Legislation to merge TVNZ and RNZ ready for Parliamentary debate

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Wellington, June 23, 2022

A draft legislation which would see state broadcasters RNZ and TVNZ subsumed into a new entity has been published ahead of its introduction to Parliament.

It would take effect from 1 March next year, setting up Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media (ANZPM) as a not-for-profit autonomous Crown entity.

The two broadcasters would then become subsidiaries, with all staff transferred to the new organisation, under the leadership of a new board.

Under a commercial and government mixed-funding model, services which are advertising-free will remain so and any profit will be reinvested.

New Charter and independence

Services and programming that carry a fee must become freely available within a reasonable time, and the organisation will be required to ensure that the overall content remains “predominantly free of charge.”

This year’s budget provided $370 million over four years in operating expenditure and $306 million in capital funding for the new entity.

It will operate under a Charter that sets out goals and responsibilities, with editorial independence enshrined in law.

Board members must collectively have the financial and sector-specific skills and experience to meet the Charter. At least two of them must also have good knowledge of te ao Maori and tikanga Maori, appointed in consultation with the Minister for Maori Development, and engage with Maori where relevant.

Many of the decisions about how ANZPM will run in practice have been left to the six-to-nine member board appointed by the government. This includes when RNZ and TVNZ will be dissolved, though this must be before 1 March 2028 with at least three months notice.

Collaboration with other media

The entity is also required to collaborate with other media entities, including Maori media. Freeview; Ngā Taonga Sound Archives; and TVNZ’s international, investments, and free-to-air service arms are also listed as subsidiaries.

Kris Faafoi, who had spearheaded the project as Broadcasting Minister since 2018, officially announced the plan in March. At the time, he signalled that the organisation would be up and running by the middle of the year.

Mr Faafoi resigned from Parliament to spend more time with his family. He delivered his valedictory speech on June 23, 2022.

His successor, Willie Jackson, will introduce the Bill on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.

Summary of Objectives

The objectives of ANZPM are (a) Reflecting and representing a strong New Zealand identity and culture (b) Ensuring te reo Maori and tikanga Maori are valued, visible and flourishing (c) An inclusive, enriched and connected society, supporting children’s wellbeing and growth and New Zealand’s diverse languages, regions and cultures (d) Fostering a healthy, informed and participative democracy

According to the legislation, ANZPM would achieve this through freely available, accessible, and high-quality content across all genres that informs, enlightens, and entertains.

News and information must be reliable and accurate, comprehensive, impartial and balanced, while the organisation must also reflect New Zealand’s history, and ensure Maori can access content by and about themselves. Strong relationships with Pacific Island countries must also be recognised and supported.

The Minister cannot give direction over content, complaints, newsgathering, and compliance with broadcasting standards, and cannot remove people for making decisions over such matters.

Directors of ANZPM will not receive any compensation for loss of office.

–Published under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

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