United front on merger crash

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AUCKLAND, Wednesday: Major industry players MediaWorks and the Radio Broadcasters Association are applauding the Government’s decision not to continue with the RNZ/TVNZ merger “in its current form”.

Prime minister Chris Hipkins today scrapped plans to create the public broadcasting group Aotearoa NZ Public Media (ANZPM), ending efforts to merge TVNZ and RNZ under a new parent company.

Radio Broadcasters Association
RBA ceo Jana Rangooni said: “The radio industry believes the current legislation was rushed and left too much ambiguity around things like editorial independence, public media versus commercial outcomes and the impact the new entity would have on the media landscape in New Zealand.

“We look forward to working with the minister and officials to look at ways the Government can ensure there is a vibrant public and independent media landscape in New Zealand that has high degrees of trust and engagement.”

“The industry wants the Government to ensure officials address the activities of the global giants like Google and Meta that are not under the same commercial or content regulatory frameworks as New Zealand media companies but are now taking well over half the advertising revenue in the country.

“As well as the big issues there are also simple things like overhauling 1998’s Broadcasting Act that still precludes NZ radio and television companies from running commercials on specific days like Christmas Day when our competitors at Google and Meta take revenue that New Zealand media companies are not allowed to”.

“For radio specifically, we have been trying to engage with the Government on spectrum payments and tenure which last time took over 10 years to negotiate.

“We hope with the merger off the table, minsters and officials will now have time to address the wider industry issues required to build a stronger sector overall.”

MediaWorks ceo Cam Wallace said: “MediaWorks has always been supportive of a strong and thriving public media in New Zealand but believe the merger could have had unintended consequences for not only commercial operators, but the wider media ecosystem. 

“We’re pleased the Government has decided to shelve this legislation and focus on the priorities which matter most to Kiwis.

“It’s a shame that so much has been spent on this proposal at a time when the industry as a whole in New Zealand is dealing with decreasing advertising revenues in the face of a likely recession.

“The proposed merger has created a degree of uncertainty for staff at both entities and in the wider industry and we’re pleased that everyone can now concentrate on delivering for New Zealanders.

“Both public and commercial media play important roles in creating a thriving, sustainable sector. MediaWorks remains committed to continuing to work closely with TVNZ and RNZ to reach New Zealand’s diverse audiences with quality local content.”

“Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media is dead – long live TVNZ and Radio NZ,” wrote Business Desk’s Daniel Dunkley.

“The new PM’s decision draws a line under months of speculation around the controversial public media plans, as Hipkins refocuses Labour’s efforts on fixing the ailing economy, addressing the cost-of-living crisis and regaining ground in the polls during an election year. 

“ANZPM has been on the brink since late last year as headlines on the policy turned increasingly negative.”

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