The Minister of Broadcasting, Jonathan Coleman, has introduced a new bill to Parliament to remove the TVNZ Charter and simplify its role as a commercial broadcaster.
The current Act:
Functions and objectives of TVNZ
(1) TVNZ’s principal function is to provide the television and other services that may be specified from time to time in its current statement of intent.
(2) In carrying out its functions, TVNZ’s principal objective is to give effect to its Charter (set out below) while maintaining its commercial performance:
•The following Charter shall apply to all those parts of TVNZ’s operations that contribute to its broadcast content. It shall be predominantly fulfilled through free-to-air broadcasting. In programming for particular audiences, TVNZ is to consider all relevant provisions of the Charter.
◦(a) TVNZ will—
▪(i) feature programming across all genres that informs, entertains, and educates New Zealand audiences;
▪(ii) strive always to set and maintain the highest standards of programme quality and editorial integrity;
▪(iii) provide shared experiences that contribute to a sense of citizenship and national identity;
▪(iv) ensure in its programmes and programme planning the participation of Māori and the presence of a significant Māori voice;
▪(v) feature programming that serves the varied interests and informational needs and age groups within New Zealand society, including tastes and interests not generally catered for by other national television broadcasters;
▪(vi) maintain a balance between programmes of general appeal and programmes of interest to smaller audiences;
▪(vii) seek to extend the range of ideas and experiences available to New Zealanders;
▪(viii) play a leading role in New Zealand television by setting standards of programme quality and encouraging creative risk-taking and experiment;
▪(ix) play a leading role in New Zealand television by complying with free-to-air codes of broadcasting practice, in particular any code with provisions on violence;
▪(x) support and promote the talents and creative resources of New Zealanders and of the independent New Zealand film and television industry.
◦(b) In fulfilment of these objectives, TVNZ will—
▪(i) provide independent, comprehensive, impartial, and in-depth coverage and analysis of news and current affairs in New Zealand and throughout the world and of the activities of public and private institutions;
▪(ii) feature programming that contributes towards intellectual, scientific, cultural, and spiritual and ethical development that reflects the diverse beliefs of New Zealanders, promotes informed and many-sided debate, and stimulates critical thought, thereby enhancing opportunities for citizens to participate in community, national, and international life;
▪(iii) in its programming enable all New Zealanders to have access to material that promotes Māori language and culture;
▪(iv) feature programmes that reflect the regions to the nation as a whole;
▪(v) promote understanding of the diversity of cultures making up the New Zealand population;
▪(vi) feature New Zealand films, drama, comedy, and documentary programmes;
▪(vii) feature programmes about New Zealand’s history and heritage, and natural environment;
▪(viii) feature programmes that serve the interests and informational needs of Māori audiences, including programmes promoting the Māori language and programmes addressing Māori history, culture, and current issues;
▪(ix) include in programming intended for a mass audience material that deals with minority interests;
▪(x) feature New Zealand and international programmes that provide for the informational, entertainment, and educational needs of children and young people and programmes that allow for the participation of children and young people;
▪(xi) maintain and observe a code of ethics that addresses the level and nature of advertising to which children are exposed;
▪(xii) feature programmes that encourage and support the arts, including programmes featuring New Zealand and international artists and arts companies;
▪(xiii) reflect the role that sporting and other leisure interests play in New Zealand life and culture; and
▪(xiv) feature programming of an educational nature that supports learning and the personal development of New Zealanders.
(3) TVNZ also has the following further objectives in carrying out its functions:
◦(c) to exhibit a sense of social responsibility by having regard to the interests of the community in which it operates and by endeavouring to accommodate or encourage those interests when able to do so.
(4) The Charter must be reviewed by the House of Representatives at least every 5 years.
The proposed amendments:
Functions of TVNZ
“(1) The functions of TVNZ are to be a successful national television and digital media company providing a range of content and services on a choice of delivery platforms and maintaining its commercial performance.
“(2) In carrying out its functions, TVNZ must provide high quality content that—
▪“(a) is relevant to, and enjoyed and valued by, New Zealand audiences; and
▪“(b) encompasses both New Zealand and international content and reflects Māori perspectives.
◦“(3) TVNZ’s services must include the provision of channels that are free of charge and available to audiences throughout New Zealand.”