We legislators are expected to clean up all sorts of messes. But bugger me – now we are being asked to clean up the langague on Maori TV. Or improve te reo standards. Or something.
At first blush, Alf can’t see why Maori TV viewers should be legislatively entitled to higher linguistic standards than viewers of other TV channels.
Accordingly he will need serious convincing of the gravity of this issue. How will our society be improved if Maori TV has a higher quality of language than other TV channels? Or might it actually be harmed, if Maori TV viewers are getting a better deal from their TV broadcasters than the rest of us?
The prospect of his having to look into this matter was drawn to his attention by the Herald today:
Maori Television has been criticised for below-standard te reo and entrenching common language mistakes.
A report on the effectiveness of the Maori Television Service Act says that while many people take pride in the channel’s overall successes and influence, others are less satisfied with the overall quality of language.
It said the legislation called for a “high quality” service, which implied a set of standards, but it offered no definition or guidance on what that meant.
“The panel heard many stakeholder requests for MTS to exhibit more responsibility about the quality of te reo that it broadcasts.”
So who are these “stakeholders” and who are their equivalents in general television? Are they viewers?
Oh, no. Looks like some of them might be language experts (obviously with a huffy attitude to wot is proper):
“Language experts fear that MTS unwittingly entrenches and normalises incorrect Maori language, rather than offers quality language for the benefit of Maori language learners and others.”
And so we are getting the inevitable appeal for the bloody government to do something:
The review panel, which included broadcaster Tainui Stephens and former TVNZ executive Hone Edwards, called for a clause to be inserted into the act to define what quality of language was expected.
Quarterly reports on the monitoring of performance
targets or measures could also be legislated for, and quality control could include using ordinary members of the public to give feedback.
Mr Stephens emphasised the “wonderful job” Maori Television had done in five years in establishing itself, and said the recommendations to the Maori Affairs and Finance Ministers weren’t about wholesale change. Instead they were about “tinkering” to make sure the broadcaster met future challenges.
Nah. More monitoring means more bureaucracy and more public funding. It’s a bloody job-creation scheme.
Alf’s sentiments lie with Maori Television chief executive Jim Mather:
Language quality was a nebulous concept that depended on who the audience was, he said.
“You talk to 10 different people and ask them whether they consider something to be of high, medium or low quality and you’ll get 10 different answers.”
The same goes for all the other channels. It would be great to hear good English from our TV presenters.
It would be much, much better – of course – if Mrs Grumble could sit comfortably in front of the telly for an hour or so, confident in the knowledge she won’t be embarrassed by the “f” word which she has been conditioned to regard as offensive.