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In local news…

NZ On Air is giving regions a chance to propose their own potential solutions for securing valued regional news and information content, following a review of its regional television funding.

The funding agency commissioned an independent review by former television executive Paul France, plus audience research through Colmar Brunton, to inform its decision on future funding for regional content.

NZ On Air currently funds regional news and information programmes on six stations, down from nine after three ceased broadcasting earlier this year.

The review found in most cases small audiences, a weak business proposition, transmission reception problems, and variable production quality.

The most engaged audiences were found in parts of the South Island.

“What is clear, despite the valiant efforts of incumbents, is a siloed and dated ecosystem. We are investing around $1.5million a year in this area and need a better result for taxpayers, but most importantly for the audiences,” says NZ On Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson.

NZ On Air has agreed to roll over existing funding for incumbent broadcasters for a final year, while issuing an Expression Of Interest call for ideas for new ways to provide regional news and information services.

“Convergence opens up new possibilities. As an agency we will go where the audiences are. If a professional regional group can come up with a great multi-platform idea that has tangible local support we will consider it. Incumbents can apply; new media partnerships may be formed,” says Ms Wrightson.

Ms Wrightson says the EOI is an opportunity for new collaborations and innovation, with the genuine needs of regional audiences at its heart.

“Regions are often not well-catered for by national media. We are looking for regions themselves to propose cost-effective new ways of serving interested local audiences.”

Any new funding arrangements would apply from July 2016.

Full details are in the below papers:

Paul France Review of Regional Television 2015

NZ On Air Discussion and Decisions paper May 2015

Call for Expressions of Interest May 2015

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