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Changing Face Of Local Content

19 April 2002

New research by NZ On Air shows prime time TV has a stronger local flavour than ever before but the face of local content is starting to change.

NZ On Air's annual Local Content Survey provides a consistent and independent quantitative measure of locally made programmes on our television screens.

"Local content is holding its own on the three free-to-air national channels, and it continues to increase as a percentage of prime time programming," said NZ On Air's acting chief executive, Bernard Duncan.

"But the kinds of programmes that make up this content is changing markedly. The amount of local sports on TV has decreased significantly over recent years. Compensating for this is an increase in low cost programming such as news, current affairs and information programming.

"There was a notable increase in the amount of news and current affairs on all channels in 2001. This change can be attributed to programming changes and to the events of September 11," said Mr Duncan.

Subsidised genres such as drama, comedy, documentary and children's programming are just holding their own. "Over the years it has become very clear where public funding is adding value. As the pressure has gone on NZ On Air's funding, we have increasingly focused our available funds on the at-risk genres.

"In these areas, the public funding made through NZ On Air is the main, and sometimes the only, funding source for programmes," said Mr Duncan.

"One of NZ On Air's greatest concerns is the continuing decline of locally-made children's programmes. The number of children's programming hours dropped again in 2001, continuing a decline that began in 1992.

"Less than two percent of the total programming schedule on New Zealand's three free-to-air channels is created to meet the needs of New Zealand children.

"Together with broadcasters, we face a great challenge to improve the amount and variety of local children's programming," said Mr Duncan.

The 2001 Local Content Survey showed that drama and comedy remained static overall, but first run hours in these genres increased significantly, thanks to programmes such as Lawless, Street Legal, Mercy Peak, and Spin Doctors.

"TV2 continues to be the strongest supporter of local drama. TV3's drama hours dropped overall but its commitment to this genre in prime time increased nearly threefold in 2001."

Other key points in 2001 include:

Total documentary hours increased in 2001, up to 260 hours, from 242 in 2000. This figure is attributable to increases on both TV One and TV2.
Programmes made by and for Maori continued to increase. The majority of programming included in this category is funded by Te Mangai Paho, and screened on TV One.

"Yet again, the Local Content Survey, has provided valuable information to help NZ On Air focus its energies and resources as we look ahead to the future of New Zealand television production," said Mr Duncan.

The Local Content Survey is the only publicly available analysis of local programming trends on national free-to-air television. The 2001 Local Content Survey is available on the internet at or from NZ On Air.


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