Mega-broadcaster mooted for New Zealand
The New Zealand government is pushing ahead with plans to create an ABC-style broadcaster.
On Friday, Communications Minister Kris Faafoi announced the consultants PwC would conduct a business case to create a super public media outlet to replace state television arm TVNZ and Radio New Zealand.
The move comes at an uncertain time for New Zealand's media landscape.
Last October, the country's sole commercial television network - TV3 - was put up for sale by owners Mediaworks, with a buyer still yet to be found.
Troubled news company Stuff, owned by Australian broadcaster Nine, is also on the chopping block, with owners hoping a second attempt to merge with NZME, owners of the New Zealand Herald, won't be blocked by the Commerce Commission as it was in 2017.
Those moves are bad news for journalism and for media diversity, and very much in mind as Faafoi looks into the state media merger.
"It's well known that New Zealand's media sector, both public and private, is facing unprecedented challenges with competition from the likes of Google and Facebook, declining revenue shares, and changes in when and how audiences access their information and entertainment," Faafoi said.
"That presents risks for the future viability of New Zealand's public broadcasting operators, RNZ and TVNZ, and the Government needs to address those risks."
Unlike in Australia, where ABC television does not run advertisements, TVNZ does, which Mediaworks believes puts undue pressure on the company's ability to be profitable.
Whether or not a solution is found and announced in time for the TV3 owner to lure a buyer, before it closes down at the cost of around 500 jobs, is yet to be seen.
A merger of TVNZ and RNZ is also likely to lead to job cuts - but Faafoi hopes the super-broadcaster will safeguard the industry, and its showcasing of Kiwi culture.
"It is about establishing the best way of providing New Zealanders with a range of trusted news, information, and entertainment that reflects New Zealand - its diversity, history, and aspirations," he said.
"At the same time we need to ensure any new public entity has the flexibility and the strength to meet future change and challenges."
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