… they are a collective Titanic headed for the iceberg.
No pretence otherwise was made during a Zoom tele-conference today with members of the temporary Parliamentary watchdog committee. According to this article on the flagship for one of the companies, NZME’s New Zealand Herald:-
Media companies are facing an existential crisis as advertising revenues plummet due to the coronavirus pandemic, and MPs are being told that the Government needs to step in immediately.
The Epidemic Response Committee heard from several media companies this morning imploring the Government to redirect its advertising from the likes of Facebook and Google to provide immediate cash relief, while special tax status and different ownership models should be considered as longer-term solutions.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in a press conference this afternoon, said that the Government will continue to advertise with Google and Facebook because that’s where New Zealanders are.
Earlier this morning academic and former Herald editor Gavin Ellis said advertising revenue for media companies was estimated to drop between 50 and 75 per cent, and there was concern that it would not return even after the Covid crisis was over.
This has been known for some time and it’s the reason why these companies have had a deliberate policy of being pro-government (both central and local) in their reporting. They have long expected that at some point they will need to ask for government bailouts.
Whether or not people view their pending demise as a good thing will depend a lot on whether they’ve liked the pro-government bias, and that naturally in turn depends on whether they support the political parties forming the present government.
But even those who support Jacinda and her minions will likely wonder: “what if Jacinda & Co. lose the next election? Will these Media companies forsake loyalty to her and turn their support to a National Party-led government?”
The answer to that will depend a lot on which reporters keep their jobs. The National Party makes no secret of its contempt for Patrick Gower of Newshub/TV3, for example, but there are plenty of others who feel similarly about him.
A slimmed down couple of nationwide media companies which have real commitment to accuracy, fairness and balance, and have no tolerance for partial, shallow, one-sided and inaccurate reporting would be welcome, but there’s little cause for confidence that it would happen.