$6 million allocated for under-served audiences, Māori

By Leah Te Whata

The government has announced that the $15mil of media funding allocated in this year’s Budget will be split between a new innovation fund, Radio NZ and NZ On Air.

Communications Minister Clare Curran says, "In all healthy democracies, the media plays a critical role in holding public and private institutions to account and I want our public media system to continue to do that."

Curran indicated last year that she envisaged the bulk would go to RNZ.  After a submission to a ministerial advisory group warned the government to avoid perceptions of bias and favouritism, $4.5mil has been allocated.

Chair of Radio New Zealand's Board of Governors, Jim Mather says, "We're very proud to have the opportunity to develop a new pathway for RNZ that's going to be bold, audacious and aspirational."

$4mil is earmarked for NZ On Air to support the production of more diverse local content and a new Innovation Fund will receive $6mil to drive more public media content for under-served audiences such as Māori and Pacific peoples, children and regional New Zealand.

Curran says, "For too long, New Zealand has had the lowest level of public service media funding of almost any developed country in the world.  This exciting concept is a new type of sector-wide collaboration to encourage the creation of more public media content bringing together RNZ, NZ On Air and the local production sector."

Another $500,000 will be used to work out the future level of funding required for public media and research into how Crown-funded media agencies can use their assets more efficiently.

Television New Zealand has cautioned the government not to get too directly involved in the media market, especially after the controversy that lead to the resignation of former Radio New Zealand senior manager, Carol Hirschfeld.