16 Oct 2022

Government expects to spend $6m on contractors working for public media mega-merger

8:49 pm on 16 October 2022
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A total of $38.3m has been allocated for the transition of RNZ and TVNZ into one entity. Photo:

The government is expecting to spend $6 million on contractors working for the public media mega-merger.

It is forecasting that branding for the new entity will cost $3m.

The transition of RNZ and TVNZ into one entity has been allocated $38.3m in total.

In an Official Information Act (OIA) response, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage said just $200,000 of that would go on permanent staff costs.

Another $1m is for fixed-term staff costs.

Set aside for outside contractors is $5.987m and they have so far been paid $1.4m.

This spending gets the transition through to next July, when the new entity gets its own separate, and much bigger budget.

Some of the $38m will be left for transition funding up till mid-2024.

The government has for several years been ordering public agencies to cut back on what it said had become excessive spending on contractors and consultants under previous governments.

This year the government cut RNZ's funding by $900,000, its crown revenue dropping to $46.9m from $47.8m.

The ministry said it had spent $4.3m on the 'Strong Public Media' transition so far.

The OIA also reveals the Strong Public Media programme has entered Memorandums of Understanding with TVNZ, RNZ, and NZ On Air, which let them seek reimbursement for the extra costs they face from seconding their own staff to work on the transition.

So far $280,000 has gone on communications, with a total of $455,000 allocated for that. Nothing has been spent on marketing, and none is expected.

The ministry added that nothing had been spent on branding so far.

The $3m was an estimate of what branding work could cost.

"But the Establishment Board is yet to determine if any preliminary work on branding will occur before the new entity is established, and it will be for the new entity to make decisions on any branding."

The ministry withheld risk assessments done on the merger on the grounds of confidentiality around ministerial advice, and the need to maintain "free and frank" official discussions.

RNZ had asked for any risk assessments on staff, programming and personnel cost controls, rebranding and public perceptions.

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