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Local content on the box is up—and that’s worth repeating

Local content on the box is up—and that’s worth repeating

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Television in New Zealand has become a political hot-button. Wanting to see more Kiwi content on our small screens, the Labour-led Government started developing its broadcasting policy in 2000. More than radio with pictures, the primary objective was to see increased local content that reflects New Zealanders back to themselves. A further objective was to “encourage innovation and creativity in broadcasting while aiming to continually increase audience satisfaction with the quality of the content”.

Australia has a 55 percent local content quota, but Kiwi channels have been gliding on for years—we seem to avoid quotas for anything unless we’re fishing. Since 2003, TVNZ has had a one-page charter that sets obligations for the state-owned broadcaster. Last year TV One showed 57 percent local content. Maori Television, which launched in 2006, has brought a new lustre to native affairs, with nearly 80 percent New Zealand-made programmes and local faces beaming into our living rooms in 2007. Across all channels on the box, local content increased by five percent in 2007 to 31.8 percent, which is the highest level ever recorded. So we must be watching more of ourselves, right?

Australia has a 55 percent local content quota, but Kiwi channels have been gliding on for years—we seem to avoid quotas for anything unless we’re fishing

Not necessarily. The ‘repeat rate’ of locally-produced television—the number of episodes which screen more than once—has significantly increased. For Maori Television, the repeat rate is 40 percent. Across all channels, nearly a quarter of all local content television in New Zealand is repeated, which takes some of the gloss from the local content stats. The ‘innovation and creativity’ objective doesn’t really get a fair go, with 24 percent of local content circling as re-runs.

Considering this politicisation of television, with chatter of meddlesome boards, charters and local content levels, New Zealand TV programme makers should be romping with all this room. Surprisingly, television programme revenues to New Zealand screen production companies dropped by 11.3 percent last year. More and more, we’re watching less and less.

After all the hot air about local content on television, one thing is looking clear: you’d better be spot on to have a dog’s show of making an outrageous fortune from the box.

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Sources: NZ On Air, Statistics New Zealand