The decline and redefinition of New Zealand current affairs television programmes

Sarah Baker

Abstract


This article explores New Zealand current affairs programmes from a critical political economy perspective. Many critics believe the current affairs television genre is in terminal decline in most Western countries. They argue that current affairs programmes have changed to focus on entertainment and news values with combative, personality-focused programmes, rather than political and serious subject matter. Previous research carried out in New Zealand demonstrated that the news media significantly changed after the election of the fourth Labour government in 1984, which instituted a neo-liberal policy agenda. The result was a more commercially-oriented media environment, which many critics argue, reduced the quality of news and current affairs programmes. This reflects the fact that the public sphere has been seriously diminished and television current affairs no longer functions as it should. In this article, I discuss both the historic and contemporary state of television current affairs programmes in New Zealand. On the basis of previous research into such programmes in New Zealand content analysis examines the extent to which the current affairs television genre continues to be shaped by the commercial pressures of New Zealand broadcasting.


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