Epochality, Temporality and Media-Communication Ownership in Aotearoa-New Zealand


  • Wayne Hope Auckland University of Technology




Amidst academic policy debates over the proposed Fairfax-NZME and Sky-Vodafone mergers, the historical patterns of media-communication ownership received little mention. The purpose of this article is to explain, firstly, how the very possibility of such mergers eventuated and, secondly, why associated epochal reconfigurations in the political economy of New Zealand capitalism eluded public depiction. Initially I examine the repercussions which arose from: the restructuring of Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand into State-Owned Enterprises (1987); the arrival of TV3 (1989); the formation of pay-subscription Sky Television (1990); and the abolition of all legal restrictions on foreign media ownership (1991). Together these events signalled the hollowing out of New Zealand’s media-communication system and the unfolding ownership patterns of conglomeration, transnationalisation and financialisation. Behind this critical narrative, I explore how the simultaneous restructuring of the national political economy, mediated public life and the vocabulary of economics obfuscated the epochal shift that was taking place. An ongoing lack of public awareness about this shift has debilitated normatively-grounded critiques of the contemporary media landscape and the ownership patterns which came to prevail.