*This story was originally published on RNZ and is republished with permission*
RNZ and TVNZ will be subsidiaries of a new mega public media organisation before being folded into it, Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi has confirmed.
Faafoi is announcing the long-awaited changes to public broadcasting outlining the Government’s plans for RNZ and TVNZ and the creation of a new public media entity.
Faafoi, a former journalist, said the Government was aiming to have the new organisation up and running by the middle of next year.
He said the Government had accepted the recommendations of the business case working group, and agreed to establish the organisation as a new Autonomous Crown Entity.
It will operate under a charter, with trustworthy news as a core service. It will be funded by a mix of government funds and commercial revenue, with complete editorial independence. Advertising-free programming will be maintained.
An establishment board will be set up in the next month, with the aim of having the new entity operational by July 1 next year.
“Whether it be Covid, national emergencies or Olympic Games, the last few years have shown how important a strong media environment is to reflect New Zealanders’ stories, dreams and aspirations and it is important we support public media to flourish,” Faafoi said.
“RNZ and TVNZ are each trying to adjust to the challenges, but our current public media system, and the legislation it’s based on, is focused on radio and television.
“New Zealanders are among some of the most adaptive audiences when it comes to accessing content in different ways; like their phones rather than television and radio, and from internet-based platforms. We must be sure our public media can adapt to those audience changes, as well as other challenges that media will face in the future.
“The new public media entity will be built on the best of both RNZ and TVNZ, which will initially become subsidiaries of the new organisation. It will continue to provide what existing audiences value, such as RNZ Concert, as well as better reaching those groups who aren’t currently well served; such as our various ethnic communities and cultures.”
He said funding decisions would be made as part of Budget processes, and the new organisation would have a focus on providing quality content to under-served or under-represented audiences.
It would be required to deliver on the Crown’s Te Tiriti obligations, and could collaborate with and support the wider media sector where appropriate.
Faafoi said the public would have a chance to give their views, including on the new charter, through the select committee process later in 2022.
Faafoi, who is unwell but has tested negative for Covid-19, made the announcement from his home today.
Labour first announced intentions to boost public broadcasting through ‘RNZ Plus’ at the 2017 election, but since then the proposal has gone through several iterations.
A working group was commissioned to look into a new public media entity in March last year.