Reprinted with permission from New Zealand Author - The quarterly journal of the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc). www.authors.org.nz
STRETCHING THE BUDGET
David Hill shares a recent email conversation he had with Radio New Zealand
Hi Helpful P
Might you be interested in a short story series about a guy receiving a newsletter from his old high school, glancing through the names, and finding to his shock that a number of his contemporaries are dead? So he decides to seek out some of those remaining; find out what’s happened to them ...
Cheers from David H.
Your series sounds exactly what I like. But ... we are unfortunately pretty much bereft of funds. From time to time, a trickle of something money-ish is whispered of for “readings” but, like a mirage, it shimmers brightly then amounts to nothing. The bottom line is that we probably can’t pay you, or if we can, it would have to be at the abysmal published material rates which you’ve probably suffered from in the past ...
Cheers from Helpful P.
I’m writing to ask why RNZ National has stopped buying short stories and plays from our authors. It seems contrary to your charter. Are you able to give me a contact to whom I could send a polite enquiry?
Thanks from David Hill
Did you get my email of a few days back asking if ...?
Sorry about the delay. XY is Head of Content.
For decades, RNZ has been kind enough to buy some of my stories and plays ...
When I contacted them a while back to case you haven’t, here it is again ... ask if they’d be interested in a new series, David Hill
I was told that no funding is available. There’s occasional mention of forthcoming money, but nothing eventuates.
Such a change represents a significant drop in income and exposure for a number of NZ writers. It means also that new authors have one less outlet to publish work. Though RNZ does broadcast repeats of previously purchased material, writers receive no payment for such repeats.
I don’t want to bang on about how RNZ’s charter affirms that supporting our writers is part of its job, but I will jab my finger at the clause which states “deliver ... stimulate, support and reflect the diversity of cultural expression, including drama, comedy, literature”. How’s that for an acknowledgement of such an obligation?
I realise you have to fight for funding, but what assurances can you offer that this is only a temporary state of affairs, and that our authors can once again look forward to the support of our nation’s radio network?
Cheers from David Hill
Apologies if you’e already received my email of about eleven days ago, but just in
Three weeks ago, I emailed you, asking if you could put me in touch with someone whom I could ask about RNZ no longer buying stories and plays submitted by local writers. You kindly gave me the name of XY, Head of Content. I’ve emailed twice, and received no reply. Are you able to give me an alternative name and address?
Did you get the email (of Day 31) below? I’d really like to ...
FOUR HOURS LATER
A detailed, courteous reply arrived from XY, Head of Content, including the following:
“Our commitment to the literary community is wide-ranging and ongoing. “It is some years now since RNZ Drama
stopped accepting open submissions and replaced them with a focus on commissioned work ... (but) RNZ does continue to regularly record and produce new readings.
“With the impact of new technologies and changing audience habits, the number and variety of platforms that audiences can use to access RNZ channels and content are growing rapidly.
“We have to ensure that our content and services meet the needs of a rapidly changing society.
“Budgets only stretch so far and choices have to be made.
“Audiences now have so much choice, not just around the type of content, but also where, when, and how they access that content ... RNZ must adapt to meet that need.
“RNZ’s commitment to literary and other arts and creative communities remains as strong as ever.”
Many thanks for your detailed and thoughtful reply. I’m glad to receive your affirmation of RNZ’s commitment to our literary community.
You refer to RNZ still regularly producing new book recordings. Several fellow writers, including some established names, tell me that none of them has been approached by RNZ re any fresh use of their work. Are you able to outline how RNZ chooses its material for new readings?
You mention also that RNZ no longer accepts unsolicited work scripts. This decision remains a major barrier for new writers, and for established authors with material they wish to offer. May I hope that this valuable outlet will be available again in the future?
DAY 40 ... DAY 50 ... DAY 60 ... DAY 70 ...