NZ On Air looks to fill the regional gap, offers up $1.3 million in funding—UPDATED

NZ On Air is providing funding to four projects covering seven regions throughout New Zealand after finding regional news content wasn’t reaching intended audiences in many regions.

According to an NZ On Air release Christchurch’s CTV, the most successful of the incumbent regional TV channels, will have an integrated newsroom with local print publishing group Star Media and multi-platform distribution for local news and information.

They have been funded $400,000 and will provide coverage from Kaikoura to South Canterbury, and west to Arthur’s Pass.

In the lower South Island, Allied Press, which has been granted $396,821 in funding, will provide audio-visual news content both on 39 Dunedin Television and on a group of regional websites including the Otago Daily Times.

Dedicated video journalists will create the content, supplemented with footage from existing local journalists. Coverage will extend from Otago and Southland north to Ashburton, Waitaki and Timaru, and across to the West Coast, the release says.

In the far north, two incumbent operators are combining their skill sets to provide coverage in Te Tai Tokerau. Te Hiku Media, an online media organisation, will work with Channel North, a television news provider, to provide a new integrated news and information service for the region with $180,000 in funding.

In the mid-lower North Island NZME and Very Nice Productions have partnered to promote local stories for and about the regions, and have secured $400,000 in funding.

An NZME release says Local Focus will extend NZME’s current local video news offering by deploying a network of video journalists devoted to covering local content.

They will provide stories that would not otherwise be covered and will be published in a new regional section on the NZ Herald home page. Local Focus journalists will be supported by the NZME regional office infrastructure in four regions to be agreed shortly.

NZME general manager video Cameron Death and NZ Herald managing editor Shayne Currie will be spearheading Local Focus, an NZME release says.

Death says he’s excited about the project and the funding.

“In the changing media landscape it is becoming increasingly important to develop innovative ways of creating and sharing content,” he says. “

Regional stories are just as important as the goings-on in the cities and we’re creating new ways for those stories to be told via innovative video and large-scale distribution. Thanks to the financial support from NZ On Air, this project will allow us to showcase what is happening outside city boundaries.”

The new partnership is just as important as the funding, says Death. “Very Nice Productions, under the leadership of Alistair Wilkinson, one of New Zealand’s most experienced broadcast journalists and news managers, and Myles Thomas on the operations and business side, is an independent multi-media production company, and has an outstanding reputation for producing quality video content. We can’t wait to work with them to champion local stories about the regions, for the regions.”

NZ On Air asked regions and their media to come up with their own solutions, said NZ On Air chief executive Jane Wrightson in the release. “The funded projects are each innovative in different ways, and will provide new or extended local news and information options.”

She said NZ On Air will be watching and evaluating the projects. “These are modest in scale but aimed at providing regions with easily accessible local information. We hope the regional audiences served will enjoy the content.”

Total funding for regional media in 2016 and 2017 is $1.3million. Funding for existing regional television news and information programmes ends on 31 August this year. The new services are expected to be up and running from 1 September 2016, the release says.

  • This story has been updated to reflect NZ On Air’s broader strategy for regional media.

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