This year we marked 25 years of NZ On Air supporting diverse, local content of a type that the market cannot deliver alone. We committed nearly $132m to support local content on television, radio and online.
In a fast-changing environment NZ On Air’s key success is providing quality local cultural content that appeals to many different people. Funded content is appreciated by audiences who actively choose it over the high volume of foreign content available.
We finished the year with a small planned deficit, funded from reserves, so we could maintain output in an environment of static funding. With careful investment, we still met our targeted outputs.
This past year has seen continued transformation in the New Zealand media landscape and the way audiences watch and listen to media content. Yet 25 years after NZ On Air was established, our funding model has stood the test of time. Our core purpose, to ensure New Zealanders have access to diverse, relevant local content, is more important than ever.
“Central to the flexibility of our funding model is the need to stay fully aware of changes in the media environment.”
In spite of ever-expanding content options from around the world, New Zealanders continue to demonstrate an appetite for local stories and songs. Whether that content entertains, informs or challenges us, New Zealanders consistently respond appreciatively to creative, professional content made by, for and about, us.
At the end of our 25th anniversary year we thank the broadcasters and content creators who have given New Zealand such a diverse cultural gift. We also thank the Minister of Broadcasting, the Hon Amy Adams, for hosting a celebration at Parliament to mark the occasion.
This year we also marked the World War One centenary by supporting and encouraging the creation of a rich range of programmes on many different platforms. These fresh stories of a nation-building event gave a younger generation insight into the horrors of war, as well as reminding us all of the sacrifices made by young New Zealanders last century.
Central to the flexibility of our funding model is the need to stay fully aware of changes in the media environment. It’s crucial that we invest where we can achieve the most impact. Partnering with the Broadcasting Standards Authority, this year we commissioned and released in-depth research on children’s media use. This will help inform a new children’s content funding strategy. We also began reviewing regional television investments, inviting regions to participate by proposing new partnerships.
Exciting opportunities are unfolding through media convergence. We recently implemented a progressive digital promotions plan for music. This included the launch of the new AllTracks portal to encourage people to explore New Zealand music through playlists curated by passionate genre specialists. We also partnered with Canada to create our first international digital media co-production fund.
We respond to the changing media environment by future-proofing investment strategies. In particular we ensure audiences can find our funded content on both broadcast and online platforms. This exposes that content to larger potential audiences. Linear television and live radio still attract the greatest numbers of viewers and listeners. Accordingly, we focus our digital media funding on innovative ways to serve audiences less well-served by mainstream media. We use every possible lever to ensure New Zealanders can continue to enjoy local stories and songs whenever and however they choose.
I thank the Board and our staff for their outstanding commitment this year. In our small but increasingly diverse nation, NZ On Air ensures that local content reflects that diversity while giving programme makers, musicians and content creators an outlet at home for their talents and skills.
Twenty five years on, New Zealand audiences are the richer for their inspiration and the colourful range of local media on many different platforms.
Miriam Dean CNZM, QC
Mission: To champion local content that engages, stimulates and satisfies intended audiences.
In a media world with few global barriers, NZ On Air preserves a place for content made by and about New Zealanders – on television, radio and online. This local content plays a key role in our cultural identity.
We invest over $130 million each year in a diverse range of media for both mainstream and special interest audiences – from drama and comedy, to music, to specialist current affairs. The flexible NZ On Air model is unique. We are not tied to any one platform - we go where the audiences are.
Our contestable funding schemes incentivise professional content creators to make the best ideas, to a high quality, at the best price. Television programmes, digital media, music, and some radio programmes are funded this way.
We also operate separate public broadcasting funding schemes for Radio NZ, access radio and Pacific radio.
Our objectives are cultural, but our investments also have an economic impact - growing local businesses, creating skilled jobs, and having a flow-on economic benefit to other sectors. NZ On Air’s consistent investment provides a stable base for screen production, helping develop skilled personnel and the sophisticated infrastructure integral to other screen work. Production companies also earn revenue selling their content offshore, with returns to NZ On Air reinvested. Our support for recording and promoting songs, envied by other countries, helps underpin the music sector. From this base, artists can achieve radio airplay, market professionally-produced music, and create momentum for their careers.
Our Board of six members has backgrounds in law, business and broadcasting. Chaired by Miriam Dean QC, the Board comprises Stephen McElrea, Caren Rangi, Ross McRobie and Kim Wicksteed. In August 2015 Ian Taylor was appointed to the Board.
The Board sets our strategic direction, and makes funding decisions on television projects seeking over $1 million, and radio or digital media projects seeking over $300,000. Other decisions, including all music investment decisions, are delegated to senior staff.
The Board has two standing committees: Audit & Risk, and Remuneration & HR.
We report to the Minister of Broadcasting who may not direct us on cultural or content matters, but may issue directives through Parliament on general matters. There were no such directives this year.
NZ On Air is a small, nimble organisation. We aim to minimise our overheads so we can maximise investment in content.
Our staff of 18 is led by Chief Executive Jane Wrightson. We share a receptionist with and provide support services to the Broadcasting Standards Authority. We are also co-located with the NZ Film Commission which assists collaboration on project funding and our joint work under the mantle of Screen NZ.
We focus our work on cultural outcomes to increase the diversity of local content available to many different audiences. Here’s how we did this year against the three top-level impacts we aim for.
This year has seen a further slow shift in television viewing habits, together with skyrocketing use of music streaming services. The challenge for both NZ On Air and local content makers is finding new ways to help audiences find professional local content among a myriad of options.
There are now four subscription video on demand (SVOD) services in NZ; the majority of NZ homes can now time-shift their viewing with a personal video recorder (PVR); broadcasters are investing heavily in their on demand services; and prime time viewing on linear television is down 3%.
While the largest audiences remain on broadcast platforms, our ongoing strategy reviews focus on being where the audiences are.
In PriceWaterhouseCooper’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2015-2019 the authors noted:
“It’s increasingly clear that New Zealanders see no significant divide between digital and traditional media: what they want is more flexibility, freedom and convenience in when and how they consume their preferred content...”
With the roll-out of ultrafast broadband, and cheaper data plans, more people than ever before are consuming media on mobile devices. Many users are interacting with two devices at once and are often indifferent to which platform is used to access content. Tablet use is rapidly increasing: Nielsen’s Media Trends report notes that in 2014 tablet ownership in New Zealand increased 47% on the previous year. At the same time audiences still expect content with high production values and production costs continue to rise.
In music, use of streaming services has increased exponentially with vigorous competition between platforms like Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Soundcloud and YouTube. Recorded Music NZ reports revenue from streaming in NZ has increased from 3% in 2012 to 24% in 2014. Find out about our response under Music.
Worldwide, children and young people continue to move fastest to online platforms. As part of reviewing our approach to funding children’s content, along with the Broadcasting Standards Authority, we commissioned comprehensive research into how children are consuming media. Among the key findings:
This research informed a discussion paper we issued in May 2015 considering options to serve children in this rapidly changing environment.
We also published research on regional television audiences, before commissioning an independent review of funded regional television channels. The combined picture, also indicating major environmental change, was of a model under severe pressure. Find out about our response under Community Broadcasting.
Local content on the schedules of the six main free-to-air television broadcasters increased by 3% in the 2014 calendar year, comprising 33% of the combined schedules. However first-run (new) content did not grow, reflecting a difficult economic environment.
At year end 17.16% of music played on commercial radio was by local artists, compared to 42.42% on alternative radio stations.
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Nielsen and NZ On Air
YouTube now rivals TV2 as the main source of
entertainment for children
Increase in overall
NZ On Air adds diversity to free-to-air television by supporting quality local content that we would not see otherwise. It’s New Zealand’s unique way of ensuring local stories can screen amid a sea of less-expensive global options.
Our investment of over $84 million reaches the largest audiences achieved by the creative sector. With viewing options rapidly multiplying this is a significant achievement. The most popular funded programme this year was the perennial favourite Country Calendar with an average audience of just under 600,000 people. 36 programmes achieved audiences of more than 200,000 viewers.
Audiences continue to want quality, insightful programmes in prime time. Large audiences watched and appreciated three excellent series from Nigel Latta - on societal problems, Antarctica, and science. The spectacular Our Big Blue Back Yard, Descent From Disaster 2 and I Am Innocent brought important historical stories to new audiences. A new documentary series for younger viewers Reality Trip explored the truths behind cheap consumer goods. We supported investigative journalism in prime time with a new strand, 3D Investigates, within TV3's 3D series.
Creative story-telling through drama takes our stories to the nation and the world. This year we explored the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes in Hope & Wire; we were moved by the salutary Consent:The Louise Nicholas Story; and the previously untold stories of the Police recovery team were portrayed in acclaimed docu-drama Erebus: Operation Overdue. We enjoyed stylish new series The Brokenwood Mysteries, and our own WW1 story When We Go To War. Westside took us back to the 1970s in a prequel to the hugely popular Outrageous Fortune. Dramas yet to screen include a new series Filthy Rich, season two of Step Dave, and a series on Sir Edmund Hillary.
A number of factual programmes, and extensive live Anzac Day coverage from Gallipoli, commemorated 100 years since the fateful landing. These programmes provided a contemporary lens through which a younger generation could view a significant historical event.
Our children’s programming continues to engage audiences. Our Children’s Media Use survey found strong appreciation for these programmes from children and parents. However internet options, in particular YouTube, are challenging television as the main source of children’s media. There’s more on this under Environment.
We measure success both by audience response and professional acclaim. A survey in early 2015 showed that a remarkable 71% of people who were aware of the television content we fund liked that content. Funded programmes also won many awards both here and overseas. At the prestigious New York Festivals International Film and TV Awards 2015 Lippy Pictures won a Drama Gold with Field Punishment No.1 (TV One); Zeitgeist Productions won Silver in the Travel and Tourism category with Radar Across The Pacific (TV One); and South Pacific Pictures won a Drama Bronze for The Brokenwood Mysteries (Prime).
Where we have common interests, we co-invest with other agencies: Māori content mainly in English with Te Māngai Pāho and, with the NZ Film Commission, the innovative online micro-documentaries, Loading Docs, and a small number of feature films.
Broadcasters continue to provide off-peak homes for special interest programming. Off-peak live audiences on mainstream channels still outnumber those on other platforms, and on demand plays further boost viewer numbers. Debate and current affairs series such as The Nation, Q + A, Media Take and Back Benches discuss the issues of the day. Widely-respected factual series such as Attitude, Praise Be and Neighbourhood provide important public broadcasting content.
For more about special interest programmes see Targeted Audiences here.
audience size achieved by 36 programmes +200k
Public approval of funded TV content 71%
Our music mission is to get more New Zealand songs played – on air and online. We do this by funding the recording of songs and videos and helping promote them.
Demand for funding from artists remains high. We received 1,254 applications to our Making Tracks funding scheme and funded 239 songs and/or videos. 56% were considered mainstream and 44% alternative. The diversity is further demonstrated by the range of music within those broad categories – everything from hip hop and RnB to pop, country, folk, electronic and dance music and rock.
Over the past year we have been rolling out a new music promotions strategy which aims to ensure local music is easy to find on the main online music platforms – at this stage Spotify, YouTube and Soundcloud. That’s what our new portal www.alltracks.co.nz is all about. With seven playlists sorted by genre, curated by people who know and love that genre, it is helping people find local music they love on their preferred platform. Launched in May 2015, the feedback has been very positive.
While online music consumption is growing at pace, for now radio is still where most people get their daily music fix. We actively help commercial and alternative radio stations find local music that their listeners will enjoy. We deliver the latest releases to radio through our online NewTracks, which has replaced the longstanding CD Kiwi Hit Disc.
In the past year commercial radio stations have been struggling to meet their local content targets, while alternative radio is the quiet over-achiever with 42.42% of their playlists local music. Commercial radio achieved 17.16% in the year to 30 June while the All Radio result was 18.48%. With more than 20 songs funded each month through the Making Tracks scheme, we ensure there is plenty of diverse music for radio programmers to choose from.
We measure the success of Making Tracks through the numbers of streams and spins of the funded songs, the popularity of those songs (as recorded by the NZ Music Chart), and the awards and accolades received. At the 2014 NZ Music Awards 80% of the finalists were Making Tracks recipients. In total, songs funded through Making Tracks this year have been streamed or played on radio 11.5 million times. Over the four-year life of the Making Tracks scheme, songs have notched up 109.5 million spins and streams.
The most streamed or played Making Tracks-funded song this year was Special by Six60 which had 2.9 million spins/streams.
1,254 applications to MakingTracks
109.5m spins/streams over 4 years
Our Digital Media Fund supports creative online media. The digital media projects we fund give more options to audiences that are not well-served by mainstream media.
This year we entered our first international co-funding initiative to extend production opportunities. Together with the Canada Media Fund we launched an incentive to make trans-national cultural stories. With just over $1 million available, we received excellent applications and supported three diverse projects: a documentary, a comedy, and a children’s story. Both agencies are delighted with the outcome and will fund another round next year.
Collaborations and partnerships have been a key feature. With the NZ Film Commission we supported a second year of the successful documentary shorts project Loading Docs. Many of the short films in the first Loading Docs found international recognition. Four of the five innovative Māori webseries which we co-funded with Te Māngai Pāho in the previous year, were launched on Māori Television’s website.
This year we focused the Kickstart fund on creative children’s content. Projects supported included Jiwi’s Machines, a multi-platform series to inspire budding inventors, innovators and scientists. Wild Eyes, another great educational initiative, will be an interactive website encouraging youngsters to discover, collect and monitor the ‘wild things’ in their backyards.
Funded webseries have clocked up international awards this year, and close to a million views. High Road won Best Directing and Best Production (Oceania) at Webfest Montreal, and Flat 3 won Best Ensemble Cast at The RainDance Web Festival in London.
We continued support for the lively, interactive home of all things Pacifica thecoconet.tv. The site has gone from strength to strength with more than 1.5 million visits in the past year. The curated collection of historic content NZ On Screen achieved two million site visits, up from 1.4 million in the previous year. With 180,000 visitors the ‘noisy library’ of NZ music Audioculture is also continuing to reach larger audiences. Both are operated by the Digital Media Trust.
We support content on The Wireless, Radio New Zealand’s news and entertainment website for young New Zealanders, which averaged 50,000 users a month. The Wireless achieved remarkable success this year with a comic by Toby Morris called Pencilsword. One specific strip had an amazing 1.1 million page views in a month.
1,000,000 views of funded webseries
2,000,000 site visits to NZ On Screen
Our radio investments include public broadcasting funding for Radio New Zealand, Pacific and access radio, and some carefully selected special interest programmes for commercial radio audiences.
Over the past year Radio New Zealand has been making strategic changes in response to a rapidly changing media environment. With an objective to deliver quality content across multiple platforms, Radio New Zealand announced new outlets for its content: iHeartRadio, MSN news, and Rivet Radio.
1.2 million people now listen to RNZ online (via website, iTunes and the RNZ App), 44% higher than a year earlier. Radio New Zealand won a gold and two silver awards at the New York Festival International Radio Program Awards 2015.
For commercial radio audiences, in addition to supporting NZ music and programmes showcasing new music, we fund a small number of special interest spoken programmes to extend choices. These include programmes for children, Māori audiences and series covering spiritual and mental health issues. We also expect all this content to be streamed and available as podcasts.
The Nutters Club radio show demonstrates how successful an integrated radio and online presence can be. Fronted by comedian Mike King, and broadcast nationwide on NewstalkZB, the series is helping lead a national conversation about mental health issues. The programme has strong audience engagement through social media and, with extra support from our Digital Media Fund, is building an online home for programme podcasts and video content.
Awards won this year by funded radio programmes included two Golds for the Christian Broadcasting Association at the New York International Radio Program Awards.
+44% increase in RNZ
Community broadcasting delivers the most diverse content to specialist audiences throughout New Zealand. This is broadcasting with high cultural value - made by, for and about communities.
This year we reviewed our approach to investment in regional television, where our focus is on supporting local news and information. We commissioned audience research from Colmar Brunton and an independent review of the regional stations. This work confirmed there are serious pressures faced by this sector. As a result of this review we are changing our investment approach. At year end we sought expressions of interest in providing new ways to deliver appealing multi-platform regional news and information.
We’ve been pleased to see growing collaboration among the Pacific radio broadcasters we support, which is delivering better audience outcomes. Wellington’s Samoa Capital Radio began providing six hours a week of programmes to the national Niu FM network. New Zealand’s largest Pacific community nationwide now has access to more content in the Samoan language, both on air and online.
Our access radio family of 12 stations around the country is providing more special interest programming than ever before. This year saw a 4.6% increase in first-run (new) content that meets the special interest audience criteria described in the Broadcasting Act. This is content made by, for and about ethnic, spiritual, disabled, cultural, refugee, and other audiences which are rarely well-served by mainstream media. Programmes in more than 40 different languages are broadcast and podcast.
Another way our funding reaches diverse audiences is through the ongoing expansion of the access radio AIR platform. This project allows access radio stations to share content online so stations and communities can find a wider range of content in their language or about their interest. Online listening to these programmes is growing with more than 660,000 streams and downloads this year, up from 450,000 in the previous year.
+4.6% increase in special
Special interest content on television and online ensures many different audiences experience stories about their world. We target a number of our funds to support content specifically for audiences less well-served by mainstream media.
Māori programmes we fund are predominantly in English. This complements the work of Te Māngai Pāho and ensures all of us have the opportunity to experience stories from te ao Māori and learn some Te Reo along the way.
A number of our funded Māori programmes screened on Māori Television, such as the Pakipūmeka documentaries, a third season of the acclaimed music-making series Songs From The Inside, and the voyaging series Waka Warriors. We also support Māori programmes on other free-to-air networks. A new comedy and variety show Happy Hour screened on TV One and a second season of youth programme 2Kaha screened on TV2. The Crayfishers, in production for Prime, will follow a whānau who have fished the passages of their tipuna for over 500 years.
In 2015 five Māori webseries, co-funded in 2013/14 with Te Māngai Pāho are being released. Two are for younger audiences, and two will be in both Te Reo and English. The first two are Anamata – Future News and Mahinga Kai.
Pacific audiences continued to enjoy two long-running television series, Tagata Pasifika and Fresh, as well as a second series of the foodie’s journey Real Pasifik. Demonstrating how entwined broadcast and online outcomes have become, Fresh boasts an online audience comparable to its average broadcast audience. Some online clips generate tens of thousands or even millions of views. For content that has relevance to specific communities, publishing online provides excellent opportunities for engaging with those audiences. The funded online hub for youthful Pacific content thecoconet.tv had 1.5 million visits last year, and an equal number of YouTube views.
We invested $3.43 million this year supporting a range of Pacific radio services. The National Pacific Radio Trust continues to grow its nationwide radio services in several Pacific languages on NiuFM and 531pi. Samoa Capital Radio rounds out the Pacific-targeted radio stable, while the 12 funded access radio stations throughout the country provide programmes in a variety of Pacific languages on air and online.
People living with disabilities, and their supporters, have a strong voice through the popular weekly television series Attitude. The series piled up more awards this year including two at the Asia Image Apollo Awards 2015 for an episode Living With Parkinsons and an Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union TV Perspective Award for the televised Attitude Awards. This year we were also pleased to fund a one-off documentary The Dream Team which will follow our Paralympic hopefuls on the road to Rio.
NZ On Air’s support for captioning and audio description makes television programmes accessible to the hearing and sight-impaired communities. This year audiences enjoyed even more content than ever before with captioning or audio description. Captioned hours increased 5.5% and audio described hours increased 23%. Our funding to the independent provider of this service Able will be further boosted by $400,000 in 2015/16.
1,500,000 visits to thecoconet.tv
$3.43m supporting a range of
Pacific radio services