27 March 2023

The below statement is an update to the statement issued on December 14 2022 and should be read alongside the earlier information.

The contract for production of the content (ie NZ On Air’s contract) remains in force, and the content has played out as intended via Prime, Neon, SkyGo and the Comedy Central YouTube channel in New Zealand.

NZ On Air understands the origins of the dispute leading to the ‘protest’ to be regarding the contract for distribution in Australia. This contract was between the producers and a commercial broadcaster in Australia. NZ On Air is charged with funding the creation of content for audiences in Aotearoa. We require free-to-air distribution in NZ. Contracts for distribution outside of New Zealand are for the producers to negotiate and NZ On Air plays no part in negotiating or enforcing these contracts. The only involvement NZ On Air has in this regard is a 25% recoupment of income from any overseas sales, which is reinvested in local content.

NZ On Air exercised its contractual right to conduct an audit of Sis The Show, as would be expected of a government agency charged with the prudent handling of taxpayer funds. The audit was completed prior to Christmas 2022. As a result of t he satisfactory audit NZ On Air advised the producers of Sis The Show that they could now submit their final documentation required for the final instalment of the remaining 2.5% of the funding due. This documentation has not been submitted (as of today) and therefore final payment has not yet been made.

The producers have also submitted a request for additional funding via the (COVID-19) Screen Production Relief Fund (SPRF) for additional costs to the production created by impacts of COVID-19. This is the third funding request to the SPRF by the producers for this project, the previous two requests having been met. The third request is pending approval upon receipt by NZ On Air of requested information regarding costs incurred. This is standard procedure.

We have been in regular communication with the producers regarding the audit, final payment and SPRF application and have received no formal communications from them regarding concerns about their relationship with NZ On Air.

14 December 2022

NZ On Air statement on Sis The Show


In Sept 2019 a 44 min comedy pilot of Sis, for comedycentral.co.nz and Prime, received $499,864 funding from NZ On Air. It was one of two Pasifika projects and one Asian project that were successful in receiving production funding following a call out for projects by newer story-tellers from the Pasifika and Pan-Asian screen communities. The projects had gone through a creative development process led by Script to Screen, funded by NZ On Air which included mentoring and introductions to platforms that might be interested in supporting their work. This was both an opportunity for the skills development of these story-tellers, and for fresh, authentic content to be created for New Zealand audiences.

Following the success of this project, in Sept 2020 Sis The Show was funded as a six-part comedy series for Prime. Total funding as originally sought was $1,751,342 (Please see further detail at end). The cost-per-minute of Sis The Show is in line with other similar 6 x 22’ Scripted series funded by NZ On Air in recent years.

Sis The Show was funded on the basis that it would have a free access release to New Zealand audiences on the YouTube channel comedycentral.com.au, followed afterwards by wider release across Prime/SKY channels and platforms. It is as important to NZ On Air as it is to the producers of Sis that NZ audiences can freely access Sis The Show.

Current contract dispute

The producers of Sis The Show did not uphold the contract between NZ On Air, the producers and Sky when they published the series online in 'protest'. Prior to this action they had not communicated with NZ On Air about any concerns.

As a crown entity responsible for administering taxpayer funding, compliance by production companies with the contractual arrangements they enter into is of utmost importance within the Aotearoa screen production sector. These agreements are in place to protect both producers and platforms and it is critical that they are honoured. We have asked the producers to clarify what steps they are taking to rectify the apparent breach of their Production and License Agreement with Sky.

As would be expected of a government agency charged with prudent handling of taxpayer funds, we have advised the producers that prior to any payment of the final instalment of NZ On Air funds we have commissioned an independent project audit, as per the terms of our contract. We have prioritised this work to happen prior to Christmas. NZ On Air conducts several audits a year as a matter of course.

At the same time we have advised the producers that we are open to a further (third) application for Covid-related cost relief under the Screen Production Recovery Fund, which will be assessed separately and as per the criteria for that fund.

NZ On Air utterly refutes allegations and misinformation on social media that are unfounded in fact. We have engaged throughout with integrity and good faith.

NZ On Air has to date supported every application for funding by the team behind Sis (since Baby Mamas Club in 2016) and has consistently supported them to realise their ambitions for the Sis series to be scaled up. The series was funded at a level that demonstrated a shared commitment to building storytelling capacity in the Pasifika, Māori and Takatāpui communities.

Funding details:

  • Contracted funding amount: up to $1,751,342
  • Funding paid to date: $2,096,954. This includes:
    • 80% platform relief subsidy of $285,760 (platform relief is a COVID-19 relief measure targeted to distribution platforms)
    • Two top ups for COVID-19 Screen Production Relief funding - $59,852
  • Final funding payment due (on completion of satisfactory audit): approx. 2.5% of original contract

Please note : There will be no further comment while contractual matters are being investigated and resolved.