Creative home fires kept burning

00:07, Mar 23 2014
what now
KIDS' SHOW: Presenters Adam Percival, Gemma Knight and Ronnie Taulafo from the TV2 show What Now.

Many of you would have read a news story this week that noted that original homegrown New Zealand-made television content has dropped to its lowest level in five years.

New Zealand On Air said that one of the reasons was the main networks were using reruns to prop up their local content. Shock, horror! Whoever would have guessed that? Most of us, would probably be the most accurate answer.

Now, for another question: Who cares? As long as the viewing experience, to put it into the toady language much favoured by people who can't actually contribute anything to society other than invent silly words and phrases, do we really care about where and who made it?

By the way, the most recent example of that is an email I received from a mate who is usually of sane mind. He's tied up in the burgeoning bureaucracy that increasingly dominates our lives [a media type at that] and he spoke of "customer-centricity".

If anyone has the faintest idea of what that means, I'd be obliged if you could keep it to yourself. Language like that is invented to make the inventor seem clever. That's partly why television is such a powerful medium. It records and shows us exactly who said what and how.

The most recent example of that was on Breakfast (TV One, Mondays to Fridays) recently when they brought together Justice Minister Judith "Crusher" Collins and her tormentor, the outspoken Labour MP Shane Jones.


Interestingly, Mrs Brown was on Mr Jones' side on this one, mainly because his use of the English language is superb and he expresses himself beautifully. Host Rawdon Christie did the interview and suggested an apology might be in order from Mr Jones for personal comments he'd made about the minister, who was looking more crushed than crushing. Such is the power of television interviewers that Jonesy obliged, in a fashion.

It seems that "apologies" these days are more often than not of the "if-anyone-was-offended-then- that-was-not-my-intention" variety and the "S" word (sorry) doesn't even rate a mention.

It was a poignant moment, though, and one that was destined to be replayed on the 6pm news.

Incidentally, the news counts as local content. It doesn't really matter what it is, whether it's a footie match, the news, or even the wretched GC, if it's made by us, it's local.

Much of what is made here is funded by New Zealand on Air. That's one of our seemingly endless lists of taxpayer-funded government departments and as such it is interesting to see just what we are paying for.

Ever since NZ On Air was started it made waves. Remember poor old Country Calendar - which is still going - if it didn't employ a couple of women in its crew then it couldn't get any funding. That caused a ripple, but social intervention has long been a hallmark of NZ On Air. If fictional series didn't have a strong positive female or Maori character, as examples, the chances of being funded was about as likely as Jonesy and Crusher going out for a Chinese meal together.

For your information, dear readers, here is a list of just a few of the television programmes funded by us in the past year. Interestingly, Country Calendar did conform and is now very much an equal opportunity employer and as a result in 2013 received $425,000 to make 30 30-minute programmes.

Others included: Rural Delivery $1.1m; Sticky TV (a children's programme on Four) $2.24m; Attitude (TV One special interests) $1.71m; 7 Days (comedy on TV3) $939,000; Tagata Pasifika $1.55m; The Erin Simpson Show (a children's show on TV2) $3.08m; What Now (TV2) $3.08m, which seems to the going rate for children's programmes; Praise Be, $330,000; Q+A $800,000; and The Nation $800,000.

It's an imposing and intriguing list. Mrs Brown and I went through it and there are some programmes that we've actually watched. But everyone's different and I'm sure some of you, or your children and grandchildren, will also have your favourites.

But it did prompt us to review just how much local (fresh) content we'd actually watched in the last week. Disregarding the news and sport - which makes up a fair chunk of our viewing, one or the other of us watched MasterChef NZ (two episodes), The Paul Henry Show, The GC (just to make sure it's still as yucky as ever), Seven Sharp, Campbell Live, The Inspectors (TV One, Wednesdays 7.30), followed by Fair Go, The Crowd Goes Wild (Prime), Police Ten 7 (TV2), and 7 Days.

Occasionally I'll watch Q+A and The Nation. Sometimes it's a worthwhile investment of my time, but all too often it fails to deliver. The Government, through NZ On Air, puts in $1.6m to fund both of them. Somehow, we'd rather have kept our own money.

The Timaru Herald