Introduction

This page is intended to help funded content creators, platforms and service providers find information on what NZ On Air is doing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you can't find what you need to know here send us an email and we will help you.

Current status

Updated 18 June 2020

NZ On Air has returned to the office and is able to perform all our functions as normal. We will continue to have three key focus areas in regards to funded productions impacted by Covid-19:

  • Gathering information so that we have a good picture of the immediate and long-term impacts of Covid-19 on the sectors we support
  • Providing advice and support to our stakeholders - including adjusting delivery deadlines and deliverables where needed
  • Processing payments for completed work.

The information we are gathering is both to inform our own response, and to ensure Government understands the sectors' needs, especially where these are not helped by the government's extensive relief package.

COVID relief for NZ On Air screen productions

NZ On Air is aware that COVID and the associated restrictions and new Health and Safety requirements have taken a toll on some of our funded screen productions. We have been surveying producers asking about the impacts and many of you have taken up the opportunity of changed drawdowns, deadlines and deliverables.

Many of you will be aware we have provided some additional funding recently to two major productions that were filming when lockdown hit (Black Hands and Westside) and we have received a small number of requests from other producers seeking assistance. Additional NZ On Air funding is based upon all other options being exhausted, and with the clear intention to ensure our taxpayer investment in content is protected.

We want to ensure any producers whose screen production is potentially adversely affected by COVID have the same opportunity to approach us for financial assistance. With the financial year coming to an end we have up to $500,000 in unspent funds/write-backs that we can now use to help.

We want to be clear that you must have exhausted other options, such as insurance and contingency, and be able to clearly identify both the additional costs and the detrimental impact on the content. We will be applying the same set of criteria to your application as we did for Black Hands and Westside. You can read these criteria here.

If you believe you have a case for additional funding for a previously funded screen production interrupted by COVID-19 please lodge an application via our online application system. We have opened a special round for this purpose titled COVID-19 Additional Funding Relief.

Applications will close 4pm 2 July. You will be required to upload a revised budget that highlights any changes and explains why these changes are COVID-related. This budget should be accompanied by a short written explanation of the impacts on your production (1-2 pages), and all other sources of funding sought, including insurance and government relief.

Our ultimate goal is to ensure great quality content is delivered to local audiences. We will need to be very careful how we apportion these limited remaining funds, but we do hope this will be useful to a number of you.

The Platform Initiative

The Platform Initiative is part of the Government media sector support package announced on 23 April 2020 to help media severely impacted by COVID-19 and is intended to provide immediate and urgent support for the media sector.

NZ On Air will receive a $16.5 million top up so that we can reduce the required platform contributions by 80% (formerly known as the broadcast licence fee) for new local content for the 2020/2021 financial year. This provides cost relief to the sector as well as ensuring that New Zealanders continue to have access to new and high-quality New Zealand content.

To be eligible for the Platform Initiative you will need to demonstrate that your organisation has been economically or socially impacted by COVID-19 and that you have taken reasonable efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on your business. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH) will assess your eligibility for the Platform Initiative.

Applications to NZ On Air's July, September and December 2020 funding rounds can seek the platform contribution relief. Platforms should apply to MCH (at the link below) as soon as possible to get your eligibility for the Platform Initiative approved.

All funding applications should reflect the full amount of the usual platform contribution so we can determine the 80% reduction where it is applicable. The deduction will be applied to funded projects, subject to the platform having their eligibility approved, when funding decisions are announced.

Please read the full Platform Initiative information, eligibility criteria and application process here.

Public Availability Agreement

As part of the process around eligibility for the Platform Initiative, NZ On Air will ask each platform to enter into a Public Availability Agreement with NZ On Air.

This is to provide additional safeguards of existing independent producer rights, and the rights of the NZ public to freely access content subsidised by NZ On Air.

NZ On Air will shortly be updating some clauses in our Standard Production Agreement and Standard Development Agreement in order to support the function of this Public Availability Agreement.

For further information please email Benedict Reid.

Getting back to work

As Aotearoa's screen sector returns to full production, new Standards and Protocols for safe practice relating to Covid-19 have been produced by Screensafe and endorsed by WorkSafe. You can read the Screensafe Covid-19 Health and Safety Standard and the Screensafe Covid-19 Health and Safety protocols below.

Each production company should use these documents on which to base your own individualised Health and Safety plan and Site Plans particular to your requirements and each site on which you intend to shoot.

Every production, regardless of size or scale, is expected to submit the registration form to ScreenSafe - please read about these requirements carefully in the Protocols. The website for registration is www.screensafe.co.nz/covid19/registration

In addition, NZ On Air’s expectations for funded productions returning to work under level 2 are:

  1. You must understand the Screensafe standards and protocols, and have developed a H & S plan for operating under Level 2
  2. Then discuss your H & S plan with your supporting platforms, and receive the platform’s approval of your plan
  3. Inform NZ On Air of your intention to resume work, and have assured us that you have the primary platform’s approval of the H & S plan.

Screensafe has created some useful COVID-19 resources to provide guidance for safe practice on set.

Click here for suppliers, forms and posters to be used on your production (more resources are to be added throughout the week).

Rapid Response RFP

Conscious of the profound impact the current lockdown restrictions are having on our creative sector, and with the knowledge that some of you are raring to go with projects that could be produced from the confinement of your bubbles - we issued a Rapid Response RFP on 1 April. With around $400k available, the RFP called for Scripted or Factual projects that could be made in lockdown.

Our intent with this RFP was to source some new content for New Zealanders who are stuck at home, provide some much needed paid work for creatives, also stuck at home, and provide some fresh content to the commercial platforms who have lost significant revenue and some content. We received an overwhelming response - 112 applications seeking $5.6m. You can read about the successful projects in our media release here.

Available Extended Platform Rights content

One area of Covid-19’s impact is the delivery of scheduled local content to local broadcasters. NZ On Air has been thinking of ways we can help, and ensure audiences see more local content on air. We have prepared a list below of funded projects for which our Extended Platform Rights apply. This is a list of (mostly screen) projects which at some stage (if not right now) will be available for other local platforms to broadcast/host, as per our Production Funding Agreements with each production company.

  • Producers have the right to charge at a reasonable rate for their time in delivering to these local broadcasters.
  • Producers must also ensure that their Primary Platform’s exclusive rights are maintained (these may be anywhere from 2 weeks of exclusive use through to 1 year, depending on the contract).

Digital Signatures Policy

One way we have immediately responded to the fast changing environment is by introducing a new Digital Signatures Policy. This policy allows us to continue our work processing contracts during the Covid-19 Level 2 and above period, without the need for physical paperwork.

We will review it again once NZ has returned to Level 1 permanently.

If you have any concerns about this policy, or wish to check on the status of your contracts, any questions should be directed to Benedict Reid and Conall Aird in the first instance.

Advice on News and Media as an essential service

Many media organisations have been asking if they are an "essential service" and therefore able to continue to work through Level 4. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage have put out the below guidance.

Potential for rental rebate

With respect to property leases and rent payments, we understand there are emerging legal views are that many tenants can now claim a full rental and OPEX abatement if their lease contains a “No Access in Emergency” clause (typically clause 27.5 in the ADLS lease template). That clause requires that there is both an emergency AND “the tenant is unable to gain access to the premises to fully conduct the Tenant’s business from the premises because of reasons of safety of the public or property……..”With non-essential business directed to close their places of work, legal views are that the second limb of the test is now met.This ability to abate rent and outgoings (for non-essential business) could provide a cash flow benefit.

  • If you are an essential business operating from your leased premises OR not on the current ADLS Lease form the position is more complex and you may need separate legal advice on your rights and obligations.

You may wish to start with a conversation with your landlord about the clauses in your lease and potential options in the current circumstances. We understand that some landlords are actively seeking to confer generous rent abatements in the interim period whilst others are adopting a wait and see approach.

Scripted and Factual content

We have been hearing from a large number of content producers about the impacts on your productions. Now that we are on Alert Level 1 most of you will be able to start up again, safely, following the Screensafe protocols and standards. (See above)

In addition, here are some of the questions we are being asked:

I can't complete my project to the deadline in my contract, there will be cost overruns, and I might need to change what I deliver. What do I do?
Get in touch with us via funding@nzonair.govt.nz . One of our funding team will be able to help. Our priority is on ensuring the content can be delivered safely, at some point. We will be flexible.

I've just completed my project , or will do shortly, can I still get paid?
Absolutely! Please send your final cost report as normal. Please don't send hard-drives at this stage as we are unable to get a mail redirect - we will ask for these later. We will require an email confirmation that the project is delivered.

Where do I go for help or advice on staying safe and healthy, or applying for government assistance?
See the useful links and resources section below and in particular in you are going back to work, the new Screensafe Covid-19 protocols and standards.. Screensafe also aim to produce a Back-to-production toolkit shortly.

Music

We are working closely with the wider music sector to understand what help is needed right now, and in the longer term, so that NZ music stays vibrant and healthy. There are a number of initiatives underway. Resources and updates from the music industry organisations Recorded Music NZ, Music Commission, APRA, and Music Helps can be found through the Recorded Music NZ updates page.

Please make sure you register your lost live gig opportunities at I lost my gig NZ.

There is a great deal of uncertainty at present and we know that's unsettling.
Here are a few of the questions we can answer at this stage:

I have received funding to record a song/video or album/EP but I can't work on it right now. Will I lose the funding?
Absolutely not. Please get in touch with the Music team at newmusic@nzonair.govt.nz and we will work through this with you. Our goal is still to ensure there's great NZ music on radio and online - we just may need some patience and innovation to get there!

Will my song release still get promoted or is there no point going ahead with releases at the moment?
We are still here doing what we do - promoting great NZ music to radio stations and the streaming platforms, and pushing it out via our social channels. New Zealanders need music to get us all through!

Can I still apply for funding?
Yes we are continuing to run our funding rounds as usual.

Funded platforms and services

Firstly, to all those people making sure these vital public media platforms and services continue to be delivered to NZ audiences, thank you! Your presence is vital and especially so right now.

We have been contacting many of you for information so that we understand the logistical and financial pressures you are under as a result of Covid-19. We are providing this information to Government so that they understand the immense pressures you are working under. And we have been thinking hard about what we can do to help.

Here's what we can tell you right now:

Will our annual operational funding come through as normal?
Yes we are on top of this and pending approvals of funding applications (in the current round) payments will continue as normal.

Can we get some immediate help - we need new equipment or just help to cover extraordinary costs?
Please get in touch and tell us what your needs are. Email funding@nzonair.govt.nz and tell us what your problem is. We can and will look at innovative solutions so that NZers can continue to enjoy your services.

Are we classed as 'essential services' under the Level 4 lockdown?
Please read the advice issued by the Minister and Ministry. But remember that safety comes first in all situations.

For information on the government's response to Covid-19 . There is a huge amount of information here.

For information on accessing the wage subsidy, whether for employees or self-employed/contractors go here.

For information on Health and safety measures to keep your workforce Corona-virus free go here.

Also check out the Screen Industry Covid-19 Action Group website for more resources.

If you are a music artist who has had gigs cancelled please register on I Lost My Gig NZ

For music artists needing well-being support check out MusicHelps.