RNZ Checkpoint

John Campbell on RNZ National's Checkpoint

Radio New Zealand National and its sister station Radio New Zealand Concert are New Zealand's only public national broadcasters.
They provide in depth, quality, impartial programmes that might otherwise not be available on commercial radio, or without public funding.
Funding Radio New Zealand on an ‘arms-length’ basis means it can continue to provide editorially-independent, high quality public radio.

Radio New Zealand National is the country's Number 1 radio station, with its flagship news programme Morning Report the most popular radio programme in the country. Its programming includes news and current affairs, documentaries and features, drama and music. At least 33% of the music it broadcasts is New Zealand in origin. Increasingly it is a multi-media outlet providing online content including podcasts and audio visual documentaries.

Radio New Zealand Concert is this country's fine music network. Music comprises 85% of air time. Much of this is classical, with additional specialist music programmes covering jazz, contemporary and world music.

Concert actively promotes New Zealand music and composition, providing an important showcase for the best of the country’s performing artists.

Radio New Zealand receives $35.356 million annually for its operating costs.

Joint innovation fund

In July 2018 the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media announced a joint contestable content innovation fund, to be administered by NZ On Air and RNZ, with the intention of strengthening public media contributions for New Zealand audiences.

The $6 million Joint Innovation Fund will commission content, initially for RNZ platforms, with a focus on the creation of new, interesting, and innovative content for audiences who are currently not being well served.

Initial requests for proposals (RFP) will be published in September and November with an expectation that the first projects will be in production by the end of the year.

Read the Joint Innovation Fund media release here.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed between NZ On Air and Radio New Zealand can be found below, as well as a FAQ.

This is a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between RNZ and NZ On Air to set out high-level policy and procedures for committing a 2018/19 one-off allocation of $6m Crown funding.

What is the Joint Innovation Fund?

In July 2018 the Minister of Broadcasting announced she had accepted a recommendation from her Ministerial Advisory Group that RNZ and NZ On Air jointly establish a contestable content innovation fund with the intention of strengthening public media contributions for New Zealand audiences.
The fund will commission content, initially for RNZ platforms, with a focus on the creation of new, interesting, and innovative content for audiences who are currently not being well served.

What is the purpose of the fund?

The Joint Innovation Fund will take an innovative collaborative approach to commissioning public media content for New Zealand audiences.
It will commission and create content with a focus on New Zealanders who are currently not being well served, in particular Māori, Pacifica, regional, and younger audiences.
The fund will seek input from independent content creators while recognising the need to strengthen RNZ’s capability in order to support this significant growth and output of content.

What funding is available?

A one off allocation of $6 million Crown funding has been committed for 2018 - 2019.
It will support content creation across three categories: Signature Projects, Growth Audiences, and Diverse Journalism. (see below for details)

Who is involved?

NZ On Air and RNZ are joint signatories to a Memorandum of Understanding.
The two entities have established high-level policy and procedures for allocating $6m of Crown funding in 2018 – 2019 to commission and create public media content with a focus on Māori, Pacifica, regional, and younger audiences.

What kind of projects will be funded?

The Fund will commission projects in three categories, initially for RNZ platforms, with a focus on Māori, Pacifica, regional, and younger audiences.

Can other platforms be involved?

The funding is for RNZ-first content.
Subsequent plays on secondary platforms will be welcome.
High-level descriptors for each of three project categories are summarised below:

  • Signature Projects Major productions of national significance, scale and interest to a broad audience will be sought from independent content creators. Cross-platform multimedia projects will be encouraged, with RNZ adding extra content and profile through its existing programmes.
  • Growth Audiences Content targeted specifically at four key audiences: Pacifica, Māori, Regional, and younger New Zealanders. Cross platform multimedia content projects will be encouraged along with potential production partnerships with groups familiar with these particular audiences.
  • Diverse Journalism News, current affairs and factual content and related supporting activities and initiatives. This will include a range of smaller-scale projects (e.g. podcasts, multi-media and multi-duration projects).

Who can apply for funding?

The large majority of the funding will be committed to projects sought from and delivered by independent content creators.
No project will be a fully-RNZ internal production.

What is the timing for this process?

Initial requests for proposals (RFPs) will be published in September and October with an expectation that the first projects will be in production by the end of the year.
Around $3m will be committed in the first wave; the balance once both parties review progress and commitments to date.

Who manages the process?

NZ On Air will manage the contestable RFP and application process through its online applications portal.
RNZ will lead the first-stage assessment process, and both entities will assess all longlisted proposals and agree on final selection.
See the flowchart in the MOU.
NZ On Air will manage contracting, using a three-way contract to simplify process.

Who makes the decisions?

Commissioning and investment decision-making will be made jointly by NZ On Air and RNZ.
Both entities will be consistent and flexible, and decisions will be based on impartial assessment.
As usual, once decisions are made RNZ has full editorial control, The agencies will issue joint press releases to communicate details of funding decisions.

Will funding decisions be made public?

See above. Funding decisions will be made public in the usual way and reported in NZ On Air’s Annual Report.

What will happen in future years?

Future commitments depend on whether funding continues to be made available for this purpose and the success of the approved projects.

In May 2019 NZ On Air and RNZ launched a $1m pilot scheme with the NPA to boost reporting of local democracy issues across New Zealand.

The pilot will see eight journalists recruited to provide local democracy news to a wide array of media. Funding will come from the RNZ /NZ On Air Innovation Fund*, a one-off $6m fund announced last year.

For more information read the Memorandum of Understanding below.