There seems to be a bit of a crescendo recently in the degree of Hosking Hate. I’ve written about his ilk before (check out ‘The Unhooded Wolves’) and made a few general comments on what could motivate someone like him to have such a callous disregard for the plight of those less fortunate.
Our outrage at Hosking is all very well and good, but what we’re neglecting, and what I neglected in that piece, is a criticism of the institutional structures and incentives that create, sustain and promote his brand of vile nonsense. Without addressing this structure the problem will be just like the mythical Hydra – chop off one head, and another two pop up in its place.
Why have we forgotten the fact that TVNZ is a state-owned enterprise funded by taxpayers like you and me? With the reduction in print and TV revenues from advertising, TVNZ now find themselves in a volatile and highly competitive market. Over time the model has then shifted from the one we expect of a public enterprise – to serve the public – to one more consistent with big business.
That change has created a monster. A company that is beholden to the public to provide it with honest, informative content, but that must endear itself to flashy, populist practices as the current business media climate demands, will eventually find that it cannot do both at the same time. This is exactly TVNZ’s dilemna.
And what do we end up with as a result? We end up with journalism taking a back-seat to this relatively new wave of celebrity-style, TV personality “brands.” We end up with poorer, more biased content. We end up with overpaid creators-of-opinion-and-outrage, instead of journalists. Basically, we end up with people like Mike Hosking.
Say what you like about Hosking, but love him or loathe him the simple fact is that we the taxpayers are paying his salary, and the reason we pay for it is because we decided as a society that our news media should be held accountable and reflect our population. Except now that it patently doesn’t. So when Hosking delivers his divisive, incendiary and often outright racist commentary, just remember that we are paying him handsomely to do so. Feels wrong doesn’t it? That’s because it is.
If you’d like to see the back of people like Hosking the solution is pretty simple – change the system that created him. The Opportunities Party has a plan for this – sell TVNZ now, before it’s value declines further, and use the proceeds to create a Public Journalism Fund as part of NZ on Air. Media outlets can then compete for this funding, and will only be granted it if they pledge to do what they are supposed to – provide a service that delivers clear, unbiased news and information with the goal of helping create a more informed and educated population.
Our tax dollars are meant to pay for this kind of journalism – not for Hosking to continue to spew his intolerance all over prime-time television, then drive home in his white Lamborghini, lovingly subsidised by you and I.
To be clear, this proposal by The Opportunities Party is not part of a broad programme of selling off state assets – such as that conducted by the National Party. That was ideologically driven – part of a belief in reducing the influence of government in business. It was also illogical (although not for National) given the assets they sold were performing very well.
TVNZ is not performing very well. It is the Doctor Frankenstein of New Zealand public enterprises – divided, erratic, troubled, and prone to creating monsters. In fact it is helping to erode the quality of public discourse in this country. When we are less informed we are more susceptible to charlatans and liars and to voting for parties or policies that aren’t in our self-interest or the interests of our nation. Democracy then suffers. The restoration of a functional democracy is outlined clearly in The Opportunities Party’s policy number four, ‘Democracy Reset’ – I encourage you to check it out.
So next time you find yourself protesting Hosking’s unacceptable behaviour (which is likely very soon if not right this very moment) remember that there is a party with a policy that would not only help to end his terrible reign, but prevent any additional Hydra heads from popping up in the publicly-funded realm long after he is gone.
We could vote for TOP and a policy that sends a message to Hosking and TVNZ that their days are numbered. Or we could just continue to whine about him and somehow expect things to change. If we really despise him as much as we say we do, the choice is clear.