TVNZ Spotlights Our Media Mess… Again

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The financial woes besetting TVNZ with a projected loss of at least $28 million, again highlight the inaction of the current government to address the issues with broadcasting, brought about by the severe negative impact international digital platforms are having on our local media companies. TVNZ advertising revenue is down nearly 16% in comparison to the same time last year. Read about it here.

This diminished advertising revenue is at the heart of the problems with all NZ media companies; screen, print and online.

Labour’s Aotearoa New Zealand Media Bill was intended to help address this but went west with the change in government.

Former Digital Media and Communications Minister Melissa Lee was supposedly formulating a response to the shutdown of Newshub and the reduction of News and Current Affairs at TVNZ as part of the new government’s response to the issues. There was even talk that she was looking at revising our antiquated Broadcasting Act. Then she lost her job and PM Chris Luxon appointed Paul Goldsmith to take over. Nothing’s happened since.

Meanwhile in Canada, the government there has after three years of back and forth passed Bill C11, the Online Streaming Act. The contentious law is intended to address the disruption of content distribution and monetization models that result in a global media market through amendments to their broadcast act. C11 targets social media platforms and streaming services such as Netflix, Crave, Spotify, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and YouTube and seeks to subject them to Canadian content requirements and regulations comparable to traditional broadcasters. Read about it here.

The global digital platforms and streamers fought C11 tooth and nail, citing amongst other things the trade agreements the law supposedly contravenes.

As I’ve written about previously, the Australian Government has been going through its own hand-wringing exercise about what to do, with a touted commitment to introducing a streaming quota by July of this year. The Australian screen industry has been pushing for a quota on the streamers to help protect their own domestic industry.

After years of walking the government corridors in both Australia and New Zealand, lobbying against anything that would affect their businesses, the studios/streamers, represented in our territory by the Australia and New Zealand Screen Association, has come out publicly declaring that content quotas would contravene the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Screen Producers Australia have rejected this claim and stated their case for why it should happen. Read all about it here.

We can expect the same fierce reaction from the global platforms and studios/streamers to quotas or levies in NZ. They will undoubtedly haul out our General Agreement on Tarriffs and Trade and World Trade Organisation commitments—There are certainly views here that these are not insurmountable.

The New Zealand government is in the enviable position of seeing how other countries are dealing with this issue: Canada and Australia being two useful examples for us, while in Europe a number of countries already have quotas and/or levies already in place.

Our problem though is that past governments have essentially done little or nothing about it, as exemplified by the parlous state today of our broadcasters and media organisations.

By the look of things, I don’t think we are going to get anything better from the current lot.


Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Last updated on 6 June 2024