Long-term strategy needed for NZ’s public media broadcasting

Close up view of microphones and recorders pointed at a person wearing a suit and tie.

Aotearoa New Zealand needs a long-term, integrated strategy for the long-term future of public media and broadcasting, says Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures, a think tank at the University of Auckland.

Koi Tū Director Sir Peter Gluckman responded today to the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media Bill had been scrapped.

In 2022, Koi Tū provided an in-depth submission on the Bill, developed with support from industry, academic and legal experts.

The submission argued the Bill in its current form could not be seen to be independent of potential political interference and was democratically unsafe.

“The Bill was improved by the select committee process but it remained highly problematic,” Sir Peter said. “There were many outstanding issues that were not yet properly addressed. The fact that the legislation has been stopped in its tracks should be welcomed.”

“However, the issues facing media in general, and public media in particular, will not go away. Digital convergence, globalisation – and the ways people obtain news, information, education and entertainment – mean the structure and purpose of our media ecosystem still need to be updated. The spread of disinformation, which is a very real threat to the institutions of democracy, underlines the importance of media in which the public can reside trust.”

Sir Peter said the merger proposal had outlined broad principles but had insufficient focus on function.

“Whoever is the next government needs to take a long-term, integrated and well-consulted view of how public media should evolve independently of political interference. Good examples exist elsewhere. We need public media fit for purpose in the digital age,” he said.

Sir Peter expressed the hope that political parties would find common ground on how public media should evolve to suit Aotearoa New Zealand’s evolving bicultural and multicultural identity in a changed information environment.

“A public media strategy is too important for it to be a political football,” he said.

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