Email Response from NZ On Air CEO, Jane Wrightson
from: Jane Wrightson <Jane@nzonair.govt.nz>
to: Frank Macskasy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
date: Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 1:16 PM
subject: RE: Radio NZ funding
Dear Mr Macskasy
Thank you for your enquiry.
Please see answers to your questions below –in orange for readability.
Thank you for your interest.
NZ On Air
From: Frank Macskasy [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, 17 August 2015 10:41 p.m.
To: Jane Wrightson
Subject: Radio NZ funding
Kia ora Ms Wrightson,
I am aware that Radio NZ’s funding has been frozen at $31,816,000 since 2009.
In effect, once inflation and increased wages are taken into effect, Radio NZ has suffered a decrease in funding for the past six years.
Can you please supply answers to the following questions regarding this matter;
1. Can you explain why Radio NZ’s funding has not been increased annually, at least to keep pace with inflation?
NZ On Air does not set Radio New Zealand’s Crown funding. This is done by Ministers. I am not aware of any government-funded entity that has an automatic inflation provision to increase funding.
In your Annual reports, NZ on Air’s income from Crown revenue went from $109,813,000 (for the year ended 30 June 2008 ) to $128,726,000 (for the year ended 30 June 2015) – an increase of nearly $19 million.
2. Can you explain why none of that increase, according to your Annual Reports, was directed at Radio NZ?
The increase in NZ On Air’s Crown funding was from the reallocation of the former TVNZ Charter funding. That funding was required to continue to be applied to television outcomes; therefore NZ On Air created the Platinum Fund.
NZ On Air has not received a general funding increase during this period.
NZ on Air states “We are an independent government funding agency”.
However, there is a perception that Radio NZ’s funding has been frozen (effectively reduced, after inflation is factored in) because it is considered to be politically “inconvenient” or “embarrassing” to the government. By constraining it’s budget, it is a slow strangulation of the broadcaster.
3. Can you shed light on that assertion?
NZ On Air is a funding agency independent of Government in terms of our content funding strategy and decisions. Radio New Zealand’s funding has been static in the same way that all publicly funded agencies in the cultural sector have been static, during a time of fiscal constraint.
4. What in-put has Board Member, Stephen McElrea, had in determining Radio NZ’s allocation of funding?
None. Radio New Zealand’s funding is determined by Ministers.
5. Has Mr McElrea ever opposed increasing funding to Radio NZ?
No. See above
6. If the answer to the above question is yes, what reason(s) did he offer?
7. In the light of Mr McElrea’s close affiliation to the Prime Minister and to the National Party hierarchy, does he excuse himself from any discussion relating to Radio NZ and it’s funding?
No. Radio New Zealand’s funding is determined by Ministers.
8. Is there any other reason why Radio NZ’s funding has been frozen since 2009?
Radio New Zealand’s funding has been static in the same way that all publicly funded agencies in the cultural sector have been static, during a time of fiscal constraint.
Lastly, what steps will NZ on Air be taking to increase funding for Radio NZ? If not, why not?
Radio New Zealand makes its own Budget bids independent of NZ On Air, which are considered by Budget Ministers alongside all requests for Government funding.
In NZ On Air’s last two Briefings to the Incoming Minister (see links below), we have cited Radio New Zealand as a service where additional funding is desirable.
In the interests of fairness, I should disclose that any answers you make may be used in a media story I am preparing on the issue of funding for Radio NZ.
If necessary, please consider this email to be a request under the Official Information Act.
I look forward to your timely response to these questions, and any other information that might shed light on this issue.
Thank you for your time,