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The Rationale for the Merger is Correct by Dr Peter Thompson

There has been a lot of speculation that the ANZPM Bill which aims to create a new public media entity encompassing RNZ and TVNZ is going to be abandoned. Although the ANZPM Bill needs adjusting, the opportunity to create a multi-platform public media service for the future remains a hugely important goal, and securing >$100m of funding is significant-indeed, unprecedented.

Labour hasn't got it all right in terms of governance structure, long-term funding mechanisms and the balance between public and commercial priorities (especially between RNZ and TVNZ). It's complicated- but if the alternative is what National's Melissa Lee is offering,  then ripping up anything Labour puts in place (sound familiar?) will get us nowhere. "Let them watch Netflix" is not a coherent public media policy.

The Bill can still deliver important outcomes so long as:

a) the new entity is not-for-profit,

b) it has a long-term arrangement for ensuring adequate public funding (preferably through independent assessment of funding needs),

c) it has independent governance which will assess public charter performance separately from the board,

d) the operational priorities across the new entity- especially news and current affairs- are aligned with the public charter, not optimising commercial performance.

We certainly hope the select committee will take note of BPM's recommendations on the changes needed in the Bill, but if the Bill is abandoned then we will have nothing to show for 2 terms of an ostensibly sympathetic government.

Perceptions that the Bill is in trouble have not been helped by some very poor media coverage and a tendency to focus on political criticisms and National's vows to scrap the new entity, rather than looking at what we stand to gain (or lose).

The claim made by some critics that there is no rationale for the merger is completely incorrect and ignores several critical issues including:

i) the future of public media is going to multi-platform, and needs to address the needs of many different audiences accessing content in different ways,

ii) TVNZ is publicly-owned but it is going to slowly decline in commercial performance and will eventually need public subsidy to maintain a full range of services- in which case then it can't remain commercial in focus (rivals will rightly complain about market distortion),

iii) TVNZ still pulls in significant audiences and is a high trust brand- so it can't just be reinvented from scratch if it is allowed to die off; the TVNZ One and 2 brands remain important to reaching substantial demographics,

iv) there are going to be future efficiencies in having the new entity develop multi-platform services which address a wider range of audience demographics than at present,

v) the investment of significant public money will enable a wider range of quality content genres to be delivered to a wider range of audiences- and the commercial market will be able to do less and less of this as competition intensifies.

If you agree with some or all of these points and would like to drop an email to the Minister for Broadcasting and Media, Willie Jackson then his email is If you would like to contact Melissa Lee, then her email is

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