All I want for Christmas is…

First I must declare that I’m involved with Better Public Media, so it is very apparent what I want from television in New Zealand.

But I also want more for other sectors of the media, for I have drifted away from mainstream (linear, scheduled) television and have joined the Netflix generation.  When I drift back to Television New Zealand or TV3, these channels seem like foreign places, where narratives are jarringly interrupted by extended breaks of increasingly banal adverts.

So, if I do have a wish for New Zealand television it would be to see a significant reduction in advertising interruptions and more spaces where local programming content can grow and flourish.

I don’t think we can wish for a completely advertising-free TVNZ but perhaps we can go back to older models of advertising support, such as “This programming is bought to you by ….”, or the European model of blocks of adverts between programmes (not within them).

A second wish would be to actively pursue alternative sources of funding for advertising-free content—which could be the salvation for ailing beasts such as TV3.

I am particularly drawn to the proposal to place a small levy on ISP providers, which would be directed towards all manner of local content creators—especially those who cater for the very young and the elderly.   It is interesting, for example, to read of Facebook’s plans for “News Tab”; a long-overdue acknowledgement that it has to give back something to news organisations after years of content theft.   The pressure on Zuckerberg and his cronies must be sustained, and although New Zealand can do its bit, it really requires international, collaborative action.

A third wish applies to Radio New Zealand, our premiere public media provider. Given there now seems to be more money sloshing around in the public purse, I would like Labour to go back to its election promises regarding public media funding, and  fund public radio (and other non-commercial entities) more generously.  There is another thing I would wish for Radio New Zealand:  that it calls on younger, fresher voices when seeking commentary in news and programming strands such as The Panel, and dispenses with the same old tired and tiresome likes of Hooton, Dunne and Boag.

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Geoff Lealand

Geoff Lealand taught screen studies at the University of Waikato for 25 years, and co authored ( with Helen Martin) the  book, It’s All Done  With Mirrors, About Television.  He  is a writer,  and active conservationist and  maintains his website Cinemas of New Zealand