September 2022, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage.
Monitoring the performance of Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media and its impact on the media system.
Also available to download as a PDF: Strategic Framework for a Sustainable Media System (PDF 49 KB)
- Strategic framework for a sustainable media system
- What will success look like?
- A sustainable media system
- A thriving media system needs a strategic approach
- The media system has been transformed
- A vibrant media system underpins our economy
- Aotearoa needs trusted media institutions
- Diversity is critical to a functioning media system
- Our success measures
- Appendix one: understanding future impacts
Strategic framework for a sustainable media system
A media system that fulfils the information, education, entertainment and cultural aspirations of all New Zealanders.
A thriving, commercial media system that is growing revenue and, is a strong contributor to New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing.
Actions to support a growing and vibrant media system:
- Supporting media organisations to realise the value of their content in a digital environment. Regular measurement and monitoring of the media system against the objectives and goals of the strategic framework.
- Enhancing the role of NZ On Air.
- Supporting outcomes for Māori through the media system.
- Growing the revenues of New Zealand media companies by promoting investment in content production, people and skills.
- Streamlining and modernising the regulatory system.
An independent and trusted media system that reflects New Zealand’s values and serves the public interest.
Actions to support a trusted media system:
- Successful delivery of the Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media work programme.
- Supporting the Department of Internal Affairs and working with our media stakeholders on modernising the content regulatory system.
- Maintain the freedom of expression of the media through best practice media and journalistic guidance and regulation.
- Working in partnership with Te Puni Kōkiri to strengthen the Māori media sector.
A media system that contains many different voices, creating a range of content that supports social cohesion and accounts for the uniqueness of our communities.
Actions to support a diverse media system:
- Working with the industry to address workforce training and development.
- Working in partnership to ensure the success of the Māori media system.
- Refreshing the role of community radio.
- Protect and promote the taonga of te reo Māori.
- Supporting the use of Pacific languages in media and broadcasting.
Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media
- Establishing and supporting a new public media entity that serves as the cornerstone of the media system.
- Monitoring the performance of Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media and its impact on the media system.
What will success look like?
Our commercial media companies have growing revenues and are resilient to future trends.
Our media system contributes to the wider economy through jobs, increased revenues, demand for specialist skills and by attracting the world’s best media talent.
Our media system has a plurality of voices, and plurality of ownership is maintained or enhanced.
Our media system creates, produces and promotes media content that is valued and recognised worldwide.
Our media system is trusted and recognised as maintaining best practice standards for all types of content.
Our media system reflects Māori language, culture, stories, and perspectives.
Our public media is recognised as a public good and is the cornerstone of a thriving media system.
Our media is accessible to all communities on a variety of platforms when and where people need it.
Our media system is diverse and supports social cohesion.
Our media legislation is fit for purpose, modern, fair and equitable.
Our media system protects and promotes te reo Māori me ngā tikanga Māori.
Our media system reflects greater diversity in the media workforce and leadership at all levels.
A sustainable media system
The Strategic Framework for a Sustainable Media System (the Framework) provides the functional philosophy, outcomes and actions that underpin our work now and into the future. The Framework is forward looking and guided by our vision for a:
“vibrant, trusted and diverse media system that fulfills the information, education, entertainment, and cultural aspirations of all New Zealanders”
The Framework outlines the desired outcomes and activities to enable delivery of a well-functioning and sustainable media system, one that meets the following three central and complementary objectives:
A thriving, vibrant and sustainable media system that is growing revenue, is a strong contributor to New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing and is resilient and adaptable to future trends.
An independent trusted media system that reflects New Zealand’s values and serves the public interest.
A diverse media system that contains many different voices, creating a range of content, that supports social cohesion and accounts for the uniqueness of New Zealand communities.
Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage — has a crucial role within the media system. As a trusted advisor to government,our role is to support the sector’s continued growth, development and sustainability to ensure that the maximum potential value is realised. Manatū Taonga wants to support an economic, social and regulatory environment that allows the media system to flourish. To achieve the aims in the Strategic Framework, we will work in partnership with the media sector to drive innovation and new commercial outputs and content that delivers on our shared vision and ambitions.
The media in New Zealand as an interconnected system of media organisations, content producers, advertisers, regulatory and funding bodies, the Government and audiences. In this system there are flows of information, funding, consumption, production and regulatory powers exercised by one or more of the actors within the system. Actions do not happen in isolation, and affect other parts of the media system. Therefore, the Strategic Framework seeks to present a roadmap and drive consensus across the system on the work that government can do to support a vibrant, trusted and diverse media system in Aotearoa.
A thriving media system needs a strategic approach
An independent, well-functioning and resilient media is a critical component of an open, participative democracy and has a vital role in supporting our ways of life in Aotearoa New Zealand. The media plays a crucial role in the functioning of our democracy and civic society. It provides information to engage people, encourage debate, holds political and business players to account and contributes to social cohesion.
The media, contributes to New Zealand’s wider economy and is a driver of economic growth in New Zealand. The media sector directly employs approximately 14,000 people and annually contributes $4.7 billion of total economic activity directly into the New Zealand economy.
The media system is undergoing tremendous change where audience behaviour has shifted to adopt new digital models of media content and delivery, over the more traditional, linear analogue models of media. As a result, New Zealand media organisations are facing fundamental challenges to their viability.
Increased competition from international content providers, declining revenues, and a transformation in audience behaviour are significant changes in the media’s operating environment. These factors are resulting in a fragile media system with a reduced ability to meet the needs and interests of New Zealanders.
The financial impact of COVID-19 has exacerbated the fragile state of traditional commercial media models. Sharp declines in revenue have resulted in significant media redundancies, pay cuts and reduction or closure of services that may have a long-term impact on sector capability. The impact of COVID-19 has accelerated the need to confront the pre-existing and fundamental challenges facing the media system. It has severely compressed the time available for media organisations to adapt and transition to more sustainable business models.
Ensuring that media organisations are able to sustain themselves commercially in the long term means that the media system will be in a better position to produce a variety of diverse and trusted media content to educate, inform or entertain New Zealanders.
To support the media in the future and ensure Crown revenue is well directed, new policy and regulatory levers need to be developed. This Framework provides strategic alignment for the Government’s media policy work programme and future decision making, and a way to assess the impact and relevance of various policy, regulatory and funding initiatives.
The Strategic Framework aims to reflect the shared goal of a vibrant, trusted and diverse media system, recognising the respective roles and contributions of public media, private media, and the Government. It also promotes accessible, varied content that celebrates New Zealand’s diverse communities, cultures, and stories, elevates many voices, and supports social cohesion within and across those communities.
A new, stronger public media entity will be a cornerstone of the media system
Work is underway to establish Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media, a new public media entity that will combine the existing state-owned broadcasters RNZ and TVNZ to strengthen the delivery of public media services to New Zealanders.
The media landscape in New Zealand is changing rapidly and public media must adapt to increased competition, changing audience demands and ways of accessing media, falling revenue, and new and emerging digital platforms. We need public media which is responsive to these changes and can flourish. This is why the Government will create a new organisation, to future-proof public media for New Zealanders for decades to come.
Recent events, such as COVID-19 or national emergencies 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.
A public media entity which is resilient, sustainable, and has the wherewithal to deliver independent, trusted information is key to that.
New Zealanders are among some of the most adaptive audiences when it comes to accessing content in different ways; such as from internet-based platforms. We must ensure public media can adapt to those audience changes, as well as other challenges that media will face in the future.
Public media can complement the existing range of media by providing a platform for producing and distributing content that serves a broader public interest, including specific and cultural outcomes that are currently underserved by the broader media system.
More is needed to ensure long-term sustainability
The continued transition away from traditional and linear media to digital streaming and on demand platforms has profoundly altered the way that media markets operate, and the new and emerging digital platforms, markets and consumption habits will continue to evolve and shape the media system in the future.
Manatū Taonga wants to ensure that the media system can meet the diverse needs of all New Zealanders and different types of audiences, to ensure that content can be delivered in the way that is most convenient for that audience in an ever-evolving environment.
The Strategic Framework provides a means to evaluate, prioritise, sequence and align the Ministry’s media policy work programme to address the challenges. The Strategic Framework recognises that we are operating in a complex and evolving environment, that the cultural wellbeing of New Zealanders (and how it is affected by the media system) needs to be prioritised if the Ministry is to advise, lead, and guide elements of the media system to achieve these outcomes.
It takes a system-wide approach to achieve a new strategic direction and a systems approach recognises that there are multiple interdependent actors that can collaborate on new ways of working to effect system-level change.
The Strategic Framework complements the Ministry’s strategic framework Te Rautaki ō Manatū Taonga 2021–2040, which embraces the vision that when Culture is thriving, the people are well by providing a focus on communities and cultural aspirations.
The Strategic Framework reflects the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi
Te Tiriti acknowledges tangata whenua as Treaty partners and affirms Māori culture as a cornerstone of Aotearoa New Zealand culture. Tino Rangatiratanga provides for Māori self- determination. In line with Te Rautaki o Manatū Taonga 2021–2040, our strategic objective is to act as a good-faith partner and ensure that iwi and Māori are supported to achieve their cultural aspirations and that Māori culture is recognised, valued and embraced through the media sector.
The media system plays a key role in protecting and promoting te reo Māori and tikanga Māori. The Crown accepts that it has an obligation to take reasonable steps actively protect and promote te reo Māori me ngā tikanga Māori, including through broadcast media. Manatū Taonga will support equitable outcomes by working in partnership with Te Puni Kōkiri and Māori media on strategic alignment across the media system, access to platforms, workforce capability, and new approaches to shared content.
Manatū Taonga will act as a collaborator and enabler of success to support Māori media across the “mainstream” media, working with those across the Māori Media sector, such as Whakaata Māori, iwi radio, Te Māngai Pāho, and with Te Puni Kōkiri as monitor. Manatū Taonga also has a duty to fulfil its role in ensuring the success of the Māori media system through ongoing support for Māori journalism and journalists and recording and archiving.
Manatū Taonga will also work in partnership with iwi and Māori on the structural design, regulation and support of public media.
Manatū Taonga will work across the system
Manatū Taonga recognises the capability of media organisations and stakeholders across the system. We will work collaboratively across the media system, in pursuit of our shared goals and to deliver mutually beneficial outcomes.
Recognising the media system’s range of objectives, participants, stakeholders and relationships, Manatū Taonga will vary the approach to its work under this Strategic Framework. For initiatives that are:
within the ambit of Manatū Taonga, we can prioritise the initiatives that deliver to the vision and objectives of the Strategic Framework to ensure strategic alignment.
delivered by other Government agencies, we can collaborate and provide our expertise in understanding and helping to navigate the media system and offer the Strategic Framework as way to shape and guide initiatives.
delivered by other parts of the media system, we can influence through strategic relationship management and use the Strategic Framework to promote the priorities of Manatū Taonga with respect to the media system.
beyond the scope of our influence, we can understand their impact on the media system and use the Strategic Framework as a way to assess their impact on the objectives and whether they contribute to achieving the overall vision.
The media system has been transformed
The evolution of digital technology has led to a fundamental shift in the way that people consume media. New Zealand audiences are consuming less media content from linear and traditional mediums such as radio, newspapers and television and are consuming greater amounts of media from digital mediums such as video-on-demand, online video, streaming platforms, and informal digital media. In 2021 NZ on Air documented the daily reach of key media platforms through the Where Are The Audiences survey.
Comparing the results of the 2021 and 2016 surveys we can see the following trends:
Online video: used daily by 59 percent of the population (14 percent increase over five years).
Linear TV: used daily by 56 percent of the population (17 percent decrease over five years).
Broadcast radio: used daily by 47 percent of the population (12 percent decrease over five years).
Subscription video-on-demand (SVOD): used daily by 51 percent of the population (28 percent increase over five years).
Digital advertising shifts have affected news media
Since 2002, digital advertising has grown from less than 1 percent of total New Zealand advertising expenditure to 57.8 percent in 2021.
News media companies have adjusted to the shift online, but their digital advertising products provide only a fraction of the revenue previously provided by traditional advertising. Since 2003, New Zealand news publishing firms have generated only $1 in digital advertising revenue for every $4 that they have lost in print advertising. Between 2011 and 2020 newspaper advertising revenue in New Zealand fell from $533 million to $219 million, while digital advertising expenditure more than tripled to $1.6 billion.
Most of this spend is now captured by global digital platforms. This puts New Zealand media firms in direct competition with global digital platforms, which has dramatically reduced the funding they have traditionally relied on for content production.
For news media companies to survive in an online environment, they are increasingly engaging in business relationships with large digital platforms, particularly Google and Meta, as the dominant players in online search and social media. Media organisations are attempting to reach commercial arrangements for the use of their content online, such as headlines, short blurbs and images used on Google News and on Facebook or Instagram.
In recent years, the UK Competition and Markets Authority and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have investigated the role of digital platforms in the economy. These studies have highlighted that digital platforms have strong incumbency advantages and unmatched bargaining power that makes commercial deals difficult to reach. This often results in media businesses accepting terms of service that are less favourable.
Discussions with media stakeholders indicate that many smaller, regional news outlets currently do not have the incentive to make the transition online as it is not profitable enough to justify. Even for news media outlets that are already online, the loss of advertising revenue means they are struggling to support regional and investigative journalism, which are cost intensive and difficult to monetise.
Journalism employment has suffered. Census data reveals that the number of journalists employed fell from 4,284 in 2006 to 2,061 by 2018. More recently, the New Zealand Media Ownership Report estimated that during 2020, approximately 637 jobs disappeared from the New Zealand media industry.
Key challenges are emerging for the news media sector
The cost to produce news content combined with reduced income has resulted in declining profits for news and journalism businesses, a loss of market value, a halving of the number of journalists, and a reduction in output. Local and community news, investigative journalism and local reporting on international news has been particularly hard hit.
The ongoing risk is that news media companies can no longer support certain types of journalism, such as regional based journalism, investigative journalism, local democracy and courts reporting which is often cost intensive and difficult to monetise. Digital advertising and subscription-based models are unlikely to provide enough revenue to cover the cost of developing investigative or local news content.
To remain financially viable in the current online environment, news media organisations must use an increasingly complex mixture of funding sources, including subscriptions, membership fees, sponsorships, donations, and digital advertising.
Readers and consumers in New Zealand have historically been reluctant to pay for access to news content after years of being able to access it for free. However, this may be changing as survey data from AUT suggests that in 2022, 22% of New Zealanders have paid for news content and 36% said they had financially supported news organisations in the past year. Manatū Taonga will monitor trends in this area as charging, including micro payments, becomes increasingly normal for access to news, feature and entertainment content.
Digital platforms invite a different type of engagement with consumers than traditional media, and media consumers are faced with ever increasing sources of information. The increased competition of information distribution means the media landscape is more difficult to navigate.
Misinformation domestically and internationally, is emerging as critical threat to the free exchange of ideas. There is emerging evidence of a global misinformation phenomenon. Misinformation is often created by nation state actors, political or social groups, or to make money through clicks and advertising. Misinformation and disinformation becomes especially harmful when social media users deliberately act in bad faith and elevate misinformation, which is then amplified and spread widely through social and digital media, and messaging apps.
A combination of regulatory, technological and jurisdictional factors has created a split in the way the media system is governed and supervised. Legacy and linear media organisations are subject to a range of regulations not currently applicable to digital media products.
We are seeing innovation in media to meet new challenges
We are seeing innovation across the media system from legacy media organisations, to digital startups to freelance journalists leveraging distributed content platforms in order to find audiences and deliver their content in new and innovative ways.
New Zealand hosts several digital-native publications and start-ups, often led by those with prior experience in traditional media, which employ a variety of innovative funding models such as memberships, shareholding schemes, and partnered content. These digital outlets focus on market segments like business news, entertainment news, and news commentary and analysis, as well as a focus on local content that is not seen as being served by the major media organisations. These emerging media companies display a higher level of innovation, in terms of readership and scope, yet they operate lean business structures that do not support the same numbers of journalists as traditional media companies. There are more diverse sources of information available in key markets and a corresponding reduction in market concentration in key media markets. New Zealand has more independently and privately held media companies than at any time in the past decade.
Digital technology allows for many types of new and emerging media. The evolution of digital technology has dramatically lowered the costs to distribute content to consumers. Access to digital technology means that content creators have been able to enter the media market and distribute their content to global audiences.
However, this shift online has not translated into increased revenue, due to the general decline in digital advertising revenue and the emergence of global digital platforms that dominate the digital advertising market.
A vibrant media system underpins our economy
Commercial media is a major driver of innovation, economic activity and vibrancy of the nation. The media, as an economic sector, employs approximately 14,000 people. It contributes $2 billion in Gross Domestic Product in New Zealand directly and up to $4.7 billion to the wider economy, with the vast majority from commercial media. In addition, the advertising industry—providing the majority of funding for commercial media—contributes up to $6 billion to Gross Domestic Product every year.
Commercial media provides jobs and supports economic activity across New Zealand, and in the regions through newsrooms, advertisers and production companies. While most media organisations have concentrated their business in the main urban centres, there is an emerging market for local and hyper- local news and media content.
The transition to digital and on-demand media creates tremendous economic growth potential; more New Zealand media content is able to be consumed more conveniently by more people, not only in New Zealand but also throughout the world. There is also an emerging demand for, and growth in, content that reflects Māori language, culture, stories, and perspectives.
A vibrant commercial media, with many independent voices, plays a key role in fully realising New Zealanders’ freedom of expression, which includes the right to seek and receive (as well as impart) information and opinions. A vibrant commercial media also drives innovation and helps to meet people’s cultural and entertainment needs, providing information on the platforms that people use, when they want it.
News and public interest journalism, much of it produced by the commercial media sector, reflects the priorities and concerns of New Zealanders and helps them interpret national and international events. It also contributes to wellbeing by helping connect people to their local and social communities.
To maintain the independence of the media, Manatū Taonga can ensure that the regulatory and operating environment reflects international best practice, maintains good regulatory stewardship and is conducive to successful commercial media practices, and that government-funded media is contributing to the success of the commercial media sector and does not unduly impede or crowd-out commercial media investment.
Specific actions to support a vibrant media sector
Supporting media to realise the value of online news content
Digital platforms have changed the way audiences’ access and consume content, including news content, fundamentally altering the nature of the media market.
The overwhelming feedback from media companies is that in all aspects of their commercial dealings with digital platforms, news media organisations must accept ‘take it or leave it’ terms that are weighted in favour of the platforms.
This inherently limits media companies’ ability to negotiate what is a fair return for their investment in news content. It also means there is no opportunity to negotiate in relation to other issues, including the lack of warning of changes to algorithms that impact directly on the distribution of content and therefore the number of views the content receives, or the lack of access to customer engagement data.
There is a bargaining power imbalance between news media companies and global digital platforms, which has been acknowledged by the Commerce Commission, as well as competition and industry watchdogs overseas. Market studies in other countries have found that although digital platforms provide a valuable service, there are significant competition and consumer questions raised by the positions they have established in digital markets and by their operating models. To address the bargaining imbalance, Manatū Taonga is investigating ways to support the breadth of the news media sector to receive fair recognition for online content on a more secure basis, including drawing on the Canadian and Australian experiences. It is critical that news media creators are paid fairly for the content that is shared online.
Support for commercial bargaining does not require direct funding to be collected and allocated by Government. Accordingly, it will better maintain a trusted, independent news media, as well as enhancing financial sustainability of the sector.
Streamlining and modernising the regulatory system
Much of the legislation in the media environment reflects a linear, analogue media environment and in some cases the legislation has not been reviewed to see if it reflects the current and future state of the media system. This work will take a modern regulatory stewardship approach and will examine updating out of date regulation for media and creating a fair and equitable regulatory system.
Enhancing the role of NZ On Air
NZ On Air is a key part of the media system and achieves several important objectives across the New Zealand media landscape including empowering and supporting the commercial production sector. Manatū Taonga sees NZ On Air as a key partner to work with government to deliver public funding aligned to the overall goals of the Strategic Framework. Manatū Taonga will work to ensure that the regulatory and legislative framework for NZ On Air is fit for purpose, and enables NZ On Air to operate in a contemporary digital environment to support the delivery of local content on the platforms where the audiences are watching.
Supporting outcomes for Māori through the media system
The media system plays a key role in protecting and promoting te reo Māori and tikanga Māori. Manatū Taonga will work with Te Puni Kōkiri to support the media system to deliver content that reflects Māori language, culture, stories, and perspectives effectively for Māori. Manatū Taonga will support enabling settings to drive collaboration between Māori media sector and mainstream public media in areas of shared benefit.
Promoting investment in New Zealand media companies, content production, people and skills
It is clear that the rate and scope of technological change has outpaced traditional funding models. This work will look beyond funding of content for ways to support greater investment in the New Zealand media sector, including workforce development, ensuring NZ On Air funding is fit for purpose, working with digital platforms, and streamlining regulatory requirements.
Assessing and understanding the health of the media system
Manatū Taonga will develop and measure key metrics across the media system to assess the success of initiatives against the objectives of the Strategic Framework, and to measure the relative health and
vibrancy of the media system, including the overall plurality in New Zealand media. This information will allow Manatū Taonga to plan and prioritise future initiatives to support the media sector.
Aotearoa needs trusted media institutions
Manatū Taonga wants to ensure that news media, including public and publicly funded media remain objective, independent, and trustworthy.
According to the Reuters Digital News Report 2020, 48 percent of the New Zealand population trust most news most of the time. The Auckland University of Technology (AUT) also found that news organisations in New Zealand have relatively high levels of trust, with TVNZ and RNZ having higher levels of trust, compared to other news outlets.
However, as AUT notes that trust in media is a declining trend, general trust in media institutions, social media and search engines is declining – in New Zealand and around the world. Common reasons
for declining trust in media include concerns over bias and spin, concerns about misinformation and concerns about generally poor journalistic practices and a blurring of opinion and factual reporting.
Declining levels of trust undermine the media’s ability to provide scrutiny and support the democratic process. A lack of trust also inhibits the media’s capacity to effectively inform the public in times of emergency, and has a damaging effect on social cohesion. Flow-on implications include a decline in perceptions of public institutions, increased polarisation of society, decline in social license of the media and government, and social and physical harm.
Misinformation, disinformation and malinformation sometimes referred to collectively as “information disorder”, represent a critical future threat to New Zealand democracy and the media system.
Information disorder can cause significant harm to individuals, businesses and national interests. It undermines the media’s traditional roles of providing information, critical commentary, analysis, and institutional transparency.
Manatū Taonga will support trusted media institutions
Our plan for building more trust across the media system involves building stronger foundations for the media system, such as trusted broadcasters, trusted content and greater transparency in relation to how content is delivered and presented.
Successful delivery of the Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media
ANZPM is a public media entity, with a charter set in legislation, and it will provide quality public media content to all New Zealanders, including groups who are currently under-served or under-represented and provide independent and trusted news and programming as a core service.
Ensuring New Zealanders continue to have access to reliable, trusted, independent information and local content sits at the heart of the decision to create a new public media entity. The public media sector is extremely important to New Zealanders in providing them with high quality, independent, timely and relevant media content.
Strong public media supports New Zealanders’ wellbeing though its contribution to social connectedness, civic engagement and cultural identity. Establishing a single public media entity is intended to achieve more aligned, flexible and efficient delivery of public media content, including: guaranteeing free access to trusted news and information, future proofing public media in Aotearoa, and showcasing our unique voices and stories.
Manatū Taonga will work in partnership with Te Puni Kōkiri to strengthen the Māori media sector
Manatū Taonga considers the success of Māori media to be critical to upholding principles of the Treaty, the Treaty partnership between Māori and government and the achievement of important cultural outcomes such as the discussion of issues important to Māori, promotion and preservation of Māori histories and storytelling, and revitalisation of te reo Māori. The vision for the future of the Māori media sector is a collaborative and capable Māori media community that uses te reo Māori me ngā tikanga Māori, promotes te ao Māori, and supports Māori storytelling. To achieve these outcomes, a sustainable Māori media sector requires enabling settings to drive collaboration with mainstream public media, a coordinated approach to workforce capability, and modern enabling legislation with clarity of functions for protection and promotion of Māori language and culture, particularly Aotearoa’s public media entities. Manatū Taonga sees this as a joint work programme with Te Puni Kōkiri, and other relevant agencies and crown entities such as NZ On Air and Te Māngai Pāho.
Supporting the Department of Internal Affairs and working with our media stakeholders on modernising the content regulatory system
The existing regulatory frameworks for content classification, standards, and complaints have largely developed independently of each other. As a result, there are significant gaps and inconsistencies in the current approach to content regulation, with the online environment being effectively unregulated.
Reforms will aim to minimise harm and ensure public safety, regardless of the format, platform or medium. Manatū Taonga will support this work to modernise the content regulation system, particularly with respect to changing broadcasting and media technology, to ensure it is fit for purpose in a modern digital media environment.
Maintain the freedom of expression of the media through best practice media and journalistic guidance and regulation
Manatū Taonga will work with media organisations such as the Media Council to help develop the role of media in supporting democracy and international best practice and to balance between avoiding harm and freedom of expression of the media, such as the Commonwealth Principles on Freedom of Expression and the Role of the Media in Good Governance.
Manatū Taonga will continue to support and facilitate the Broadcasting Standard Authority’s function as an effective broadcasting regulator, including by ensuring that legislation such as the Broadcasting Act 1989 remains fit for purpose as the media landscape changes.
Diversity is critical to a functioning media system
A diversity of voices enhances many positive aspects of the media system such as informing the public, strengthening democracy, and promoting the cultural diversity of our communities. Manatū Taonga strives for a media system that portrays meaningful and diverse perspectives in all aspects of media. The focus of this objective is ensuring that the media system produces a variety of content that reflects the identity of Aotearoa New Zealand and the expectations of our communities.
Te Tiriti o Waitangi, (along with the explicit legislative requirements such as section 36 of the Broadcasting Act 1989, and sections 37, 53B, 53C, and the Māori Television Service Act 2003), creates obligations for the Crown to promote Māori language and culture through media and broadcasting. Significant ongoing migration also means New Zealand is a nation of many ethnicities and cultures, and the relative size of ethnic groups is changing. While New Zealand enjoys a variety of media voices and viewpoints, this has come under pressure due to economic pressures, the changing technological environment and consolidation of existing media enterprises.
Drawing on the social principles of good government and the active protection, self-determination and good faith principles of Te Tiriti, there is a shared responsibility for government agencies and Manatū Taonga to safeguard and promote all cultures through the media and ensure that there is a diversity of voices in the media content that is generated and consumed in Aotearoa New Zealand.
As Aotearoa is a nation of the South Pacific, it’s important that Pasifika people in Aotearoa have access to their languages, cultural artforms and other aspects of Pasifika culture. We are home to the largest Pacific population in the world and home to the majority of the populations of New Zealand’s ream nations (Tokelau, Niue and Cook Islands).
Other ethnic communities, such as the Indian and Chinese communities also have specific language media and publications to provide news and other content in the way that is most accessible to those communities and reflective of the cultural needs and aspirations of those communities.
Additionally, improving accessibility to media is important to ensure the inclusion of large parts of New Zealand society. The government currently invests $4.9 million per year for media access services through NZ On Air to Able (the service provider) to make television accessible through captions and audio description so that New Zealanders who are Deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind or living with low vision have equitable access to the stories and culture of the nation. For the 2022 financial year, Able produced an average of 201 hours of captioning and 53 hours of audio description for free-to-air TV per week, for a total of more than 10,000 hours of captions and over 2,700 hours of audio description across the year.
There are steps and measures to address improving diversity of content in media and the media workforce. Media organisations producing New Zealand content can apply for funding from NZ On Air. Diversity is one of the core goals of the NZ On Air New Zealand Media Fund because “reflecting and developing New Zealand identity and culture” is the bedrock function of NZ On Air. The Public Interest Journalism Fund has supported a pilot programme to address issues in the media workforce. According to NZ On Air’s Diversity Report, diversity is improving and becoming healthier under the revised New Zealand Media Fund mechanism. The Public Interest Journalism Fund has also supported a pilot programme to address issues in the media workforce.
As part of our evaluation of the COVID-19 Media Support Package, Manatū Taonga heard directly from the media industry that there needs to be greater diversity of the media workforce, particularly in leadership, ownership and in visible roles across the sector. Through research carried out by Sapere Research Group, Manatū Taonga understands that there are concerns across the media system about the lack of representation, particularly at the print media level. These causes of under representation may be due to workforce and pipeline issues where journalism and media is not seen as an attractive career option for people entering the job market, which may create further pressures on the diversity of the journalism workforce.
Improving diversity within organisations and industry sectors is proven to have an economic benefit. Content that showcases culturally and socially diverse voices, values, and experiences can also enhance audiences’ understanding and appreciation of different ways of life. This can in turn make it easier for the public to engage with different social issues and improve the overall social cohesion within communities.
Manatū Taonga will support the development of a media system that showcases and celebrates diversity
Manatū Taonga will support the media system to produce and promote the many different media voices that make up the New Zealand media landscape and make a positive contribution to the overall social and cultural character of New Zealand.
Working with the industry to understand and support better outcomes for the media workforce
Manatū Taonga will work collaboratively across the industry on strategic ways to better plan for and develop the media workforce. This includes building a skilled workforce that meets industry needs now and in the future, supporting employers in cities and regions to find and attract staff, ensuring workplaces are responsive and enable rewarding careers, and supporting a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Working in partnership to ensure the success of the Māori media system
Manatū Taonga will work across government to achieve shared outcomes for the success of Māori media. We will work in partnership across government, with Te Puni Kōkiri and other agencies and key system stakeholders, on a coordinated strategic approach to the success of Māori media through our ongoing work and in accordance with the principle of tino rangatiratanga and Māori self-determination. This includes ongoing support for Māori journalism, Māori storytelling, workforce capability and capacity, and collaboration and integration between the Māori media sector and the wider public media.
We will also work in partnership with Te Puni Kōkiri and key agencies to provide advice on coordinating and joining content commissioning, platform distribution, and investment between Māori media and the wider public media.
Supporting the use of Pacific languages in media and broadcasting
Manatū Taonga will work in partnership with the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and Pacific broadcasters to support investment in Pacific language broadcasting and to support environments for Pacific languages to be used more often and in more spaces, including across creative arts, media and broadcasting. We will work to support the modernisation and sustainability of Pacific language and culture-focused media, arts and broadcasting, and support a shift to new formats, channels and media that meet the needs of Pacific audiences and support the growth of Pacific-focused programming.
Working with communities to refresh the role of community radio
We will continue to work with communities and stakeholders to respond to their needs and support community radio. This work includes understanding the impact of licensing and broadcasting regulations, the AM transmission switchover on community radio, to ensure that community radio can deliver for diverse communities. We will also work with community access radio stakeholders to resolve regulatory impacts and investigate long-term funding sustainability.
Protect and promote the taonga of te reo Māori
Drawing on the social principles of good government, Te Tiriti, and the Ministry’s Strategic Framework, Te Rautaki 2021–2040 (Te Rautaki), Manatū Taonga will work in partnership with others to protect and elevate te reo Māori and to protect it as cultural taonga.
The media system currently plays a key role in protecting and promoting te reo Māori me ngā tikanga Māori.
The vision for the future of the Māori media sector is a collaborative and capable Māori media community that promotes the use of te reo Māori me ngā tikanga Māori, promotes te ao Māori, and tells Māori stories in Māori ways.
The Ministry’s role is to support the success of the Māori media system and we will work in partnership across government, with Te Puni Kōkiri and other agencies and key media system stakeholders to:
Investigate and provide advice on joint investment approach for Māori content – including examining levers available to funding bodies such as Te Māngai Pāho and NZ On Air and how to formalise funding arrangements and partnerships going forward.
Support the commercial media system and will support enabling settings to drive collaboration between Māori media sector and mainstream public media in areas of shared benefit.
Work in partnership with Māori media to collaborate with mainstream public media on platforms, infrastructure and development of workforce capability.
Our success measures
Manatū Taonga intends to undertake initial research to provide an assessment of the media sector outcomes, with respect to the objectives of, the Strategic Framework. This research will provide a set of baseline results that can be measured over time against the objectives of the Strategic Framework and support ongoing analysis and reporting on the health of the New Zealand media system. This research will include monitoring and measuring the amount of Māori programming, the use of te reo Māori in New Zealand media and the Māori media workforce.
Through the strategic alignment and prioritisation of our work, and implementation of the Strategic Framework we will benchmark the health of the media sector in line with the three objectives of the strategic framework:
A thriving, vibrant commercial media system that is growing revenue, is a strong contributor to New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing and is resilient and adaptable to future trends.
The economic performance of the media sector can be measured by looking at the business performance of media enterprises and the performance and prospects of the media as a sector of the economy. This is done by analysing parameters like change in revenue, revenue sources, and efficient management. The other focus of the analysis is to see how the performance of the media sector as a business contributes to the overall economic performance. For this we can analyse the economic contribution of the media sector in terms of sizes of revenue, employment, and innovation. Proposed indicators include:
Commercial media outlets operate as efficient, ethical, and revenue-generating businesses.
Media outlets receive revenue from a variety of sources.
The media sector plays an important role in New Zealand’s economic growth through growing share of Gross Domestic Product and employment, particularly of journalists.
The media sector has an important contribution to supporting New Zealand’s wellbeing and social cohesion.
An independent trusted media system that reflects New Zealand’s values and serves the public interest.
Trust in media can be measured through surveys or more qualitative means such as questionnaires that gather an audience’s views and perceptions of different factors such as objectivity, bias, independence, and truthfulness. Proposed indicators include:
The news reporting is fair, balanced and accurate.
Multiple news sources provide people with accurate and reliable news and factual content, free of editorial bias or ownership interference, thereby helping to maintain media plurality.
The media reflect the views of the broad spectrum of political and social interests, are independent and objective, and serve the public interest.
Media journalism meets professional standards of quality.
A diverse media system that contains many diﬀerent voices, creating a range of content that supports social cohesion and accounts for the uniqueness of New Zealand communities.
Diversity is measured in a wide range of different disciplines, and measures of diversity have been applied in many different contexts. In the context of diversity within media, this means variation in representation in all aspects of media, including its workforce, from production through to media output and audience reception. Proposed indicators include:
The media system is diverse in ownership, leadership and visible roles across the sector.
The media system has a variety of different media outlets in which multichannel and multi-platform distribution is available.
The media is rich in content that showcases diverse representation of voices, opinions and analyses.
New Zealand audiences are well-distributed across all available content options and the content consumption within individual audiences is diverse.
To further develop and consolidate these measures Manatū Taonga will be prioritising a research, monitoring and evaluation framework to measure these outcomes on a regular basis, initially every two years.
Appendix One: Understanding future impacts
We have a good understanding of what is happening to the media system currently, but it is also important to understand the drivers of future trends and anticipate what impacts the future will have on the media system.
To inform our strategic context, and proactively embrace future opportunities, Manatū Taonga carried out a futures analysis of emerging and ongoing media trends. Through this process Manatū Taonga identified drivers of change that could influence the media system in the next 5–10 years:
Digital environment as the public square. The digital environment has been increasingly important in driving the news cycle, as a way for politicians to engage with the public and to bring attention to local issues of concern. Over time we will expect to see an even greater shift to the digital environment where it will become the default method of how news and opinions interact and serve as the primary and major forum for local and political discussion.
Value of media is recognised and monetised. The value of media content, particularly written news, analysis and opinion content is likely to be recognised and protected by intellectual property laws and able to be monetised by the creators, in the same ways as film and music media. This in turn will be integrated in how digital intermediaries operate and license content.
Increased competition for attention and money. With the decline of linear media, there will be a further decentralisation of content delivery platforms, which will all be competing for consumer attention and income. While we could see further platform convergence, the lack of barriers to entry means that we are just as likely to see emerging firms in certain content niches or ones that will challenge or displace the current dominant firms.
Continuing technological evolution. As the digital economy changes the way people work, this will also fundamentally change how media companies structure themselves and operate. With the decline in advertising revenue, and increased competition, there will be further evolution in operating models as media firms find optimum stable operating models.
Decreasing social license from the public. The internet media landscape began with increased optimism and an evolved high acceptance and trust from consumers leading to the development of “e-commerce”, where internet purchases are now an ordinary part of the commercial landscape.
Compared to the early internet optimism of the 2000s, the public is now much more conscious about protecting their personal information, their privacy and their overall security while operating online. The public is now more conscious and aware of how their information is used, and how algorithms operate and affect their online experience. This decline in trust and social license in turn, would have implications for the development of new products, the continued use of algorithms and how the digital environment develops more generally.
Increasing demand for New Zealand content. The public will continue to demand more New Zealand content on both traditional and digital media. Firms will need to work hard to create content to satisfy this demand, and Government will need to ensure that economic and other incentives support the creation of New Zealand content.
Decline of legacy and linear media. We will continue to see linear production and transmission costs increase, advertising and, audiences shift further to digital and on demand, hard copy purchase and subscription revenues decrease. Many firms who currently serve both legacy and digital markets will find it increasingly costly to operate multiple transmission and distribution channels. We anticipate that most commercial media organisations will increasingly transition to digital first models, then to digital only models over time. This will have the effect of linear broadcast media focused on public media, or publicly funded media with relatively few additional competitors.
New opportunities for media in emerging technologies. Since the mid-2000s much of the media system has been shaped by technological growth from the mid-2000s. But this has not been a linear track, several technological innovations have had to come together to combine their effectiveness and shape the media system into what it is now.
Digital jurisdiction. Many nations are grappling with the issue of regulating transnational digital technology companies and are reconciling the limitations of geographical jurisdiction with the decentralised global nature of the internet. While at the same time, there is a fundamental shift in how digital technology companies are integrating themselves into daily lives and are becoming more akin to public utilities rather than sources of entertainment.
Enforcement of legal and human rights in a digital environment. Increasingly, crime and human rights in the digital environment fall within the regulatory powers of domestic and international agencies, but there are still pockets of regulatory or jurisdictional uncertainty. In the future we expect the distinction between offline and online behaviour to blur, in both public estimation and regulation by authorities, nation states and enforcement jurisdictions.
Updated on 27th September 2022