A Sigh of Relief for Domestic and International

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With the Youth-focused funding announced yesterday by NZ On Air, and the joint announcement of Scripted funding by NZ On Air and Te Māngai Pāho to a combined total of over $15 million dollars, there was an audible sigh of relief heard on the bleak New Zealand media landscape.

This is an injection of revenue into our domestic production base that will deliver more work to New Zealand businesses and screen workers, amidst a lowering in production funding from two of our three main funding bodies being NZ On Air and NZFC, while TMP’s funding for the moment remains unchanged.

I wanted to focus in on the Youth-focused funding announcement as it’s a telling signal for a number of reasons.

NZ On Air in its press release said: “The Within My Reach call for proposals was a response to the 2022 Where Are the Youth Audiences research which showed a social media-first approach would be needed to reach 15-24 year old audiences.”

More simply and bluntly put, 15 – 24 year old audiences don’t watch NZ free to air broadcast any more. Every parent knows this.

I thought, however, that its more revealing to look at the funding slightly differently:

 Int’l PlatformsInt’l + NZ Platforms Funding
First Place, 5 x 12′YouTube, Facebook, InstagramThe Coconet TV, TVNZ+ $  970,000.00
Literally Dead, 8 x 8′YouTube $  526,990.00
Bloke Of The Apocalypse, 6 x 6′YouTube $  472,368.00
The Sender, 17 x 2′Instagram Reel, TikTok, YouTube $  375,000.00
The Regions, 5 x 7’YouTube, Instagram, Facebook,Re:, TVNZ+ $  505,115.00
Beyond The Beat, 5 x 8 – 12′, and 50 x 15 – 60”, 1 x music videoYouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook $  500,000.00
Pā Life, 5 x 10’YouTube, Facebook, InstagramTVNZ+ $  463,788.00
Kaputī With The Cuzzies, 10 x 20′YouTube $  194,311.00
Sight Unseen, 5 x 5-10’YouTube, TikTok, InstagramAble.co.nz $  186,767.00
What Sex Ed Didn’t Teach You, 15 x 90”YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and TikTokRe: $  178,550.00
The Gender AgendaYouTube$  395,115.00
d8talk, 230 x 1’Instagram Reels, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube $  149,386.00
 $2,613,170.00  $2,304,220.00


What this tells us is that International Platforms get $2.6 million in funded content from NZ On Air with no contribution to the funding as far as I can tell. In other words, free funded programming with NZ content hooks to wrap advertising around, to take advertising dollars away from NZ businesses like TVNZ. Not only that, they also get a bite of the pie going to the local platforms, too. More importantly for the international platforms, though, they still are not required to contribute to local NZ production via mechanisms like the previous government’s proposed Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill, a streamer levy, quota or such like, to make them ante up. At least a small sigh of relief from them, I’d think.

The other clear indicator here is that half the funding went to projects with no broadcast commitment. Free to air, yes, but via digital platforms.

Now you can’t blame NZ On Air for enabling the international platforms. They have a requirement to serve local eyeballs. With 18 – 24 year-old Kiwis not watching linear and getting most of their screen content from the international platforms, they have to go there—this in the hope that young Kiwis will discover and watch that NZ content amongst the global offerings. And that NZ content might find international eyeballs in sufficient numbers to stimulate a positive response.

Example: one of our member directors, Victoria Boult, created TikTok series Noob funded by a NZ On Air, Screen Australia AND TikTok initiative that she turned into a half-hour TV series, which she wrote and directed on. It’s in post now and will play out on Warner Bros. Discovery here.

From a $53,000 TikTok series to a $1.5 million local TV show is definitely a positive for all concerned.

We all know the game has changed in our business. Forever. There’s a new reality.

Global media entities now exert far greater influence on us than ever before. Significant government action is required NOW if we are to have even a small chance of surviving the onslaught. Should that happen, there would be a collective sigh of relief from us all… for awhile.


Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Last updated on 24 April 2024