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TVNZ unfazed by promised Radio NZ funding boost

Thursday 1st March 2018

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Television New Zealand is unfazed by government proposals to increase funding for Radio New Zealand that will allow it to produce more video content, the state-owned broadcaster's chief executive, Kevin Kenrick told Parliament's economic development, science and innovation select committee.

In contrast to the lobbying campaign against the so-called RNZ+ policy being mounted by private TV3 owner MediaWorks, Kenrick said TVNZ was "adept at adjusting to competition" and that its most serious competitive threats were from global heavyweights moving into on-demand video streaming that competes directly with traditional 'linear' television.

Both state broadcasters faced the select committee this morning for their annual review, with TVNZ having announced relatively strong earnings for the six months to Dec. 31 yesterday amid signs that advertisers are tentatively returning to television as an advertising medium after a prolonged period of prioritising online, digital advertising.

Kenrick said advertisers may be recognising that while online ads were good for "short-term retail activation", longer term brand-building strategies were better served by the emotionally engaging medium of TV, where viewers also tend to watch video ads for their full duration rather than skipping them, as they tend to do online.

Kenrick held out the prospect that TVNZ and RNZ could collaborate on the provision of broadcasting infrastructure, which RNZ's chief executive, Paul Thompson, identified as an area of ongoing requirement for investment.

However, Thompson took the opportunity to downplay repeated suggestions that RNZ+ was planning to start a rival television station to TVNZ or TV3 with additional funding that was promised pre-election by the now Communications Minister Clare Curran. That policy, now the subject of negotiations ahead of Budget decisions to be announced in May, promised up to $38 million a year in new public broadcasting funding, roughly half of which appeared ear-marked for RNZ+.

"It's not about a television station," said Thompson. Rather, RNZ was looking to extend its reach across multiple media platforms: online text, audio and video to reach more audiences with more programming in various formats.

"It will be partly televisual, but not a standalone television station," he said.


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