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Regional and community broadcasting policy framework (July 2006)

The policy framework provides a foundation for policy development, Crown funding interventions and decisions on license allocations. It does not guarantee that spectrum will be reserved for specific purposes or in designated areas. In the post-digital switchover environment, television broadcasters do not need a license to broadcast if they choose to broadcast on a multiplex operated by an existing licensee.


To enable a range of broadcasting services, content and formats for regional, local and community and minority audiences including ethnic minorities, communities of interest and students.

The goal covers services and programmes, geographic spread and communities of interest, and it complements the nationwide and international focus of network broadcasting.


The objectives relate to the broadcasting environment for regional, local, community and minority audiences. The objectives are to:

  • Promote local broadcasting services (local broadcasting);
  • Promote innovation and a diverse range of content and formats for different audience identities and interests (diversity);
  • Facilitate wide technical, cultural and social access to broadcasting (accessibility); and
  • Provide for long term developments affecting broadcasting (future-proofing).

Features of Objective a, To promote local broadcasting services (local broadcasting), are that:

  1. broadcasters are supported to reflect and develop regional and local character and identity, and to maintain a sense of local mission and place amidst the global broadcasting environment;
  2. coverage of regional and local news, current affairs, information, sport and cultural events is supported;
  3. broadcasting is used to enhance democratic and civic participation among regional and local populations;
  4. broadcasters have a strong and ongoing local physical presence and involvement; and
  5. there is licensing for local and regional commercial and non-commercial broadcasters owned and operated independently from national commercial networks.

Objective a. responds to the licensing needs of local and regional audiences, the gaps left by network programming, and the need for a strong local broadcaster presence that promotes audience participation.

Features of Objective b, To promote innovation and a diverse range of content and formats to reflect audience identities and cater for their interests (diversity), are that:

  1. a range of content and formats is supported in order to suit regional, local, and community audiences and ethnic, linguistic, and other minorities and other groups with shared interests;
  2. innovation in broadcasting is promoted and supported;
  3. flexible services and licensing arrangements are possible, to enable evolution over time to suit changing audience interests; and
  4. licensing for communities of interest which are owned and operated independently from national commercial networks is enabled.

Objective b. promotes the broadcasting interests of ethnic minorities and communities of interest and provides for the licensing for appropriately targeted services and programming. It also promotes innovation and originality as regional and community broadcasting offers some opportunities often outside the ambit of network broadcasting.

Features of Objective c, To facilitate wide technical, cultural and social access to broadcasting (accessibility), are that:

  1. broadcasting reaches underserved regional, local, and community populations, and ethnic, linguistic, disabled and other minorities and other groups with shared interests;
  2. technology and other means are exploited to make programmes more widely available to audiences;
  3. communities of interest or ethnicity have stronger communication links;
  4. community participation in programmes and programme-making is supported;
  5. broadcasters are strongly involved with their community and support community activities; and
  6. community ownership of a station and/or its licences is possible.

Objective c. promotes participation, technical accessibility, and communication links among social and cultural groups. It enables regional and community broadcasting which is not defined by advertising markets and therefore can provide a voice and shared public space for those often not well catered for.

Features of Objective d, To provide for long term developments affecting broadcasting (future-proofing), are that:

  1. spectrum is allocated and reserved for future developments in population demographics, audience demand, and technology, particularly digital developments;
  2. there is an incentivising environment for digital uptake by audiences, eg by making it affordable and convenient, providing a range of services and new content; and
  3. media functionality is promoted by encouraging broadcasters to provide a range of media services such as imaginative use of linked media and media literacy education for audiences.

With accelerating changes in technology and audience tastes, it is important that a policy framework provides scope for future developments and enables New Zealanders to continue to enjoy the benefits of local, diverse, and accessible services.

Updated on 27th July 2016