Public media entity Bill gets first reading in the House

The Bill to create a new public media entity, Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media, had its first reading in Parliament today.

“The Bill brings in the changes needed to make sure that our public media will keep delivering for future generations.

“With increasing levels of misinformation around the world, a rapidly changing media landscape, and increasing global competition, New Zealand needs strong, independent, public media more than ever – it is critical to the functioning of a healthy democracy,” Minister for Broadcasting and Media Willie Jackson says.

Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media (ANZPM) will be built on the best of TVNZ and RNZ and it will keep what audiences currently value, but it will be designed to meet the challenges of changing technology and audiences change and global competition, Willie Jackson said.

“We need a public media entity that continues to inform, entertain and educate in a uniquely Kiwi way, and that has strong, independent journalism that holds government and those in power to account.

“But the new entity will be focussed on future possibilities and better placed to take those opportunities. It will have the flexibility to meet audiences where they are and ensure all the people and voices of Aotearoa are represented,” Willie Jackson said.

The Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media Bill sets out the parameters to create the new entity and contains the Charter under which the entity will operate.

The principles-based Charter provides the framework for what the entity will be expected to achieve, what it will need to deliver, and the way it will be expected to work. The entity will be accountable each year for reporting on how it is fulfilling its Charter obligations.

The Bill:

  • Makes clear ANZPM’s editorial independence and its role as a trusted source of news and information.
  • Recognises the Crown’s responsibility to give effect to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The Charter also sets out objectives around reflecting Māori stories and perspectives.
  • Provides for the entity’s mixed funding model, of both Crown and commercial revenue, to make the entity more sustainable, and
  • Confirms its role as a public media entity and to collaborate, where appropriate, with other New Zealand media - for example, sharing infrastructure with other public media in order to reach audiences and developing talent across the sector.

The Bill also provides transitional arrangements that will see RNZ and TVNZ’s staff, assets, and contracts transfer to the new entity when it is formed next year.

Willie Jackson said this approach provided certainty for both staff and audiences during the period of transition. It is planned for the new entity to be established on March 1, 2023 - this is the commencement date in the Bill - and to begin operating with its new funding and mandate in July 2023.

“These changes are vital for the future of public media in New Zealand – the possibilities of what Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media will achieve are endless when it has audiences at its heart, a consistent focus, and flexible, modern legislation,” Willie Jackson said.

The Bill will be considered by the Economic Development, Science and Innovation select committee, with a six-month consultation period to ensure New Zealanders can have their say on this important work.