Quotas only one option - MinisterCultural Affairs
Introducing quotas is only one way to raise the level of local content on air, Hon Marie Hasler Minister for Culture and Heritage said today in response to the Labour party's broadcasting policy that would see quotas on radio and television established.
"I have always believed local content is too low and this is why I have asked my Ministry to research what other countries do in this regard," Ms Hasler said.
"This survey is now complete and a discussion document on the findings will be circulated to interest groups early next month.
"Obviously there is a range of options for Government and we want to find out what people involved in broadcasting in this country see as the most effective way of getting more of New Zealand on air.
"I look forward to the response to this discussion document."
Ms Hasler said she believes the current upsurge in New Zealand music is because we have the talent and because the level of music played on commercial radio is rising through voluntary means.
NZ On Air figures show that the level of local content on adult contemporary stations has risen from 6.01% in the 1997 June quarter to 8.90% to the June quarter this year. The level on rock stations has risen from 4.05% to 10.53% for the same period.
"The increasing level of New Zealand music is reflected by Shihad with My Mind's Sedate currently the number six top selling single, and Stellar's Mix as the number one album and Garageland at number 10 with their album Do What You Want.
"As yet there are unresolved difficulties with establishing quotas and ultimately some one will have to bear the cost - whether it be broadcasters, the industry or the taxpayer.
"Under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) New Zealand has agreed to give full market access and equal national treatment to other countries in the area of audio-visual services.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises that introducing a quota system would expose us to demand by other countries for compensation.
"Also our bilateral obligations with Australia through our Closer Economic Relations - Trade Agreement (CER) means we would probably have to extend any New Zealand quota system to Australian programmes and producers. (The New Zealand film and television industry, under the Project Blue Sky banner, successfully sought the inclusion of New Zealand content under the Australian quota system.)
"While these problems are not insurmountable what we need to do is establish what is the best way to raise local content.
"I believe Government initiatives, announced yesterday, to give youth radio their own radio spectrum and supporting the Music Industry Forum will have a significant impact in raising the level of local content on air.
"The more people are exposed to our fine music, particularly young listeners, the more a demand for our music will be created. Popular music is a significant form of cultural expression, especially for young people.
"Ways to raise the level of local content on television certainly need to be looked at and I am sure the local content discussion document will see key industry people come forward with some innovative ways and means on how we can achieve this."