New state broadcasting entity passes first hurdle

Source: Radio New Zealand

The bill that combines RNZ and TVNZ into a new media entity has passed its first reading in Parliament this afternoon.

New Zealand’s getting a new public media entity.

Under the plan, TVNZ and RNZ will be brought together under the umbrella of a new not-for-profit organisation with a charter, next year.

It will be able to raise some revenue through commercial operations, but commercial-free aspects, particularly for RNZ, will be protected.

It will be an autonomous Crown entity, and editorial independence will be enshrined in the legislation.

However, during the debate National expressed concerns about the loss of diversity in the media landscape, and about whether the new entity would be truly independent.

Both National and Act voted against its passage while Labour, the Greens and the Māori Party were in favour.

The new organisation is set to be known as Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media and is due to come into being on 1 March next year.

The two broadcasters would then become subsidiaries, with all staff transferring to the new organisation, under the leadership of a new board. It would begin operating with its new funding and mandate in July 2023.

Minister for Broadcasting and Media Willie Jackson said the bill would make changes to public media that would ensure it could keep delivering for future generations.

"With increasing levels of misinformation around the world, a rapidly changing media landscape and increasing global competition, New Zealand needs strong, independent, public media more than ever - it is critical to the functioning of a healthy democracy," he said.

Jackson promised that the new entity would contain the best of TVNZ and RNZ but would also be able to meet the challenges of changing technology, audience change and global competition.

"We need a public media entity that continues to inform, entertain and educate in a uniquely Kiwi way, and that has strong, independent journalism that holds government and those in power to account.

"But the new entity will be focused on future possibilities and better placed to take those opportunities. It will have the flexibility to meet audiences where they are and ensure all the people and voices of Aotearoa are represented."

Other important aspects of the bill:

  • Makes clear ANZPM's editorial independence and its role as a trusted source of news and information.
  • Recognises the Crown's responsibility to give effect to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
  • Provides for the entity's mixed funding model, of both Crown and commercial revenue.
  • Confirms its role as a public media entity and to collaborate, where appropriate, with other New Zealand media.

The bill will next be sent to the Economic Development, Science and Innovation select committee, with a six-month period for people to make submissions.