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Strong Public Media Programme

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Why this programme of work is needed

The huge growth in social and online media presence within the wider media sector is really changing what New Zealanders are watching and listening to and how they do it.

More New Zealanders – across all age groups – watch video on demand than watch television and more households have access to Netflix than a radio.

While it’s beneficial that there is access to far more entertainment and news and in more convenient ways, the way our media operates and performs – and in particular our public media – impacts our society. It provides:

  • Access to a range of trusted news and information that might not otherwise be produced or accessed, which helps democracies and society function effectively
  • A building block for our culture as New Zealanders, allowing them to see themselves, our country and the world through our unique lens
  • Vital channels for New Zealand journalism, content creators and producers
  • The Government has responsibility to ensure that the primary public media that it owns and funds – RNZ and TVNZ – perform these functions to the best of their ability and with efficiency. 

Both TVNZ and RNZ have a good foothold in the digital landscape, however they will be limited into the future as they currently operate under legislation that is primarily based on broadcasting radio and television. In addition, this same legislation constrains their opportunities for collaboration.

As a result, they do not serve some key audience groups that use other forms of media - such as young New Zealanders and smaller communities – as well as they could.

In addition, traditional advertising revenue sources are declining and there is duplication of investment and infrastructure within TVNZ and RNZ.

With New Zealand’s public media operating in this way, the key contribution it makes to the sector by helping provide content that wouldn’t otherwise be produced or be accessible, is compromised.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic Government recognised it needed to address these issues and opportunities so that it could provide New Zealanders with a public media service that had strength and scale for the future, in a sustainable media eco-system. That need has only become more vital, as the desire for trusted information has grown and concern around misinformation rises.

The work that has been done so far

After working with TVNZ, RNZ and other media experts to consider options, Cabinet agreed to commission a business case that explored the viability of a new public media organisation with the following characteristics:

  • A single legislative entity
  • Holding a clearly defined public media mandate and purpose
  • Providing public media services across a variety of platforms
  • Operating with a mixed funding model
  • Be a not-for-profit entity
  • Hold editorial and operational independence
  • Advertising-free services will continue to be advertising free

The Cabinet paper that agreed to this work (PDF 330KB)

Work originally commenced in early 2020, however was paused to enable a focus on the urgent support for the sector required as result of Covid-19.

In April 2021 a ministerial advisory group – the Business Case Governance Group – was appointed by the Minister for Broadcasting and Media to oversee the delivery of the business case and Deloitte were commissioned to undertake the work on it. Through April 2021 to September 2021, Manatū Taonga worked with Deloitte, TVNZ, RNZ and NZ On Air to complete the business case.

The Business Case exploring the viability of a new public media entity (PDF 3.3MB)

In tandem, work was undertaken with the media sector and key audience groups to gather insights and perspectives on the attributes of a charter, for an organisation with the characteristics being tested by the business case.

Summary of views on attributes of a charter (PDF 165KB)

At the conclusion of these two workstreams, the Business Case Governance Group reflected on the findings and drafted a report for Minister Faafoi providing advice on the way forward from the business case, the approach to a charter and more generally for public media in New Zealand. 

The Business Case Governance Group report (PDF 3.2MB)

These documents, along with a range of other policy and legal considerations, helped inform the paper that Cabinet considered in February 2022.

The Cabinet Paper to establish a new public media entity (PDF 330KB)

The decision that has been made by Cabinet

On February 21 2022, Cabinet decided that the Government would invest in developing a new, independent public media organisation. 

Cabinet Minute CAB-SUB-0034: Establishment of a new public media entity (PDF 460 KB)

The new organisation will build on the best of what RNZ and TVNZ currently provide, and will be digitally enabled, multi-platform and focused on meeting the needs of the full range of New Zealand audiences.

It will provide trusted, balanced news as a core service.

It will use a range of platforms, including current radio and linear TV and those of third parties, to reach New Zealanders in the way they choose.

The organisation will have a clear public media focus and be required to operate under a charter, so that there is clarity and transparency about its role in supporting the sector as well as delivering public media outcomes.

It will embrace the Crown’s Te Tiriti obligations, providing Māori stories, perspectives and development of tikanga Māori, alongside Māori media.

The organisation will be required to work with the sector wherever possible, to build the strength of the media eco-system.  It would support content development and production, as well as share access to platforms and content.

It will have a requirement to earn revenue from some services to deliver its public media responsibilities sustainably, however current commercial free services will remain so and it will operate as not for profit.

The organisation will work collaboratively ensure NZ On Air’s important oversight of publicly funded content production and distribution in the sector is retained.

The benefits for New Zealanders

Foremost, with the ability to utilise a number of mediums and platforms at its disposal and an incentive to collaborate, the new organisation can adapt and pivot to better meet the needs of a range of New Zealand audiences.

Ultimately this increased reach will support our democracy, as more New Zealanders have access to trusted, balanced content that is relevant to them.

The wider media eco-system will have greater certainty about the focus, direction and activity of our public media, better positioning organisations within the sector to undertake their respective priorities.

The new organisation’s commitment to te Tiriti of Waitangi will extend the reach of te reo Māori me ngā tikanga Māori content, to a broad range of audiences.

Our unique culture and range of communities will be better reflected, giving us the fullest sense of the voices, faces and perspectives across New Zealand.

Government investment in technology and infrastructure for a single organisation will be more efficient and a mixed funding model provides more sustainability over time.

The work that lies ahead

The next phase of the Strong Public Media Programme is focused on how best to establish the new entity, alongside TVNZ and RNZ, while enabling those organisations to continue to operate effectively for the near term. 

There is a comprehensive programme of work planned for the coming 18 months to deliver to this, that includes:

  • the development of the legislation that will establish the new organisation, including a charter that will govern it
  • the detailed design of the organisation
  • the process required to smoothly transition from the status quo, to the new organisation being operational
  • the design of the monitoring process that will ensure transparency for the performance of the organisation, to New Zealanders.

Wherever relevant, this work will also provide opportunity for the sector and New Zealanders to contribute their perspectives or expertise.  The primary opportunity for this will be the Select Committee process – a key part of developing the new legislation - which is anticipated to run in the second half of 2022.

An overview of the Strong Public Media Programme timeline 

An Establishment Board – that includes representatives of TVNZ and RNZ as well as other organisational design and media expertise – will oversee this phase of work and provide advice to the Minister of Broadcasting and Media.  

Final Terms of Reference for the Establishment Board (PDF 95KB)

Beehive Media Release: Public Media Entity Establishment Board Appointments (22 April 2022)

Quick links


Beehive Media Release: New public media entity to showcase New Zealand voices and stories (10 March 2022)

Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media Bill / NZ Parliament


Please direct questions or requests for further information to [email protected]

Updated on 23rd June 2022