The Government has announced a $50 million support package to help New Zealand's media sector get through the Covid-19 pandemic, with another package in the works.
The country’s media industry has already suffered a number of blows due to Covid-19 - Bauer Media Group has shut up shop in New Zealand, Mediaworks staff have been asked to take a 15 per cent wage cut, and redundancies have been made at NZME as well as Radio Sport being taken off air.
Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Kris Faafoi made the announcement today.
“This package is about freeing up cash in the short term to assist the industry get through the immediate crisis and dramatic drop in advertising revenue experienced since the start of Covid Alert Level 4,” says Mr Faafoi.
“The proposals in this package were generated by the industry themselves in a recent series of workshops to identify means of delivering immediate support to the sector," says Mr Faafoi.
Those proposals include $21.1 million to completely cut transmission fees for six months, $16.5 million to cut by 80 per cent contribution for NZ On Air screen content in 2020/21 and $1.3 million for Government departments to purchase organisation-wide news service subscriptions
“By cancelling transmission fees we are freeing up cash the media companies can use to help them in the short term. This is in addition to the wage subsidy and other tax measures.
“Initiatives in this first stage aim to provide some immediate relief and allow time for work to be done on longer term strategies to ensure future sustainability in New Zealand’s news media.”
A second support package is also being developed and will be submitted for the Covid-19 Budget discussions in May. Mr Faafoi says the first phase of support will not be sufficient to see the sector through the “prolonged period of restrictions and reduced advertising”.
He says Government will continue to work with media organisations to make sure assistance is targeted and appropriate.
New Zealand’s media sector is one of three that has been given a specific amount of funding to get it through the Covid-19 pandemic, outside of the wage subsidy. Both primary health care and aviation have also received funding.