version of the BBC. In 1989 Richard Prebble, Broadcasting Minister for the fourth Labour government, deregulated broadcasting and separated the BCNZ into Radio NZ and TVNZ. It was the beginning of the slow demise of public service television. In 2008 after 20 years of trims, adjustments and alterations, the Key government stripped the last threads of public service from TVNZ leaving it a nakedly commercial broadcaster.

Our state broadcaster now has no requirement to broadcast for NZ audiences - it must only return a dividend to government. As a result TVNZ has turned its back on serious current affairs, documentaries, children's drama, comedy and digital channels TVNZ 6, TVNZ 7 and U.


NZ broadcasting is now worse off than many third world countries such as Mexico, Ghana and Fiji. Even Greece has managed to retain public service television despite bankruptcy. In New Zealand we haven't even sold it, we just let it wither away to nothing.

The Coalition for Better Broadcasting wants change. We believe New Zealand needs a public service television channel right now.

Such a channel could be similar to the hugely popular TVNZ 7. It could include elements of Maori TV, Open University, Parliament TV or access television like Triangle/Stratos. It could follow the SBS model, a BBC2 model, or it could simply be TV One without advertising.

But we're not just calling for a television channel. The CBB calls for a return to public service principles in broadcasting and media. Commercial imperatives – the pursuit of profit above all else - are incapable of delivering democracy, education and culture. Commercial scheduling excludes many genres, subjects or any thoughtfulness from television programmes. To this end, the CBB supports the reinstatement of a commercial-free, publicly-funded TV channel at the heart of NZ media.

The Lost Generation

There’s a generation of Kiwis who have grown up not knowing what public service television is. We only find out what we’ve been missing when we do our OE in the UK or Australia (or Canada, US, France, Spain, Ireland, Scandinavia or one of the many countries with public service TV channels).

TV Genres Extinct in NZ

  • arts programmes
  • science programmes
  • programmes for people over 50
  • regional news and current affairs
  • natural history
  • kidult drama
  • educational television

Extinction Watchlist 

  • investigative journalism
  • documentaries
  • children’s television
  • political debates
  • quiz shows
  • chat shows


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