Axe Concert FM

Radio New Zealand is having a right big stoush with the government over its funding, which the government wants to cap at $38 million a year, and it wants to know how the board of the state owned business will operate within that budget. The board is twisting and turning like a nappy on the washing line on a windy day.

Fortunately for them I have the solution: axe Concert FM. Ditch it or at least threaten to ditch it, or propose that it has sponsorship or even worse advertising.

Then sit back and watch the cultured classes leap to its defence. They'll  have a petition up and running before you can say Shostakovich and Rimsky-Korsakov. 

There will be dark muttering among the sherry drinkers in Cashmere, Khandallah and Herne Bay. Barbarians are threatening one of the last outposts of haute bourgeois European civilization in New Zealand.

You see one of the great things about the educated upper middle classes is that they know a free ride when they see one. They not only get their culture on a special station; they've even managed to get the rest of us to pay for it.

Concert FM is a fully subsidized service of the wonderful public broadcaster called Radio New Zealand and the peasant class - that's you and me - shell out millions of dollars each year so the cultured classes can hear Rachmaninoff and Ravel, in crystal clear FM.

How did they manage this? Easy; they perpetuate the myth that classical music and opera are the highest products of refined European civilization and must be preserved. This is the stuff of sophistication, class, refinement, taste and discernment.  It also happens to be the music they like, so they get their music without cost or interruption.

We the peasants have to endure the advertisements or buy or download the music we like; less convenient and often more expensive than what the leisured classes have to do.

I am an unrepentant R&B man myself, road music, rock, urban blues and some jazz tinged soul. You may prefer the Tings Tings, Lady GaGa, and Gin Wigmore with some Bic Runga for a change, but our chances of getting a commercial free station for our tastes are zip.

That strikes me as inherently unfair. I cannot see how dead classical composers are superior to the dead writers and performers of my youth: Hendrix, Jimi Morrison, Lennon and Elvis. Equal rights for the Pogues and Puccini, I say. Ending a subsidy to the already privileged would be a blow against cultural snobbery and arrogance.

However if the board of Radio New Zealand wants to test the resolve of Jonathon Coleman, the wicked Minister of Broadcasting, all it need do is propose cuts in its services that will cause a listener revolt.

I am sure Mr Coleman's determination to bring the board into line with government thinking has nothing whatsoever to do with his government's distain for the left leaning journalism and openly heart on the sleeve liberalism of many of Radio New Zealand's broadcasters.