Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The Rise and Fall of the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, 1962-1973: a Study in Political and Administrative Relationships

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posted on 2021-11-08, 01:10 authored by Gregory, Robert John

This thesis examines the political "career" of the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation from the time of its inception in April, 1962, until the decision of the third Labour Government, 11 years later, to abolish it. In particular, it is a study of the ways in which the organisation's search for autonomy was mediated by evolving relationships among key actors: respective Ministers of Broadcasting, N.Z.B.C. Chairmen and Board members, and Directors-General of Broadcasting; and by the tensions that arose out of the demands of administrative accountability on the one hand and of professional autonomy - especially in respect of the organisation's journalistic staff - on the other. The thesis examines the implications of governmental appointment of the N.Z.B.C.'s Board members, and the problems arising out of the retention of ministerial responsibility for public broadcasting during this period. These aspects are discussed with reference to the theory of the public corporation in general. The thesis also examines aspects of administrative leadership within the Corporation, in particular the definition of organizational mission, and the promotion of institutional identity, both internally and externally. It concludes that the demise of the N.Z.B.C. is explicable principally in terms of conflicts which stemmed from the nature of the tasks the organisation was called upon to perform, especially the introduction and expansion of a television service within New Zealand, and the development of news and current affairs broadcasting; in terms of the political constraints and influences - both real and apparent - that worked upon it; and of shortcomings of administrative leadership within the organisation. The analysis is provided against the background of a review of the history of public broadcasting in New Zealand, from the early 1920's until the advent of the Corporation. This review is organised under five heads which bear upon the content of the main analysis: the control of broadcasting in New Zealand; the development of news and controversial broadcasting; the debate on monopoly and competition; the emergence of a philosophy of public broadcasting in New Zealand, with particular reference to the role of the first Director of Broadcasting, Professor (later Sir James) Shelley; and the advent of the N.Z.B.C.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Public Management

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Government


Cleveland, D