NZ On Air
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|NZ On Air|
NZ On Air (or the Broadcasting Commission) is an independent New Zealand broadcast funding agency. It is an autonomous crown entity separate from central Government and governed by a Board of six appointed by the Minister of Broadcasting. NZ On Air is responsible for the funding of public-good broadcasting content across television, radio and new media platforms.
NZ On Air is a major investor in television production mostly made by independent producers for free-to-air television channels. The agency also fully funds public broadcaster Radio New Zealand, an intervention to protect the state broadcaster's independence from central Government, and several access and community radio stations. NZ On Air was the name taken by the Commission in an attempt to promote its activities and encourage payment of the broadcasting fee. The public broadcasting fee was abolished in 1999 and NZ On Air now receives its funds through the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
Programmes funded by New Zealand on Air would often have the announcement: This programme was made with the help of your Broadcasting Fee - so you can see more of New Zealand on air (later This programme was made with funding from New Zealand on Air, once the Broadcasting Fee had been abolished). More commonly, at the end of a broadcast, a programme will state: Thank you, New Zealand on Air, for helping us make (name of the show).
NZ On Air's activities can be broken up into several areas:
NZOA funds New Zealand-focused radio, television, NZ music and digital media production for a range of public and private broadcasters and platforms. This includes drama, documentary, children's programmes, and programmes for special-interest groups.
NZ On Air focuses on "local content" - New Zealand programmes that are expensive or risky to make which the broadcaster market cannot fully pay for. These programmes are primarily drama, documentary, children's programmes and special-interest programmes.
Funding for audiovisual archiving is now administered directly by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Centralising such archiving funding was a key recommendation of the seminal Horrocks review led by NZ On Air and published in 2009. In 2008 NZOA funded the establishment of NZ On Screen to enable easy online access for past New Zealand screen production. NZOA has since funded a similar NZ music history site Audio Culture which will launch in 2013.
Promotion of New Zealand music
Aimed at increasing the diversity of New Zealand music on diverse platforms including radio.
The Broadcasting Commission was established under the Broadcasting Act of 1989, and initially was funded by a television licence fee, known in New Zealand as the public broadcasting fee of NZ$110, payable annually by each household with a television.
A strong campaign developed in the late 1990s from a section of the public against the Broadcasting Fee. The reason behind the campaign was to prove "whether the broadcasting fee is a tax and the legality of applying GST to this tax". In the end the fee was scrapped in 1999, and the Commission has since been directly funded by the government. The fee was collected from those people who owned a television set although the fee was funding much more than television work, especially radio. Some campaigners believed this was unfair.
NZ On Air produces and distributes the Kiwi Hit Disc to showcase new funded music. NZOA provides "Making Tracks" funding for recording songs and their associated music videos. Funded music is chosen by a monthly, rotating panel of broadcast and music professionals.
In mid-2010 the organisation hosted two events at a combined cost of $75,000 to celebrate 21 years of activity, one in Wellington ($23,000) and one in Auckland at the Powerstation venue ($52,000). The Auckland event was attend by about 220 people at a cost of over $212 per guest. These events caused much controversy and a prompted a "please explain" request from the government. The money to fund this event was pulled from returned income from grants (referred to as "writebacks" by the organisation), money which critics argued should have gone back in to recirculate as allocatable funds to NZ artists. 
Recording artist Annabel Fay, daughter of one of New Zealand's richest men, Sir Michael Fay, received at least $80,000 in grant funding. Controversy arose when Fay had music industry executives and funders flown to a weekend function on her father's private island by helicopter as a "thank you" for support for her music. NZ On Air music program manager Brendan Smyth was one of the guests to attend.
Aside from the gifts and favors to staff members aspects of the matter, it proved controversial because it ignored guidelines for funding laid out in the Broadcasting Act 1989, NZ On Air's founding document. Section 39 states that the commission must take into account "the extent to which the persons seeking the funding for the project to which the proposal relates have sought and secured funding or other resources for the project from sources other than the commission".
Conflict of interest
In March 2012, NZ On Air board member and National Party electoral chairman Stephen McElrea questioned the broadcast of a funded program, Inside Child Poverty, close to the country’s election. McElrea felt that the programs might influence voters unfavorable against the National Party before an upcoming election, and used his position on the NZOA board to act in the interests of his political party. The Broadcasting Standards Authority later ruled that the broadcast had not breached election rules.
The G.C. funding
In 2012, NZ On Air put $419,408 of taxpayer funding toward the production of a documentary "The GC" about Māori New Zealanders living on Australia's Gold Coast. Aside from controversy over the lowbrow Jersey Shore-style nature of its content, the show was viewed by many as being ill-advised in light of the country’s mass migration of youth and skilled labor to Australia. The program also promoted unrealistic expectations from this emigration portraying it as a viable way for young Māori to get ahead.
Further controversy came from contractual breach by the producers. The series had been funded in the documentary category, originally for an observational documentary series titled Golden Mozzies, and that what actually appeared on screen deviated markedly from the pitch that got funding which is in breach of Section 5.1 of NZ On Air's funding agreement. To date there has been no reported follow up by NZ on Air of this breach in contract.
Additionally, public broadcasting advocates cited the hypocrisy of shutting down TVNZ 7 on the grounds of austerity, while local shows with imported formats such as The GC and New Zealand's Got Talent were receiving taxpayer funding from NZ on Air.
NZ Prime Minister John Key came to the defense of NZ On Air's funding of The GC, saying ""Look, I don't know whether if it's a good show or not....I suppose if the test is whether people watch something, then they've probably done their job, haven't they?". This response did not address the procedural missteps or the cultural and migration aspects of the issue .The GC was one of TV3's most popular shows in 2012. A second series was funded by Maori broadcast funding agency Te Māngai Pāho, with stricter requirements for Maori language and cultural content.
- "NZ On Air under fire after 50k party". 3news.co.nz. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- John Drinnan. "NZ Herald Article". NZ Herald Article. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- "NZ herald article". NZ herald article. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- "Child poverty film did not breach election rules". NZ Herald. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- "NZ On Air releases The GC proposal". NZ Herald. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- "Something For Everyone: Strong TV Documentaries for 2012". Scoop.co.nz. 2011-08-11. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- Tom Frewen (2012-05-23). "Tom Frewen: GC In Breach Of Funding Agreement?". Scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- Tom Frewen (2012-06-11). "Tom Frewen: The G.C. – Part Three". Scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- "NZ On Air and the New Zealand Film Commission announce new $2.5 million Documentary Fund". NZ On Air. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- "PM defends taxpayer funding for The GC". 3 News. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- John Drinnan (2012-04-20). "Reality bites for public TV". NZ Herald.
- "PM defends taxpayer funding for The GC". 3 News. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- "Series rua for The GC". NZ Herald. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Anti-TV Licence Campaign Crusaders Celebrate
- Sounds Like Us 2010 independent discussion paper on the organisation
-  History of NZ On Air 1989 - 2011 by Paul Norris and Brian Pauling
- NZ On Air
- "Sounds Like Us NZ Music" Group - Facebook discussion group highlighting NZ on Air issues.
- "Sounds Like Us NZ Music" Page - Facebook discussion page highlighting NZ on Air issues.
- Christchurch Press 30/04/2010 - Vicki Anderson Article on NZ on Air issues pt 1. pt 2 pt 3
- Blog on The Tracks 31/08/2010 - Blog on The Tracks Article on NZ on Air issues pt 1. pt 2 pt 3
- Blog on The Tracks 19/04/2011 - Blog on The Tracks Article on The Annabel Fay Funding controversy.
- The Corner July 22, 2010 by Hussein Moses - Article and comment on a private investigation into misleading official figures distributed by the organisation on how well it was doing.
- The Broadcasting Act 1989 - The governing document for NZ on Air. Where it gets its direction and directive from.
- Section 36 of The Broadcasting Act 1989 - The main thrust of what NZ on Air is supposed to be achieving as per the Broadcasting Act 1989.
- NZ government house debate on NZ on Air conflict of interest Feb 2012 - Clare Curran to the Minister of Broadcasting re conflict of interest at NZ On Air