Over $1 million in government funding for a nationwide Maori language news and current affairs service is up for grabs
Auckland’s Urban Maori Authority Broadcasting company currently produces news bulletins and two daily current affairs shows for the 21-station iwi radio network under its Waatea brand using the funding, and has done so since 2004.
The Government’s Maori broadcasting funding agency, Te Mangai Paho, has called for expressions of interest from media companies that can provide “comprehensive, independent, impartial Maori language news and current affairs programming” for the iwi radio stations.
UMA Broadcasting general manager Bernie O’Donnell said he was happy for other organisations to have a chance to bid for the funding.
“Government funding needs to be contestable … I think it’s an exercise in making sure it’s an even and fair playing field, so part of the process is to provide an opportunity for other organisations to put up their proposal as well, which we totally agree with,” O’Donnell said.
He believed the Government had not run a tender process in that time due to the recession and economic constraints for Waatea’s potential competitors in the market.
Waatea also produced Maori news bulletins for Radio New Zealand National until the $280,000 contract was cut from the state broadcaster’s budget.
UMA Broadcasting’s outspoken chief executive Willie Jackson had previously said the decision to axe RNZ’s Waatea bulletins was “a disgrace”.
The iwi radio network contract is worth about $1.1m per year and required syndication of news shows to stations including Radio Tainui in Waikato, Awa FM in Whanganui, Atiawa Toa FM in Wellington, Tahu FM in Christchurch, Te Korimako o Taranaki in New Plymouth and Kia Ora FM in Palmerston North.
O’Donnell said Te Mangai Paho funding for the news and current affairs service had reduced over the last seven years, but overall the Maori broadcasting environment had been well served by an increasing pool of qualified staff.
“The industry has had a chance to get better over the years and there’s a kind of infrastructure and resources around producing news and current affairs are a lot more available, human resources not so much money, than there was, say five or six years ago,” O’Donnell said.
“Unless [news and current affairs services] happen, the language just doesn’t grow because it’s not a living language – it just belongs on the marae.”
Interested parties have until November 4 to apply for the contract.
by William Mace, courtesy www.stuff.co.nz