if you have freeview or sky, you may have been a fan of the stratos channel. i started watching it when it was finally available on freeview. it's a channel that is for television what community access radio is for radio broadcasting. in other words, it's a way for minority communities to have access to media, and to put out views, information or other programming that is of interest to those communities, and often in a language other than english.
stratos is now off air:
We simply have not had the support we were seeking – despite a growing audience of more than one million and reaching the stage where AC Nielsen were able to include us in the TARPS audience ratings,” he says.
“It is hugely disappointing because New Zealand is a country where 25% of the population are new New Zealanders and providing a window to the world helps develop understanding in our communities.
“Stratos was founded on the principles of recognised public broadcasting. We could have also filled the gap the proposed closure of TVNZ7 will create, but after four years of proving ourselves, we are no closer to being given the opportunity...”
this marks the loss of a second public broadcasting channel, and yet another reduction of choice for free-to-air tv. but more than that, when mainstream channels have very little programming that reflects ethnic minorities, stratos was an opportunity to see people like us telling the stories we wanted to tell. asia downunder was one of the few programmes that presented such stories on a mainstream channel, and that too has also been shut down.
as a subsequent release from stratos points out:
If you want to do something more for us, please lobby your MPs and Ministers to get the Government to reconsider its current broadcasting policy of allowing (viewer-paid-for) monopolies to take hold of the New Zealand television landscape. All email addresses of current MPs are here.
This broadcast spectrum (such as the Freeview channels) is managed and controlled by a state-owned enterprise called Kordia, which is tasked with getting as much return on their assets as possible. The downside of this system is that there are no frequencies reserved for the type of public service or community or non-commercial television Stratos (and Triangle) want to provide. Under the old analogue system, Triangle has been able to provide its public service remit because its frequency was reserved for non-commercial regional TV. The switchover to digital does not have provision for that type of TV (unless one is able to purchase the frequency - a commercially improbability in Auckland for non-commercial stations), so the long term future of Triangle is also in doubt when analogue switch off happens in December 2013.
and that's what it's coming down to: the reduction of public broadcasting, step by step, until television is for and about those who have disposable income and can afford pay TV. yet another step to move away from community and into commercialism, because according to current government thinking, economic value is the only value that counts.