The Government has announced a suite of initiatives valued at $50 million that have been developed with the media industry to help them get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This package is about freeing up cash in the short term to assist the industry get through the immediate crisis and dramatic drop in advertising revenue experienced since the start of COVID Alert Level 4,” Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Kris Faafoi said.
“The proposals in this package were generated by the industry themselves in a recent series of workshops to identify means of delivering immediate support to the sector. We have chosen the proposals that have a relatively quick impact to get support out the door as fast as possible.
“By cancelling transmission fees we are freeing up cash the media companies can use to help them in the short term. This is in addition to the wage subsidy and other tax measures.
“Initiatives in this first stage aim to provide some immediate relief and allow time for work to be done on longer term strategies to ensure future sustainability in New Zealand’s news media”The media sector is only the third sector, after primary health care and aviation, to receive a specific pool of funding over and above the wage subsidy to help it get through the COVID-19 crisis.
“This support reflects the essential role media play at this time in delivering access to reliable and up to date news coverage and keeping New Zealanders connected while in lockdown.
“There is evidence New Zealanders are turning to trusted news sources in record numbers at this time so it is critical the media is supported to keep doing the great job they have been doing.
“We will continue to work with media organisations to make sure assistance is targeted and appropriate.
“However, I want to be very clear that this first phase of support alone will not be sufficient to see the sector through a prolonged period of restrictions and reduced advertising. A second package of support is being developed and will be submitted for the COVID-19 budget discussions in May,” Minister Faafoi said.
Full details of the package are:
- $20.5 million to cut 100% of Kordia TV/FM transmission fees for 6 months
- $600,000 to cut 100% of RNZ AM transmission fees for 6 months
- $16.5 million to reduce, by 80%, media organisations’ NZ On Air content contribution fees for the 2020/21 financial year.
- $1.3 million to purchase central government news media subscriptions in advance for the 2020/21 financial year and encouraging Crown entities to increase their uptake of news media subscriptions.
- $11.1 million for specific targeted assistance to companies as and when needed.
- Commitment to build on the Local Democracy Reporting pilot as part of longer term support
Information will be made available on the Ministry for Culture and Heritage website. Officials are working quickly to refine the details and will continue to update information on the website as it is finalised. Any media organisations paying for transmission costs through other providers should contact the Ministry for further information.
Who should media outlets contact about getting the support?
Officials are working quickly to refine details of the support and how to access it. As soon as the process is finalised, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage will advise the sector. In the first instance, media outlets should contact the Ministry via firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the process to access support?
The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is working closely with NZ On Air and other government agencies to refine and finalise the process for accessing support.
As soon as we have all aspects of this process finalised, we will advise the sector. If your organisation wish to be kept advised of updates, please provide contact details to email@example.com
How do media outlets find out if they are eligible?
Any organisation already paying transmission fees via Kordia and RNZ will be eligible for government payment of those fees for 6 months from May 2020. Organisations paying transmissions fees to other entities should contact the Ministry to determine if they are eligible.
There are eligibility criteria for government support toward NZ on Air content contribution fees and subscription spend. Applicants will be required to provide evidence of the following to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage for assessment, alongside Treasury:
- the impact of COVID19 on their business
- the steps they have taken as a business to ensure their viability through the COVID19 response period
The process for supply of this information and the detail required within it, are still being finalised. It will be made available as soon as possible via the Ministry of Culture and Heritage website.
Is there a deadline for signalling an organisation’s wish to receive support?
Officials are working to finalise the implementation and administration details. The Ministry will provide further details to media organisations shortly. If your organisation would like to ensure you receive updates, please provide contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org
When will support be available?
Funding costs for RNZ and Kordia will be implemented immediately and will apply from 1 May for six months.
Upfront payments for subscriptions will be made from mid-May.
Those organisations who are eligible for the reduction of the 2020/2021 financial year NZ on Air content contribution fees due in July, September and December will be able to plan knowing those fees have been significantly reduced.
The funds set aside for additional support to the sector will be available as soon as the application process has been finalised.
How long will the support last?
Transmission cost funding will be for six months and can be reviewed as necessary. Other initiatives are likely to be in place for 12 months.
The NZ on Air funded content and centralised government uptake of media subscriptions are likely to be in place for 12 months.
What is the Local Democracy Reporting project?
The LDR is a joint project between RNZ, NZ On Air and the Newspaper Publishers Association and its 12 month pilot has funded eight local democracy reporters who are based in regional newsrooms affiliated with the Newspaper Publishers’ Association.
The LDR reporters focus exclusively on stories about publicly appointed or elected officials or organisations, such as local councils, community boards and district health boards.
Areas chosen for the pilot were Northland, South Auckland, Rotorua, Kawerau, Tairāwhiti/Gisborne, Whakatane and elsewhere on the East Coast, as well as Wairarapa, Marlborough and the West Coast.