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New Zealanders’ use of broadcasting and related media (March 2009)

The Ministry and Te Puni Kōkiri commissioned Research New Zealand to undertake a public survey of media use in 2008. 1827 people aged 15 years and older were surveyed. Youth (aged 15-24 years) and Māori, including proficient Māori language speakers, were oversampled.

Read full report as a pdf   (4.9mb)

The survey was commissioned to identify key trends in the use of traditional and new media among audiences for broadcasting and media content, including Māori language and culture content.  In commissioning the research, the two departments were particularly interested in changes in consumer behaviour with the advent of new media devices, and whether use of new media was affecting rates of use of ‘traditional media’ such as television and radio broadcasts.  Te Puni Kōkiri was also interested in how Māori language and culture were accessed, including the purpose for which it was accessed, and frequency and duration of access.

The information gained from the report will help to inform future broadcasting policy development with a focus on the effects of digital convergence and the changing ways in which New Zealanders are choosing to create, access and share audio-visual content.  It helps policy makers be responsive to changes in media use to ensure that public broadcasting objectives are supported.

What did the survey cover?

The survey identified what media devices New Zealanders own or access, how often they use them, in what ways, and for what purposes.  The purposes for which devices were used included: entertainment; music; sport; news and weather; research and information; and viewing or listening to Māori language and culture content.

The survey asked questions about respondents’ use of a wide range of both traditional and new media devices including:  television, radio, DVD players, video recorders, DVD or hard drive recorders (including MySky), pay TV (Sky or TelstraClear), Freeview decoders, cell phones/ PDAs , iPods or MP3 players, computers with internet access, and Playstations or X-boxes.  Devices such as cell phones were included because their multiple uses  include a considerable number of functions for accessing (and creating) content such as accessing the internet, listening to music, taking photos or video footage and watching video clips.

What are the key findings?

Key findings include:

(a) Most people own or have access to a range of devices

  • There are very high levels of ownership or access to television, radio, DVD players, cell phones/PDAs and computers with internet access (ranging down the list from 98 to 85 percent of those surveyed); with 76 percent also owning or accessing a video recorder.  
  • There are moderate levels of ownership or access to Sky/TelstraClear pay TV, DVD recorders/hard drives, iPods/MP3 players, Playstation/X-box (ranging down the list from 55 to 38 percent of those surveyed). 
  • Māori were more likely than non-Māori to own DVD/hard drive recorders, Playstation/X-Box games consoles, and MP3 players.
  • Those aged 15-24 (Māori in particular) were more likely than all other respondents to have recently purchased newer devices such as computers with Internet access, iPods/MP3 players, cell phones, and Playstation/X-box games consoles.

(b) High TV, radio and internet use

  • New Zealanders are making increasing use of new technology, but more traditional media (i.e. television and radio) are retaining their dominant role in households with regular use by all age groups.  Radio is particularly popular with older people. Internet use, for other than emailing, is extensive and growing. Māori respondents, in particular, use the Internet for a wider range of activities than non-Māori, specifically for social networking (54 percent cf. 35 percent), downloading/streaming music and videos (48 percent cf. 37 percent), and playing games (33 percent cf. 25 percent).
  • Well over three quarters of New Zealanders had used all of the following in the previous two weeks: television, radio, and the internet; with around 60 percent of this number doing so daily.

(c) Newer media devices are being used frequently by those who own or have access to them

  • Cell phone use is high (although mostly for phone calls and texting), and is particularly high among youth, who are also more likely to use their phones to take photos, listen to music or watch video clips etc. 
  • While fewer than half of respondents owned or accessed an MP3 player or iPod, those who did (particularly Māori) made reasonably frequent use of it, mainly for music, but with a small percentage also looking at photos, listening to radio or podcasts and watching videos. 
  • While young people in particular own, purchase and make extensive use of newer devices such as cell phones/PDAs and iPods/MP3 players, their patterns of use were changeable over 6 months, for other than calling or texting on cell phones or listening to music on MP3 players. 

(d) Targeted use and multi-tasking

  • Rather than substituting one device for another, New Zealanders are making selective use of devices for different purposes as follows:
    • television remains the most popular device (for around three quarters of all respondents) for news, weather, entertainment, and particularly sport;
    • a computer with internet access is the main device used by three quarters of respondents for research/information;
    • radio remains the main device to access music for just under half of respondents – although there are sizable portions of the population (particularly younger respondents) accessing music mainly through other devices (stereo/CD player 17 percent; MP3 player 15 percent; computer with internet 11 percent); and
    • television is the main device for checking local news/information for 41 percent of all respondents.  There are, however, sizable portions of the population accessing local news/information mainly through other devices, with radio and internet at 21 percent each.
  • Multi-tasking is common, particularly among young people and Māori.  Half of all respondents reported using other media devices (such as cell phones and/or the internet) while watching television.  Television is also for most people a social activity, with most respondents reporting that they watch television with others.
  • ‘Time shifting’ is also widespread.  Half of all respondents record from television on a regular basis, and many are using a DVD/hard drive recorder for this purpose. 

(e) Māori language and culture

  • Half of New Zealanders are regularly watching, listening to or reading something in Māori or about the Māori language or culture.  Māori are more likely to do this on a daily basis, for a longer period of time and for a wider range of purposes, particularly proficient Māori language speakers and Māori aged 55+ (regardless of proficiency).
  • The most common device used to access Māori language or cultural content was the television (59 percent), which was much higher than the proportion who had listened to a Māori radio station (six percent), listened to Māori music (five percent), or visited a Māori-related website (four percent).

(f) Gadgeteers, Traditionalists and Pragmatists

The most significant differences among New Zealanders are in the number of media devices owned or accessed, and the way the devices are used - in terms of age and of ethnicity (Māori/non Māori). The research identified three distinct segments of the population and, for the purposes of analysis, termed them ‘gadgeteers’, ‘traditionalists’ and ‘pragmatists’.  Key attributes of these segments of the population are: 

  • Gadgeteers (13 percent of respondents).  More likely to be under 40 years, ‘gadgeteers’ tend to own and use the most devices and for a wider range of purposes.  A higher proportion of Māori than non-Māori are gadgeteers.  (Note, however, that because ‘gadgeteers’ constitute only 13 per cent of the population, the percentage of each age group that are ‘gadgeteers’ is smaller than for other attributes, even for youth.) 
  • Traditionalists (46 percent of respondents).  Tending to be over 25 years, and particularly over 40 years, ‘traditionalists’ own and use fewer devices than gadgeteers, and make the most use of radio and television for traditional listening/viewing.
  • Pragmatists (41 percent of respondents).  Comprised fairly evenly of all age groups but particularly of those aged 55+ years, ‘pragmatists’ own fewer devices than other respondents (particularly newer media devices including cell phones, computers with internet access and iPod/MP3 players), and watch less live television than others.  ‘Pragmatists’ who own newer media devices make fairly extensive use of them, and use a wider range of the device functions than do traditionalists. 


Updated on 23rd July 2015