NZ moves to change media regulation

Like many governments worldwide, and by coincidence, on the same day as India (see separate story), New Zealand’s government is realising that its existing broadcasting and telecoms legislation is outdated. Yesterday, the government announced the next steps in “a comprehensive review of regulations covering broadcast, telecommunications and internet media.”

An initial public consultation had “crystallized the key issues which now need further scoping and exploration,” according to Communications and IT Minister David Cunliffe (pictured). “We have therefore agreed to a significant programme of work to look at the options for tackling the problems that have been identified.”

The new work will cover a number of areas, among them a review of current regulatory institutions. That will look at two options: a single regulatory body or two converged regulators, one dealing with content issues, one with network issues.

A competition study will review and address issues around access to premium content and broadcaster access to networks and platforms, while there will also be analysis and development of options for enhancing public service broadcasting including diversity of and access to local content and whether all free-to-air channels should have “must-carry” status on digital platforms.

Also in the work programme are options for improving regulation of content standards on new media, like the internet, “without stifling the freedom of expression and innovation new technologies can foster.” And post-analogue-switch-off spectrum policy will also be examined.

New Zealand’s Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the Ministry of Economic Development will carry out the work and are due to report back to the government by August 31 2009.