25 Aug 2020

Media funding proposal never made it to Cabinet - Minister Faafoi

3:49 pm on 25 August 2020

Plans for a second tranche of support for struggling media companies have been scrapped because coalition partners failed to reach consensus.

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Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Kris Faafoi has today admitted a proposal for a second round of funding never made it to Cabinet. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

The government put forward a $50 million lifeline in April for media organisations struggling because of the first Covid-19 lockdown.

It included $21m to cut transmission fees for broadcast media for six months, $16m to waive media companies contributions to New Zealand On Air and $11m for "targeted assistance".

The package was intended to free up cash for commercial media companies following the drop in advertising revenue that occurred when New Zealand went into alert level four in March.

Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Kris Faafoi said at the time more help was needed and a second funding package was in the works.

Faafoi has today admitted a proposal never made it to Cabinet.

"We had some conversations obviously with our support partners, but... we weren't able to reach consensus," he said.

The level of support needed had changed since the lockdown and media companies were doing better than expected, Faafoi said.

"In some of the financial reports that are coming out ... some media companies have done better than expected so it's a bit of a balancing exercise to make sure that we support, but also being the good custodians of taxpayers' money," Faafoi said.

Faafoi could not guarantee more support would be offered next term, but said Labour's broadcasting policies would be revealed once the election campaign resumed.

"There will be a time when we will be able to campaign more freely, we'll be able to speak more openly from a Labour Party position about what we would like to see to ensure that there is support for the media.

"We've had extensive conversations about what we think should be done," Faafoi said.

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