In striving for consensus on the recommendations, the panel recognised the need for any policy changes, present and future, to be based on a set of principles to help guide those decisions. In an ever-changing technological, political and media landscape, this seems more important than ever.
As a result, it is our recommendation that government follow these ten principles when making policy and funding decisions related to taxpayer funded public media and broadcasting.
Taxpayer funded public media should:
Protect and enhance Aotearoa New Zealand’s democracy.
Uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Ensure a diversity of perspectives, audiences and genres.
Guarantee secure and sustainable funding that is annually adjusted for inflation and population changes.
Ensure governance structures have robust cross-party, cross-sector and citizen participation and consultation processes, at the heart of policy decision-making.
Maintain editorial independence from government.
Remain flexible to rapidly adapt to changes in the media landscape so as to keep abreast of technological advances and audience changes.
Ensure content is easily discoverable and freely accessible to all people in New Zealand, including the elderly, children and people living with disabilities.
Measure success in holistic terms, considering people, place and planet first, followed by profit.
Require that all public media funding decisions are governed by a Charter(s) which gives effect to these principles.
The panel makes the following policy recommendations:
- New Zealand On Air and RNZ funding should be increased now, and annually in line with inflation.
- A charter should be established to ensure that all taxpayer funded public interest media, regardless of platform, form or publisher/broadcaster, fulfils certain standards and objectives in line with the Principles above.
- New Zealand On Air should be further mandated to fund the production and promotion of more news, current affairs and citizenship education material, including text-based content.
- Media literacy and critical analysis of traditional, digital and social media should be included as a core component of the New Zealand Curriculum.
- There should be an independent review of all taxpayer funded media structures and institutions including TVNZ, New Zealand On Air, Creative New Zealand, RNZ and the New Zealand Film Commission to ensure that the Principles outlined above are achieved.
- There should be Government funding for ongoing professional development in public service media vocations.
Two Non-consensus Recommendations
Some but not all of the Panellists also make the following recommendations:
7. Government should explore new revenue streams to fund public media including:
- An increase in the Telecommunications Development Levy
- A Diverted Profits Tax
- Revenues from TVNZ
- A general tax on advertising
- A tax on foreign companies with New Zealand customers
- A tax on all payments sent overseas with exceptions for foreign currency transactions arranged through registered banks
8. Dedicated funding should be established for children’s and youth programming, with a focus on interactivity and youth participation in media creation and consumption.
Notes to Recommendations
Note to Recommendation 2:
In late 2016, NZOA launched a new investment strategy which included nine investment principles which are: cultural value, balance, risk, competition, value for money, no duplication, leverage, capability and fairness. These investment principles cover the importance of, for example, funding diverse content, content for audiences that are not otherwise well served and content on platforms that “show a sustained commitment to New Zealand identity and culture”.
While acknowledging the importance and value of these investment principles, this recommendation proposes a higher level of core principles for public media, in the form of a charter, which would apply to all taxpayer funded public interest media and would include the ten core principles listed above.
Note to Recommendation 5:
An example of a review would be into funding structures that have previously had quite clear distinctions between content intended for free-to-air broadcast, and content intended for other delivery. As these distinctions have become blurred the question arises as to how these various agencies intersect.
Note to Recommendation 6:
Professional development could include contributions to international secondments for journalists or writers of drama and comedy. It could be done on a match-funded basis with the private sector.
The New Zealand Film Commission currently runs programmes to develop filmmaking talent. There should be similar programmes for investigative journalism, documentary makers and children’s content producers.
There should be emphasis placed on initiatives that improve capacity and representation in currently underrepresented demographics.
Note to Non-Consensus Recommendation 7:
Throughout the workshop, there were several experts, members of the public and some panel members who would like to see Government explore different avenues for generating revenue to pay for the above recommendations. Aims include to create arms-length and sustainable funding which addresses market failures within media.
Note to Non-Consensus Recommendation 8:
The state of public interest media for children and youth in New Zealand leaves much room for improvement. As a result, many New Zealand children and youth consume media that was made in other countries. They very rarely hear New Zealand stories, or see children or young people like them in the media they access.
While state-funded media for youth, such as The Wireless, does exist, many young people are oblivious to its existence. With many teenagers particularly living in an increasingly saturated and fragmented media landscape, a concerted effort must be made to ensure that state-funded public interest media for children and young people actually reaches its target audience.
Young people are also likely to consume media in different ways to older generations. They should be encouraged and supported to be involved in the creation of media, and to participate in an interactive media atmosphere.
We acknowledge that NZ On Air’s new online children’s media project with TVNZ may solve some of these concerns. However, because it is focussed only on children and not youth or young adults, it will not solve the problem for them.