Mike Yardley: David Seymour has struck a cord again

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David Seymour seems to have struck a chord yet again.
The Act Party leader has exposed a troubling decision by the state to lavish a hundred thousand dollars on Radio Bay of Plenty, Whakatupuria Te Moana A Toi.
The project funds will see this media outlet showcase the local Provincial Growth Fund projects. Two $200 million worth of PGF projects in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
As Seymour puts it – We apparently need taxpayer funded media to check up on the use of taxpayer funds. It all looks a bit cushy, chummy and gratuitous.
Now this Bay of Plenty caper is just one funding release from the $55 million that the government has tipped into public interest journalism.
And it’s New Zealand on Air that plays the role of sugar-daddy with this stash of journalism funding.
If you’ve ever bothered to look at the application criteria wrapped around the Public Interest Journalism Fund, it has some clear pre-conditions. For example, content produced must adhere to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
The Broadcasting Minister says the fund supports democracy with grass roots public interest journalism, noble words from Kris Faafoi.
But is there not an implicit agenda at play to be compliant? To row the boat, toe the line and conform to a certain way of thinking? A certain ideological outlook?
That’s what makes me very uneasy. The subtle understanding that successful applications might lend support to the government broad agenda, by shining a light and giving voice to its various works, in a favourable fashion.
Add to this $55 million, an extra $42 million, lavished on Māori media in this year’s Budget, which Willie Jackson is particularly proud about.
How can we be sure hosing all this cash on the fourth estate doesn’t defang them? They become dependent on the state, and grateful to the state.
Maybe I’m too much of a commercial animal, but all this funding bothers me.
The creeping potential danger is the message, and the messenger is being bought.

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