NZ On Air Funding Strategy - draft for feedback

NZ On Air has released for feedback a new simple and flexible Funding Strategy.

The draft strategy

The draft strategy proposes a significant change to NZ On Air's approach to funding public media content. It is a response to massive media disruption and audience change. It comprises a single strategy guiding a single fund. NZ On Air will still back the best ideas for content that is free to New Zealanders, but we're levelling the playing field.

The strategy is intended to be implemented from July 2017.

The full strategy document for feedback is below.

Feedback should be emailed to by 18 November 2016.

At a glance - what's different?

Q and As

This section will be updated regularly throughout the feedback period. You can submit a question by emailing . All questions and answers will be posted here. 

The questions and answers below are grouped by the four funding streams.


What is factual content?

Audio/visual documentary (any dramatised material is support content, not the main narrative); specialist journalism; informational content. The format might be a television series, a web series, podcast, interactive or theatrical documentary, audiovisual content on a website, a multimedia project, or a radio programme. It can be historical, contemporary, or considering the future. It will entertain and inform either mainstream or targeted audiences, including children.

How much is available?

In 2017/2018 we estimate around $38m. It will vary depending on demand and audience shifts.
We expect about 70% of this available funding to support mainstream projects and 30% to support special interest and innovation-led content.

How many series of the same show will you fund?

Four series maximum, sometimes less, so we can make way for the new. There will be exceptions from time to time, such as a series with special audience and cultural appeal that continues to have platform support; or series which we judge not to have realised their potential.


What is scripted content?

Audio/visual content that usually involves planned stages of a fictional story, character and script development. The format might be a television series, docudrama, telefeature, web series, podcast, animation, comedy (including stand-up) or radio programme. It will entertain and inform either mainstream or targeted audiences, including children.

How much is available?

In 2017/2018 we estimate around $42m. It will vary depending on demand and audience shifts.
The stream often involves relatively expensive content. We expect about 90% of the available funding to support mainstream projects and about 10% to support special interest and innovation-led content.

How many series of the same show will you fund?

Six series maximum, sometimes less, so we can make way for the new. There will be exceptions from time to time, such as a series with special audience and cultural appeal that continues to have platform support; or series which we judge not to have realised their potential.


Are there core requirements?

We are a public media agency. This means we look at both the cultural and the business case for a project.
You must tell us how your proposed content will reflect and develop New Zealand identity and culture; and why it is special.
Your project must also clearly need a subsidy to get made. If we consider you can relatively easily self-fund or crowd-fund what you need, or raise adequate commercial support, it’s highly unlikely the case for public funding will be strong enough.

How will the amounts in each funding stream be decided?

Each year we will set priorities and estimates for individual funding streams in our Statement of Performance Expectations (SPE). Here’s our most recent SPE – the next one, with this new scheme, will look a little different.
In developing priorities, we consider many things: for example, market changes and audience behaviour in the previous year, available budget, the strength of projects in the pipeline, likely successful project renewals, and likely audience trends. We will also publish funding data trends to help stakeholders understand our business.

Why mainstream and targeted audiences?

Each funding stream will support a mix of media content and services for both mainstream and targeted audiences. We always expect content to be well-received by the audience it is made for; this is an important value for money aspect.

• Mainstream audiences are usually sought for projects with a comparatively large budget to maximise potential audience numbers.

• Targeted audiences are those NZ On Air is required to pay special attention to : children and young people, women, minorities in the community including ethnic minorities and people living in regional New Zealand, people with disabilities, and with different spiritual beliefs.

What’s happened to the Platinum Fund?

The Platinum Fund is a TV-centric idea. It has been retired along with other siloed funds, to create the single new fund. However content of the quality we have supported through the Platinum Fund will still be funded.

Will TV still get the lion’s share of funding?

TV still has the largest audiences, so while this is the case it is likely the largest chunk of funding will still go to content for a TV broadcast audience. Other video platforms are starting to grow their audiences. We expect our investment in content for these platforms may grow over time. An important development yet to be seen in this sector is robust, agreed audience measurement which is necessary to help show the funding is a good investment for the taxpayer.

What about Māori content?

We will provide for Māori content in both the Scripted and Factual streams, considering the Rautaki Māori. See Appendix 2. We will report Māori outputs in all four funding streams.

Who can get funding?

Content creators with a successful track record. Early-career personnel will mostly need to have an experienced EP and/or platform commissioner overseeing the production.

You are going to get more applications. How will you deal with demand?

We expect competition to be intense. We will still need a rounds structure where we can assess like against like, and we will still be evaluating competing cultural and business tensions. We are particularly interested in projects with co-investment or third party funding. In a constrained environment, the amount of money you bring to the table can actively help a great idea.

Will you fund development?

Yes, generally for large budget scripted content, and occasionally for significant factual content needing detailed research. In both cases we expect the commissioning platform to share development costs equally.
We might offer a small amount of development funding for other projects if we admire a proposal but believe it would benefit from further work.

Will you still support feature films?

Because there are other available funding sources, we will only support a very small number of feature films when there are special circumstances. Priorities are Māori, the targeted special interest audiences named in the Broadcasting Act, and documentary.

A maximum of $200,000 may be available if an adequate free-access platform presale is secured. A low presale offer may not be accepted by us as there are likely to be competing projects on the table with a better business case.

We will adjust our investment position for films and will require NZ On Air to share equally in revenue from dollar one (pro rata pari passu).

What about general entertainment content?

We might occasionally consider options for targeted audiences but funding constraints mean we are only rarely able to make this genre a priority. The cultural case will need to be strong.

What is NZ On Air’s expectation on co-investment?

A financial investment in the production budget from a qualifying commissioning platform is highly desirable. (The broadcaster licence fee is considered platform investment.) This proves a degree of market interest in your project, and also offsets the cost to the taxpayer. The strength and breadth of platform involvement is an influential factor as we consider competing proposals in a constrained environment.

Animation and children’s drama have an extra leg-up because projects can also include the NZSPG offset in their budget.

If you cannot secure platform financial investment, but have a good broadcast/podcast/streaming commitment, we might be interested in a very strong project. Your case will even stronger if you have secured third-party investment or can crowd-fund a portion.

What do you mean by qualifying commissioning platforms?

These are, generally speaking, a broadcast or online platform which:
• can already attract a significant audience

• will offer free access to funded content

• will generally offer an adequate financial investment in a content proposal; and

• can show a track record of a sustained commitment to New Zealand content.

You want to fund content where the audiences are – does this strategy allow for content that is on a subsciption video on demand site (SVOD)?

Public media is about free access and universal access. Making content for first run behind a paywall is a major policy decision and not one that we feel is right, currently. But SVOD services can buy funded content after it has been on free-to-air.

How does this strategy address the problem of young people not being engaged with local media content?

Our research shows the 15-39 age group are viewing less free-to-air television (where our local content is) and are more likely to stream their music on an international music platform where it is hard to find local music. This is why we have discoverability as one of our three goals in this strategy. We have to ensure that wherever the content is, the potential audience knows about it. So ensuring content is on a platform that has an established audience, and promoting it to the target audience, are key in the new strategy.

How much application detail will you want?

We’re developing an online application system we plan to implement in 2017. The site will guide you through what you need to have ready for us. In general, we need crisp, interesting proposals, with a clear audience focus, a realistic budget, a confirmed platform, and co-investment.

How many times can I apply if my application is unsuccessful?

If a project has previously been declined, you cannot apply again unless we invite you to reapply at a later time or significant changes have been made. You will need to set out the major changes made since the previous submission.

After two unsuccessful submissions, we will not accept further applications for the project.


Why do you fund platforms?

We only support a select few. These platforms provide public media content of particular cultural or social value. In the case of RNZ, funding is guaranteed and the amount is set by Government.

Can I get my platform funded?

The Platforms fund is a closed fund. Any new initiatives will be considered by way of a call for expressions of interest.


What’s changed in music?

We have recently reviewed the last five years of music funding through the Making Tracks scheme. We needed to make changes to keep pace with rapid change in the music industry. As a result we retired the Making Tracks scheme and replaced it in July 2016 with two new funding streams, New Music Single and New Music Project.

What are the criteria and processes for New Music Single and Project funding?

FAQ’s for this funding are on our website here.

Where does a music television or radio programme fit in the new strategy?

It comes under Music funding – this recognises that the purpose of funding a television or radio programme about NZ music is to promote NZ music. Funding music promotion is as vital as funding the creation of new songs and videos in the globalised music environment.