Former NZ First MP Tracey Martin to lead work on potential new public media entity for New Zealand

Former NZ First MP Tracey Martin has been appointed to lead the next phase of work on a potential new public media entity, the Government has announced. 

Martin will chair the Governance Group, which includes former MediaWorks CEO Michael Anderson, Broadcasting Standards Authority CEO Glen Scanlon, and four other experts with experience in journalism and media. 

Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi said the group were chosen for their expertise in public broadcasting, private media, the Māori media sector, government policy, public engagement, and building business cases. 

"Public media makes an essential contribution to the overall media mix," Faafoi said on Wednesday. "Government is committed to ensuring public media is fit for the future and able to thrive and adapt amid the changing media landscape."

Faafoi said the Governance Group will also lead work to propose a new Charter, or a written set of guidelines, for the potential new public media entity.

"They will seek feedback on what should be included in a Charter for the new entity so that it meets the needs and expectations of New Zealanders in the 21st century and beyond," Faafoi said. 

The new public media entity would operate with a mixed funding model, drawing part of its revenue from commercial sources, and part from Government funding, he said. 

"It would provide content across a variety of platforms and have full editorial and operational independence from Government, enshrined in legislation. A new public media entity would operate in a way that complements and collaborates with private media."

TVNZ and Radio New Zealand (RNZ) are the two current state-owned broadcasters. Faafoi said they provide "a strong basis" on which to "build for the future". 

A media advisory group in 2019 recommended the Government disestablish TVNZ and RNZ and create a new public media entity.  

A Cabinet paper said it would have a "clearly defined public media mandate and purpose, with the core functions of a globally recognised public media entity", and would provide public media services across a variety of platforms, "some of which may be advertising-free".

It would also operate as a not-for-profit, and would have "statutory protection for editorial and operational independence".

Faafoi said alongside work to assess the option of creating a new public media entity, Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson is leading work to enhance support for the Māori media sector.

The business case for the new public media entity is expected to be completed around the middle of the year. Cabinet will be provided with advice on the option to create a new entity before the end of the year.