GUEST BLOG: Jo Bond – RNZ and Spinoff: A Commercial Deal Too Far?


RNZ has a new content sharing deal with The Spinoff where RNZ’s content is shared by The Spinoff and The Spinoff’s content is shared by RNZ. This is the first time that RNZ has hosted content from a commercial news organisation on its website. The content on The Spinoff is funded through commercial sponsorship. While it doesn’t affect RNZ’s own content, it does indicate that a further move towards the commercialisation of RNZ.

Not only has RNZ got an article which seems to have advertisement in its content on its website. The original article comes from The Spin Off’s commercial section which is sponsored by Kiwibank. There is no mention of Kiwibank on RNZ’s website, but the content itself does appear to be potentially at odds with RNZ’s own Charter.

In 2016, RNZ had a charter change to allow them to make content sharing deals with third party news organisations in order to generate some extra revenue. This was partly the result of its financial trouble that it was having due to its 9 year funding freeze. I knew then that this could lead to further commercialisation either through some kind of muddying of the waters with regard to its public service status in its deals with third party news outlets or through further changes to the RNZ Charter should RNZ continue to have more financial problems and see the need to add more revenue stream. My main concern was whether any of these relationship would compromise RNZ as an independent public service broadcaster.

In section 5B (4) and (5) of the RNZ Charter it says:

- Sponsor Promotion -
  • (ii) the content is commercial-free, whether or not the delivery platforms are free to access; and

  • (iii) any advertising or sponsorship on the delivery platforms is not expressly or impliedly presented as advertising or sponsorship carried or endorsed by the public radio company (other than announcements of the public radio company’s own services).

(5) In this section,—


     (a) means—

  • (i) free to access; and
  • (ii) without advertising and sponsorship; but

     (b) to avoid doubt, does not include announcements by the public radio company of its own services

If you look at (ii) it stipulates that RNZ must have commerical-free content. It doesn’t say that this only applies to content that RNZ produces itself. RNZ has no relationship with the sponsors of The Spinoff’s content, but could be seen as inadvertently endorsing a product or organisation, if it hosts an article advertising a product on its own website.

Whether or not this article counts as advertising, one thing is for sure, it does raise questions around whether RNZ’s content can be relied upon to be public service and not commercial content.


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Jo Bond is a public broadcasting and RNZ activist


  1. Sell RNZ, National should have years ago, I suggest Labour buy it as it already is their propaganda wing.

        • No one believes your cherry picking. Look at it this way. You advocate the sale of the last publicly funded broadcaster with perhaps the strongest female team in the industry. I do not, you moron.

    • Actually I see it as being unreliable in news because it is clearly a voice for the NZ National Party.

  2. Bad move by RNZ, I’ve been avoiding it ever since.

    The odious, hyper-identitarian Spinoff is the Bible of over-confident under-graduate millenial types. Best not to give it oxygen.

  3. couldnt RNZ have chosen a more serious (credible) news organisation to associate with?…I know the options are limited and reducing but imean..the Spinoff! …is that really the best they can do?

  4. I’m pleased you raised this issue. I didn’t know about Spinoff but am extremely annoyed the new programme at 10pm replaces the highlights of the days news on RNZ which was great. Your information shows just how serious this is. Well done.

  5. I just visited the site for the first time.
    Why all the angst?
    All of their contributors are fucking goegeous.
    The kind of folk you’d be grateful to meet somewhere on Ponce Rd or around the Vivian Street Architectural School and Upper Cuba.
    AND….. they’ve got Toby and Russell….and hopefully Simon next. Gorgeous possums!
    RNZ might soon be able to replace those trendies at The Wireless, and Bollinger and Peacock and Rose….and maybe even the angry-faced Hill.
    What’s not to like? /sarc

  6. Btw @Joe….they will argue that they have ‘commercial agreements’ with others….such as CNN.
    AND that this is the new reality in the 21stC.
    All of it BS of course and a complete failure to understand the nature of PSB.
    But then look at the state of the BBC these days.
    Bill Ralston must be creaming himself watching over the demise of, and commercialisation of what he used to refer to as ‘State TV’, and now ‘State Radio’

    Such champions of the 4th Estate these Spinoff folk appear to be. I’m truly in awe (again /sarc)

  7. Does any1 remember that programme “30 somthing”?
    This kind of reminds me of all that. How as new parents we all went to Parent Centre..some debating whether to bury the afterbirth under the apple tree in the back yard….while others were tossing up the benefits of a trip to Manali and spiritual enlightenment.
    Cynical as I am..all I see in this arrangement is a number of comfortably off trying to entrench their mark and self-appoetioned worth to the 4th Estate.
    My God….heroes they’re not, though I am prepared to acknowledge some good work at the spun off.
    Even the name says it all though.
    Egos at play. Should come with a warning label

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