Good And Bad News In Media Funding Announcement
Better Public Media has mixed views on today’s announcement from Kris Faafoi to help news organisations around New Zealand. As an immediate response to the current circumstances the announcement of the $50m package is welcome and will help a range of media.
But Faafoi’s admission that the RNZ/TVNZ merger is “on ice” is disappointing. This project to rectify public media in New Zealand is urgent, and yet it is delayed again. Instead of years of reviews and studies, the government could by now have a long-term solution to public media that supports private media - for example less ads on TVNZ could be helping Mediaworks, and a better funding model could already be supporting more news media and other content production via NZ On Air.
“We’re left wondering what the rationale is behind pausing the work on a business case?” said BPM Director, Myles Thomas. “Surely that ongoing research and modelling can be done remotely and online.”
Other elements of Minister Faafoi’s announcement seemed more sensible with government doing what it can to remove costs it imposes on media organisations, like transmission costs through Kordia and Platform Contributions which are the small portions that broadcasters and websites contribute to NZ On Air funded projects. These savings will help the broadcasters like TVNZ, Mediaworks, Prime and NZME.
“Less clear is the support offered to online news organisations,” Thomas said. “Stuff, NZME’s news operation, ODT, Newsroom and Spinoff are all examples of news organisations reeling under Covid-19 recession and loss of advertising. Magazines are even more at risk, as we’ve seen with the closure of Bauer. Hopefully the $11 million targeted assistance goes some way to supporting all these and the many other struggling news organisations. Likewise increases in the Local Democracy Reporting scheme would be very welcome.
"Today's package seems to be slightly misdirected. If the target is to help news media, as Minister Faafoi says, then the choices to help TVNZ, Mediaworks and Prime arent really on target. From a policy point of view, the goals don't seem to match up with the mechanism."
Outside of news, the rest of the TV, print and film industries are on hold, and being mostly made up of freelancers, are starting to suffer. NZ On Air has commissioned some ‘lockdown projects’ and this should be stepped up considerably to give media companies and staff, more work and provide more lockdown specific content for Kiwis.
BPM looks forward to more significant long-term measures in the second 'tranch' of support. Like most New Zealanders, we are pleased that the option to requiring digital intermediaries like Google and Facebook to contribute to media production is on the table.