High Court challenge
In a joint statement this morning, NZME and Fairfax Media have revealed they are going to the High Court of New Zealand to appeal the recent ruling against their proposed merger by the New Zealand Commerce Commission.
The media companies will claim that the determination from the Commerce Commission was wrong in fact and law and was reached in breach of natural justice and procedural fairness.
Public radio funding
RNZ executives were relieved on Wednesday when NZ Finance Minister Steven Joyce ended an eight-year freeze on RNZ’s substantive funding. At NZ$2.8 million on an annual budget of $35.4 million, it was not generous. But the long freeze has been biting, RNZ has a tight budget and is in the midst of installing new digital technology. The government relenting on a harsh freeze followed a new strategy to sell surplus land and to deliver content to the private sector for free or at low cost.
The Budget marks the unofficial start of the campaign for the general election on September 23. Media are bracing for a volatile campaign as the Centre Right National government seeks a fourth three-year term. A key element is a Court of Appeal decision that said an independent animated video, “Planet Key”, was wrongly banned by the Electoral Commission in the 2014 campaign. Many expect the decision will open the door for partisan individual advertising against candidates and parties with electoral rules limiting how parties can respond.
Shortland Street anniversary
South Pacific Pictures soap Shortland Street celebrated its 25th year this week still dominating its 7pm weekday spot. The daily soap sold in four countries was developed by the former TVNZ drama department in 1992. It has been the foundation stone for SPP and a springboard for New Zealand talent. SPP is owned by UK production company all3media.
Vodafone has signed a four-year sponsorship deal with New Zealand Rugby that will see the telco take on the role of “connectivity partner” for the five national teams, including the All Blacks. Vodafone will power a new All Blacks app that will allow fans to replay tries, view highlights and view the live footage from different angles. The new features will be launched during the Lions Tour, which starts on June 3.
After a lengthy pitch DDB has retained BMW/Mini, following a mammoth nine-month process. The incumbent agency came from behind to beat agencies True and Colenso BBDO.
NZ Media Awards
NZME was standout media brand at the Canon Media Awards held in Auckland last week.
NZME’s Weekend Herald was named Canon Newspaper of the Year, Weekly Newspaper and Best Newspaper Front Page.
Judges included Campbell Reid, News Corporation Australia’s news chief, The West Australian editor Brett McCarthy, and Paul Thompson, CEO and editor-in-chief of RNZ.
The compact weekday New Zealand Herald won the Newspaper of the Year (more than 30,000 circulation) category for the third year in a row. nzherald.co.nz – which has subsequently had a makeover – was named Website of the Year.
The future of Fairfax in New Zealand remains uncertain with lack of clarity over the future of its regional and community papers. South Island-based regional publisher and printer Allied Press has confirmed it is interested in picking up titles if they become available, and there has long been speculation that the Dunedin-based publisher is interested in the Southland Times newspaper in nearby Invercargill. Auckland- and Queensland-based printer Horton Media has also expressed interest in Fairfax community titles.
Sky Network Television and Vodafone New Zealand have revealed the basis of their appeal against the Commerce Commission’s decision to block their merger. They argue in their appeal that the regulator was mistaken to find that access to Sky’s premium sports content is necessary for rival telecommunication service providers to compete effectively with the merged company in mobile services and broadband.