A case study in broadcasting policy making in New Zealand : the three corporation structure, 1973-1976.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The primary purpose of this study is to describe and analyse the events associated with the development of the policy enacted into legislation in 1973 for the establishment of three independent corporations to run broadcasting in New Zealand under the overall control of a Broadcasting Council. The study is designed as a case study of policy development. Attention is focused upon the genisis of the policy and upon the procedures which were used to develop the policy. In explaining the development of the policy, reference is made to the political systems model of analysis, in particularly as developed by David Easton. In Easton’s terminology the study focuses upon the inputs to the policy and upon the conversion process adopted in developing the policy. The study also takes cognisance of a number of media effects theories, especially those developed by Colin Seymour-Ure and Janet Morgan. The research involved the collection of documentary data and supplementary interview data. The Hon. R.O. Douglas, Minister of Broadcasting at the time, gave the writer access to certain of his papers that are on deposit with the Alexander Turnbull Library. Other than that the documentary data was delimited to documents available in the lie domain. The data is first used to summarise events in New Zealand broadcasting antecedent to the period of study and then to analyse the policy-making procedures with reference to the political systems model. The study concludes that the policy was developed very quickly by a small group of people. Although not totally incongruent with the government’s election policy, it was a dramatic departure from what was expected and was, to all intents and purpose, a radical new policy. However, overall, the policy was consistent with the new government’s aim to move quickly and decisively. The broad parameters of the policy were developed within the political system and a measure of public involvement was subsequently utilised to build support for the nascent policy. The study concludes that there was no mass overt public support for the new policy. It was the result of changes demanded from within the political system and at all stages of the policy-making process, the initiative remained firmly within the political system. The development of the broadcasting policy was notable for the degree of polarisation it created both within the political system and within the broadcasting organisation. In attempting to explain these cleavages the study concludes that there are permanent tensions between broadcasters and politicians. Such tensions exist because political and broadcasting structures within New Zealand have developed from conflicting philosophical bases; personal perceptions of media effects have determined how politicians carry out their roles as ‘actors’ on the broadcasting ‘stage’, these often conflicting with others perceptions and with ‘reality’ ; and broadcasters and politicians often perceive themselves as seeking the same ends using vastly different means. Finally, the study concludes that the political systems model, whilst adequately explaining the policy development process was unsatisfactory for commenting on the ‘values’ of policies, most particularly why they fail or succeed. As an alternative the study offered a number of reasons for the failure of this policy: The policy-makers failed to gain the support of key broadcasters within the broadcasting structure; the Committee on the Future of Broadcasting had such a restricted brief that it was unable to make changes to the policy that may have generated more support; politicians had media effects, perceptions that were incompatible with the principles of the policy; the policy was too radical to be put into place by a three year, one term, government; and the principle pressure groups active in the policy formation process fell into ‘cumulative’ cleavages which highlighted division and prevented if not consensus, then compromise.