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2. Radio New Zealand

Thank heavens for Radio New Zealand.

Our only non-commercial broadcaster is a bastion of intelligent, balanced, informative and entertaining programmes.

But Radio New Zealand has been suffering under a frozen budget since 2008. So while inflation rises the broadcaster has to cut costs, sometimes unable to replace staff lured by better pay elsewhere.

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The people who run RNZ obviously know what they're doing as RNZ National is more listened to than any other station in NZ and one of their broadcasters keeps winning national and international awards for her Saturday morning show.

Instead of RNZ being limited we'd like to see it grow:

  • fully staffed newsrooms
  • a comprehensive news website
  • new specialist stations for niche audiences such as South Islanders, Aucklanders, farmers, sports fans, immigrants, jazz fans, country music fans and so on.

These ideas might seem ambitious but overseas the BBC, ABC and CBC provide many niche radio stations to meet the diverse needs of listeners.

RNZ wasn't the only government department to be put under a budget freeze by the National Government. But combined with the Prime Minster's unwillingness to be interviewed on RNZ National, it has left many listeners wondering if the funding freeze is a form of political interference. Meanwhile the Key Government supports commercial broadcasters and the Prime Minister regularly appears in soft interviews on the commercial stations.

The CBB don't expect to change the government's communications strategy but we are calling for ring-fenced government funding of public broadcasting institutions. It is vital that politicians cannot (and are seen to be unable to) influence the news-reporting capability of an 'unfriendly' news outlet. We also recommend independent reviews of funding levels to ensure it remains sufficient into the future.

Compared to similar broadcasters overseas, Radio NZ is shockingly underfunded

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Here in NZ, we get what we (don't) pay for. Ireland's RTE provides 6 different stations for a similar population to NZ, Australia's ABC has 5 national networks  and 9 local stations and we won't even go into the BBC's extensive radio network.

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