NZ On Air releases evaluation of first 22 years

The document NZ On Air: An Evaluative Study from 1989 – 2011 has been researched and written by the well-regarded media academics Paul Norris and Dr Brian Pauling.

The lead author of the report, Paul Norris, says this is a significant study: “This is the first to pull together all of NZ On Air’s activities from the start until the present, and evaluates how well NZ On Air has delivered on its remit.”

New Zealand’s Broadcasting Commission was born with strong legislation and a committed first board which ensured the success of a model not seen elsewhere in the world.

“From the evidence, it’s clear NZ On Air is a remarkable success story, in the way it has allocated public funding across different media and through the contestable fund for television.” says Mr Norris.

“Thousands of hours have been funded and billions of dollars spent on a most diverse range of programmes, with little controversy or dissent” he says.

NZ On Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson has paid tribute to the report: “This is an historical document pulling together more than two decades of an organisation which has provided New Zealanders with content they’ve loved.”

“While no-one is going to like everything we fund, there has been something for everyone” she said, “from RNZ Concert to music for student radio, regional news and in-depth current affairs to cheeky comedies, from early Shortland Street to Platinum funded dramas, Access Radio and Regional TV.”

But the study points to a number of challenges for the future, notably the increasingly commercial nature of the media landscape, the static funding environment and the probability that audiences for free-to-air television will further fragment and decline.

“NZ On Air will have to keep considering where the best platforms are for key audiences,” said Mr Norris, “and whether it should deliver more specialist non-commercial content online.”

NZ On Air: An Evaluative Study from 1989 – 2011 was released last night in Wellington and will be released in Auckland on Thursday.

NZ On Air: An Evaluative Study from 1989 – 2011 was commissioned by NZ On Air and can be viewed in full here.

Dr Brian Pauling is a senior staff member at the New Zealand Broadcasting School.

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