Introduction

22 March 2022

This page is intended to help funded content creators, platforms and service providers find pārongo 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.

Apply for the Screen Production Recovery Fund

On February 9 the Government announced an extension to the Screen Production Recovery Fund (SPRF), which allows screen productions that meet eligibility criteria to claim some of the costs imposed by increased alert levels and/or the traffic light system.

A maximum of $10.6m of screen production recovery funding has been set aside to be administered by NZ On Air, this pūtea tautoko is available until January 31 2023.

NZ On Air is now accepting applications to the SPRF. These funds are for productions funded through NZ On Air that have been shut down, delayed or constrained by COVID-19.

The updated General Criteria for SPRF applications is available here.

The Screen Production Recovery Fund Guidelines for General Video Productions are available here.

The Screen Production Recovery Fund Guidelines for Music Video Productions are available here.

Please note, it is expected that you will have investigated all other options before you apply to this fund. Where possible we would prefer to receive just one tono per production. Subsequent applications from an individual production will potentially be de-prioritised, behind first-time applicants.

If you have questions please contact Abbi Maidment or Glenn Usmar

Current updates

Updated 16 September 2022

As of 11:59pm on Monday 12 September, the COVID-19 Protection Framework (AKA the Traffic Light System) ended. With case numbers falling, a highly vaccinated population, and increased access to antiviral medicines to treat COVID-19, public health experts say it is safe to remove most COVID-19 rules and end border restrictions.

This means that for most settings, including work places and film shoots, we can go back to “life as normal”. Mask wearing, physical distancing, testing, etc. is no longer a Government requirement in most situations.

Accordingly, ScreenSafe has updated its pārongo on Covid-19 protocols for the screen industry.

Please read ScreenSafe’s latest Screen Industry Guidance here.

We have had a number of enquiries from funded entities asking if there's any policy on whether staff/contractors must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

At NZ On Air we encourage vaccination. It is the only clear path forward towards returning to a 'normal' life, getting business back up and running fully.

We look to Government for guidance on how to approach the issue of whether an employer can require vaccination, and if so in what circumstances.

While the guidance here is specific to public sector employees there is some useful framing, especially around what you might do if someone is unvaccinated. There's also a plain English legal explanation of the issues and responsibilities in this MinterEllison article.

As further updates are available (Screensafe is working on updating its guidance) we will publish them here.

We also encourage you to use and share the resources available here to ensure we are all looking after the mental health and well-being of ourselves and our people.

Previous updates

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.

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.

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 Conall Aird.

Conscious of the profound impact the lockdown restrictions were 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.

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).

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.

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

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.

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.

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 Covid-19 free go here.

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

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