Labour promises free-to-air RNZ TV channel

Labour has announced plans to expand Radio NZ.
MAARTEN HOLL/STUFF

Labour has announced plans to expand Radio NZ.

Labour is promising a new multi-platform version of RNZ called RNZ+, built off the model of the ABC in Australia.

The service would be "device agnostic" but would include a free-to-air television channel.

It's part of a wider $38m in additional annual funding Labour is promising if elected.

Checkpoint presenter John Campbell already brings a bit of TV into RNZ.
CHRIS MCKEEN/STUFF

Checkpoint presenter John Campbell already brings a bit of TV into RNZ.

This money would be in the control of an independent Public Media Funding Commissioner and would also go towards contestable NZ On Air funding, with a focus on investigative journalism.

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RNZ's current annual funding is at $34.84m after an eight-year funding freeze ended in the last budget.

"Labour recognises that as a nation we must be able to tell our stories, including those of our diverse communities, on multiple platforms effectively in a rapidly-changing media landscape," Ardern said.

She said the market was currently failing to adequately provide New Zealand-based media.

"A key component of Labour's plan is the creation of a new public digital media service, built around RNZ, as a fully multi-platform, non-commercial entity, including a free-to-air non-commercial television service, with a working title of RNZ+."

"RNZ has consistently provided an incredibly valuable service to New Zealanders, despite a nine-year funding freeze from the Government in a time of massive change to the media sector. Labour will build on RNZ's solid foundation and transform it into something closer to Australia's ABC.

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"RNZ+ will increase in-house production and distribution of New Zealand content, with an emphasis on quality reporting and investigative journalism reflecting all parts of New Zealand. Maori, Pasifika and other ethnic communities, people with disabilities, and education and entertainment for children will have a stronger presence with Labour's policy."

Ardern ruled out selling off TVNZ, which is state-owned but run as a commercial entity.

"This is about making sure that New Zealanders have access to more New Zealand stories," Ardern said while launching the policy at Auckland Film Studios on Tuesday morning.

RNZ has branched out into digital broadcasting in recent years, with the somewhat televised Checkpoint show, a suite of podcasts, and the distribution of their content onto other news websites such as Stuff. 

Labour previously set up public broadcasting channel TVNZ 7, which National shut down.

 - Stuff

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