I believe that a shared and trusted public media space is central to effective democracy. This requires state funding of content production and distribution platforms.
As the panel hosted community meetings and received online submissions, the recurrent themes that emerged reflected, naturally, the demographics of those participating in the process. This particular consultation process makes no claim to be representative of all of New Zealand society. We received many critiques of the perceived shortfalls of existing public broadcasting – particularly television, and a strong desire for increased funding for RNZ, local news coverage and investigative journalism.
Further discussions broadened the conversation to other forms of content that government should fund, and the role of government in funding a range of delivery mechanisms.
I came away from this process with a strong sense there was consensus that publicly funded media content should be diverse, accessible and accountable to all citizens. As we move away from using public money to fund content for ‘free to air’ broadcast delivery platforms, and increasingly fund content that is delivered online only, we have a fundamental problem that this publicly funded content is no longer freely accessible to all citizens.
Universal and free access to the internet has become a key issue when discussing public service media.