Research commissioned by Better Public Media Trust has revealed an overwhelming response to suggested government funding options for public media.
The research was conducted by Research New Zealand as part of an online omnibus survey in late October with a nationally representative sample of 1000 New Zealanders, 18 years and over.
Almost two thirds of respondents support ad-free weekends on TV One, with only 9% opposed. And a significant majority, 60% support making TV One completely non-commercial, with just 11% opposed.
The research offered a range of improvements for public media funding and policy. It found respondents were more likely to approve than disapprove, with disapprovals to various options never rising above 25%.
The most popular options are to turn TV One into an ad-free channel and website, remove advertising, and to tax big tech companies like Facebook and Google to support New Zealand programmes and media.
Less popular were options to expand RNZ to include an ad-free television channel (RNZ+), or to amalgamate TV One, TV2, RNZ and Māori Television into a large ad-free broadcaster and media outlet. Although approval ratings for both these options were still significantly higher than disapprovals.
“The Minister has signalled that an announcement on media policy will be coming before the end of the year, and we at Better Public Media thought it was about time someone asked the public what they want from their government,” said BPM Director Myles Thomas.
“The response was an overwhelming ‘yes please!’ with some options recording huge support. Removing advertising from TV One is very favourable, even more so on weekends, and there is strong support to decommercialise the whole of TVNZ.”
“And it seems that most people favour taxing the big tech companies like Facebook and Google with proceeds to go to funding New Zealand media,” he said.
“New Zealand has the most commercial media in the western world. That means Kiwis rely on commercial media to fulfil democratic roles such as reporting on local body politics, and cultural roles such as reflecting the many aspects of Kiwi culture. But commercial media is struggling to stay afloat, let alone take on anything that might not be profitable,” Thomas said.
“The Better Public Media Trust believes the New Zealand government has delayed its approach to public media for too long. We hope this research will help motivate the Minister and his Cabinet to be bold with media and broadcasting policy. This research shows that New Zealanders want it.”
The research also included a question about viewing habits, and found the public are most likely to watch free-to-air TV every day. This backs up in-depth researchwith similar findings.
“While their may be a trend to online viewing, that trend seems to be slowing down, and there’s no guarantee that it will continue across all sectors of New Zealand,” Thomas said.
“Those watching television every day are more likely to be older and lower income people, which suggests that the digital divide should be a significant factor in government policy.”
Digging into the detail shows little difference across age groups and income levels, with slightly more approval for ad-free TV One options from older audiences, and slightly higher approval for an online option from younger audiences.
The TV Viewing Frequency responses showed larger differences between different groups with those who watch free-to-air TV less than once a month, more likely to be neutral on all the proposals.
All the data is available on the Better Public Media website – www.betterpublicmedia.org.nz/download_file/force/127/251