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Public meeting report - 28 April 2024

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Better Public Media Trust's recent public meeting was a great success with 120 concerned members of the public attending the speeches and Q&A. It can be viewed on YouTube at this link -

Speakers included Irene Gardiner from SPADA, Brent McAnulty from TVNZ, Paul Thompson from RNZ and Peter Thompson from BPM. We were also joined briefly by former Minister of Media and Communications, Willie Jackson.

The meeting was dominated by talk of a media levy, which could play a key role in rescuing NZ media. Irene Gardiner and Peter Thompson have publicly advocated for levies and they did so again at the meeting. Peter Thompson also described some of the nuts and bolts of a levy, and how it could even fund RNZ, NZ On Air and a non-commercial TVNZ.

Such a levy found favour with TVNZ’s Brent McAnulty.

“I love the ideas that Peter [Thompson] has come up with, and he’s obviously sharpened his pencil and looked at different ways that the media can be supported,” McAnulty said. “The problem at the moment is there is less money.”

“Funding our culture is important. We’ve all had to put our hand in our pocket to rescue a national airline a couple of times. I see this [TVNZ] as just as important. It’s our identity. And the sort of things that Peter is suggesting need to be looked at and we need to make some change. Because we’ll wake up one day and it’ll be gone if we’re not careful.”

RNZ Chief Executive, Paul Thompson was also in favour of a levy.

“Funding has always been our challenge,” he said. “Until we received a baseline increase this financial year, RNZ was always struggling with funding. And that’s quite common across public media, but funding issues and challenges are growing for all media.

“So I do think the country, New Zealand should look very seriously at creating a levy of some kind that’s flexible, inflation-indexed, and independent of government, but obviously supported through regulation, to allow us to create more revenue for our sector.

“And before we get too bogged down on how we actually manage that levy, who would get it, who would administer it, I think we should be really united on the thought that a new revenue source is going to be required.”

Other subjects covered included the rise of AI, the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill, and complaints about the closure of Fair Go and Sunday on TVNZ.


Brent McAnulty also made the point (startling for some) that TVNZ could be a lot more commercial.

“If we were purely commercial, we would do things quite differently”, McAnulty said. “But we’d lose our point of difference, which is to have New Zealand content front and centre.”

Meanwhile, on the subject of trust in media, Paul Thompson announced that RNZ is doing specific work looking at why trust in media is decreasing.

“These problems are complex and formidable, but not dealing with them isn’t an option. Because if you look at it from every angle, there’s no way that we can be a sovereign, independent nation, thriving as a democracy and as a connected and informed community without a robust fourth estate, and a really diverse and creative screen sector and content sector.”

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