New Zealand Government and Media
Government Type: Constitutional Monarchy with a Parliamentary System of Government.
Head of State: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen is represented in NZ by the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy.
Head of Government: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Political Party: The New Zealand Labour Party
Political Position: Center-Left
World Press Freedom Rank: New Zealand 9/180
According to Reporters without Borders, in New Zealand, the press is independent however they cited “independence and pluralism are often undermined by the profit imperative of media groups trying to cut costs to the detriment of good journalism.” Another concern made by Reporters without Borders is about the journalist ongoing struggle with the Official Information Act (OIA) where they state “On the legislative side, journalists continue to demand changes to the Official Information Act, which obstructs the work of journalists by allowing government agencies to take a long time to respond to information requests and even allows them to demand hundreds of dollars for the information provided.”
Government Influence on Media: The Media in New Zealand is divided into two types. First, is the commercial media that is privately owned and generally funded through advertising. The New Zealand Media landscape is dominated by conglomerates such as New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME) (owner of the NZ Herald the country’s largest daily paper), Stuff, MediaWorks, and Sky. New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME), and Stuff dominates the print media whereas MediaWorks (owned by U.S. company Oaktree Capital Management) and SKY TV dominate the commercial television and commercial radio stations. These are transnational corporations, and the ownership of these conglomerates constantly changes due to mergers’, and sales. According to JMAD, a New Zealand media ownership report in 2019, Mediaworks (owner of TV3 and the rest of New Zealand’s commercial radio stations) merged with QMS‘ though U.S Oaktree Capital retains 60% of MediaWorks shares. Another example is the sale of Stuff, (owner of popular websites and newspapers) which is owned by Nine Entertainment Co, which has been attempting to sell the division since early 2019. According to Reuters, this is due to a “sharp drop in advertising revenue that has caused job losses across the media industry and forced some companies to shut down operations.” This led to the government announcing a $50 million bailout package for the media industry.
The second media type is small public service broadcasters which are made up of state-owned broadcasters such as Television New Zealand (TVNZ) and Radio New Zealand which are both mainly funded through the New Zealand Government body, NZ On Air (NZOA), an autonomous entity formally known as the Broadcasting Commission. Television New Zealand (TVNZ) is also supported by advertising whereas Radio New Zealand is commercial-free. JMAD reports “Government-owned media facing a fundamental restructure” and according to Stuff the “Cabinet is forging ahead with the plan to create a new, super-sized public broadcaster.”
In conclusion, with big media players merging, press freedom is being threatened and the possibility of pluralism being undermined is increasing. While New Zealand usually ranks high for Press Freedom, if these trends continue press freedom and plurality will decrease.
|Top 5 New Zealand Media Sources by Web Rank|
|New Zealand Herald|
|Otago Daily Times|