Question for today:
The government tells us it’s determined to reduce state spending. To that end it’s restructuring government departments – for example, turning Foreign Affairs on its head and even cutting numbers in an already skeletal Defence Force – and looking at departmental mergers. Why, then, in the midst of this supposed austerity drive, is New Zealand On Air still contributing $300,000 a year to a radio station (Kiwi FM) whose pitiful audience share (20,000 listeners, or 0.1 percent of the market) shows that people simply aren’t interested in tuning into a station set up with the express purpose of promoting local music? The decision to reduce the station’s New Zealand content from 100 to 60 percent, which we now learn was settled in secret with then Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman last year, serves only to highlight the abject futility of the entire experiment.
We can understand all too easily why Labour bankrolled Kiwi FM in 2006. It’s simply another variation of the familiar Utopian experiment pursued by left-wing governments the world over: the delusion that all it takes to produce a perfect world – or in this case, one where the citizens joyously groove to taxpayer-subsidised New Zealand music all day – is a bit of judicious state tinkering. But why is a National government persisting with this nonsense? I would have thought it was a fundamental point of difference between the two major parties that National doesn’t waste public money on misbegotten schemes like this, least of all when it’s simultaneously promoting frugality. But as is so often the case, the politicians have proved me wrong.