A petition signed by 32,337 New Zealanders demanding the government unfreeze funding for RNZ was presented on Parliament lawn yesterday inside a giant block of ice.
There is huge public support to save this essential public broadcaster, which was harnessed by the combined forces of ActionStation, the Coalition for Better Broadcasting (CBB), and campaigner Jo Bond.
The event was crowd-funded by the ActionStation community and the petition accepted by MP Clare Curran, Labour Party spokesperson. Also present were Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter and Labour MP Grant Robertson to support the petition.
The government declined to accept it.
As the ice symbolically thawed, speakers were passionate in their defence of the importance of strong public broadcasting, and RNZ in particular. RNZ is New Zealand’s most popular radio station and plays a vital part in all our communities.
“RNZ plays a crucial role in enhancing our democracy and informing New Zealanders through quality independent journalism. The tens of thousands of everyday people who have taken action is a testament to the importance of Radio New Zealand. It’s time the Government unfroze the funding” said ActionStation Campaign Director Laura O’Connell Rapira.
The petition was presented as the sale of RNZ’s Auckland building has just been sold to help pay for operational costs. “RNZ is cannibalising itself to stay afloat” said Coalition for Better Broadcasting Chair, Peter Thompson.
Campaigner Jo Bond said “RNZ deserves a funding increase in this year’s Budget because it needs to be properly resourced, not just this year, but in future years so that it can continue to deliver on its charter and provide the same standard of content that has given RNZ its fine reputation.”
“We are absolutely committed to non-commercial, independent, investigative journalism and media — now is the time to do something” said Labour Spokesperson for Broadcasting, Clare Curran.
Watch this space for updates as Ms. Curran will table the petition in Parliament today and we look forward to taking part in the select committee process. Also keep an eye out in May for the people-powered report and policy recommendations from ActionStation and CBB as part of the Make Our Media Better public inquiry to be delivered to the Government in May.