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Local stories for local children

26 June 2008 Speech Notes

Embargoed until: 1.00pm

Local stories for local children

Broadcasting Minister Trevor Mallard's speech to the Children's Television Forum, Museum Hotel, Wellington

Good afternoon, and thank you for inviting me to speak to you today.

The changing media environment, and children’s changing media use present special challenges for funders, producers, and programmers. But, as you have heard today, there are also some great opportunities to consider.

My thanks to Jane Wrightson and her team at NZ on Air for providing a forum for interested parties to come and talk about these issues.

I would like to acknowledge the local producers who have worked so hard to ensure that children's media content continues to be made in New Zealand: Janine Morrell-Gunn, Annie Williams, Ian Taylor, Mary Phillips, Nicole Hoey and Paora Maxwell to mention a few. You have been the flag-bearers for children’s programmes, and your work has played a very important part in our kids’ lives.

As a government, we see a strong relationship between local content and cultural identity. We think New Zealand kids should have the right to see their own stories, to hear our accents and languages, and to see themselves and their reality on screen.

To ensure this, government puts obligations on public broadcasters through the broadcasting Charters and provides funding through NZ On Air and Te Māngai Pāho.

So, how are we doing?

NZ On Air’s latest survey of local content found there was an increase of 42 hours of children’s programmes last year, though sadly there was a marked decline in children’s drama.

I am pleased to see that tamariki and rangitahi are prioritised by Te Māngai Pāho in programmes targeting fluent speakers, and TVNZ6 has a strong focus on pre-school and family-friendly programming, including some locally-made material.

These developments are only part of the story. We want to make sure our children continue to have access to New Zealand media content into the future no matter what platform they are using, whether it be an interactive website, a mobile phone, or a television set.

And we know from the Broadcasting Standards Authority’s latest research into media use by 6-13 year-olds that 23 per cent of kids who have cellphones are using them to browse the internet, and 21 per cent of them are using MP3s. Also, 72 per cent of our children use a computer at home that can connect to the internet.

The amendments last year to the Broadcasting Act enable NZ On Air and Te Māngai Pāho to fund the development of media content on different platforms. I note that the focus for the first year of the Digital Content Partnership Fund was content for young New Zealanders, and three very interesting projects have already been commissioned.

And I understand Te Māngai Pāho is considering applications for programmes that have attached websites.

I commend producers and providers who are seizing the new opportunities to increase the distribution of content over different media platforms, and are working to create new and exciting content for them.

This activity will only increase with the rapid convergence between broadcasting, telecommunications and the internet. The current digital broadcasting review is assessing whether the current regulatory regime remains appropriate to this new media environment. David Cunliffe and I will be taking our recommendations on this to Cabinet next month.

I am aware of the vulnerability of locally-made children’s programming. Sometimes it must feel like it is at high risk of being displaced by a wall-to-wall diet of cartoons from overseas. Its survival is dependent on the commitment of everyone in this room.

I hope you leave today with some great new ideas. We look forward to seeing them come to fruition in more fantastic local media content for our kids.


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