Government set to confirm plans for TVNZ-RNZ merger

The Government is set to make an announcement on the future of public media, which will include a plan to merge TVNZ and RNZ.

Broadcasting and Media Minister Kris Faafoi is set to announce the plan at a press conference at 12pm today. (You can watch the stream live via this story.)

This comes after the Herald’s report that yesterday outlined details of how the merger would work.

Sources have told the Herald that Cabinet has signed off a plan that would see both organisations disestablished to create a new entity.

Under this new structure, RNZ properties would remain commercial-free, while TVNZ would still have some commercial imperatives but would not be required to pay a dividend to the Government.

It’s understood that the new entity will be based on a not-for-profit model.

As a general rule, the public interest emphasis will override the commercial imperative within the firm.

A source close to the matter stressed to the Herald that disestablishing the corporate structure didn’t imply that TVNZ and RNZ would simply disappear. It’s understood the viewer and listener experience will remain largely unchanged over the prolonged transition period.

The Herald understands that the Ministry of Culture and Heritage is working through the details, including how the news operation would operate across the two newsrooms.

Sources were still unclear on the extent to which the newsrooms would be merged to deliver television and radio.

The timeline of the proposed merger is also still unclear at this stage, but a document posted to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage website last year suggested the entity would be up and running sometime in 2023.

It’s understood that this plan remains in place and that TVNZ and RNZ will continue to operate in their usual form over the course of the transition period.

Now that Cabinet has signed off on the plan to proceed, the focus will shift to drafting legislation to form the new public committee. A select committee will then review the draft legislation in the coming months, providing an opportunity for submissions to be made by any interested parties.

Once the legislation is drafted, the focus will shift into the phase of integrating the entities to have the organisation fully operational in 2023.

The Government has thus far kept its cards close to its chest with regard to the details of the merger but has made no secret of its intentions.

In recent comments made to the Herald, former TVNZ boss Kevin Kenrick said that what the media sector needs right now is certainty on what the course of action will be and what the proposed restructure of the entities might look like.

It’s hoped that today’s announcement will provide greater detail on the Government’s plans.

– Please note that this file will be updated once the announcement is made at 12pm.

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