For participants, a key value of public broadcasting is to support a democratic society in which we offer and respect difference. At the Christchurch workshop, this role was summarised as providing context for ‘who we are’, ‘where we are’ and ‘why we are here’ by ‘reflecting our stories back to each other’.
Participants emphasised that public broadcasting needs to include the voices of all segments of New Zealand. As such, it was argued public broadcasting should reflect biculturalism and honour te Tiriti, but also support multiculturalism to flourish.
Connection to communities
Public broadcasting was also considered by participants to be an important site for citizens to ‘see and share their own stories.’ Participants noted this coverage needs to be fully nuanced and grounded in the priorities of communities – not just their successes or ‘culture’, but also hard-hitting coverage of their lives.
“The needs of our diverse people need to be taken into account so that our media reflects the views and experiences of people from many different cultural backgrounds, ages, genders, sexualities, religions and world views.”
~ Gina, Auckland
Many participants stressed that public broadcasting must be available on multiple platforms, formats and media to ensure easy and affordable access for all New Zealanders, including in disaster situations.
“We need a public service television channel, which will provide news, documentary and New Zealand stories for all cultures and all ages, drawing on different languages. We might have subtitles for some programmes”
~ Celine, Cambridge
Many participants were also in favour of greater collaboration and sharing of content among media providers to enable quality content to be accessed by different audiences in different ways and at different times.
Challenges for inclusion
Reliance on the market to provide broadcasting and media
Participants noted that by international standards New Zealand is exceptional in its limited state funding for public broadcasting to correct market failure.
Besides previously discussed issues of editorial independence, there was concern among some participants that the market-driven media is increasingly ‘narrowcasting’, rather than ‘broadcasting’. Participants noted a trend towards targeting news towards particular populations, which could contribute to fragmentation and polarisation of democratic debate.
For participants, a further source of unease was that New Zealand’s media coverage is dominated by Auckland and Wellington “media bubbles” that talk to themselves at the expense of local content and investment.
“The regions so often get ignored, particularly with television. The blame seems to be 'lack of resources'. But the regions are the backbone of the country and deserve better coverage.”
~ Anonymous, online submission
“There are few very reporters covering local government which is of great concern in many communities because councils spend large sums of ratepayer money and make so many decisions affecting people's’ everyday lives.”
Many participants were also concerned that minority voices and dialogues are being marginalised within New Zealand’s media, with those populations becoming increasingly disillusioned and disconnected from mainstream media. Key marginalised groups identified were:
Māori, Pasifika, Asian and other minorities;
Children and young people; and
People active in subject areas, such as arts and science, and minority sports.
A point raised by several participants was that language requirements are not sufficient measures for inclusiveness on their own, as many who identify with a culture do not necessarily speak the language.
Participants also spoke about a lack of diversity on screens and in newsrooms:
“I want to see people who reflect the demographics of NZ, I am NOT seeing that now in any way and it’s embarrassingly obvious.”
~ Pikiora, Marton