Lest We Forget - TVNZ 7

From a (self confessed) lengthy email that I believe deserves more air than it will get sitting in my InBox.

If you’re feeling frustrated or missing TVNZ 7 we urge you to email John Key right now and ask him “What’s on tonight, John?
Dear Mike

At midnight on Saturday, TVNZ 7 was switched off.

The channel ended with the Goodnight Kiwi (a subtle nod to the Save TVNZ 7 campaign?) before being consigned to history.

Earlier that evening Save TVNZ 7 held a large and passionate funeral procession through central Auckland. We marched past TVNZ where mourners lay flowers and candles on the doorstep of the ‘national broadcaster’. In St Matthews, Father Bomber lead a moving service with speeches from Peter Bell of the Screen Directors Guild, Karen Soich from SPADA, Labour’s Clare Curran, Julie Anne Genter from the Greens and David Beatson who brought a message of hope. It was a fitting tribute to one of New Zealand's best TV channels.

For the first time Save TVNZ 7 made the 6 o’clock news on both channels and we were covered in all national media. If this had happened a year ago, we might have had a better chance of saving TVNZ 7. And watching TVNZ 7’s last hours it was clear that each newsreader and the team behind them were proud of the channel and sorry to see it go.

We have to thank all the people who made TVNZ 7 such a great channel with it's informative, thought-provoking and quirky programmes, and giving us a rare taste of public service television in New Zealand. It certainly made our campaign to save public service television much easier.

Now that the channel has closed there will be 1.6 million Kiwis looking for something else to do with themselves. And we are here to help. Check out our website for links to great videos on the internet, and please email us your recommendations.

So what has Save TVNZ 7 achieved?

We may have failed to save TVNZ 7 but we have succeeded in other ways.

  • Our Facebook page totalled 9,603 and rising.

  • 13 public meetings were held nationwide: Auckland (Freemans Bay), Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Palmerston North, Dunedin, Hamilton, Golden Bay, Masterton, Milford, Orewa, Manukau and Oratia
. And there was a meeting at the end of each march just for good measure. 

  • The list of speakers at the meetings was venerable: Joe Atkinson, David Beatson, Peter Bell, Bomber Bradbury, Steffan Browning, Wallace Chapman, Clare Curran, Trisha Dunleavy, Brian Edwards, Kris Faafoi, Darien Fenton, Jim Flynn, Barry Fox, Tom Frewen, Julie Anne Genter, Pete George, Aaron Hawkins, Wayne Hope, Rahui Katene, Sue Kedgley, Iain Lees-Galloway, Geoff Leyland, Tracey Martin, Richard Mays, Graham Murdock, Damien O’Connor, Erika Pearson, Grant Robertson, Mark Servian, Karen Soich, Peter Thompson, Phil Twyford, Andrew Williams, Barry Wilson and Phillip Woollaston. Many thanks to all.
  • Advertisements to help us save TVNZ 7 were placed in the Listener, NZ Herald, Sunday Star Times, Herald on Sunday, Dom Post, The Press, ODT, Nelson Mail, Waikato Times, Manawatu Standard and Auckland Suburban Newspapers.

  • Our online petition totalled 36,155 signatures and was presented to parliament.
  • Two major billboards: Auckland on Sturdee St near Fanshawe St and Wellington on the Terrace.

  • Countless articles in the press, on radio and even on TV.
  • Support from Grey Power, SDGNZ, SPADA and other organisations.

  • The march in Wellington: approximately 400 people marched to parliament to present the petition.
  • The march in Auckland: over 1000 people marched on TVNZ 7's last day of transmission.
  • Political unity: When we presented the petition a line up of MPs spoke in support of our campaign and pledged to reinstate a public service television channel when returned to office. This included Russell Norman - co-leader of the Greens, Grant Robertson - Labour deputy leader, Andrew Williams from NZ First, and Peter Dunne from United Future. Mana and the Maori Party also support this view.

  • Funds raised: approximately $40,000 was raised from your generous donations, and every last cent was spent making all of the above happen.

  • Renewed awareness of the need for public service television in New Zealand.

So who do we have to thank for all this?

You of course.

The incredible support from the 36,000 TVNZ 7 'saviours' has made this campaign spectacularly successful. Although Save TVNZ 7 was setup by yours truly (Myles Thomas) I'm just the person who writes these emails and speaks at meetings. There are many, many people working for the cause who deserve to be loudly applauded. So at risk of leaving people out and in no particular order, a very large and grateful thank you to:

Chris Parry, Chris Cooper, Gerard Otto, Jono Otto, Jennifer-Lee Pritchard, Carole Venecourt, Hilary Jones, Terry Dunleavy, Sue Hawkins, Terry Holloway, Nora West, Roy Ward, Oriana Brine, Ray Prowse, Stuart, Kristen Wilson, Grant Bridger, Vicky Johns, Janette Howe, Sam and Todd, John Maidment and the rest of the Auckland committee; Kirsty Fyfe, Gary Chiles, Fred MacDonald, Jim Baltaxe, Melody Thomas, Simon Reece, Jan Rivers, Duncan Graham, Jan Bieringa and the rest of the Wellington committee; Helen Baker, Kris V and the rest of the Christchurch committee; Jo Bond, Gemma Satterthwaite, Gail Marmont, Jo Harford, Josh Thomas and the rest of the Dunedin committee; Betty Sinclair, Andrew Fenemor, Hilary Fenemor, Esme Paliser, Joan Skurr and the rest of the Nelson committee; Stan Jones, Alison Wardle, Daphne Bell and the rest of the Hamilton committee; Heather and Jerry Tanguay, Eric Turner and the Masterton committee, Victoria Davis and the Golden Bay committee, all the speakers mentioned earlier, Miranda James, all the people who donated money, the exceedingly generous person who donated $5000, Nigel Brown, Badge King, Chris von Batenburg and
APN Outdoor, Mai Chen, Kim Dotcom, Lauren Hourigan, Isobel Cairns, St Matthew-in-the-City, 0800 Phantom, Wattie, Raul Sarrot, Simon Manning and Harbour City Funerals, Richard Melville and Weir’s Funeral Home, Tricia Reade, Deb Cairns, Simon Denny, Jeremy Dunningham, Susan Miller, Colin Hodson, Toby Quignan, Pascal de Roeck, Gavin Ellis, Sue Kedgley, Regan Cunliffe and Throng, Paul Feenstra, Toby Curnow, Kris Lane, Martin Gillman, Hugh Major, Gwen Shaw, Nosh Ponsonby, Nosh Dominion Road, Radio One, Relax, Ripe, Little Grocer, Mamata, Unichem Pharmacy Motueka, Arts Foundation, Riverton Eco Centre, Made.It, The Backbencher, Output Images, the many bloggers and columnists who covered the closure of TVNZ 7, Fraser Crason and the Issues website, Steve Shaw at OnFilm, Wholemeal Café, Judith Baragwanath, Emma B, Ruth Ames, Alistair Johnson, Fusion Cuba St, Lighthouse Cinema, Penthouse Cinema, Empire Cinema, Helen Chapman, Athol McCredie, David Thomson, Caroline Cottrell, David Mamea, Ann James, Pamela Taylor, Robin McIntyre, Ro Tun, Elizabeth Henry, Joanne Waitoa, Graham Warren, Gina Garvey, Fiona Farrell, Jane Robertson, Russell Tregonning, John Ewen, Liz Sullivan, Liz Angelo-Roxborough, Jenny Horne, Katherine Clark, Julia Moodie, Bryan Beames, Jess Willis, Charmian Koed, Jeremy Hall, David Kelly, Annie Collins, First Scene, Dudley Benson and Paul Norris.

There’ve been many heroes of the Save TVNZ 7 campaign. Two that must be specially acknowledged are Clare Curran and Julie Anne Genter who have both spoken at most of our meetings and campaigned tirelessly behind the scenes. Of course, as politicians they haveplenty to gain from being involved in our campaign but after spending time with them, it’s clear they are both deeply committed to public service broadcasting. The views of some other MPs are less secure and while Green, Labour, NZ First and United Future policies are good right now, we need to keep reminding them that public service broadcasting is important, lest other issues take precedence at the election and beyond.

So where to now?

As you may have read, David Beatson is about to launch a trust that will attempt to create a public service television channel with donations and grants. Exact details haven’t yet been revealed but the channel will probably be similar to Stratos and we are very positive about it.

Meanwhile Save TVNZ 7 will become a more formalised group and build further on the work already started to strengthen public service broadcasting. We aim to become an established membership organisation, similar to Forest and Bird, that is an authority on public broadcasting and media issues. We hope to become the ‘go-to’ organisation for journalists on any broadcasting or media issue and with a specific focus on public service broadcasting.

Into the future, once a public service television channel has been re-established (it’s only a matter of time) we would work with the channel, helping them find their audience, representing viewers' concerns, providing feedback to broadcasters and hopefully supplying board members to represent the audience.

We will become a charitable trust and are about to establish local committees around the country. If you would like to form/join a local committee please email us now.

Also, please email us your view on these two questions:

The name needs to be broad enough to include all the work we want to do (television, radio, new media and online), be authoritative, encapsulate what we are about and be easy to say (my personal preference is Coalition for Better Broadcasting and Media because it would appeal to Kiwis across the board but having said that I’m open to better suggestions so please hit us with them).

The question of a name has already proven highly contentious at the recent meeting in Wellington. It was almost the only thing people wanted to discuss so in an effort to get the best possible outcome we will decide it by a vote among people who sign up to join a local committee. Send in your ideas, we'll narrow it down to 3 or 4 and then we'll ask committee members to vote.

We’re also looking for trustees of the national organisation and a patron or two. Please email to get in at the beginning of what will be a strong force for good in NZ.

So what else?

There's been a veritable plethora of news around the closure of TVNZ 7. Especially interesting was the Q&A online extra last weekend where Steve Maharey explained Labour's original plan for continued funding of TVNZ 6 & 7 was to be from Sky (this has been confirmed by a well-placed source at TVNZ). A point picked up and expanded on by Russell Brown. This basically answers criticism that funding was only for a finite period and puts the lie to various accusations that the previous Labour government was equally responsible for the death of TVNZ 7.

The National government removed the Sky funding option but Peter Thompson and ourselves are trying to get it back on the table.

Just hours after TVNZ 7 closed down for lack of funds, the government gifted a radio frequency to an old mate.

And we released the outcome of Mai Chen's research and will be making a complaint to the Ombudsman.

In other breaking news, we have lots of merchandise left over so if you missed out and want a T-shirt to remind people how cool you are, or a collectable Nigel Brown badge, then please go to our website for details.

And finally, if you have been meaning to donate to Save TVNZ 7 but never quite got around to it, it's not too late. We've still got expenses coming in and we're a thousand dollars short, so any spare dollars would be gratefully received - Kiwibank 38-9006-0783529-04.

But I still haven't got my TVNZ 7!

Hopefully this lengthy email has provided you with enough distraction to forget about the loss of TVNZ 7 for a while. If you find yourself suffering severe public service television withdrawal symptoms, we recommend you search for the best bits of public service television on the commercial channels, regularly check our list of online programmes, hire DVDs, buy tickets to the Film Festival and rediscover the joy of reading.

If all these solutions fail and you’re still angry, sad or lonely without TVNZ 7, email John Key or your favourite National MP:
  • ask them for the names and timeslots of the programmes they think will replace TVNZ 7’s daily schedule
  • ask them to explain how NZ On Air is providing public service television when the channels won’t play it
  • ask them to (at the very least) set aside digital spectrum for regional and public service television in the future
  • and if you voted National or ACT at the last election, tell them (this will probably have the most impact)
None of this will bring back TVNZ 7 but it might make you feel better.

As always, many thanks and we will be in touch with more news in the next few weeks

Myles Thomas and the Save TVNZ 7 team

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