Educating New Zealanders is one of the most important reasons to promote public media.
Commercial media shies away from educational content because it's considered boring, and the last thing they want to do is risk audiences turning off. Even if they do run something that's entertaining and educational, it tends to be pretty simple - ie. only educational for children under ten. Nigel Latta's various series are good examples of that - fun to watch and admirably informative but extraordinarily light.
Public media's three tenets are to educate, to inform, and to entertain. It's an unavoidable fact that commercial media is all about the last one - to entertain. Consider a reality TV show based around food, like Masterchef NZ, and then consider a fun, informative cooking show about healthy food. Or consider a commercial news website like Stuff, and then consider the RNZ website.
Public media can be entertaining along with informative and educational, but commercial media can only entertain.
The only exception to this is investigative journalism that by sheer dint of its 'importance' sometimes appears in commercial news media. But investigate journalism is expensive to make - it takes a lot more time and experience. No surprise then that investigative journalism has become rarer as commercial news budgets get tighter. News start-ups like Newsroom and established media like NZME invest in investigative journalism but as budgets continue to tighten, how much longer can they continue without some form of government funding. That's already started with RNZ establishing an investigative unit and NZ On Air funding occasional projects, such as Stuff Circuit's The Valley.
But Public Media has far more educational potential than just investigative journalism - arts documentaries, science programmes, news backgrounders, Open University programmes, craft programmes, gardening programmes, magazine shows of any kind, wildlife documentaries, interviews with academics, authors and astrophysicists - the possibilities are endless when you stop targeting ratings.
NZ has a wealth of expertise in educational media producing great content for the rest of the world. Imagine if there was an online education strategy to make that content for New Zealanders of all ages – apps and websites devoted to science, history, geography, technology, art, crafts, literature, sports etc. The possibilities are endless.
Education isn't just for kids.
Meanwhile children's public media is far more educational than children's commercial media. While one integrates learning into fun characters and story-telling, songs and humour (yes, Sesame Street), the other tends towards action cartoons and princess cartoons and superhero cartoons and so on. They're almost entirely devoid of learning opportunities for kids and instead are fast-paced, active and relentless - to stop the kids getting bored and turning off.
Public media is the only way to ensure educational media for kids, with the added bonus of no adverts encouraging them to eat junk food.
BPM believes public media is an educational tool for all ages, and we need more to provide a great amenity to New Zealanders of all ages.
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