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Broadcasting - Policy Summary

Julie Anne Genter MP
julieanne [dot] genter [at] parliament [dot] govt [dot] nz (Email)

Download the Broadcasting Policy as PDF

Introduction

Broadcasting is a key element in how we, as a community, talk to each other, forge our collective identity and satisfy our need for information and desire for entertainment. New Zealand has one of the most deregulated broadcasting environments in the world. Since 1991, when the current regulatory framework was introduced, Labour and National governments have both pursued a policy of maximising the sale of broadcasting rights to commercial interests, removing restrictions on both the aggregation of media ownership and foreign control. As a result we now have:

  • The lowest amount of local programming on television of any OECD country. The failure to see ourselves adequately reflected on television undermines our self image and identity as a nation.
  • Foreign control of our media: four companies, all overseas-owned, dominate the New Zealand news media. There is a near duopoly of print and radio, a monopoly in pay television, and only three significant competitors (including the state-owned channels) in free-to-air television.
  • Radio and television channels have reduced high-cost programming, including investigative journalism, documentaries, local news, New Zealand drama and children's television.
  • News-gathering and reporting has become more centralised, and the same stories are channelled into radio, television, the internet and print media. News reporting has become increasingly dramatic, emotive and sensationalised, as broadcasters compete for audience attention.
  • Increasing competition for advertising revenue can result in pressure on journalists and editors to not pursue stories that advertisers might dislike.
  • Our state television broadcaster has contradictory objectives to maximise profits and provide public service television. Television New Zealand (TVNZ) has become virtually indistinguishable from other commercial television channels.
  • We have various Codes of Conduct for television channels, but nobody is monitoring to see if they are implemented, and the penalties for breaching them are minimal.
  • We have the lowest levels of state funding of public service television in the world.

Glossary

TVNZ: Television New Zealand RNZ: Radio New Zealand

Vision

We need a strong, diverse and independent media that contributes to the maintenance of effective democracy and Aotearoa New Zealand's social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being. We acknowledge that the media plays a key role in:

  • Entertaining us all, so that we may enjoy each others' achievements, triumphs and laughter; share our hopes, dreams and sorrows; and through story, song, documentary and drama, learn to respect and appreciate our common humanity and develop our sense of shared identity and purpose.
  • Educating the peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand, so that they can understand their own and each others history, place in the world, and possible futures;
  • Informing the citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand, so they will know whom they are voting for, be able to assess political parties' visions for the future, and judge for themselves whether their elected representatives are acting in New Zealand's best interests.

Key Principles

  1. We recognise the place of Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a founding document of New Zealand, and the special place of Maori broadcasting.
  2. Citizens need timely and accurate information about their rights and responsibilities, knowledge of our political institutions and an appreciation of each others' needs, interests and aspirations, these matters must be universally and freely available through broadcast media.
  3. The media should inform, educate and entertain in a manner that supports citizens to participate effectively in democracy.
  4. A vigorous, independent and diverse media is the cornerstone of a free society: the media are none of these things if they are predominantly controlled by the state, or owned and controlled by international media conglomerates, or dominated by local commercial monopolies.
  5. The media wield significant social, cultural and economic power, which must be used responsibly. An independent media should responsibly self-regulating - but self-regulation does not imply an absence of regulation: it must rest on the foundation of a strong regulatory framework that reinforces responsible self-management.
  6. There is no place for excessive levels of gratuitous violence, presented as "entertainment", on free-to-air television.
  7. Non-violent resolution of political and social conflict is based on knowledge, acceptance and understanding of diverse communities; and of their needs, interests and aspirations.

Read the full broadcasting policy for specific policy initiatives.

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