The 10-Point Plan
The CBB calls for a return to a public service principles in broadcasting (and other media) in recognition of the fact that commercial media imperatives and policies are incapable of adequately delivering civic, democratic, educational and cultural policy outcomes. Commercial scheduling pressures and opportunity costs currently preclude the production and scheduling of many content forms/genres. To this end, the CBB would support the reinstatement of a commercial-free, publicly-funded TV channel (along the lines of TVNZ7) at the centre of the NZ media ecology.
The CBB calls for the ringfencing (hypothecation) of public funding for public broadcasting and related institutions and independent reviews of funding levels to ensure funding remains sufficient and commensurate with function. To this end, the CBB would support an end to the current freeze on funding increases for Radio New Zealand.
The CBB suggests that commercial media institutions, whose operations are collectively responsible for market failures and the under-delivery of local content and public service genres, help to fund public service initiatives required to redress those failures. To this end, the CBB proposes:
a) imposing a small levy on the revenues of highly profitable commercial media (including PayTV and telecommunications) to help fund public service provisions and
b) requiring PayTV operators to pay modest licencing fees to the free-to-air operators they carry on their platforms (on a must-offer/must-pay basis).
The CBB supports a vertically-integrated approach to public media policy, recognising that public service outcomes require both content production and guaranteed channels of distribution. To this end, the CBB recommends:
a) the reservation of digital spectrum (and online bandwidth) for public broadcasting services, and
b) a review of current NZ on Air funding priorities to ensure a full range of public service genres are supported and screened.
The CBB recognises that public education is a core purpose of public service broadcasting and media, and that with the exception of Radio New Zealand, the NZ public and education system is not served by a co-ordinated public service broadcasting and media infrastructure. Public education and information is crucial to healthy democracy and civil society and new technology makes this integration easier and more productive. The CBB calls for educational outcomes to be considered in the funding of public service broadcasting and media.
The CBB recognises the essential role played by public service media (particularly Radio New Zealand) in providing robust, independent and comprehensive news and current affairs content which helps to render the activities of government and market actors transparent and accountable to the citizens of New Zealand. To this end, the CBB supports measures to enhance independent, public interest journalism through broadcasting and other media.
The CBB recognises that healthy market competition in the media sector requires judicious state intervention and regulatory arrangements, not an ideologically enforced absence thereof. To this end, the CBB calls for a review of policy and legal provisions affecting the state of market competition in the NZ media sector, both domestically and internationally, including:
a) a review of competition laws that allow incumbent operators in the media sector to impede market competition, and
b) a review of international free trade agreements which prevent the introduction of local content quotas.
The CBB recommends that media content and services created with the support of public subsidy be made available to NZ audiences as a public good and not treated as a private commodity. To this end, the CBB opposes placing publicly-funded content behind private paywalls and would demand that channels like Heartland and Kidzone 24 (currently available only to Sky subscribers) be made available on Freeview.
The CBB recognises the important role played by public service media, particularly indigenous and ethnic minority media, in reflecting and validating cultural identity and promoting intercultural understanding and integration. To this end, the CBB recognises the importance of the Maori Television Service and other indigenous broadcasters and also regional and community broadcasters.
The CBB supports a platform-neutral approach to public media policy, recognising that – in addition to broadcasting – telecommunications, online media and print media can also make an important contribution to civic, democratic, educational and cultural outcomes. To this end, the CBB would support the extension of the role of the Telecommunications Commissioner to include broadcasting and related content forms.
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