Report: Local content up, but not thanks to TVNZ


The good news is that local content was up slightly across the board in 2013 but this was only due to increases provided by Maori Television and Mediaworks’ TV3 and Four. TVNZ provided the largest decline in local content.

The annual NZ On Air Local Content Report released today reveals some challenges being faced by the television sector.

Since 1989 NZ On Air has measured local free-to-air television content. The report compares the schedules of the six national free-to-air channels, to observe trends and changes in the local content landscape.

In 2013, local content on these channels increased by 0.8%, comprising 32% of the combined schedules. This was largely influenced by Māori Television extending its transmission hours, and an increase in the amount of repeat screenings of local content.

Trends are also heavily influenced by the volume of hours of News/Current Affairs and Sport programming, which makes up 43% of total local hours. Changes to TV One’s schedule in 2013, such as reducing the length of the Good Morning show, took their overall local content down.

“It is heartening to see local content in prime time holding steady. Also the genres we invest most heavily in – documentary, drama and children’s – all saw increases in overall content hours,” said NZ On Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson.

However an 11% decrease in first run content in 2013 continued a five year downward trend. This indicates reduced spending on new productions, and is a reflection of the ongoing difficulties faced post-global financial crisis by free-to-air broadcasters.

“It is clearly a challenging environment for broadcasters and producers. We are closely observing trends in the sector and talking with broadcasters and producers about how to keep prioritising quality local content,” said Ms Wrightson.

NZ On Air funds content that is too risky or expensive to produce commercially, ensuring a more diverse range of content for free-to-air audiences. As a percentage of total local content NZ On Air funded 16% of local programmes in 2013, compared to 14% a year earlier. 12% of prime time content was funded by NZ On Air, and 16% of first run content (up from 13% in 2012).

Since NZ On Air first began recording this data, local content on television has increased 333%.

“We are fortunate to have a system that places a high value on local content and viewers who appreciate it. 32% local content overall means New Zealanders can readily see and hear themselves and their stories on screen,” said Ms Wrightson.

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About the author

Regan is one of the co-founders of Throng Media.
If they're on, I'm usually watching Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, 24, Battlestar Galactica, The X Factor, Survivor, House of Cards, Mad Men and the NRL.
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  • Danny TV Professional

    Truly depressing and worse no-one has commented all day. Next time a college grad asks me how to get into TV I’m showing this as a graph of warning and then sitting them in front of last night’s truly lamentable episode of ‘The GC’ and saying “and even if you do get a job XXXX, this is the dumbed down, spirit-crushing crap you’ll have to make”.

    • Jas

      Do you see any correlation in the fact that all NZ content now pretty much comes out of Auckland and the fact that 65% of NZ population is not in Auckland and of the population that is in Auckland a big percentage of them have no interest whatsoever in TV about NZ or even Auckland for that matter

      • HUH

        wow some big assumptions there… Did you survey the Auckland population by any chance? And I’m sure not every person in an Auckland-made production necessarily come from, or even live in, Auckland, and even alot of Auckland citizens aren’t even from Auckland, so what’s with the Auckland-hating trip?

        • Danny TV Professional

          Agree Huh and curious argument Jas. Research repeatedly shows that we like to see ourselves on screen – it’s the narcissist in all of us. Not sure the population (whether Auckland-based or not and in all its diversity) really care where their tele is made, they just want it to be better. Plus the only way you’re going to see non-Auckland locations and populations is if more local content is made, not less.

          • Jas

            Surely having programmes about other places in NZ will make it better?

          • Danny TV Professional

            May not be better television (that depends how it is produced), but will certainly reflect the country better, hence us not really understanding your first point.

        • Jas

          I am not hating Auckland merely pointing out that every drama show on NZ TV is pretty much set in Auckland. And the fact that as a lot of people in Auckland don’t come from there having the shows set in Auckland will not neccesarily make them watch the show. It has nothing to with where the actors etc come from but where the show is set

  • Jas

    What do they mean by local content? Do they mean Auckland as everything comes out of Auckland now with the same actors and same presenters.

  • Huh yourself

    There appears to be an Auckland-bias in NZ produced content, primarily because most TV production is based in Auckland. There is no hating there, it’s fact.
    Think for a minute, when was the last time a Weather presenter mentioned anyone’s elses Anniversary Weekend weather other than that of Aucklands?

  • Harrison

    I’m not surprised, as The Inspectors is basically The Filth Files, Animal House/SPCA Rescue and Noise Control all merged into one show.

    • Harrison

      And Dog Squad too!