TVNZ and RNZ merger: Group to assess viability of one public media outlet

Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi. Photo: NZ Herald / Mark Mitchell
Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi. Photo: NZ Herald / Mark Mitchell
A team of experts will begin assessing the viability of the merging of TVNZ and RNZ into one new public media entity.

Former New Zealand First MP, and minister, Tracey Martin has been put in charge of the team overseeing the creation of a business case that would consider the feasibility of a new entity.

That business case will be presented to Cabinet before the end of the year; ministers will then decide whether or not to give the new entity the green light.

Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi confirmed today that the new entity, if created, would operate with a mixed funding model – that is, drawing part of its revenue from commercial sources, such as ads, and part from Government funding.

The new entity would, according to Faafoi, have full editorial and operational independence from Government and this would be enshrined in legislation.

It would also operate in a way that "complements and collaborates with private media".

"RNZ and TVNZ are high-performing entities that have served New Zealanders well. They provide a strong basis on which to build for the future," Faafoi said.

Speaking to a select committee earlier this year, RNZ's chairman Jim Mather was "strongly supporting" the progressing work with the new entity.

And the year before at the same select committee, TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick said a merger with RNZ wouldn't necessarily mean job losses – and could even mean the opposite.

But he had said that having a public broadcaster with ads, would "create challenges".

"I don't think it's insurmountable but you'd need to be very careful about how you managed it," he told reporters after his appearance before the committee.

Martin's business case would look at how a potential new public media entity could meet the "changing expectations of New Zealand audiences and support a strong, vibrant media sector", Faafoi said.

The other members of the group are:
• Glen Scanlon - chief executive of Te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho (Broadcasting Standards Authority) and former journalist and editor
• Michael Anderson – former chief executive of MediaWorks NZ
• Sandra Kailahi - Director of boutique film and media production company Kingston Productions
• Bailey Mackey – one of New Zealand's leading independent producers across a range of genres and a former journalist
• William Earl – experienced senior manager at the likes of BBC, TVNZ and Asia Business News
• John Quirk – chair of Kordia Group (until 30 April 2021), Farm-IQ Systems, SMX Ltd, Portainer.io, Cumulo9 and a director of Aeroqual and Howard & Co.
• Dr Trisha Dunleavy – one of New Zealand's leading researchers into television issues and has been an associate professor in media studies at Victoria University of Wellington

"[The group] will seek feedback on what should be included in a Charter for the new entity so that it meets the needs and expectations of New Zealanders in the 21st century and beyond," Faafoi said.

"This is a unique opportunity and the right time to make decisions about the whole public media system."

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