Maori television gets the green lightMaurice Williamson Communications
OFFICE OF THE MINISTER OF MAORI AFFAIRS
OFFICE OF THE MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS
TUESDAY 19 MAY 1998
Maori television gets the green light
The Minister of Maori Affairs, the Hon Tau Henare and the Minister of Communications, the Hon Maurice Williamson, today announced increased funding and a related structure to promote the Maori language through television broadcasting.
The Crown has an obligation under the Treaty of Waitangi to promote the Maori language. The Courts have clearly indicated to the Crown that it must take steps to promote the Maori language through television broadcasting. The Government has been considering how best to give effect to its Maori television policy, in consultation with Maori.
"The Government wants to ensure that good quality, cost effective Maori language programming goes to air on prime time television as soon as possible.
It has consulted widely with Maori on how Maori television services should be delivered. Maori want the Government to get on and deliver Maori television services. A strong theme of the consultations was the need for a nationwide Maori television channel aimed at Maori language promotion.
The Government has decided that Maori language programmes will be purchased through Te Mangai Paho on a competitive basis and the assets necessary to establish a nationwide Maori television channel will be managed by a Maori trust", the Ministers said.
Te Mangai Paho's funding will be increased by $16.875 million per annum. Together with funding already available under the Public Broadcasting Fee, Te Mangai Paho will have approximately $19 million to purchase Maori language programmes for broadcasting on the main television networks and other broadcasters, including a Maori television channel.
A small group is being established to advise on the establishment of a Maori trust to manage television frequencies set aside for the promotion of Maori language culture and a capital sum necessary to establish a Maori television channel. The Government will consider making available to the trust a further one-off payment of up to $11 million for this purpose.
"Combined with existing funding being provided for promoting the Maori language through radio broadcasting ($9.3 million in 1997/98), this amounts to a significant increase in funding for Maori language promotion through broadcasting," the Ministers concluded.
The establishment group for the Maori trust will complete its work over the next few months, and detailed arrangements are expected to be announced by September 1998. The Ministers of Maori Affairs and Communications will be announcing membership of the group shortly.
Further work is to be undertaken on what steps can be taken to improve opportunities for the training of Maori broadcasters, especially in television.
Te Mangai Paho to be strengthened
The Minister of Maori Affairs, the Hon Tau Henare and the Minister of Communications, the Hon Maurice Williamson, today announced that Te Mangai Paho, the Maori broadcasting funding agency, will remain as a stand alone organisation but strengthened.
Last year, in fulfilment of its commitment under the Coalition Agreement, the Government decided to review the operation of Te Mangai Paho. A review team headed by an independent chairperson, Mr Kim Workman, a former senior Maori public servant, reported to the Government in November 1997. Before making final decisions, the Government consulted with Maori. Consultation took place in February 1998.
"The Government has accepted that Te Mangai Paho should remain as a stand alone organisation but be strengthened. The key area for attention is Te Mangai Paho's Board. A strong, competent Board is a critical factor to the success of the Government's Maori broadcasting policy.
We will be seeking nominations for appointments to Te Mangai Paho's Board from such groups as the National Maori Organisations and Maori broadcasters.
The Government will be seeking changes to the Broadcasting Act 1989 to make Te Mangai Paho subject to the power of ministerial direction in relation to matters of general government policy, and to make it clearer that Te Mangai Paho stands primarily for the promotion of the Maori language through broadcasting.
Te Mangai Paho will also be receiving additional administrative resources so that it can manage its funding of Maori television programmes effectively.
Te Mangai Paho has been under the microscope for a long time by various agencies, and it is now time to let it get on with the important task of promoting the Maori language through broadcasting. Te Mangai Paho's performance has improved markedly in recent times, and the measures announced today should further enhance its ability to ensure that public funds are used effectively," the Ministers concluded.
MAORI BROADCASTING: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q. Why is the Government funding Maori television?
A. The Maori language is in a perilous state. The Crown has a pressing Treaty and legal obligation to develop and implement a policy on Maori television services. The Crown has given assurances to the Courts, up to the Privy Council, that it will set out a timetable for developing a policy and publishing a plan for "the development of special purpose Maori television and for the extension of Maori language programming on commercial television."
Q. How is the Government's Maori television policy different from Aotearoa Television Network?
A. In a number of ways. First, funding for Maori language programming through television has been approved for three years, when its effectiveness will be reviewed. ATN was a short-term pilot programme.
Second, a Maori trust will be responsible for managing the assets needed to establish a nationwide Maori television channel. The trust will need to ensure that these assets are used for their primary purpose - promotion of Maori language - and that they are used in a cost effective manner.
Under ATN, there were no such governance arrangements. ATN broadcast only to the Auckland region.
Third, while Te Mangai Paho's arrangements for making funding decisions in respect of ATN were basically sound, there were some deficiencies in terms of planning and monitoring. These will be overcome in future by allowing more time in the planning stages and ensuring that Te Mangai Paho is adequately funded to manage its funding contracts.
Q. How much will a Maori television channel cost?
A. This depends largely on what kind of programme schedule is envisaged. But allowing for a reasonable level of Maori language programming in prime time hours, it has been estimated that a Maori television channel would cost approximately $12.3-$12.7m (excl GST) per annum, allowing for modest income derived from advertising and sponsorship. Of this, approximately $6.1m (excl GST) would constitute direct programming costs, i.e. with no allowance for transmission and general operating expenses.
In addition, there are likely to be capital set-up costs which the establishment group will investigate.
Q. What will be the role of the Maori trust?
A. The Maori trust will be charged with managing assets required to establish a nationwide Maori television channel, in particular, UHF frequencies reserved by the Government for the promotion of Maori language and culture, and a one-off capital sum to build a transmission network, purchase the necessary equipment and fit-out suitable premises, as required.
It is envisaged that the trust will lease the use of these assets to a Maori broadcaster under suitable terms and conditions aimed at ensuring that they used for their primary purpose - promotion of Maori language - and that they are used in a cost effective manner.
Q. How will the Maori trust operate?
A. The detailed operation of the Maori trust, including how trustees will be appointed, will be a question for the establishment group to answer.
If the group finds its task impracticable, the Government will reconsider the matter when the group reports.
Q. Who will be the members of the establishment group for the Maori trust?
A. The Minsters of Maori Affairs and Communications will be considering membership of the group over the next week or so. They will be seeking nominations from the National Maori Organisations and will be looking to appoint members who have skills and experience in such areas as governance arrangements, business planning and operations, and the Maori language.
The group will be small - three to four members - and will be supported by a secretariat provided by the Ministry of Commerce.
Q. What will the establishment group be tasked to do?
A. The group will be required to report to the Ministers of Maori Affairs and Communications, by 31 July 1998, with recommendations on the establishment of a Maori trust. In particular, the group will be requested to develop a suitable trust deed; advise on an appointments procedure and the appointment of initial trustees; advise how the operation of the trust should be funded; and advise on any other relevant matter.
Q. What consultation has there been with Maori over the development of the Government's Maori television policy?
A. The Crown consulted widely with Maori last year and the outcome of this consultation is summarised in the publication entitled "Maori Television - A Summary of Views" (attached). In addition, Ministers and Principals of the National Maori Organisations have met on a number of occasions, most recently as late as the week before last.
Q. How will the Crown ensure that Maori language programmes are broadcast on the main television networks?
A. Te Mangai Paho will be responsible for deciding the appropriate balance between programmes shown on the main television networks and other broadcasters, including a Maori television channel.
Te Mangai Paho's current funding of Maori language programmes that are produced and broadcast by TVNZ amounts to approximately $4.1 million per annum. This purchases 3¼ hours per week over a 36 week period. Additional funds are currently being provided for independent productions.
Q. Will legislation be required to implement the Government's proposals?
A. No, although two amendments to the Broadcasting Act 1989 will be sought in respect of Te Mangai Paho. Te Mangai Paho
Q. What is the current membership of Te Mangai Paho's Board?
A. Te Mangai Paho's Board currently comprises Bill Nathan, Toby Curtis, Frank Soloman and Ian Cormack. Under the Broadcasting Act 1989, up to seven Board members can be appointed.
Q. How will the Board be strengthened?
A. In considering Board appointments, the Ministers of Communications and Maori Affairs will be consulting widely. In particular, they will be seeking nominations from the National Maori Organisations and other Maori groups, including Maori broadcasters, for suitably qualified and experienced candidates.
Q. Why is the Government seeking a power of ministerial direction over Te Mangai Paho?
A. The proposed direction is limited to matters of general government policy. Ministers will not have the power to intervene in particular funding decisions. It is desirable that the Government has the power to direct Te Mangai Paho in relation to matters of general government policy in view of its Treaty and legal obligations to promote the Maori language.
The direction will bring Te Mangai Paho into line with the position that has existed for NZ On Air for some time.
Q. What changes will be sought in respect of Te Mangai Paho's statutory functions?
A. It is proposed to make it clearer that Te Mangai Paho stands primarily for the promotion of Maori language and its culture (te reo Maori me ona tikanga) as opposed to the Maori language and culture. (Te Mangai Paho is charged with promoting Maori language and culture by making funds available for broadcasting and the production of programmes to be broadcast.
NZ On Air is similarly charged with promotion of Maori language and culture as one of its functions. In practice,
Te Mangai Paho places emphasis primarily on Maori language promotion, in line with the Government's priorities, while NZ On Air concentrates primarily on Maori cultural programming).
Q. What funds will be available to Te Mangai Paho in 1998/99?
A. Te Mangai Paho will receive 14.4% of the Public Broadcasting Fee, net of collection costs, from NZ On Air. In 1998/99, this is forecast to be $12.3 million (excl GST). In Te Mangai Paho's draft Statement of Intent for 1998/99, Te Mangai Paho plans to spend $9.2 million on Maori radio and $1.1 million on account of its own administration.
In addition, Te Mangai Paho will receive a Crown appropriation of $16.875 million (incl GST), tagged for Maori language programming through television broadcasting.
Q. What funding is currently provided for Maori radio services?
A. In 1997/98, Te Mangai Paho is making $9.3 million available for the purchase of Maori radio services.
Of this, $4.5 million is being provided to iwi stations for Maori language and cultural programming; $2.2 million for the purchase of national Maori radio services; $1.3 million for Maori language outputs in excess of the threshold requirement; $0.7 million for the "Starnet" (a telecommunications link used to distribute programming to stations); $0.4 million for coverage extensions; and $0.2 million for independent programming.
Q. Is funding for Maori radio to be increased?
A. A funding increase is not planned at this stage.
This question cannot be finally answered, however, until the Government has completed its planned consultation with Maori in Hamilton in July 1998.
Q. Is it reasonable for Te Mangai Paho to require Maori radio broadcasters to broadcast Maori language in blocks of at least ten minutes?
A. Most Maori radio stations broadcast in blocks of at least one hour.
They find this is the most practical and effective way to meet their Maori language commitments.
It should be noted that Te Mangai Paho is not in the business of funding Maori radio as such, but only to the extent that it promotes the Maori language.
The Ministry of Commerce makes available frequencies on the same basis.