Social media news warning proves new media entity needed ‘more than ever’

Legislation outlining the charter and parameters of the new public media entity to be formed by the merger of RNZ and TVNZ has passed its first reading in parliament as new research shows more Kiwis are getting their news from social media.

Tuesday the Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media Bill had its first reading in the House, with Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson saying the new entity was needed “more than ever” amid growing misinformation and a rapidly changing media landscape.

National and ACT voted against the bill while Labour, Te Pāti Māori and the Greens voted in favour.

The entity would build on the best of TVNZ and RNZ and retain what audiences appreciate, but be designed to meet the challenges of changing technology, changing audiences and global competition, jackson said.

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The entity will be governed by a principles-based charter outlining expectations for its operation, on which it will be required to report annually for accountability purposes.

The bill outlining the parameters of the new public media entity passed its first hurdle in parliament.

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The bill outlining the parameters of the new public media entity passed its first hurdle in parliament.

The bill also enshrined the entity’s editorial independence and role as a trusted source of news and information and recognized the entity’s accountability to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It includes objectives around the reflection of Maori histories and perspectives.

The entity will have a mixed funding model, including public and commercial revenue, and although it is a stand-alone entity, it will be mandated to collaborate, as appropriate, with other media companies.

That could include sharing infrastructure in order to reach wider audiences and develop talent in the media industry, Jackson said.

The entity will be created on March 1 and will be operational in July 2023. In this year’s budget, the government allocated funding of $327 million over three years for the new entity.

RNZ

Beyond expanded public funding for three years, little is known about how it will be managed, by whom, and what it will produce. (Audio first aired May 2022).

“The possibilities of what Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media will achieve are endless when it has an audience at its heart, consistent direction and flexible, modern legislation,” Jackson said.

Last month in select committee, Jackson faced a series of questions from MPs about the new entity. This included concerns about earnings forecasts, the name of the entity, and the independence and terms of its journalism.

concern was also mentioned the detachment of the entity vis-à-vis NZ On Air and its creation reducing media competition.

The bill will now go through a select committee and then go through a six-month public comment period.

Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson said the new entity was needed more than ever.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson said the new entity was needed more than ever.

It comes like new research published by the Broadcasting Standards Authority On Tuesday, more New Zealanders were consuming information online and as a result it was more difficult to identify what is truthful.

The authority’s acting chief executive, Helen Cruse, said her survey of 580 people found that for the first time social media had overtaken free-to-air TV as the most widely consumed news source.

Kiwis were concerned about the change and had more confidence in news organizations that verified their sources, according to the research. This was the result of the parallel rise in online misinformation and disinformation, which increasingly affected people’s behaviors and attitudes.

Cruse said that social media is not subject to the same controls and standards from regulatory bodies such as the authority and the New Zealand Media Council. A review of how content is regulated in Aotearoa is underway, with a framework to help cover the digital world due to be presented to Cabinet next year.

More and more Kiwis are consuming their news on social media, according to a new study.

Joseph Johnson / Stuff

More and more Kiwis are consuming their news on social media, according to a new study.

The survey also found that opinion-based reporting caused confusion among news consumers. Respondents felt that by publishing more opinions, news organizations were prioritizing audience engagement over presenting accurate information.

Accuracy remained the most criticized of authority controlled standardshowever, there was some tolerance for factual inaccuracy in some contexts, for example in breaking news reporting, with the expectation that this would be clarified later.

Earlier this month, the authority issued a new broadcast code outlining the requirements for television and radio programs.

The survey had a margin of error of +/- 4%.