Select committee oral submissions are underway on the Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media Bill, which will ultimately become the act for the new entity ANZPM, combining TVNZ and RNZ.
There were 892 written submissions on the Bill. It was introduced to the House on the 23rd of June this year. With the new entity ANZPM intended to be up and running on 1 March 2023, this effectively means that the Third Reading of the Bill needs to be done before the end of the year. Six months in total in the House. Hare speed for such a complex and crucial piece of legislation.
Tortoise speed defines the passage of the Screen Industry Workers Bill in comparison. It was introduced into the house on the 18th of February 2020. It had its Third Reading on the 27th of September this year. Which means it’s a done deal. Yay!
Granted, COVID sat within the two and a half year passage of the SIWB. But what it gave us was two years of Film Industry Working Group effort to work through the many issues of moving thoughts, ideas and good intentions onto paper, and then into a two and a half-year government process to become legislation.
From watching a number of the oral submissions for the ANZPM Bill, it’s pretty clear that while most support it, very few think a good job has been done in coming up with the current proposed legislation under consideration. There’s so much wrong with what’s been put up—or more pertinently what’s lacking/missing from what’s been proposed—that it’s clear that a lot more time and careful thought is required to get it right.
Problem is, the Government is on a seeming agenda to get it through in case they lose the election, hence the 1 March 2023 start date for the new entity. So much money, time and effort will have been spent getting it done that it won’t make sense for the Opposition to reverse it if they come into Government late 2023.
This approach doesn’t serve the wider New Zealand media industry, including us in the screen sector, all of whom are nervous or quaking at the thought of ANZPM as the behemoth it will become.
The attitude from Government seems to be: trust us and trust the new media entity. All will be okay. And TVNZ smiles and says it promises to play nicely and look after us all as it licks its chops at the thought of being able to go its merry commercial way as a bigger, richer beast.
The hare is definitely getting across the line first in this particular race. The tortoise… here’s hoping it doesn’t end up in the summer sun, wondering how it’s going to right itself while being picked over by vultures.
The only thing we can pray for now is that in the remaining months a significant effort goes into rewriting the current draft into something that’s going to work for public media service and the sustainability of the independent media sector.
A big ask.