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Labour promises $75 million in contestable NZ On Air funding for newsrooms

Kris Faafoi has announced that a Labour Government would introduce a considerable new contestable NZ On Air funding pool to support local and regional journalism, if elected.

Source: istock.com

Speaking to E Tū Union representatives across the country today, Labour's Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media spokesperson expanded on the party's statement in its 2020 manifesto which mentioned "multi-year contestable funding through NZ On Air to fund public interest journalism".

The funding, which Faafoi said is already budgeted, would consist of $25 million, annually, over three years.

Faafoi also said a potential merger of public broadcasters TVNZ and RNZ would remain on the cards, and in fact would move forward "with some speed".

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Under the new contestable fund, local and regional journalism would be preferred, and any platform would be considered.

The fund would be an expansion on the Government's Local Democracy Reporting pilot scheme, which was run through Radio New Zealand with a total funding pool of $1 million.

Faafoi said over the course of the past few months he had visited many newsrooms across the country, and that there was an appetite for financial support to happen as soon as possible, in order to avoid more job losses.

Whether or not a news organisation had already taken a share of the Government's $50 million support package, announced in April, would not be a factor in applications for funding from the new programme.

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The National Party has not released a specific broadcasting policy, by broadcasting spokesperson Melissa Lee said last week that a National-led government would undertake a review of the journalism sector in New Zealand "to find where the shortfalls are".