June issue of The Spark online


This month will see the end of TVNZ7, New Zealand’s only commercial free public broadcaster. It was short lived and never terribly popular. The commercial nature of the other TVNZ channels meant there was a disincentive to promote the commercial free offering. Australian public television signals, which for a while could be picked up in New Zealand with a Freeview receiver, have now been encrypted to stop trans-Tasman freeloading. The extra channels that come with Freeview- two of which are just TV1 and TV3 but with everything broadcast an hour later- are hardly an incentive to go digital even with the coming analogue signal switch off.

With the television landscape so barren, many are turning to Internet based media for intellectual stimulation. The Internet based media isn’t without its own problems however. For example, since 2006 the Sapling Foundation has released videos of its TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference talks online under a Creative Commons license that allows them to be viewed and shared for free. TED has made the work of a number of scientists and other thinkers accessible to the wider public, but in May a video of a speech about income inequality was withheld from the TED website as it was deemed “too political.” TIME magazine described it thusly;

“Their slogan is “ideas worth spreading” But the folks at TED…evidently think that some ideas are better left unspread. At least when the ideas in question challenge the conventional wisdom that rich entrepreneurs are the number one job creators.”

The talk, by multi-millionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer is incredibly mild. He proclaims that businesses could not succeed without “middle class” consumers paid a living wage. He doesn’t go any deeper than that though, there is no mention that capitalists want to pay the lowest wages possible but require other capitalists to be paying higher wages, and that this is a fundamental contradiction of capitalism. He talks of his support for higher taxes because he has plenty of money, but doesn’t question whether venture capitalists like him would invest in businesses that could not return a high enough dividend due to taxes taking a chunk of their profit.

None the less, it was too much for TED. The claim that it was simply ‘too political’ is weak when one considers that many TED talks are given by politicians themselves. A more accurate reason was given by TED Talk curator Chris Anderson ; “a lot of business managers and entrepreneurs would feel insulted”. If you want to see what all the fuss is about for yourself, the video has surfaced on Youtube; http://bit.ly/JMtQ3i As John Gilmore, one of the founders of the online civil liberties organisation the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) once said “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”

There is much other worthwhile material online, RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts) has featured videos from the likes of Slazov Zizek, David Harvey and Barbara Erinreich. (http://www.thersa.org/events/video) For a.tv which describes itself as “Youtube for thinkers” is also worth checking out, though of course there is plenty of good content on Youtube itself. One gem is ‘Rap News’ which presents issues of the day in an entertaining as well as informative way.

The Workers Party has a selection of audio and video available on our website (http://workersparty.org.nz/audio/) including talks from past conferences. The Spark doesn’t worry about business managers feeling insulted. If you value to contribution this magazine makes, consider getting a subscription to support our on-going publication. Subscriptions start at just $16.50 a year though extra donations are always appreciated (The Spark is produced entirely by volunteers with no corporate sponsorship). For over two decades we have delivered a socialist politics into the public conversation, because these are ideas worth spreading.

June Spark pdf

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