Missing in Action

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There’s a coalition government in power now whose focus is on the economy and righting what they see as the wrongs of the government before.

I decided to go trawling to see if there was any hope for the arts, culture and heritage or the media and communications sectors in the government’s communications.

A visit to the National Party website—some of which is still worded as if they haven’t won the election yet—didn’t turn up anything. I reviewed the Eight Point Commitment Card, the Fiscal Plan, the 100-Day Action Plan and the 100-Point Action Plan. Nothing.

Next, I took a look at the NZ First Website and the NZ First National Party Coalition Agreement. Nada.

So I went to the Act Party website and their coalition agreement with National. No rays of sunshine there.

I took a look at what our Ministers, Melissa Lee for Media and Comms and Paul Goldsmith for Culture and Heritage, have been saying via speeches and press releases. A couple of warm fuzzies but not for the screen sector from Minister Lee. And from Minister Goldsmith, some press releases from his other portfolios.

Getting desperate I went to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s (MCH) website and read the Overarching Briefing For The Incoming Ministers for Arts, Culture and Heritage 2023, and the Briefing For The Incoming Minister For Media and Communications 2023. At last something positive. Sort of.

The briefings are documents to inform the incoming Ministers about their portfolios. And some hopes from the Ministry on what they would like the Ministers to consider and do, in light of the government’s priorities as outlined in all the plans and coalition agreements mentioned earlier. Which of course had nothing to say about arts, culture and heritage, and media and communications. But as the government has made it very clear what its priorities are, MCH has, where possible, linked those priorities directly or indirectly to the portfolios.

A few things stood out to me.

  1. MCH did bring up copyright around content, a revenue generator.
  2. They also spoke to the possibility of a streamer levy to assist with the production of local content—a way to add to government investment.
  3. There was mention of the New Zealand Screen Production Rebate as a possible source of funding for a ‘skills levy’ or to develop and implement a ‘skills plan’. Another way for the government to utilise non-government funds for a positive outcome.

DEGANZ spent a considerable amount of time and some money seeking to get our views heard when the Copyright Act Review was live and active. We want directors to share in the copyright with producers for cinematographic film and audiovisual content. The Review was halted but it will definitely come back, particularly with AI being such a big issue now.

We have long advocated for a streamer levy, and when SPADA announced towards the end of last year that they too wanted to pursue it, we were pleased. Good to see MCH talking about it.

In the New Zealand Screen Production Investment Review, we welcomed the possibility of a levy built into what was then called the Screen Production Grant and is now the Screen Production Rebate. But we want it to apply only to international productions, not domestic productions—the last thing we need is for another new line item to chip away at what are already miserly budgets.

Although the government is certainly missing in action at this point when it comes to the portfolios that impact us directly, it’s good to see that MCH is pushing some things we have focused on in which this current government could see value. Now we have to get the Ministers to see it and get behind it.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Last updated on 15 February 2024