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Salient. Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 6. Tuesday, June 4, 1963

Press Monopoly Ends

page 2

Press Monopoly Ends

The demise of the Manawatu Times is salutary sign of the changing pattern of New Zealand communications. There are now more broadcasting stations in this country than there are daily newspapers. Including television, broadcasting units number 42. The ugly death of the Times brings the papers down to 41.

The press and radio are the only significant media for the exchange of ideas, information, and opinion. The Press is, and always has been run by private enterprise. Radio and television are State monopolies. The diverse nature of the control of these two competing media must have an influence on what each presents and the way it is presented. Certain subject matters by their very nature suit the scope of one media rather than the other. In many cases the two complement one another.

The revitalised NZBC is demonstrating that its change to Corporation status is more than a change in name. There has been an honest attempt to present sensitive controversial issues in an imaginative manner. The news service is a welcome supplement to the daily diet of Press Association coverage.

There is good reason to suppose that the Newspaper Proprietors are perturbed about the serious entry of radio and TV into the newsgathering field. It is said that when Broadcasting made an approach to join the Press Association their application was refused. But the existence of two nation wide news services has much to recommend it. Unofficial censorship and slanting becomes much more difficult than it would be with one service.

Advertising is another important sector in which the two media must also compete. It is on advertising revenue that both must depend for their livelihood.

Newspapermen and those who direct newspapers would, however, be ill advised to become discouraged. American media research has indicated that radio and TV news in fact stimulates newspaper buying. Newspapers can cover more ground, and in a less ephemeral form.

What the Press must look to is not the laurels of its past but the quality of its future. No longer has the Press a monopoly.

Still New Zealand has no truly national Press. That is still a target to be aimed at; and one which should be achieved with quality. The flabby complacency of publishing what will fit between the advertisements will have to go. An aggressive Press, but a Press with integrity is required. Such an enterprise could fear nothing from competing media.—G.W.R.P.