Posted by John Terris on Nov 01, 2020
I helped set up NZ’s oldest TV consumer advocacy group Media Matters in NZ, (viewers.org.nz) 27 years ago, a stimulating but often frustrating activity.
Pity that so much that is worthwhile on telly is impossible to watch because of the continuous interruption of commercials.
TELEVISION IS WITHOUT DOUBT A POWERFUL MEDIUM.  Indeed it can be argued that one leader won the last election on the strength of her daily appearances during the Covid lockdown.
 
Yet our power to influence TV for good or ill is seriously curbed by the antiquity and insensitivity of the complaints system.  We have a TV complaints process which is 30 years old and completely out of date and which has resulted in mass disengagement by the public.  
 
They have simply pulled the plug, which is why subscriber services (Neon, Sky, Lightbox Netflix and the like) are now the platforms of choice for many viewers fed up with a diet of productions designed to appeal to the viewing tastes of 5-year olds, though only if you can afford them.  If not, you are stuck with programmes like Bachelorette, Amazing Race Senegal, Monrovia’s Got Talent, and I Married a Moron.  Other new tech like set-top boxes, allow people to pre-record and spool through the selling spiels.
 
There is, fortunately, a new wave of journalism in NZ which has taken note of the huge following of Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, and the rest) and which is working to try to fix this move away from traditional news and entertainment sources, especially print, which have been unchallenged for 100 years.  They are convinced that loss of trust in these sources can be recovered, but it is a matter of ensuring media accountability.
Anna Fifield, a New Zealander who has been until recently the Beijing Correspondent of the Washington Post, and who has recently taken over editorship of the Dominion Post, said recently on Radio NZ,   We are asking to be held accountable to this” (work for greater trust). “We are promising you that we will live up to these standards.  I want everyone to talk up and to contribute to making what we do better.
 
WHAT A GREAT DAY THAT WILL BE. 
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