Previous Government should've done more to protect the media, Broadcasting Minister Melissa Lee says

Broadcasting Minister Melissa Lee says the previous Government should have done more to protect the media.

It comes just two weeks after a Warner Bros Discovery proposal to shutdown Newshub and days after TVNZ's major current affairs programme cull. 

Lee told AM the issue was years in the making. 

"What I'd been doing in Opposition was to listen to the sector and this issue has actually been coming for years - it's something that, potentially, the previous Government should have actually done," she said. 

Lee also said the former Government "should've passed" the Fair Digital Media Bargaining Bill because Labour "had an absolute majority". That's despite her National Party not supporting that legislation while in Opposition. 

"I'm not trying to blame but I think it's actually reality," she told host Melissa Chan-Green. 

"I find it extremely frustrating as well because I, as minister, cannot influence or interfere in the process of prorgramming... I can't go into the actual detail of what I'm actually taking to Cabinet until the Cabinet process is actually done." 

This all comes after Lee, in her 2008 maiden speech, said "there must be a mandate to provide and support local programming to foster identity issues because, without it, our children will never be empowered". 

But Lee stood by that, saying she believed in journalism and what it did for democracy. 

She told AM she's working with officials to see what steps the Government can take. 

"There are levers that ministers can... work on but some of them require legislation and regulation, and so I'll be taking a paper to Cabinet in the coming weeks. 

Melissa Lee.
Melissa Lee. Photo credit: Newshub.

"I think what we can do - and I do have some plans - [is] modernising the Broadcasting Act of 1989. The Broadcasting Act was written and put in place well before technology companies... existed." 

Lee said the Government would also focus on how broadcasters could further harness technology. 

"We also need to ensure that Government investment in media remains well set up to deliver independent and trusted sources of news and information." 

Labour's Willie Jackson, Lee's predecessor in the portfolio, earlier slammed her response to Newshub's closure - saying it "showed this is a Government [that] don't care about broadcasting". 

Last month, Jackson said Labour did "a hell of a lot more" for broadcasting "than any other Government in the last generation".