Our media outlets play a critical role in informing people and holding public and private institutions to account. This government believes that a well-resourced public media is necessary to tell our stories and inform our democracy. However, we want to be sure we have the right framework for a resilient and sustainable New Zealand broadcasting system, especially given the current media landscape. As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said: “We are seeing a change in the way companies access revenue; we’re also seeing a decline internationally in journalism in terms of their revenue sources – it’s become a really difficult environment.” That’s why Cabinet is currently considering a range of options to future-proof our public broadcasting system; it’s important that we continue to strengthen New Zealand’s public media. Finance Minister Grant Roberson noted: “Clearly there will be price tags attached to supporting public media. Exactly what they are and how that goes out depends on what we end up deciding as a Cabinet.”
The rise of fake news certainly highlights this issue. With an election coming up on 19th September, it’s important that New Zealand does not fall prey to what we’ve seen happen in other countries, where there have been co-ordinated online efforts to spread misinformation. New Zealanders deserve a factual election campaign, one that is free from misinformation, where people can make honest reflections for themselves about what they want for the future of New Zealand. It’s also worth noting that the Government has supported Radio New Zealand, NZ On Air, and the Newspaper Publishers’ Association, to trial Local Democracy Reporting. This project involved placing eight reporters into regional newsrooms to cover local public decision-making, including councils, community boards, council-owned enterprises, local trusts and district health boards. Local Democracy Reporting appears to be working well and could potentially be expanded.